Cruise lines miss out on economic relief


The cruise industry’s major players have been shut out from government assistance under the major economic-recovery bill signed by President Donald Trump on Friday

The bill passed by Congress says companies getting loans or loan guarantees must be “organised” in the US under American laws and have a majority of their employees based in the US

Carnival Corp. is registered in Panama, England and Wales; Royal Caribbean Cruises is chartered in Liberia; and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings is flagged in Bermuda.

Lawmakers could reconsider aid if it looks like the industry is in serious jeopardy of going under.

A source said Democratic senators balked at helping the cruise lines, and it did not become a sticking point because both parties were eager to act swiftly on the bill.

Democrat Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, tweeted: “The giant cruise companies incorporate overseas to dodge US taxes, flag vessels overseas to avoid US taxes and laws, and pollute without offset. Why should we bail them out?”

Trump said he liked the idea that cruise lines should come back to America and pay their taxes.

“I do like the concept of perhaps coming in and registering here, coming into the United States,” Trump said. “It’s very tough to make a loan to a company when they are based in a different country, but with that being said, they have thousands and thousands of people that work there.”

Then Trump left the door open to helping the cruise lines some other way.

“Look, it’s a big business, it’s a great business,” Trump said. “So we are going to work very hard on the cruise line business, and we are going to try and work something out.”

In trading Friday, Carnival’s stock dropped 19 per cent. Royal Caribbean fell 15 per cent and Norwegian sank more than 23 per cent.

Representatives of the industry trade group, Cruise Lines International Association, and individual companies did not immediately comment.

Although the cruise lines won’t get help from the bill signed on Friday, their US-based employees who lose their jobs could be eligible for expanded unemployment benefits of $600 a week on top of state benefits through to July 31, and an extra 13 weeks of state benefits. They could also be in line for the bill’s stimulus payments of up to $1,200 per adult.

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