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Wall Street: CDC to blame for cruises not resuming sooner

18 Jun 2020
Matt Hochberg

Royal Caribbean and other cruise lines have suspended all of their cruise ship sailings since March, and at least one Wall Street analyst thinks the delay in ships returning to service is the fault of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Instinet analyst Harry Curtis wrote in a note to clients that he thinks the problem with cruise ships not starting up again faster is not the fault of the company, but a bias on the part of the government.

"This issue is NOT that the industry has been passive in developing health protocols. Quite the contrary. In our view, the hurdle lies with the CDC’s unwillingness to discuss, debate and mutually implement the highest standards of passenger and crew health care." 

Curtis indicated the Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. has for many weeks, submitted suggestions for new protocols, but the CDC has shown “limited interest” in holding discussions about resuming cruises. Yet the company has little recourse but to wait for approval, as Curtis said the CDC has the power to impound or quarantine ships.  

"It would seem that the cruise industry, its passengers and employees have been viewed by the CDC in the same vein as meat packing plants, nursing homes and prisons. In our view, there is something unjust about such unilateral treatment."

While the cruise ships sit idly by, Las Vegas casinos, major theme parks, movie theaters, and water parks around the country are able to resume operations.

The airlines have been operating without impunity throughout the crisis.

According to Curtis, he estimates it could take three to six months for the CDC to respond to the cruise lines proposals.

On Tuesday, the CDC updated its website and stated they do not have enough information to say when it will be safe to resume sailing with passengers.