October 31, 2020

Urgent Need for Ships to Start Sailing, Says FMC

The U.S. Federal Marine Commission urges cruises to resume in Florida.

By Kenneth Griffin – (The Cruise Examiner) – Last week, the US Federal Marine Commission made its voice known in the world of cruising by backing a return to the seas by the mammoth worldwide fleet of cruise ships that has been laid up, but particularly those that traded from the previously busy ports of Florida.

A report issued by US Federal Maritime Commissioner Louis Sola says there is an urgent need for the cruise industry to resume sailing from Florida cruise ports, citing staggering losses to revenue, local employment and the contributions cruisers make to other tourism sectors such as the airline and hospitality industries.

In its latest, commissioner Sola indicates that Florida has lost $3.2 billion in economic activity and 49,500 local jobs paying approximately $2.3 billion in wages as a result of the suspension of cruising following the COVID-19 pandemic and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s No-Sail Order, in effect through September 30.

The report notes that Florida is home to the top-three cruise ports in the world, with 59% of all US embarkations taking place in 2018. Including the corporate and administrative staff of the cruise lines headquartered in Florida, the cruise industry was responsible for over 149,000 jobs in the state and $7.69 billion in wages.

The cruise industry produces in $8.49 billion in direct spending each year within Florida.
Sola said: “the financial consequences of laid-up cruise ships are being seen in government coffers and the pockets of working men and women. Across Florida, people recognize the vital necessity of the cruise industry contributing to the economy again.”

Losses for the 2020 cruise season have been staggering for some of Florida’s largest turnaround ports, which also include Port Everglades.

Before the pandemic, Miami welcomed 6.8 million cruise passengers, a world record. As Florida’s busiest cruise port, and one of the largest and busiest in the world, Miami is responsible for over 30,000 local jobs, $5.8 billion in economic value and $188 million in local and state taxes. Miami estimates it will tally a $55-million loss this year.

Losses for Port Canaveral are pegged at 79% of its annual passengers and 16,000 jobs. With no cruises sailing from the port since early March, though, the annual $1.3 billion that is contributed to the local economy by the cruise industry in Port Canaveral and its surrounding area is at high risk.

Nearly 13,000 people were employed directly by the cruise industry in Port Canaveral in 2019, a number that rises to 23,745 if indirect jobs are included as well.

In Key West — Florida’s only cruise port to function solely as a port of call — the cruise industry contributes over $85 million in economic benefits, provides 1,250 local jobs and makes up 15% of the city’s total tax revenue.

The suspension of the cruise industry within Florida also has an impact on other industries within the United States. Cruise passengers contributed nearly $2 billion in fares to the airline industry in 2019. They also contributed $1.1 billion to the local economy in Miami-Dade County from overnight hotel stays, food and beverage, shopping and transportation, etc.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez has also joined the FMC in voicing his concern that cruising activity should resume soon. The report notes that the Fact Finding 30 commission will also be assessing the economic impact of the loss of the cruise industry in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest next.

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