Royal Caribbean Group & Norwegian Cruise Line’s Healthy Sail Panel Present Recommendations for Safe Return to Sailing
Today, the Healthy Sail Panel, comprised of Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., submitted their recommendations to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in response to their request for a public comment that will be used by the agency to provide safety guidance and measures relating to healthy travel on cruise ships. This submission is a part of both line’s commitment to the healthy return of sailing around the world.
The Healthy Sail Panel is comprised of a group of experts in medical practice and research, public health, infectious diseases, biosecurity, hospitality, and maritime operations. Governor Mike Leavitt, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration serve as Chairs of the Panel.
The Healthy Sail Panel’s 65-plus-page report presented to the CDC includes 74 detailed recommendations to protect the public health and safety of guests, crew, and destinations where cruise ships call. The measures presented include testing, the use of face coverings, and enhanced sanitation procedures on ships and in terminals.
Five areas of focus were identified by the Healthy Sail Panel as key areas that every cruise operation should address to better improve safety for guest and crew and reduce the risk of spread of COVID-19 on ships:
- Testing, Screening, and Exposure Reduction
- Sanitation and Ventilation
- Response, Contingency Planning
- Destination and excursion planning
- Mitigating risks for the crew
In each of these categories, the Healthy Sail Panel created practical and actionable recommendations to address specific safety concerns. Some strategies include:
- Taking aggressive measures to prevent SARS-CoV-2 from entering a ship through robust education, screening, and testing of both crew and guests prior to embarkation
- Reducing transmission via air management strategies and enhanced sanitation practices
- Implementing detailed plans to address positive infection on board, including contingencies for onboard treatment, isolation and rapid evacuation and repatriation
- Closely controlling shore excursions
- Enhanced protection for crew members
“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.”
Frank Del Rio, President, and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings echoed this sentiment, “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.”
Both Royal and Norwegian will use the Panel’s recommendations in developing their operating protocols which will be submitted to the CDC and other authorities for review and approval. The recommendations are open-sourced for other lines to incorporate into their new safety protocols as well.