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New Recommendations On Healthy Cruise Trips

Nassau Cruise Port.

Nassau Cruise Port.

By LEANDRA ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

lrolle@tribunemedia.net 

NEW recommendations from a panel of globally recognised medical and scientific experts say that by relentlessly focusing on prevention and other measures – including the testing of guests and crew members – public health risks associated with the pandemic can be mitigated in a cruise ship environment.

The Healthy Sail Panel submitted its recommendations yesterday to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in response to a CDC request for public comment that will be used to inform future public health guidance and preventative measures relating to travel on cruise ships. The panel was formed in June by Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.

The panel comprises globally recognised experts in medical practice and research, public health, infectious diseases, biosecurity, hospitality and maritime operations that have applied the best available public health, science and engineering insights to their recommendations, according to a press release from the two cruise lines.

The Healthy Sail Panel’s 65-plus-page report includes 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 panel is chaired by Governor Mike Leavitt, former US secretary of health and human services, and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the US 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, according to the press release. “Taken as a comprehensive approach, we believe the panel’s robust public health recommendations will help inform strategies for a safe resumption of sailing.”

Gov Leavitt said: “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.”

“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.”

Mr Fain and Mr Del Rio said each company will use the panel’s recommendations to inform the development of new, detailed operating protocols, which will be submitted to the CDC and other authorities around the globe for review and approval– an important milestone in the process of resuming sailing around the world.

According to the press release, the panel’s work is open sourced for others to incorporate in their protocols as well; Governor Leavitt and Dr Gottlieb expressed appreciation that authorities and other cruise companies had already engaged in the panel’s work as observers.

The Healthy Sail Panel identified five areas of focus every cruise operator should address to improve health and safety for guests and crew, and reduce the risk of infection and spread of COVID-19 on cruise ships: testing, screening and exposure reduction; sanitation and ventilation; response, contingency planning and execution; destination and excursion planning and mitigating risks for crew members.

In July, the CDC announced the extension of a No Sail Order for cruise ships through September 30. This order continues to suspend passenger operations on cruise ships with the capacity to carry at least 250 passengers in waters subject to US jurisdiction, according to the CDC’s website.

“Cumulative CDC data from March 1 through July 10, 2020, shows 2,973 COVID-19 or COVID-like illness cases on cruise ships, in addition to 34 deaths,” the CDC reports. “These cases were part of 99 outbreaks on 123 different cruise ships.”

Comments

TalRussell 7 months ago

Is it left we, the readers, to fill in all the blanks in the formed and funded by Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd? Just couldn't make this stuff up. Just couldn't. A nod of Once for Yeah, Twice for No?

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proudloudandfnm 7 months ago

Leavitt and Gottlieb are both republicans. Sorry, no credibility in this pandemic, hell no. Republicans just cannot be trusted. Not one.

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TalRussell 7 months ago

My Comrade Proud, COVID-19 turning out to be the exposing how fuckin# broken the system is.

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bahamianson 7 months ago

Cruise ships were dealing with viral outbreaks long before the coronavirus hit. They are not good means of transportation. 2-3 thousand people constantly passing each other coughing and sneezing through corridors and elevators on a cruise. I hate to think about it. I never considered cruising because of the thought of poor sanitary conditions.

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