The Miami-Dade Tourism and the Ports Committee met on Thursday to discuss the opening plan for cruise lines, and placed much of the blame on cruises not restarting on the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
The Board of Commissioners met in a virtual meeting, along with representatives from Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Norwegian and MSC cruise lines.
Vice Chairwoman Rebeca Sosa opened the meeting by pointing out the double standard of other industries being able to reopen while the cruise industry has not due to the CDC.
"While other industries have been allowed to reopen in phases, the cruise industry remains totally shut down. In April, the CDC gave the cruise industry seven days to come up with a lay-up plan, and the cruise industry worked tirelessly and gave them the plan in seven days. The CDC took 14 weeks to somewhat respond to the plan that was presented."
"They cannot wait another 14 weeks to get some feedback from the CDC. The cruise lines will need immediate engagement and action from the CDC in order to reopen."
Ms. Sosa spoke about the fact the cruise lines have been diligently working on plans, with no response or feedback from the CDC.
"The problem is that's not fair, that the CDC is not paying attention and communicating with the cruise industry on the plans that they are created so they can tell them this is right, this needs more work, so they can be prepared."
Royal Caribbean: "We're ready"
Royal Caribbean International President & CEO Michael Bayley also addressed the meeting, praising Miami officials for the support they have provided.
"If it hadn't been for the assistance that Juan and the Port of Miami provided Royal Caribbean, we would have struggled enormously with all of our guest and crew repatriations and the ongoing provisioning of our ships, which are all over the Caribbean."
Mr. Bailey spoke about how much the cruise industry contributes to the local economy, and the work Royal Caribbean is doing to get back to sailing.
"As the previous speakers have recognized, the cruise industry is truly vital to the Florida economy, contributing over eight and a half billion dollars in direct spending.
"We have been working over the past several months on the creation of a universal set of guidelines that dovetail and fit into the work that's being created by our panel, and ultimately our collective submission to the CDC.
"So we're very optimistic that we will be able to return to service. We're certainly better prepared today than we were yesterday, and we believe we will be better prepared for tomorrow."
Mr. Bailey summed up his comments with this statement, "It's time that the cruise industry returned to service and we're ready."
Royal Caribbean waiting to submit cruise restart plan
Mr. Bailey did clarify for the panel that Royal Caribbean had not yet submitted their plan for restarting cruises to the CDC. He said it would it submitted in the coming weeks.
"That plan has not been submitted to the CDC as of today. Our intention is to have that plan submitted in the coming weeks. And it corresponds with the request for information that the CDC opened up for public comment, which concludes on September the twenty first."
Ms. Sosa reiterated the need for the CDC to act quickly once the plan is submitted, and not to take a long time to respond, as they did in the spring.
"I'm going to speak from my heart. It's impossible to understand why they don't respond to at least work together to make sure that the last plan that is presented is the right one and to make sure that they don't do what they did before that they waited 14 weeks to respond to a plan."