PortandTerminal.com, March 14, 2020
WASHINGTON – More than 50 cruise lines are suspending operations to and from US ports for 30 days due to the “unprecedented situation” of the coronavirus pandemic, according to CLIA, the major cruise line trade association.
The suspension begins at midnight, according to a statement from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). The temporary suspension will take effect at 12:00AM EDT on 14 March 2020.
According to CLIA, ocean-going cruise lines are focused on the safe and smooth return of those currently at sea onboard ships that will be affected by this decision.
“CLIA cruise line members are voluntarily and temporarily suspending operations from the U.S. as we work to address this public health crisis,”Kelly Craighead, President and CEO, CLIA
CLIA represents most of the major cruise lines, including Disney, Carnival, Princess, Norwegian and Royal Caribbean.
CLIA and its members had little choice in deciding to suspend their operations as one-by-one, major ports in the world started refusing to accept their ships. Events were quickly overtaking them.
Cruise lines such as Viking and Princess Cruises both saw the writing on the wall and announced separately earlier in the week that they would be suspending operations.
And while some lines vainly kept trying to sell tickets by offering money-back guarantees and cancellation protection schemes, they were fighting a losing battle. Others cruise lines grew desperate and were called out for less than ethical behaviour as they tried to sell tickets.
The real cost
President Trump is right when he says that the cruise industry is a “great and important industry”. It is a great industry – both for the employment and enjoyment it provides to so many people.
The cancellation of cruises is a major blow to millions of people – both those who work directly for the lines and those who rely on the passengers who visit and spend at their port cities.
The cruise industry supports more than 421,000 jobs in the US and annually contributes nearly $53 billion to the economy, CLIA said in a statement. In Canada, the government has delayed the start of the cruise ship season in Canada, from April 2 to July 1. The delay applies to cruise ships capable of carrying more than 500 passengers and crew members.
CLIA has announced that it is suspending operations for 30 days. Canada says it is closing its ports to cruise ships until July 1. Neither though have any real idea of when they can safely return to normal operations.
We’re going to be in this for a while. We’re handling this like it’s a corona blizzard- 2 or 3 days and then back to normal. This is a coronavirus winter. We’re going to have the next 6 months or more that are going to be like this.Dr. Michael Osterholm, Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP)
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo says coronavirus crisis could last up to 9 months which, if he is right would mean an entire cruise season lost for many ports.
Governments bailed out the banks during the 2008 financial crisis. In 2020, we can’t think of an industry in more dire need of support than the cruise industry as it faces this existential crisis.
Oh, wait – yes we can. The airlines.
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