Last year, the cruise industry's contribution to the economy of the United States was on the rise, a new economic report by the leading industry organization CLIA-Cruise Lines International Association said. However, in 2020, facing an estimated US$32 billion loss, the industry is expected to contribute less than 50% of what it did in 2019.
According to the CLIA report, cruising contributed US$55 billion to the American economy last year - up 5.3% from 2018. But now cruising is suspended in U.S. waters through the end of 2020 due to the ongoing Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
From mid-March through the end of 2020, it is estimated that the suspension of cruising in the United States will result in a loss of over US$32 billion in economic activity and 254,000+ American jobs. The number includes economic contributions across many sectors, from aviation and transportation to agriculture, lodging, manufacturing, travel agencies, suppliers, service providers, food and beverage services, across the U.S.
The industry has been preparing to resume sailings for some time. Upon extending the voluntary suspension through the end of 2020, it said it would prepare and align industry protocols with standards in the CDC-Center for Disease Control and Prevention's new conditional sailing order, including test sailings, among other requirements to be completed before cruises can resume.
In September, the cruise industry announced mandatory safety and health changes in preparation for a return to cruising. CLIA and its member lines adopted extensive mandatory health protocols for ships that can carry 250+ passengers, including passenger and crew testing, enhanced cruise ship ventilation, mask-wearing, response procedures, shore excursion protocols. The cruise industry also announced universal testing on vessels with the capability of carrying 250+ people worldwide.
Carnival Cruise Line has cancelled cruises in U.S. waters through the end of January 2021 and some sailings into March. While the Centers issued a "conditional sailing order," it does not allow for sailings to resume immediately or at any named date.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a Level 4 travel notice on Saturday, November 21, advising that "all people" should avoid travel on cruise ships worldwide due to the very high risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships.