American Society of Travel Advisors calls on the Biden administration to address the cruise industry recovery. President and CEO Zane Kerby released a statement to that effect that we share below:
“Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the two busiest cruise ports in the world were located in the United States, namely Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. Massive investments by cruise lines in new features, inflight entertainment, and many other services had made cruises a destination unto themselves, resulting in record numbers of passengers in the years leading up to 2020. These ports already they are the most active in the world. It also underwent massive renovations and expansions in recent years, supporting the growth of hundreds of thousands of jobs in South Florida and across the country. In 2019, travel agencies processed $ 12.3 billion in cruise sales and directly supported 86,360 cruise line jobs in the US.
“With proper masking and social distancing protocols observed, the resumption of almost all other forms of human activity has been authorized, such as dining in restaurants, attending movies and sporting events, staying overnight in hotels and traveling by plane. . Yet inexplicably, in the current phase of its ‘Framework for Conditional Shipping Order’, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continues to suspend all cruise operations in US waters. This current guide is not expected to expire until November 1 and comes on the heels of the CDC’s previous Do Not Sail Order that effectively banned cruise travel for most of 2020.
“The ongoing restrictions are particularly unjustified given that COVID-19 vaccines are on the rise. About 25 percent of all Americans have received at least one dose, and the number of fully vaccinated people is increasing daily. These facts, together with the first indications that vaccinated people are unlikely to spread the virus, are a compelling reason to allow the resumption of cruises, especially considering the comprehensive hygiene and safety regulations already established by cruise lines.
“In response to the current situation, late last week, two of the major cruise lines announced that they would resume cruise operations in the Caribbean bypassing US ports. Clearly, when all legislative, regulatory and diplomatic “fixes” fail, companies are forced to make alternative arrangements.
“Our consumer research revealed that 44 percent of Americans get vaccinated in order to travel. A staggering 87 percent of Americans tell us they are planning a summer trip; with a plurality planning two trips this summer. Americans are also eager to return to the seas, with more than 70 percent indicating they are ready to do so now.
“We hope that Americans who are ready to cruise will begin their travels now by flying to the Caribbean rather than directly to Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. In recognition of the fact that vaccination rates are increasing while both infection and death rates are declining, these forward-thinking Caribbean islands are now homeports for some of the world’s largest cruise ships. In contrast, the CDC’s continued inaction to remove cruise restrictions endangers livelihoods and communities in South Florida, until now the de facto cruise capital of the world, and far beyond. It’s a shame the CDC’s inflexibility got us to this point.
“We therefore ask the CDC to immediately lift their cruise restrictions and set July 1 as the date that cruises from US ports can resume.”