Luke Mangan Sutre Myrmell

Chefs, cruise lines and US states join forces to bring back cruising

US states, cruise lines and even Aussie chef Luke Mangan have joined a growing global cry to allow cruise sailings to restart as the tourism industry bleeds millions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs.

In America, home of cruising, the states of Florida and Alaska are threatening to sue the US government over the continuing year-long cruise ban instituted by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC), which has led to several lines, including Royal Caribbean and Celebrity moving vessels to the Bahamas, Greece and even Israel.

Both states have also introduced a new bill, and if passed, will revoke the current CDC requirements. The bill is to end the CDC’s Framework for Conditional Sail Order by 4 July so that cruise lines can start sailing.

In Florida, Republican Governor Ron DeSantis said the state relies heavily on tourism dollars, particularly from cruise visitors. Alaska may also follow the same route as Florida after the state’s governor Mike Dunleavy said a lawsuit is a “real possibility”.

“We must allow our cruise liners and their employees to get back to work and safely set sail again,” Gov. DeSantis said in a statement.

“To be clear, no federal law authorises 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.”

Like Florida, Alaska relies heavily on cruise tourism and Alaskans now face a second year in a row without and cruisers and the associated spending they bring in.

Gov. Dunleavy says over the course of the lost 2020 and 2021 cruise seasons, Alaska will have a $3.3 billion loss in Alaska, “that’s in a state with about a fifty-six-billion-dollar GDP, so it’s going to be significant.”

“We’re going to lose millions of dollars in local revenue for our communities, especially along the coast. Unemployment rates will remain stubbornly high when we can actually lower them through this process,” said Gov. Dunleavy.

In Australia, chef Luke Mangan pleaded for the federal and state governments to allow a phased return, pointing out the misery of unemployment and financial losses it was causing.

 

Mr Mangan has served as a P&O Cruises celebrity chef for more than 10 years, and while he’s  keen to resume his own role, he really feels for all of those suffering in the industry.

The well known TV chef, who has his own restaurants onshore and five on P&O’s fleet, is concerned for all those “feeling the repercussions of the suspension of cruising’’, listing “farmers, travel agents, regional destinations, tour operators, hotels, restaurants, transport operators, live entertainers, musicians and retail outlets’’. 

Cruise Lines International Association Australasia (CLIA) has been working with the government to put the necessary protocols in place to restart cruising and Mr Mangan wants to encourage progress in this process.

He sees it as beneficial for all.

“So many of you (cruise guests) are ready and willing to cruise again. Destinations want to see the big white ships again, and the cruise lines are just as ready and willing to do their bit’’.

Mr Mangan specifically wants an end to the lack of uncertainty as to when cruising will resume.  “I just think it’s the right time, relevant authorities offered a bit of certainty by agreeing a pathway for cruising’s return’’.

Before the pandemic, cruising contributed more than $5 billion a year to economic activity and supported more than 18,000 jobs. So it’s easy to understand Mr Mangan’s point that a plan for cruising to return is critical to the tourism sector as a whole. 

Mr Mangan wants an “all hands on deck” approach to a resetting of cruising and his voice is undoubtedly an important one.

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