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US State Department receives Seatrade Cruise Outstanding Contribution Award

Rachel Arndt, second left, was presented the award by Andrew Williams, left. At right are Pierfrancesco Vago and Kelly Craighead
The US State Department, represented by Rachel Arndt, deputy assistant secretary for Passport Services, Bureau of Consular Affairs, received the Seatrade Cruise Outstanding Contribution Award during the Seatrade Cruise Global opening keynote session.

Addressing a standing room-only Grand Ballroom at the Broward County Convention Centre, Andrew Williams, president of Maritime, Informa Markets said, ‘The theme of this year’s conference is "Forward Momentum," which continues apace and the reason why so many of us from around the world are able to gather here today. But much of why the cruise industry is back in full force now is down to the huge efforts that went on last year, none more so than by our winner.’

Seafarer visas

The US State Department showed great ingenuity in addressing cruising’s restart by specifically addressing the seafarer visa backlog.

After the industry’s 15-month pause, last spring, thousands of seafarers were further delayed in returning to work due to US visa processing. These delays also resulted in cruise lines having to limit services and sometimes bringing ships back into service

Above and beyond

‘Our winner worked with the industry on a plan to tackle the visa backlog and really went above and beyond to support cruise in several partnerships including giving C1/D crew visas a priority, expanded eligibility for interview waivers, allowing interview appointments for crew at any post in the world (instead of in their home country) and a new initiative allowing processing in remote posts enabling crew to get back onboard fast and efficiently.’

Cruise Lines International Association President and CEO Kelly Craighead and Chairman Pierfrancesco Vago joined Williams and Arndt on stage for the award presentation.