The Healthy Sail Panel, created in partnership between Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, has submitted their new health recommendations to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The recommendations were in response to a request for public comment on the CDC’s current No Sail Order.
The Healthy Sail Panel, formed in June, consists of globally recognized experts experienced in various disciplines including public health, infectious diseases, biosecurity and marine operations. The Panel has spent the last four months studying how to best protect the health and safety of guests and crew. They’ve made 74 recommendations across five core focus areas that every cruise operator should address to reduce the risk of infection and spread of COVID-19 on cruise ships:
- Testing, Screening and Exposure Reduction
- Sanitation and Ventilation
- Response, Contingency Planning and Execution
- Destination and Excursion Planning
- Mitigating Risks for Crew Members
“The Healthy Sail Panel’s recommendations are robust and comprehensive, and they reflect the intense focus the panelists brought to their work,” said Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. “We know that both authorities around the globe and consumers expect cruise lines to provide the safest, healthiest vacations we can, and this work demonstrates our commitment to doing just that.”
“We understand our responsibility to act aggressively to protect the health and safety of our guests and crew, as well as the communities where we sail, and we asked the Panel to help us learn how to best live up to that responsibility,” said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group. “We were inspired by the depth of the Panel’s work and their determination to help us establish the strongest protocols in the travel industry.”
Fain and Del Rio said each cruise line will use the Panel’s recommendations to inform the development of new, detailed operating protocols, which will be submitted to the CDC and other authorities around the globe for review and approval– an important milestone in the process of resuming sailing around the world.
The Panel’s work is open sourced for others to incorporate in their protocols as well; Governor Leavitt and Dr. Gottlieb expressed appreciation that authorities and other cruise companies had already engaged in the Panel’s work as observers.
Among the recommendations are key strategies such as:
- Taking aggressive measures to prevent COVID-19 from entering a cruise ship through robust education, screening and testing of both crew and guests prior to embarkation
- Reducing transmission via air management strategies and sanitation practices
- Implementing detailed plans for addressing positive infection onboard, including contingencies for onboard treatment, isolation and evacuation
- Closely controlling shore excursions
- Enhanced protection for crew members