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The Debate on Whether Cruise Lines Deserve Federal Assistance



As cruise line operations have ground to a halt, a debate rages on whether the industry deserves federal assistance. President Trump has mentioned cruise lines as a possible beneficiary of the coronavirus stimulus bill close to passage.

However, opposition was swift, both in the nation’s capital and on social media. Politicians object to the industry’s use of foreign-flagged ships and its environmental record. Several environmental groups—including Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace—also publicly opposed any bailout to the cruise industry.

Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California, tweeted her objection and joined four others to sign a letter to congressional leadership.

“For decades, cruise companies have deliberately dodged U.S. taxes by incorporating in tax shelters and registering vessels under foreign flags,” the letter said in part. “Operating foreign-flagged vessels also allows cruise lines to circumvent U.S. labor, safety and regulatory requirements. While low tax rates and labor costs have allowed cruise companies to net sizable profits, the industry has spent billions on share repurchasing to line the pockets of executives and investors and failed to invest in addressing its abysmal environmental record and massive carbon footprint.”

So far, the cruise industry does not appear to be included in what could be a $2 trillion rescue plan, Terry Dale, president and CEO of the U.S. Tour Operators Association (USTOA), noted in an email update late March 23.

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“President Trump continues to indicate his support for the cruise lines, saying yesterday during a press conference that the federal government can’t let the cruise industry fail due to the coronavirus pandemic,” Dale noted. “It is important to note that the current version of the Senate Republican legislation does not mention them specifically. The President stated, ‘We can’t let the cruise lines go out of business.’”

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents cruise companies globally, said it is not lobbying for a bailout.

“As it relates to the rescue package, cruise lines are not lobbying for a bailout. CLIA and our members agree that the most important stimulus the government can provide on behalf of the wider cruise community in the United States is help for small- and medium-sized businesses, including a vast network of travel agencies, tour operators and suppliers, with a presence in all 50 states,” CLIA spokeswoman Bari Golin-Blaugrund wrote in an email.

She also notes that the cruise industry is a $53 billion community in the U.S. and supports over 421,000 jobs or approximately one job for every 30 cruisers.

“Unfortunately, the now-worldwide suspension of operations will impact families and communities in the United States,” she continued. “We know that for every 1 percent drop in cruising from the United States, up to 2,000 American jobs can be lost. We are asking Congress to provide assistance for those businesses who make up the wider cruise community.”

In 2018, CLIA said, the cruise industry paid $1.3 billion in taxes and fees to the U.S., including $170 million in federal taxes, $350 million in state and local taxes, $345 million in U.S. port and other service charges and fees, $50 million in corporate income taxes, $371 million in wage taxes, $23 million in sales and excise taxes, and $7 million in other taxes.

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Coral Princess Docks in Miami with Two Dead, Others Ill



Princess Cruises’ Coral Princess has finally docked in Miami after having been denied permission to disembark its passengers at ports in multiple countries, although no one aboard had actually tested positive for COVID-19 until this week. Onboard medical staff noticed a higher-than-usual number of ship’s occupants coming down with flu-like over a week ago and, starting March 30, guests were asked to stay in their rooms.

CNN reported that the ship arrives with two dead and several others sick with the novel coronavirus. While it’s unclear exactly how many of Coral Princess’ 1,000-plus passengers and 878 crew will be cleared to disembark in Miami, Miami Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez told CNN that the most seriously ill will be transported off the ship first, bound for local hospitals. Two guests, in particular, who require immediate medical attention were to be taken to Miami’s Larkin Community Hospital, said the mayor.

Gimenez also explained that about fifteen coronavirus-positive passengers who don’t need immediate hospitalization will remain aboard to receive care in the ship’s medical ward until they are cleared the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.

Reportedly, those passengers who are deemed fit to fly home will begin disembarking tomorrow, although the process, Princess Cruises said, “is expected to take several days, due to limited flight availability,” Mayor Gimenez disclosed that over 990 passengers and 840 crew members have thus far been deemed fit for travel.

The Coral Princess was about halfway through its itinerary when, on March 12, Princess Cruises announced that it would end underway voyages as soon as possible as worldwide concern grew regarding the spread of COVID-19. The cruise, which departed from Chile on March 5 and was scheduled to finish March 19 in Argentina, lasted more than two weeks longer than originally planned.

The vessel tried to disembark on March 19 in Buenos Aires as originally scheduled, as many passengers had air travel booked home from that point. When it did dock, the government would only allow Argentine passport holders and others who had confirmed same-day flights off the ship. The Argentine government warned that, if the Coral Princess did not cast off again that same night, it would be required to remain there indefinitely with no passengers disembarking.

The Coral Princess afterward appealed to authorities in Uruguay, where it was able to resupply, and in Brazil, but was denied disembarkation by both. Heading towards Florida, the ship picked up supplies once more in Barbados before finally finding safe harbor in Miami.

This post was published by our news partner: | Article Source

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