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Carnival keeping Charleston's Sunshine cruise ship at dock until 2022

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The Carnival Sunshine won't resume sailings between its home port in Charleston and the Bahamas until 2022. File/Brad Nettles/Staff

A tight supply chain is forcing Carnival Cruise Line to again delay the return of sea voyages from the Port of Charleston.

The company said Sept. 2 that cruises on its locally based Sunshine won't resume from Union Pier Terminal until sometime next year. The cruise operator did not give a specific date for the ship's return.

Carnival previously had hoped to have the Sunshine back to cruising by Oct. 31. 

Cruises between Charleston and the Bahamas and other Caribbean vacation spots have been idled since mid-March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Miami-based Carnival has pushed back the Sunshine's restart more than a dozen times since then.

The latest announcement comes as Carnival gets ready to put more cruise ships in operation at other locations. Eight of the line's vessels are already welcoming guests while five more will join the fleet before the end of this year.

The new ships will sail from New Orleans, Baltimore, Tampa, Miami and Long Beach, Calif. A sixth ship, will resume operations in January from Mobile, Ala.

Christine Duffy, Carnival's president, said she is "very pleased with the progress of our restart."

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"We are making slight adjustments to our timeline to take into account supply chain realities and ensure that our destination and shore excursion offerings can meet the strong demand we are seeing from our guests," Duffy said in a written statement. "Our teams, ship and shore, are prepared to continue delivering on our great guest experience and manage all health and safety protocols."

The State Ports Authority, which owns and operates Charleston's port, said in a statement that it "continues to support our cruise partner and looks forward to operations resuming."

Carnival is telling guests booked on November and December cruises they will need to present proof of both vaccination and a negative COVID-19 test at check-in. Carnival is working to set up mobile pre-cruise rapid testing sites at all of its homeports as a back-up alternative for vaccinated guests who aren't able to make testing arrangements. Guests also will be asked to wear masks in most indoor venues while onboard.

Along with the 3,002-passenger Sunshine, the restart of four other Carnival ships has been moved to next year: Carnival Liberty at Port Canaveral, Fla.; Carnival Paradise at Tampa; Carnival Ecstasy at Jacksonville, Fla.; and Carnival Sensation at Mobile.

The Sunshine has spent much of the pandemic in the Bahamas. The maritime tracking website VesselFinder said the ship has been moored off the southwest coast of Spain near Cadiz since Aug. 1.

Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_

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