Experts have argued that with the right prevention and testing measures, COVID-19 can be mitigated in a cruise ship environment.
The Healthy Sail Panel (HSP), which is a group of medical and scientific experts formed by Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, have submitted their recommendations to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in response to a public request for comment.
HSP’s report includes over 74 detailed best practices to protect the public health and safety of guests, crew and the communities where cruise ships call.
Recommendations include testing, the use of face coverings, and enhanced sanitation procedures on ships and in terminals.
“The Healthy Sail Panel spent the last four months studying how to better protect the health and safety of guests and crew aboard cruise ships,” said Dr Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US food and drug administration and chair of HSP.
“Taken as a comprehensive approach, we believe the panel’s robust public health recommendations will help inform strategies for a safe resumption of sailing.”
Mike Leavitt, former US secretary of health and human services and co-chair of the HSP, said the panel undertook an in-depth public health examination.
“We studied the industry’s experiences combating the pandemic – and we then incorporated the many lessons learned and advances made by medicine and science over the past six months,” Leavitt said.
The full HSP report can be found HERE.
The news came as Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) announced a set of mandatory measures for its members to support the resumption of cruise operations in the Americas.
CLIA said in a statement it is hopeful the new measures, which include recommendations from the HSP, will help guide discussions for cruising resumptions around the world.
The core elements, which have also been submitted to the CDC, include 100 per cent testing of all passengers and crew, mandatory masks, ventilation and physical distancing among other things.
“The core elements, which are applicable to CLIA member ocean-going cruise ships operating in the Americas, will help inform CLIA’s global policy work, and represent an important milestone to support our ongoing discussions with the Australian and New Zealand governments,” said Joel Katz, CLIA’s managing director for Australasia.
The measures are also informed by MSC’s Blue Ribbon group and Carnival Corporation’s collection of outside independent experts as well as protocols developed for sailings in Europe by MSC Cruises, Costa, TUI Cruises, Ponant, Seadream, and others.
Featured image source: iStock/Margarita-Young