As the world continues to address challenges regarding COVID-19, the top priority for the entire cruise community—including cruise lines, travel agents, ports, destinations, suppliers and beyond—continues to be the health and safety of passengers, crew and the communities in the places we visit. Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the leading voice of the global cruise community, has developed the enclosed resources to help our members and partners navigate these unchartered waters together, with one voice.
What actions did CLIA cruise lines take in response to COVID-19?
From the very beginning of this global public health crisis, CLIA cruise lines took immediate and aggressive action based on the best information available. Within 48 hours of the World Health Organization (WHO) announcing a public health emergency of international concern, CLIA member cruise lines introduced globally an enhanced set of protocols—including travel, contact and symptom screening—which were continually strengthened based on the guidance of prevailing health authorities, including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the WHO, and others. Following the WHO’s pandemic declaration in mid-March, CLIA cruise lines acted swiftly to voluntarily suspend worldwide passenger operations, making the cruise industry one of the first and only industries to take such aggressive and proactive action.
When did CLIA cruise lines voluntarily suspend passenger operations?
CLIA cruise lines responded swiftly to this unprecedented global crisis based on the information that was available, and under the guidance of prevailing health authorities. This culminated in the voluntary suspension of worldwide cruise passenger operations in mid-March, immediately following the WHO’s pandemic declaration.
When will passenger operations resume?
CLIA ocean-going member cruise lines will sail again when the time is right, and that timing will be based on a number of factors, including, most importantly, input from scientists and medical experts. Given the significant economic contributions of the cruise industry to global economies, CLIA member cruise lines look forward to contributing to the global economic and societal recoveries, in addition to welcoming valued guests back onboard and introducing them to their next adventures.
What are cruise lines doing during the pause in passenger operations?
During the voluntary pause of passenger operations, CLIA cruise line members are using this time to explore new ideas and concepts to further enhance already stringent public health protocols and policies. Additionally, caring for and repatriating crewmembers is the number one priority for CLIA cruise line members right now, especially in light of the complexities involved due to travel restrictions and differing policies and approaches imposed by local and national governments around the world. Finally, with passenger operations suspended, CLIA member cruise lines are exploring various ways to give back during this time, including giving food donations and making ships available for care and excess housing.
Why do we know so much more about COVID-19 cases on cruise ships compared to other settings?
Even though confirmed cases of COVID-19 onboard cruise ships account for a fraction of a percent of worldwide confirmed cases, the impact of COVID-19 on cruise lines has been in the spotlight over the past few months. This is understandable for many reasons—including the fact that cruising is a unique form of travel which appeals to a diverse cross section of people. Moreover, CLIA ocean-going cruise ships are subject to stringent reporting requirements and have credentialed doctors and nurses on board, which is why so much more is known about the number of confirmed cases onboard cruise ships than cases in other settings, even though cruising is the smallest of any comparable travel or entertainment sector
How do CLIA member cruise lines promote public health?
Interestingly, ocean-going cruise ships are the only form of travel or passenger transportation that must be medically equipped to care for passengers or crew in the event of illness. As a condition of membership within CLIA, ocean-going cruise lines are required to fit their ships with medical facilities that meet the standards set forth by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), which require that doctors and medical personnel be available onboard 24/7. Additionally, cruise ships must have an examination room, an intensive care room and equipment for processing labs, monitoring vital signs and administering medications.
How do CLIA cruise lines keep cruise ships clean and sanitary?
Keeping cruise ships clean and sanitary is a top priority for CLIA member cruise lines. The industry has a longstanding collaboration with the CDC and The Vessel Sanitation Program (VSP) to make sure ships meet strict sanitation guidelines. As part of the program, cruise ship crews are trained in sanitation and health practices and ships undergo unannounced inspections twice a year, with scores made available to the public. No other travel, tourism or entertainment industry has this type of federal program or oversight.
When it comes to cleaning procedures, crews clean and sanitize surfaces known for transmitting germs, multiple times throughout the day, such as handrails, door handles and faucets. At the end of a voyage and before a new one begins, ships are cleaned completely from top to bottom. CLIA cruise lines also help to educate cruise passengers on personal health and safety practices. Cruise passengers are reminded to wash their hands regularly and hand sanitizers are readily available in public locations. This may sound minor, but hand hygiene is critically important to protecting everyone on board.
Do cruise lines pay taxes in the U.S.?
Short answer: yes. A common misconception about the cruise industry is that cruise lines pay little to no taxes in the United States—this is fundamentally not true. Cruise lines pay billions of dollars in fees and taxes in the U.S. every year, while generating strong economic returns to communities worldwide. Cruise industry spending in the United States supported more direct taxes per dollar of output than certain other sectors, including manufacturing and construction. Taxes supported by cruise industry spending are broadly consistent with other industries, partly as a result of the substantial head taxes and port charges that are paid by cruise lines. On average, each $1 million the cruise industry spends in the USA supports approximately $102,000 of direct U.S. federal, state, and local tax revenue.
Will the cruise industry recover?
Our colleagues across the cruise industry, and the communities we serve, are facing a challenge that is unprecedented in scale. The global cruise industry supports over 1.17 million jobs around the world, including travel agents, suppliers, and service providers across a wide spectrum of industries and sectors. Unfortunately, every day of the suspension results in thousands of those jobs lost. Still, people love to cruise, and that is part of what makes the cruise industry so resilient in the face of adversity. We are confident that people will return to the seas when the time is right, just as they will return to restaurants, bars, movie theaters and the like. Despite current challenges, the cruise community will emerge from this global crisis stronger and even better than before.
Health and Safety
The following are key facts about COVID-19 and the cruise industry, including the positive impact of cruising and the commitment of the wider cruise community to the highest standards of responsible tourism.
FACT: COVID-19 is a global pandemic, not caused by or limited to any one industry.
COVID-19 can spread in any setting where people come together to socialize and enjoy shared experiences, which includes cruise ships, as well as restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, and the like. It also spreads in other transportation and hospitality sectors where people have close contact with others who are infected, such as airlines, subways and trains, buses and ride share vehicles.
While it is easy to focus on cruising because of its high profile and transparent reporting standards, the fact is cruising is neither the source nor the cause of COVID-19. What is different about cruise ships compared to other settings is that no other sector or industry has such stringent reporting requirements coupled with the presence on board of credentialed doctors and nurses to provide medical surveillance. While it may be true that the world knows more about how COVID-19 impacted cruise ships than they do about how it has affected other sectors, it would be a false assumption to connect meticulous transparency and reporting to a higher frequency of infection.
FACT: The cruise industry is one of the most vigilant industries as it relates to sanitation and public health protocols.
CLIA member cruise ships are cleaned and sanitized, under normal circumstances, with a frequency that is nearly unparalleled in other settings. Multiple times each day, cruise ship crews clean and sanitize surfaces known for transmitting germs, such as handrails, door handles, faucets, etc. CLIA member cruise lines also help educate cruise passengers on personal health practices, reminding passengers to wash their hands regularly and making hand sanitizer readily available throughout public spaces onboard.
Moreover, CLIA ocean-going cruise ships are the only form of travel or passenger transportation that must be medically equipped to care for passengers and crew onboard. As a condition of membership within CLIA, oceangoing member cruise lines are required to fit their ships with medical facilities that meet or exceed the standards set forth by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP), which require that doctors and medical personnel be available onboard 24/7. Additionally, cruise ships must have the ability to isolate contagious passengers, and they must have an examination room, an intensive care room and equipment for processing labs, monitoring vital signs and administering medications.
FACT: CLIA cruise line members took immediate and aggressive action in response to COVID-19, based upon available guidance from prevailing health authorities.
