A YEAR LIKE NO OTHER: CLIA suspends global cruise industry

2020 April 2: On March 13, 2020, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) took extreme action by suspending cruise ship operations from U.S. ports for a period of 30 days. This action followed CLIA’s historic move just five days earlier when it issued instructions to its member lines to deny boarding to all persons who had recently travelled via airports in South Korea, Iran, China and any municipality in Italy that was then under ‘lockdown’ orders.

Those instructions included the screening of passengers and denial of boarding to persons who may have been exposed to the coronavirus within the previous 14 days.

CLIA represents most of the cruise lines operating in North and South America, Europe, Asia and Australasia, and is regarded as the voice of the world’s cruise lines.

The escalated action taken on March 13 by CLIA to voluntarily suspend cruise shipping around the planet was unprecedented and was described as such by Kelly Craighead, President and CEO of the global trade association.

“CLIA cruise line members are voluntarily and temporarily suspending operations from the U.S. as we work to address this public health crisis. This is an unprecedented situation. Our industry has taken responsibility for protecting public health for more than 50 years, working under the guidance of the

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and prides itself on its ability to deliver exceptional vacation experiences for guests, as well as meaningful employment opportunities for crew. This has been a challenging time, but we hope that this decision will enable us to focus on the future and a return to normal as soon as possible.


“We do not take this decision lightly, and we want the traveling public to know in no uncertain terms the commitment of this industry to putting people first,” said Adam Goldstein, CLIA Global Chairman. “During this time, we will continue to work with the CDC and others to prepare for resumption of sailings when it is appropriate. We know the travel industry is a huge economic engine for the United States and when our ships once again sail, our industry will be a significant contributor to fueling the economic recovery.”

CLIA subsequently announced (on March 15) that USA would be open to returning ships and that passengers would be able to disembark and fly home “… as confirmed by a National Interest Exemption issued by the United States Department of Homeland Security on March 13, 2020. This includes passengers who are U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, and foreign diplomats. Non-U.S. citizens will be able to fly home to their home countries,” CLIA announced.

As a result of this exemption, CLIA and Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association  requested that all ports in the Caribbean, South America and other areas remain open to cruise ships sailing on itineraries related to U.S. ports to allow passengers to return as soon as possible to their homes. As it turned out, Caribbean ports moved first to protect their homeland and their nationals, largely ignoring CLIA requests.  []