Norwegian Confirms Talks With NYC for Migrant Housing on Cruise Ship

File image courtesy Norwegian Cruise Line

Published Oct 2, 2022 10:16 PM by The Maritime Executive

New York may soon join the list of major cities that have chartered cruise ships to augment overflowing shelter systems for migrants. Norwegian Cruise Line has confirmed that it has discussed the possibility of a charter with city officials, though no deal has yet been finalized. If it goes through, the deal would reportedly cover a single vessel moored in Staten Island for a term of six months. 

New York's capacity to house and shelter the homeless is limited, and the city has experienced an influx of about 15,000 illegal immigrants since the beginning of the summer. Most of the migrants entered the United States in Texas, where Gov. Greg Abbott has set up a busing program to encourage them to continue onwards to New York. NYC Mayor Eric Adams expcts "thousands more to arrive every week" for the foreseeable future, and his staff is looking at all available options to secure more housing. The city may eventually need to assist as many as 75,000 new arrivals, Adams said last week. 

The city government is setting up a large tent shelter for arriving migrants at a reported operating cost of $15 million per month. A cruise ship would provide an affordable temporary solution to provide thousands of extra beds on a rapid timetable - without taking up more shoreside space or interfering with  neighboring land uses. 

Cruise ships and cruise ferries have been used for this purpose before in Europe, and they played a role in the COVID-19 quarantine system for migrant arrivals in Italy during the pandemic. Estonian ferry operator Tallink is currently providing temporary lodging for Ukrainian refugees near Tallinn, Estonia and Edinburgh, Scotland - and the company is rumored to be in talks with New York City officials as well.

"While other leaders have abdicated their moral duty to support arriving asylum seekers, New York City refuses to do so," Mayor Adams said in a recent statement. "This is not an everyday homelessness crisis, but a humanitarian crisis that requires a different approach."