The upcoming US elections will likely have a significant impact on the US cruise industry, as the two candidates, President Donald Trump and Vice President Joe Biden have taken very different approaches to the COVID-19 pandemic.
When the coronavirus pandemic first broke out in March this year, forcing cruise lines to suspend sailings and eventually shutdown the entire industry, US President Donald Trump signaled his support for bailing out the major cruise companies.
He voiced support for Senator Josh Hawley’s call for cruise lines to register as American corporations in order to qualify for aid.
Carnival Corp. is incorporated in Panama, Royal Caribbean Cruises in Liberia and Norwegian Cruise Line in Bermuda, which made them ineligible for the US government’s $2 trillion stimulus package.
It has also been reported that Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald and President Trump get on well together, and have similar views on the importance of resuming cruises in the United States.
Donald has consistently said that cruises should resume in a phased manner, with new health and safety protocols that protect passengers and crew. He has indicated that the recent resumption of cruises in Europe can serve as a model for the US industry.
“If you go back just two or three months, who would have thought there would be any possibility of cruising in Italy? … Now Italy is cruising again. They’ve mitigated the spread. Society is starting to move about,” he told Seatrade in August.
“We’re preparing for all possibilities,” he added. “We’re constantly monitoring developments. We’re looking at all the technologies and things in the approval process. We have to look at the entire protocol.”
“The objective is to mitigate spread. So a lot depends on what you’re doing in the rest of your protocols.”
President Trump has taken a far more controversial approach to the pandemic, floating established scientific knowledge and making statements and taking action criticised as misleading and reckless, but both men agree on the need to restart the cruise industry.
In a tweet in March, President Trump announced that cruises would be suspended, but described the cruise industry as “great and important”.
At my request, effective midnight tonight, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, and MSC have all agreed to suspend outbound cruises for thirty days. It is a great and important industry – it will be kept that way!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 13, 2020
Although not specifically referring to cruises, Trump in May infamously called for the US economy to reopen, despite health experts warning against it.
REOPEN OUR COUNTRY!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2020
Democratic candidate former Vice President Joe Biden has said that any US government response to the coronavirus pandemic must follow the science and must be guided by experts in epidemics and public health.
He has sought to contrast himself and his approach with President Trump’s, saying in an interview with CNNin September: “I’ll simply follow the science. I’ll level with the American people. I’ll take responsibility, and I’ll support rather than tear down the experts responsible for the day-to-day execution of the plan.”
The potential difference between the two approaches was illustrated during a recent meeting between the White House Coronavirus Taskforce and the CDC, where a decision was made to extend the CDC’s No Sail Order by one month.
CDC Director Robert Redford had reportedly wanted to extend the No Sail Order into 2021, but was over-ruled by Vice President Mike Pence.
Paul Golding an investment analysts and market commentator recently told Business Insider that any change to the current US administration was likely to impact negatively on the cruise industry.
A new administration would likely be less sympathetic toward cruise lines reopening without a vaccine, Golding said, and be “more keen to follow doctor, scientist, [and] expert recommendation.”