The increasing pressure from government representatives, cruise lines, and cruise passengers on the CDC to re-open the cruise industry in the United States reached a new highpoint today as GOP Governor DeSantis filed a lawsuit against the CDC and the Federal Government.
While some still feel cruising is irresponsible, despite the many advancements the medical professions, and the cruise lines themselves have made in the last 12 months, the overwhelming feeling is that cruises should be able to sail.
So what is the background behind this? Why is Governor DeSantis so eager to get the cruise lines started again?
The Cruise Industry’s Impact on The Job Market is Huge
Some say the cruise industry is not registered in the US, they don’t employ US workers onboard the ships, and they don’t build the ships in the US. So why should they be helped in any way?
From the above points, only one is true. Most ships are indeed not built in the US; in fact, most cruise ships are built at the Meyer Werft in Germany, The Meyer Turku in Finland, or the St. Nazaire yard in France, Chantiers de l’Atlantique. The other points are invalid.
Worth Reading: How to Support the Return of Cruises from the U.S.
Sure, most cruise ships have flags of convenience, such as the Bahamas. It is also true that most cruise lines prefer to hire from Asian countries like the Philippines, India, Indonesia, and in the Americas for the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. But keep in mind that the industry still hires thousands of Americans on their ships.
Most of the cruise lines have their head offices in the State of Florida. Thousands of people depend on the cruise industry for their livelihood in Florida. The cruise lines generated 154,646 jobs in 2018 in the State of Florida. A major part of that is due to the huge homeports such as PortMiami, Port Canaveral, Port Everglades, and Port of Tampa.
In the entire United States, this number grows even further to 436,000 jobs. More than 30% of the jobs directly related to cruise ships are in Florida.
“We must allow our cruise liners and their employees to get back to work and safely set sail again. To be clear, no federal law authorizes the CDC to indefinitely impose a nationwide shutdown of an entire industry. This lawsuit is necessary to protect Floridians from the federal government’s overreach and resulting economic harm to our State.”
If we look at the jobs indirectly related to the cruise lines, those numbers grow exponentially. Cruise ships go through enormous amounts of food, drinks, and retail items. The travel industry relies heavily on income generated by the cruise lines; these include travel agents, airlines, hotels, transport companies, tour guides, and more.
The Numbers Keep Growing
Nearly 14 million people went on a cruise vacation from the United States in 2019. In the same year, the cruise industry grew 5.6% compared to the previous year. $55 Billion was the total impact for the US economy; in Florida alone, the cruise industry generated $7.69 billion in wages.
Many have dismissed the economic impact of the cruise industry; however, as Governor DeSantis and Attorney General Ashley Moody have now found out, the United States, and Florida in particular, needs the Cruise industry if it ever wants to bring its economy back to pre-pandemic levels.
Attorney General Ashley Moody:
“Cruises are a vital part of Florida’s tourism industry—employing thousands and boosting our State’s economy. Every day the federal government unfairly keeps this economic giant docked, our economy suffers. The ripple effect of this misguided federal lockdown has far-reaching implications for the cruise industry, international tourism, businesses that would benefit from the influx of visitors, our State’s economy and the thousands of Floridians who work in the industry,”
The CDC’s current policy, therefore, hurts the Florida Economy in multiple ways:
- It prevents numerous businesses and employees from earning a living;
- The CSO contributes to the State’s rising unemployment numbers
- It Exacerbates the massive shortfalls in revenues experienced by the State’s seaports;
- The CSO massively reduces state and local taxes associated with the cruise industry.
Will the Cruise Lines Leave the US?
We’ve seen a strong trend towards cruise lines bringing ships back into service outside of the US, but still very much accessible for the US market. Cruises from the Bahamas, Jamaica, St Maarten, Barbados, and Bermuda are all reasonably reachable from US airports, and often these flights are cheaper than domestic flights to Florida.
“But guess what, people are still going to go on cruises, you know what they’re going to do? instead of flying to Miami, spending money to stay in our hotels, spending money to eat in our restaurants before they get on the ship, they’re going to fly to the Bahamas and they are going to get on the ships in the Bahamas, and they are going to spend the money in the Bahamas and then they are going to do the same thing that they would have done, it just won’t be helping the State of Florida and it won’t be helping our folks here who really depend on it.”
With this many ships sailing from other places, is it likely that the cruise industry will pack up and go elsewhere? No, it’s not. The infrastructure for cruises that is in place in the United States is found nowhere else in the world.
No other country can accommodate as many ships daily as the United States. However, the United States is losing money now and missing the opportunity to jumpstart the economy.
The CDC is Denying Success Elsewhere
Florida needs to fight the CDC and the federal government. A lawsuit against the Federal government and the CDC is essential. If the lawsuit is successful, the cruise industry will have a mandate to sail much sooner, with the measures they have suggested and implemented successfully elsewhere.
It will ensure Floridians will have jobs, it will ensure farmers in Florida don’t throw away unused produce, bring airplanes back in the air, and guests in hotels and restaurants around the State.
Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Kevin J. Thibault, P.E.:
“The CDC’s No Sail Order remains an arbitrary policy that clearly discriminates against one transportation method, and I applaud Governor DeSantis for continuing to advocate for the cruise industry and the thousands of Florida families who are struggling to make ends meet.”
Yes, there is a pandemic, but the cruise industry has sailed for many months around other places globally and done so successfully, even without vaccinations. Less than 50 cases have been registered onboard ships, and all of these were dealt with effectively. With the vaccinations now far-reaching and successful, this success will continue.
There is no more reason to bleed the Florida economy any more than it has done so far, especially since the CDC has not given any reasoning why rules and structures implemented elsewhere in the world cannot work in the US.