On Tuesday July 7th, a team of Royal Caribbean executives held a media roundtable to discuss a newly-announced Healthy Sail Panel.
The panel is tasked with collaboratively developing recommendations for cruise lines to advance their public health response to COVID-19, improve safety, and achieve readiness for the safe resumption of operations.
Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NCLH) recently announced that it was collaborating to develop enhanced cruise health and safety standards in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
Vicki Freed, senior vice president of sales and trade support and service, Royal Caribbean International, Dondra Ritzenthaler, senior vice president of Sales and Trade Support & Service, Celebrity Cruises, and Carol Cabezas, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Azamara were all in attendance to provide more insight.
According to Freed, Royal Caribbean was tackling its health and safety efforts independently, and NCLH was also on an independent journey of its own towards the same goals, so it just made sense for both companies to team up.
“One thing we know in our industry is that when it comes to safety and security, there is no competition, and we need to work together collaboratively,” said Freed.
A global, open-source effort
As a set of open-source work, the findings from RCI and NCL could be freely adopted by any company or industry that would benefit from the group’s scientific and medical insights.
"We're extending this out beyond our company," said Carol Cabezas, chief operating officer, Azamara Cruises. "It’s exciting to provide benefits well beyond our company. The work of the panel is open source, and available to anyone who wants it for no extra cost."
"Hotels, restaurants, bars, and theatres all exist on a ship, just as they do on land, and any player in any industry will be able to leverage the great work this panel is doing," Cabezas added.
Safely resuming cruising
Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. continue to work collaboratively with key stakeholders, governments, and local ports around the world to establish safe protocols that promote the safe resumption of cruising.
"Key players are also our tour operator partners with whom we are having dialogues with ensure safe experiences continues from the ship to the shore," Cabezas said. "Our goal is to create an environment that mitigates risk as much as possible while the virus is still a threat."
RCI and NCLH worked on health and safety measures in the past, back in 2005 when there was a global outbreak of H5N1, also known as Avian Flu.
"Prior to the first meeting this panel had, we informed the CDC of our plans, and we invited them to participate as an observer during this process," said Ritzenthaler.
RCI will individually prepare its own health and wellness strategies after the panel offers up recommendations and expertise.
NCLH will separately present protocols to the CDC as well, and get directions from the organization to implement it.
"This group has been working around the clock for months to ensure that we had the health and safety protocols across our fleets," Ritzenthaler added. "A robust set of enhanced health and safety protocols, like enhanced embarkation screenings, temperature screenings at the pier, testing options for guests and crew, sanitation and disinfection protocols, and social distancing when we can, like reducing guest capacity on board are all things we are looking at. We're looking forward to hearing from these 11 members on the Healthy Sail Panel," she concluded.
RCI expects to see a first draft of the Healthy Sail Panel's recommendations by August 2020.
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