Carnival Cruise Lines is slated to return its ships to Mexico as early as next week now that the U.S. government has lifted its travel advisory to Mexico because of the country’s swine flu outbreak. The Center for Disease Control previously recommended Americans avoid nonessential travel to the country to avoid the H1N1 flu. So far, Carnival is the first major cruise line returning to Mexican destinations.
Carnival’s first cruise ship to return will be the Carnival Holiday, a four-day cruise from Mobile, Ala. which will drop anchor in Cozumel, Mexico. On the west coast, the Carnival Elation, which sails out of San Diego, will continue its cruises to Mexico June 18.
So far, no other leading cruise line has announced plans to return to Mexico before September. Norwegian Cruise Line won’t return until September because the company has already changed its cruises for the summer. Holland America Line will only go back to Mexico in October. (It’s been a tough time for Mexico, whose travel industry has been severely hobbled by the swine flu advisory, to the point that hoteliers are slashing prices 50 to 75 percent in an attempt to lure customers.)
Carnival, reportedly the largest cruise line in the world, is showing courage and itself as an industry leader by going back to Mexico. The swine flu threat is diminished and part of being a leader is becoming an agency for change — by showing the world and the industry (and hopefully its customers) that it’s safe to travel to Mexico. Don’t think this isn’t about the bottom line, too — Carnival’s California cruise ships work year-round and have 620,000 passengers each year from California alone. And by returning to Mexico before any other cruise operator, it means that Carnival has no competition for the next three months.