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Most cruise lines are barred from receiving aid from the $2.2 trillion stimulus package that Congress recently passed. But American Cruise Lines — which has most of its sales and customer service operations based in Utah — is an exception.
The company, which offers river and coastal cruises only in America, is one of few cruise lines that meets a requirement in the stimulus that money may go only to businesses “created or organized in the United States or under the laws of the United States” and “have significant operations in and a majority of its employees based in the United States.”
Most major cruise lines are based offshore, usually to shield their income from the 21% federal tax for corporations. It also allows them to avoid U.S. minimum wage laws.
The savings can be substantial. Carnival, for example, would have had to pay $600 million in 2019 on its $3 billion in reported 2019 income, NBC News reported.
As examples of cruise lines based abroad, Carnival is incorporated in Panama; Royal Caribbean is incorporated in Liberia; and Norwegian Cruise Lines is incorporated in Bermuda.
That is why cruise lines were largely left out of the stimulus, even though the industry is shut down for now by the COVID-19 pandemic and President Donald Trump had vowed in a news conference that, “We can’t let the cruise lines go out of business. I mean, that would be massive numbers of jobs for our country and, actually, for the world.”
American Cruise Lines — which has operated a center in Sandy since 2014 for sales and customer service — is based in Guilford, Conn. The cruise line did not provide information about how many employees it has in Utah.
Carter Robertson, director of sales for American, said that while the line may qualify for and seek stimulus money, “American is strongly positioned” to survive current shutdowns.
“American has instituted some of the most flexible guest and agent rebooking policies in the industry,” he said. “We remain hopeful and look forward to offering the finest small ship cruise experiences again soon.”
Robertson said his cruise line opened a center in Utah because the state has a “wonderful base of skilled salespeople.”
He adds, “Our Utah office is full service — they handle everything from initial inquiries to specific guest requests. The location, team and local support has surpassed our expectations and we look forward to continue growing our Utah presence.”
While Americans’ cruises currently have halted amid the pandemic — as are virtually all lines globally — Robertson said its Utah operations are still busy handling the cancellations, rebookings and future reservations.
“We have had very few furloughs at our Utah sales office, and the staff has transitioned extremely well to a temporary work-from-home model,” he said. “We remain very busy and continue to do everything possible to accommodate our guests’ needs.”
Robertson said his line takes pride in operating in the United States, and using U.S.-built ships.
“There are just a handful of U.S. flagged lines and American has grown to become the largest. We offer over 35 U.S. itineraries, plus theme and holiday cruises to over 25 states,” mostly along rivers or coast lines, he said.
“American has always built all its ships here in the U.S. and we are proud to operate a 100% U.S.-owned, built, crewed, and flagged line,” he said.
“America is so beautiful and geographically diverse and there are so many wonderful places to cruise close to home,” Robertson added. “We love showing America to Americans and offering the newest small ships and finest river and coastal cruises in the country.”