Happy Monday, everyone! It’s a particularly special Monday for those who love reading 65-page documents outlining on board health and safety protocol upgrades. That’s right! Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean Group released their health and safety plan for the CDC to review and the list of changes is extensive. The panel was convened earlier this summer as a cross-cruise line venture aimed at making the industry as a whole safer, not just one or two cruise lines.
The newly released plan details 74 unique changes to how cruise vacations operate including mandatory pre-board testing, social distancing and reduced capacity, masks and temperature checks, just to name a few.
What is the Healthy Sail Panel?
Back in July, NCL and Royal Caribbean decided that they were stronger together when it comes to health and safety. In creating the Healthy Sail Panel, they were able to bring together some of the top minds in health, safety and logistics to put forth a plan that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could approve.
The main points of emphasis of the new plan include:
- Testing, Screening and Exposure Reduction
- Sanitation and Ventilation
- Response, Contingency Planning and Execution
- Destination and Excursion Planning
- Mitigating Risks for Crew Members
The Panel is led by 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.
“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. Gottlieb. “Taken as a comprehensive approach, we believe the Panel’s robust public health recommendations will help inform strategies for a safe resumption of sailing.”
“This Panel undertook an ambitious, cross-disciplinary, public health examination to develop standards and guidelines that create the highest level of safety in the complex environment of a cruise ship. 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. The Panel’s recommendations are grounded in the best scientific and medical information available and are intended to meaningfully mitigate public health risks to those who sail,” said Governor Leavitt.
From the cruise line’s perspective, the collaboration made a lot of sense considering the industry rises and falls together. Each cruise line operating independently from one another when it comes to new standards would create a situation where some cruise lines are safe and others are not. If one cruise line falls under fire for lax COVID-19 regulations, it makes the whole industry look bad.
“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.”
“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’ve already seen some changes to cruising prior to the release today. Royal Caribbean Group has previously announced Muster 2.0, a new muster drill procedure that allows guests to check in and complete all muster training in their stateroom or via smart device.
Do the new health and safety protocols make you more or less likely to book a cruise? Let us know in the comments below!