The International Maritime Organization (IMO), along with fellow UN unit the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has come out in support for a (safe) resumption of cruise ship operations.
The organizations said in a joint statement released on November 5th that their member states and relevant national and local authorities should designate all seafarers and marine personnel within their jurisdictions as key workers who provide an essential service. The statement pleaded for the removal of any barriers to crew changes.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) member cruise lines suspended their operations worldwide in mid-March.
The two UN agencies recognized the efforts made by the industry to introduce arrangements that minimized the chance of Covid-19 spreading on board.
The two organizations have invited governments to use the Guidance on the gradual and safe resumption of operations of cruise ships in the EU in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic to facilitate the recovery of the sector under safe conditions. It also recommended that governments should consult three framework documents that have been developed by the UK Chamber of Shipping and the CLIA.
The joint statement said that the resumption of cruise ship operations would benefit the wider maritime community, since passenger ships participated in the automated mutual-assistance vessel rescue and were often called on by Rescue Coordination Centres to offer assistance when merchant ships or leisure craft at sea got into difficulties.
Although some cruise holidays have begun again in Europe and Asia, the main global market – the US – remains dormant. Several cruise lines are not planning to restart operations before 2021, and some European cruise holidays have been impacted by the re-emergence of the pandemic in many European countries.