With cruising restart on horizon, CLIA has much work to do

Wait staff in a cruise ship galley.
Wait staff in a cruise ship galley. Photo Credit: Shorex.koss/Shutterstock

Cruise lines have spent months trying to wind down the extremely complicated task of repatriating their crews, but with cruising’s resumption on the horizon, the industry may soon face the challenge of getting its crew back onboard to resume operations.  

During a conversation with Travel Weekly, CLIA Global chair Adam Goldstein said CLIA and every shipping association faces that challenge. 

Adam Goldstein

“The right of seafarers to be repatriated to their home country is a fundamental human right,” he said. “Yet country after country around the world did not honor their obligations to do that. We are looking at the need to move our crew to ships and from ships in the way we were doing before but with all the appropriate public health protections in place.

“This is how they work and live,” he added. “It’s not only crucial to the cruise business but 95% of world trade moves via ships. We’re fighting this battle for all of our member lines, all of our seafarers and, frankly, everyone who works on a ship.” 

It is among many issues on which CLIA is working behind the scenes while preparing cruise line members to relaunch into a very different world.   

Another issue is preventing ports from turning away cruise ships, following incidents during the early stage of the Covid-19 crisis, when ships full of passengers sometimes had to sail for weeks before finding a port allowing disembarkation. 

Goldstein said those incidents happened during a time of general “panic, uncertainty and bewilderment on everybody’s part.”

Kelly Craighead
Kelly Craighead

“Now that we have time to prepare, time to dialogue, and there’s much more understanding of what Covid-19 is all about, we can have this dialogue under measured and appropriate circumstances,” he said, adding that if the industry can’t come to terms on this with ports, “I guess ships won’t go there. But there is a keen interest on the part of the destinations to be part of business restart as well as keen interest on our part. Everybody has motivation to come up with durable arrangements that will make sense to the customers and allay these kinds concerns.” 

CLIA CEO Kelly Craighead acknowledged that the industry will have to undo some reputational damage, something the association is doing by providing facts, data and research.  

“Clearly, the need to rehabilitate the reputation is pronounced as a result of the misinformation that we’ve seen,” she said. “And one of the projects we were working on even before Covid was the idea that the industry needs to do more and better storytelling. We have good facts and, as an association, have a role to play representing the wider cruise community. We have to make sure travel agencies, advisors and suppliers -- including the ports and destinations -- have access to accurate information and that we truly speak with one voice.” 

Much of that effort will focus on travel advisor education.

“We have never been able to succeed or think of succeeding without our travel partners, and we can’t think of resuming or succeeding without them now,” Goldstein said.


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