Cruise Lines to Miss Out on Relief From US Stimulus Bill

The cruise industry is among the hardest hit by the coronavirus outbreak, but the $2 trillion stimulus bill working its way through the government will not provide bailout funds for cruise companies.

According to The Washington Post, United States Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the bill would allot $500 billion in loans or guarantees to distressed businesses, but he revealed the companies must be based in or work primarily from the U.S.

Several of the top cruise lines in the world are not incorporated in the U.S. as a way to avoid paying higher taxes and the country’s more stringent minimum wage requirements, including Carnival Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean International.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) applauded the stimulus package Thursday thanks to its inclusion of relief for more than 30,000 CLIA travel agent members. The industry trade group thanked lawmakers for “reaching a historic agreement to address the unprecedented crisis.”

The CLIA said it would continue working with the government to protect the cruise industry as companies continue to secure loans to improve liquidity, which experts believe should become an industry-wide trend.

“As it relates to the rescue package, cruise lines are not lobbying for a bailout. CLIA and our members agree that the most important stimulus the government can provide on behalf of the wider cruise community in the United States is help for small- and medium-sized businesses, including a vast network of travel agencies, tour operators and suppliers, with a presence in all 50 states,” CLIA spokeswoman Bari Golin-Blaugrund wrote in an email.

The possible exclusion of cruise companies in the bill came as a shock to some considering U.S. President Donald Trump expressed his desire in previous interviews to help the pillars of the hard-hit travel industry, including cruise lines, airlines and hotels.

In addition, executives from the cruise industry recently met with Vice President Mike Pence.

During a press conference Thursday, President Trump said he would support cruise lines being forced to register in the U.S. to receive aid from the government, saying, “We’re going to work very hard on the cruise line business and we’re going to figure something out.”

The stimulus bill also provides $10 billion in direct assistance to airports across the country, but they would be required to retain at least 90 percent of their workforce through the end of 2020 in exchange for the funds.

For travel agents and advisors, the legislation includes assistance for those affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

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Thames Clippers services to be suspended until further notice

Thames Clippers services will be halted from tomorrow as the capital is locked down to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

Sean Collins, chief executive Thames Clippers, confirmed all services will be temporarily suspending until further notice.

He explained: “Further to a significant drop in passenger demand in recent days, following UK government’s direction to travel only when absolutely necessary, from Saturday March 28th, we will temporarily be suspending all Thames Clippers services until further notice.   

“This decision has not been taken lightly.

“However, at this time, as a privately owned business, it is no longer viable for us to continue to run our services.

“Over the past week, services have been increasingly reduced to keep in line with the latest travel guidance, whilst being mindful of doing all that was possible to continue to support those Thames Clippers customers for whom commuting to work is critical.”

Thames Clippers offers a frequent service on the River Thames.

Services run at 20-minute intervals between key London piers including North Greenwich for the O2, Greenwich, Canary Wharf, Tower, London Bridge City, Westminster and London Eye for Waterloo, as well as several residential piers.

“We continue to closely monitor the situation, and will reinstate our service to keep London moving as soon as it is safe to do so,” added Collins.

Season ticket holders are advised to visit the Thames Clippers website for further details.

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Royal Caribbean Cruises extends sailing suspension

Royal Caribbean Cruises has extended the suspension of sailings of its global fleet until May 12th.

In light of the developing Covid-19 pandemic, the cruise line – which also operates Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea Cruises – had originally scrapped all sailings until early April.

“We are working with our guests to address this disruption to their vacations, and we are genuinely sorry for their inconvenience,” a statement added.

“We are also working with our crew to sort out the issues this decision presents for them.”

Royal Caribbean Cruises added, because of announced port closures, the line expects to return to service for Alaska, Canada and New England on July 1st.

Earlier this week the company raised additional funds to secure its financial viability during the suspension of sailings.

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More cruise ships headed to San Diego, including some with passengers


SAN DIEGO — Even though the cruise industry is shut down for now, several vessels this week and next are headed for San Diego, including two — the Holland America Maasdam and Celebrity Eclipse — that together will be carrying more than 3,300 passengers.

a large ship in the water: Stock image of a Cruise ship.

The ships are completing voyages that started before all the major cruise lines decided in mid-March to temporarily halt future sailings amid the global coronavirus pandemic. Still others have docked or will be stopping in San Diego, with only crew members aboard, to fuel up and load the ships with needed supplies, according to the Port of San Diego. 

While the plan is to have passengers disembark from both the Maasdam and Eclipse, port officials say they have set up strict protocols, including requiring the lines to inform them and other governmental agencies if any passengers or crew members display symptoms of any illness, including COVID-19. They must also let the port know how many crew members will be disembarking because their contracts are ending. Those members of the crew who are still under contract will not be allowed shore leave, port spokeswoman Brianne Page said Monday.

Scheduled to arrive this Thursday is the Maasdam with 843 passengers aboard following a cruise that originated in Auckland, New Zealand, on March 1 and was to end in San Diego on April 3. As cruise suspensions started occurring in March and various ports began denying entry, Holland America had asked authorities in Hawaii if passengers could disembark there and fly home early. While initially granted permission, it was revoked after Hawaii closed all its ports to cruise ships with arriving passengers, said Holland America spokesman Erik Elvejord.

So the ship picked up provisions in Hawaii and made its way to San Diego where it was originally scheduled to end its voyage anyway, Elvejord said. After it arrives Thursday, passengers will be allowed to disembark on Friday and Saturday, port officials said. 

Also making its way to San Diego is the Celebrity Eclipse, with 2,500 passengers on board. It started out in Chile and is due to arrive next Monday, when the passengers will begin disembarking.

To minimize exposure to the coronavirus, the port is thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting the B Street cruise terminal before and after the ships’ arrivals and departures, officials said.

Meanwhile, several other cruise ships without passengers are either already docked here or coming to San Diego, largely to pick up supplies after completing recent voyages. Those include the Regent Seven Seas Splendor, now docked at the National City Marine Terminal until April 11; the Disney Wonder, which will remain at the B Street cruise terminal until April 19; and the Celebrity Millenium, currently anchored just outside of San Diego Bay and scheduled to dock at B Street Pier on April 2 for supplies.

The Holland America Oosterdam is scheduled to arrive Wednesday and the Westerdam on Thursday, when both will pick up supplies and leave for Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.

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©2020 The San Diego Union-Tribune. Visit The San Diego Union-Tribune at www.sandiegouniontribune.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.


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