The big cruise ship lines were shut out of the $2.2 trillion coronavirus rescue
A provision in the Senate's $2.2 trillion coronavirus rescue package, inserted late in the negotiations, restricts participation in a $500 billion loan program to corporations "that are created or organized in the United States or under the laws of the United States and that have significant operations in and a majority of its employees based in the United States." That excludes most of the cruise ship industry, hit especially hard by the coronavirus outbreak, The Wall Street Journal reports.
None of the major cruise ship lines is registered in the U.S. — Carnival is incorporated in Panama, Royal Caribbean in Liberia, Norwegian Cruise Line in Bermuda, and privately held MSC Cruises in Switzerland. "The companies don't pay U.S. federal income taxes, and most of their cleaning staff, restaurant servers, bartenders, and other employees are foreign nationals," the Journal reports. "Even the individual ships are typically owned by foreign LLCs and domiciled in low-tax countries such as the Bahamas, Bermuda, and the Dominican Republic."
President Trump, who had promised that the cruise ship industry would be covered by the rescue package, said Thursday that he would like to help the cruise lines but conceded it would be "very tough to make a loan to company when they're based in a different country." He added that "we're going to work very hard on the cruise line business and we're going to figure something out."
Cruise ships do pay state taxes and port fees, and the Cruise Lines International Association lobbying group said the industry contributed $53 billion to the U.S. economy in 2018 and supported 421,000 U.S. jobs. Cruise ships have also been linked to large outbreaks of disease, including more than 800 of the world's COVID-19 infections.