Travel advisors tell CDC cruising is vital to their survival

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Cruise ships at the Port of Miami.
Cruise ships at the Port of Miami.

With the deadline to submit comments to the CDC's request for public input on the resumption of cruising three days away, many travel advisors are telling the CDC that the cruise shutdown threatens their livelihood and is unfair given other openings in travel and society at large during the pandemic.

The advisors are perhaps heeding the call from both ASTA and CLIA, who have asked their members to submit comments, citing their expertise on cruising and the significance of the industry to their businesses.

Sharon Hickman told the CDC she is a small business owner with an Expedia Cruises franchise.

"The cruise industry is vital to my livelihood, as the sale of cruise travel makes up 90% of my business," she said. "As such, it is critical that cruise lines be able to resume operations in the United States as soon as the time is right to sail again."

Elise Jackson, who said she has a "small, black-owned Cruise Planners franchise," said she has lost thousands of dollars in commissions during the shutdown, which is her livelihood.

"I have been on several calls with my cruise partners learning about all the safety precautions they have in place and feel really good about sending my clients back to their bucket list destinations," she said.

Clifford Martin, who did not identify as an advisor in his post, made the point, "If we can send children back into the atmosphere at school surely we can work through the safety concerns with the safety protocols that are in place on the cruise ships."

Deborah Monroe, who describes herself as an "avid cruiser and a travel advisor," said, "I believe if the cruise line and the passenger take their responsibility seriously we can get back out to sea."

"I see nothing wrong with resuming sailing as long as it is done in a reasonable and safe manner," said Nicole Natvig, an advisor. "The precautions put in place are awesome, and I feel people sailing know the risks and are OK with them. They also understand that they could be at risk, but they also go to work, grocery stores, gas stations and even possibly out to dinner understanding the implications of those actions, as well. Let us sail (I have my first cruise planned)!"

Merry Liff, a Travel Experts advisor and Virtuoso member, said that cruising enables people with less mobility the chance to travel.

"The cruise industry is vital to passengers seeing the world, especially those for whom strenuous travel is difficult," she wrote. "All needs to be done to ensure this vital form of travel remains available to all as it is sorely missed now and will be devastating if not continued.  All needs to be done, by both the industry itself and our government, to ensure its safe continuation."

The decision to resume service in Europe is often mentioned in the comments, with many saying it indicates cruising can be done safely here, as well.

"Please bring back cruising. If Europe has been able to figure out how to successfully cruise, we can, too," said a post attributed to Susan Shure Travel. "There are a lot of people whose livelihoods depend on the cruise industry being functional."

An anonymous post said: "If Europe can resume so can we. At least start one ship. A negative test required before boarding. Mask required when social distancing is not able to happen. No self-service buffet. All crew members have a test before every cruise. Cruise line excursions only. Please let cruises start up again."

But not all were in favor of a quick return to cruising in the U.S., as some posts pointed to the Covid outbreaks on ships that launched in Europe as reasons against cruise resumption here.

"The opening of the cruise ship season needs to be delayed," read one post. "Cases in Europe have shown that cruises needed to be ended because of Covid-19. There have been too many cases in the spring where the lives of passengers and crew were compromised."

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