Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings have released a 64-page-long report featuring 74 health and safety protocols that they believe will protect cruise guests and crew from the COVID-19 virus.
The detailed steps were derived by the Healthy Sail Panel, a group announced in June that set out to develop recommendations for cruise lines to advance their public health response to COVID-19.
The panel, which is comprised of experts in public health, infectious disease, biosecurity, hospitality and maritime operations, has submitted their report to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as part of the agency’s request for public comment.
The CDC’s current “no-sail” order is set to expire at the end of the September, while Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has issued a voluntary suspension through Oct. 31.
The report lists a range of ways to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on cruise ships, such as routine COVID-19 testing, wearing face coverings and regular temperature checks.
“While the cruise industry, and the connected industries and nations that are economically linked to the industry, are keenly interested in resuming sailing, their leaders recognize that the economic impact of suspending operations cannot be addressed until the public health risks associated with the pandemic are appropriately mitigated in a shipboard environment,” the report reads.
The recommendations for safe cruising begin long before the voyage takes place and they includes action plans for when and if there is a COVID-19 outbreak on board.
Some recommendations in the report include:
- Passengers must test for COVID-19 between five days and 24 hours prior to boarding and share the negative result with the operator.
- Additional health screenings at embarkation points.
- All passengers should have their temperature taken as part of the boarding process.
- Passengers who disclose symptoms of possible COVID-19 infection or close contact with someone suspected infection, or who displays a temperature of 100.4 degrees or above, should undergo secondary screening by medical personnel to determine whether they may board the ship or whether they will be denied boarding.
- Crew members should be tested between five days and 24 hours before leaving their home. After receiving a negative result, they should quarantine on board for seven days and take another test before beginning duties with a negative result.
- Passengers and crew should undergo daily temperature checks.
- Passengers and crew should wear a face mask or cloth covering in accordance with CDC guidelines.
- Ships should implement capacity restrictions and shorter sailing itineraries.
- Cruise operators should implement a contact-free check-in.
In addition to recommending enhanced sanitization protocols, the panel says operators should also designate cabins on the ship as isolation and quarantine spaces. The document also outlines its recommendations for excursions.
“The pandemic presents serious challenges, but we believe that with the ongoing advances in areas such as testing and therapies, our recommendations provide cruise operators with a robust set of thoughtful preparations, innovations, strengthened protocols, and enhanced facilities preparedness that will enable them to safely resume sailings,” the report reads.
The Healthy Sail Panel’s entire report can be viewed online here.
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