At a meeting between the Big Four cruise line and the Miami-Dade County Tourism and the Ports Committee, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank del Rio called for the industry to be allowed to resume cruising, saying it was close to “devastation”.
“All we are asking for is the opportunity to demonstrate we take this very, very seriously,” he said. “Health and safety are buzz words we hear every day but that has been the backbone of our industry forever.”
“Enough is enough,” Del Rio added. “It’s been more than six months. We as an industry, we as a society, have learned a lot on how to live alongside COVID.”
Del Rio’s push for the US cruise industry to be allowed to reopen was echoed by Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation, who said that the cruise industry had proven in Europe that it could return to service without endangering cruise destination communities.
“We want no one to experience a greater risk on a cruise ship than they would in shoreside activities,” he said, adding that the company was committed to working closely with the CDC.
Donald stressed that the industry pause had generated a “tsunami” of negative effects on the cruise line’s and related businesses and those employed in the cruise tourism sector.
He said that Carnival had been working non-stop with governments, health authorities, medical and scientific experts and stakeholders across the globe to develop science-based COVID-19 protocols.
These protocols have since been deployed aboard two Costa Cruises ships, which have resumed Mediterranean cruises out of Italy.
Costa Cruises has also returned to service in a limited capacity in the Mediterranean, also cruising from Italy.
Rick Sasso, chairman of MSC Cruises USA, said that the company’s protocols put in place in Europe had been thus far working successfully aboard the Grandiosa now on its fourth cruise since restarting in July.
Del Rio said NCL’s Healthy Sail Panel in collaboration with Royal Caribbean Group was a week to 10 days away from submitting its plan.
Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, said the Caribbean was also being highly impacted, with over 40 countries highly dependent on cruise calls for local employment.
These cruises, he pointed out, predominantly depart from Miami.
The Big Three cruise corporations, Carnival Corp, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line, are losing a combined US $1-billion every month due to the suspension of cruises globally.