Suspension of cruises to cost UK economy £888 million

According to new data from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the 90-day suspension of cruises will cost the UK economy £888m and lead to the loss of 5,525 jobs and £287m in wages, The Telegraph has reported.

The Association represents more than 95 per cent of the world’s cruise fleet. Across the UK, the cruise industry supports 40,517 direct jobs paying £1.35bn in wages. These are the cruise line employees, both on board and shoreside.

Nearly a fifth of the 435,000 people employed in the businesses supported by the cruise industry across Europe are also based in the UK, paying £3.05bn in wages. These include an extensive supply chain featuring travel agencies, hotels, local transport operators, and port agents, and the industry also supports catering companies, including many small and family-run businesses providing specialist food produce.

Along with indirect jobs, the total predicted economic loss rises to GBP2.37bn, 13,788 jobs, and GBP746m in wages for a 90-day suspension. For every 1% drop in cruising in the UK, CLIA anticipates up to 530 jobs can be lost. Each day of the suspension results in the loss of 55 direct jobs and 139 total jobs in the UK, the report noted.

Andy Harmer, director, Clia UK and Ireland, said: ‘The cruise industry generates £10 billion for the UK economy each year. We understand the significant impact, therefore, that our decision to suspend operations has on the livelihoods of people who work in our sector, and on businesses that rely on the cruise industry in all parts of the country. Unfortunately, our research shows that for a 90-day suspension we can anticipate a loss of more than 5,525 UK jobs and an economic cost of £888 million to the UK.’

‘Choosing to suspend operations was the right thing to do, and we know the cruise industry is resilient. We have put public health at the heart of our response, and we will continue to respect the guidance from international and national health authorities. We are using this time to enhance further our protocols that we will all benefit from, and we look forward to playing our part in the recovery, when the time comes for society to travel once more.’

The report come as both P&O Cruises and Cunard extended their suspension of global operations until July 31 at least. Neither line had ruled out extending beyond that date. They had announced they were starting to shut down operations on March 16.

UK cruise industry takes a break amid coronavirus concerns

The UK cruise industry has shut down operations as travel restrictions due to coronavirus/COVID-19 are in place around the world, including advice against all non-essential travel from the UK government for 30 days from March 17.

According to a report in The Telegraph, the first ever move to shut down the global cruise industry follows advice from both the UK and US governments that those aged 70 and over, and those with pre-existing health conditions, should avoid cruise holidays.

Andy Harmer, UK and Ireland director of Cruise Lines International Association (Clia), said: ‘As we face the prospect of new restrictions impacting our daily lives, we are all being tested, and I’m proud that our cruising community has been stepping up to the challenge. I know that everyone is working around the clock to adapt to the new landscape we find ourselves in, and are making every effort to keep customers informed with updated information, even as developments are seeming to occur so rapidly. Our customers should feel assured that our industry remains focused on their safety, health and well-being.’

Viking was the first cruise operator to announce on March 11 that it was suspending its river and ocean cruises for a temporary period. Operations are suspended for both Viking River Cruises and Viking Ocean Cruises between March 12 and April 30. Viking is offering pre-booked customers within this period the choice of a future cruise voucher valued at 125% of all monies paid to Viking or a refund. Guests will have 24 months to use their future cruise voucher to make a new reservation on any river, ocean or expedition cruise.

Most of the major cruise lines have made similar announcements, with cruise season now delayed until mid to late April. Cunard is suspending new cruises on its ships until April 11. Both Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria will return to Southampton and Queen Elizabeth’s itineraries are under review, the report said, adding that guests are being contacted regarding their voyage and options.

Marella Cruises, a British cruise line operated by TUI UK, offering cruise holidays around Europe, the Caribbean, and Asia – has a restart date of March 28, while TUI has postponed the launch of its new river cruises.

Virgin Voyages – Sir Richard Branson’s brand new cruise line – has postponed a showcase tour planned for its first ship, Scarlet Lady and the maiden voyage. The inaugural season will start on July 15 and the maiden voyage will take place on August 7. Customers will receive a 200 per cent future voyage credit, and will also receive up to USD500 in on board credit if they rebook before June 30. It will also be possible to get a 100 per cent refund of the voyage fare for an impacted sailing, plus a 25 per cent future voyage credit. The line plans to launch another three ships after Scarlet Lady, the report said.