Carnival reports nearly double booking activity from 2019 as it lifts testing requirements

Carnival Cruise Line is reporting that booking activity nearly doubled on Monday, August 15 from the number for the same date in 2019. Monday came as the first full business day after the company announced it is easing its COVID-19 testing requirements next month.

On Friday, Carnival announced that it would eliminate pre-cruise COVID testing requirements for vaccinated passengers. This starts Sept. 6. For unvaccinated passengers, the exemption request process is going away, meaning now they will simply have to show a negative test result before boarding. The update applies to cruises shorter than 16 nights. Longer voyages do still have vaccination and testing requirements.

In a statement Wednesday, Carnival president Christine Duffy said "Mid-August is typically not a busy month for cruise bookings, but it’s clear that pent-up demand for Carnival has not been satisfied and guests are responding very favorably to our updated protocols."

Duffy went on to say that even before the announcement, the cruise line had disclosed strong occupancy projections for the summer. 

READ: Why do Florida airports have so many flight delays? Weather, rocket launches, and more visitors

"Our bookings through the end of 2022 have also been very solid," Duffy said. "With the further alignment of protocols to other vacation choices, our guests are booking the remaining 2022 inventory, and getting a head start planning for 2023."

But not everyone is celebrating the changes. Some travelers expressed their concerns on social media. One traveler on Facebook reacted to the news, saying that her next cruise was in less than a month and that now she'll wear a mask more frequently while onboard.

Another Facebook user who said she has previously survived COVID pneumonia commented that her upcoming trip would be her last "for a very long time," citing fears of re-infection. One traveler called Carnival's decision "reckless," accusing the cruise line of choosing money over passenger health and demanding a refund after canceling her upcoming trip.

Duffy reiterated that Carnival "remains committed to the health and safety of guests, crew, and the communities it visits, and will continue to work with medical experts and public health officials to refine its protocols responsibly."

As for the other cruise lines, Norwegian is dropping pre-cruise testing requirements for vaccinated passengers on Sept. 3. MSC Cruises is doing the same, with the changes already in effect for shorter voyages. The same goes for Royal Caribbean.