From the beginning of this global public health crisis, CLIA cruise line members worked under the guidance of international and national health authorities to adopt policies and protocols, such as travel, contact, and symptom screening that went above and beyond the actions of other industries. These measures were strengthened repeatedly as new information and guidance became available from prevailing health authorities, culminating with the voluntary suspension of passenger operations in mid- March, making the cruise industry one of the first to take such action. This suspension occurred within 48 hours of the World Health Organization’s pandemic declaration.
FACT: The cruise industry is a vital artery for global economies, generating over $150 billion every year and supporting over 1.17 million jobs worldwide.
Cruise activity supports over 1.17 million jobs across a wide cross-section of industries and sectors, from ground and air transportation to food and beverage, lodging, manufacturing, hotels, professional services and a broad range of suppliers and service providers throughout the world. Unfortunately, the impacts of COVID-19 are being felt across this vast community, with up to 2,500 jobs lost each day that cruises are not operating. When the time is right for cruise operations to safely resume, cruising will be an important contributor to fueling the global economic and societal recovery.
FACT: Cruise lines are required to operate under a robust system of local, national and international laws and regulations.
The cruise industry is regulated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), flag states and port states (e.g., US Coast Guard, CDC, FMC, and EPA for the US) among others. In addition, as a requirement of membership, all CLIA cruise line members must adhere to robust set of policies and practices which undergo constant review and improvement and often exceed what international, national, and local laws require.
FACT: Cruise lines pay similar tax rates to other comparable industries in the United States every year.
Cruise industry spending in the United States supported more direct taxes per dollar of output than certain other sectors, including manufacturing and construction. Taxes supported by cruise industry spending are broadly consistent with other industries, partly as a result of the substantial head taxes and port charges that are paid by cruise lines. In fact, cruise industry spending in the U.S. in 2019 supported approximately $2.6 billion in direct taxes and more than $7.2 billion in total taxes (including direct, indirect, and induced) for U.S. federal, state, and local governments. On average, each $1 million the cruise industry spends in the U.S. supports approximately $102,000 of direct federal, state, and local tax revenue.
FACT: Cruise lines provide meaningful and rewarding employment opportunities for crewmembers.
CLIA cruise line members take pride in the ability to deliver meaningful employment opportunities to a truly global workforce with high satisfaction and retention rates. Cruise lines invest heavily to attract the best people, offering competitive wages, benefits and opportunities for career advancement—not to mention the opportunity to see and travel the world. CLIA oceangoing cruise line members must fully comply with the International Labour Organization’s Maritime Labour Convention (MLC), which sets labor standards for hours of work and rest, health and safety, as well as living conditions onboard.
FACT: The cruise industry is a leader in responsible tourism and a pioneer in maritime environmental protection.
The cruise industry demonstrates its commitment to responsible tourism across five key areas and has the data and research to back up its investments, advancements, and progress in each of these categories:
- Environmental Sustainability
- Destination Stewardship
- Health and Safety
- Economic and Social Impact
Worldwide, the cruise industry has already invested more than $22 billion in ships with new technologies and cleaner fuels to reduce air emissions and achieve greater energy efficiencies. Many of these technologies, such as shore-side power, LNG or exhaust gas cleaning systems, did not even exist five to ten years ago.
FACT: Cruises will sail again – stronger and better than ever – when the time is right.
COVID-19 is an unprecedented event which, by definition, did not come with a roadmap for how governments, businesses, and people should respond. With hindsight, however, comes powerful knowledge, which will undoubtedly inform and shape the future of cruising.
CLIA cruise line members are using this time during the voluntary suspension of commercial operations to focus on developing plans for the future, including consideration of enhanced boarding procedures, additional onboard public health and sanitation protocols, monitoring capabilities, quarantine arrangements and shoreside care for guests and crew. Timing for the return to operations will be based on a number of factors, including guidance from prevailing global health authorities and governments.
Given the significant economic impact of the cruise industry, and the nearly 1.2 million jobs it supports, cruising will be a significant contributor to fueling the much-needed economic recovery.