July Cruising from U.S. Ports More Unlikely

Port Canaveral

The big cruise lines are losing the race against time to operate from U.S. ports in July as the month of April comes to a close.

With most in the industry needing around 90 days to fully prepare a modern megaship for operation after a pause period, that would would push realistic U.S. operation timelines to August.

Cruise lines will also want a confirmed green light from U.S. authorities, not wanting to spend much-needed cash to prepare a ship, only to have to send crew home or not be able to start cruising.

The biggest challenge will start with just crewing up.

India is off limits for recruitment for some, limiting a labor pool, but without the industry needing its full compliment of crew with many ships still in lay up, that shouldn't present a major problem.

Getting crew out of other countries will still be a challenging factor though, with recruitment processes slowing due to COVID-19 and health and safety measures, paperwork slowdowns, and multiple rounds of COVID019 testing before boarding the ship, only to be followed by two-week quarantine aboard.

Once aboard and cleared, crew will need time to train in new procedures and further time to get ships ready to cruise again.

Equipment onboard will need maintenance and inspections, with specialist contractors said to be in short supply, and also hampered if they need to travel to and from ships with COVID-19 quarantine restrictions. 

Shoreside, cruise lines will need to bring some furloughed employees back, with suppliers and vendors will need to staff up again as well, and potentially train new hires, a process that will take time.

One area of concern voiced by some in the industry has been finding and re-recruiting staff for port and terminal operations.

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