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US Cruise Bosses Tell Lawmakers “Enough is Enough”…and Australia’s Should Do The Same.

September 15, 2020 Headline News No Comments Email Email

According to Cruise Critic, US cruise line bosses joined forces at a Miami public meeting last week to tell US lawmakers that the industry was ready to resume a return to service, based on appropriate and science-based health and safety protocols.

Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, said in what were described as passionate remarks before the Miami-Dade County Tourism and Ports Committee meeting on September 10, “The cruise industry is close to devastation. … We’ve got to get back to work.” “Enough is enough,”

Supporting him, Arnold Donald of Carnival Corporation, Rick Sasso of MSC Cruises and Michael Bayley of Royal Caribbean International also told lawmakers about the work the companies have been doing to develop stringent protocols to prevent COVID-19 outbreaks onboard.

The meeting also highlighted that some of Miami’s elected officials had criticized the CDC the USA public health body for unfairly singling out the cruise industry and stalling talks of service resumption while others in the hospitality industry, such as airlines and hotels and resorts, have continued operating.

The CDC issued a “no sail” order on cruising from US ports until to October 1, although most cruise lines voluntarily cancelled cruises until October 31.

In Australia the Federal Government recently announced a three-month extension of the cruise ban on ships visiting Australia until December 17th, the same date as the ban on international travel, with even more amazingly, no date set for the resumption of either larger domestic or international cruises from Australia.

These decision put even more jobs at risk, not only the jobs of those who work on cruise ships and that includes many Australians, but also the many hundreds and thousands who service and supply Australia’s massive cruise industry.

Cruise Lines International Association [CLIA] research revealed that the suspension is likely to cost Australia more than $1.4 billion in lost economic activity by mid-September, with a prediction of a further $3.8 billion lost as the ban continues into the peak tourism season of summer and another 13,000 jobs at risk.

Cruise bosses in Australia surprisingly appear to have been rather silent in their reaction to this research and in their response to the Federal Government’s announcements, with many others in the industry saying it is time for cruise industry bosses to become more vociferous and stand up to the Federal and State Governments draconian and overly draconian bans and at least relax the rules sufficiently to allow domestic cruises.

CLIA says it is look forward to the formation of a working group with Government to progress a pathway to a carefully managed and responsible resumption of cruise tourism in Australia at the earliest appropriate time.

What it amazing is that this does not already exist, so one has to wonder on what basis the Federal and State Governments are making these decisions?

Is it on medical advice solely as I know of no cruise specialists or experts advising them or are they basing their views on the Ruby Princess debacle which the enquiry placed the blame on the shoulders of NSW Health and not cruise operator Princess.

In the meantime, the great news is that Coral Expeditions is sailing from mid-October and True North is already operating in the Kimberleys, and good for them, but these are very small vessels and also in the more upmarket sectors especially price wise, hardly appealing to Mr and Mrs Average Australian cruiser.

I am a tad mystified that the big boys are not doing the same, for example why aren’t P&O, Carnival, Princess, Royal Caribbean and even Celebrity talking to the Federal and State Governments about operating Australian local cruises?  Maybe they are, but we don’t know, but maybe it is time for them to say so and start restoring some faith in cruising?

What about in Western Australia cruises from Freemantle up the coast to say Carnarvon, Ningaloo Reef, Exmouth and Broome or south to Esperance, of course for West Australians only; or in Queensland from Brisbane up the Queensland Coast to Mooloolaba, Fraser Island, Townsville, Rockhampton, Whitsundays, Cairns, the Great Barrer Reef, Port Douglas and even Willis Island or even as far as the Torres Straits and Tiwi Islands for Queenslanders only; or for non-hotspot residents of New South Wales to Newcastle, Nelson Bay Port Macquarie, Eden, Jervis Bay, Merimbula  etc.

Domestic tourism in the states where people can travel is booming but not in cruising and why not?

Of course, one key issue it that the ships that normally operate out of Australia are simply not here because the state and Federal Governments in clearly uneducated and badly informed decision making at the outbreak of COVID-19, kicked all the cruise ships out of Australia, claiming they were not home ported here, which was ridiculous as several operated all the year round out of Australian ports, further stark evidence that the Federal and State Governments simply do not understand cruising.

In the meantime French cruise company PONANT has operated close to 50 cruises recently without incident, MSC and Costa are operating in Italy, with passengers from the Schengen region only, SeaDream Yacht Club is operating in Norway, Greece has opened six ports to international cruise ships, Greece’s Variety Cruises is operating with international passengers but sticking close to home in the Greek islands, several river cruise companies are operating, TUI’s Mein Schiff 2 is sailing with bookings only open to Germans, Swiss and Austrians and no ports of call. Hapag-Lloyd’s Europa 2 and Hanseatic Inspiration are both sailing with no ports of call and there are several more.

The reality to which we need to wake up to in Australia is that the cruise lines are now more than capable of operating limited cruises with stringent measures that they have now created in place.

Yes, there may be an occasional outbreak, but wherever we are that can happen, but what is much more interesting is that with all the very stringent protocols in place on board cruise ships, being on board is going to be safer than being at home and going to your local supermarket and coffee shop.

As Norwegian Cruise Lines’ Del Rio said in the USA, “We have been quiet for too long,” “It’s time to raise our voices.”

Come on Australia based cruise companies…you have been quiet for too long…raise your voices!

A report by John Alwyn-Jones

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