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Two behemoth cruise companies are coming together in the name of health and safety.
Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. (NCL) announced yesterday that they’ve joined forces to develop a set of enhanced health and safety standards for cruising in response to the COVID-19 pandemic via a new “Healthy Sail Panel” of experts.
The panel, which has been collaborating for several weeks, include 11 leading health experts. Co-chairs of the panel are former Utah governor Mike Leavitt, who served as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the FDA. Robin Lindsay, NCL’s executive vice president of vessel operations, and Captain Patrik Dahlgren, senior vice president of global marine operations and fleet optimization for Royal Caribbean, will join as representatives of the two cruise lines, with the remainder of the panel comprising experts in public health, science and engineering.
Royal Caribbean and NCL were individually working on their own protocols, so it made sense for them to come together rather than “duplicating the same effort to get to the same goal,” according to Vicki Freed, senior vice president of sales and trade support and service for Royal Caribbean, during a July 7 press conference. (She was joined by Dondra Ritzenthaler, vice president of sales and trade support and service for Celebrity Cruises, and Carol Cabezas, vice president and COO of Azamara — both brands under Royal Caribbean — to speak on the topic with travel trade media).
“One thing we know about our industry, is that when it comes to safety and security, there is no competition,” Freed said. “We are thrilled to have this elite group of experts guiding us so that we can come back into service with all the safety measures in place that are needed to not only provide great vacations, but safe and healthy vacations for our guests."
One thing we know about our industry, is that when it comes to safety and security, there is no competition.
Examples of individual protocols may include enhanced embarkation screening, temperature checks at the piers, enhanced sanitation, testing options for guests and crew, reducing guest capacity and more, Ritzenthaler added.After the panel gives its recommendations, NCL and Royal Caribbean will then individually prepare their own health and wellness strategies and present it to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for approval.
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“I’m really proud of our company for getting these experts together so that when we do get this information, we can go out with the best protocols possible from learning from the experts,” Ritzenthaler said.
In addition to onboard protocols, safety measures onshore will also be considered, in order to “make sure the safe experience continues from the ship to the shore,” said Azamara’s Cabezas.
“We’re working with governments and ports all over the globe to establish the plans and protocols for the safe resumption of cruising for our guests and crew, and also the communities we visit and our tour operator partners,” she said.
A final set of protocols is set to be released at the end of August. After receiving CDC approval, the standards will be made available on a complimentary basis to the public to be “freely adopted by any company or industry that would benefit from the group’s scientific and medical insights,” according to a statement from Royal Caribbean. The cruise lines also have the support of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
“We have such a strong group of experts in so many areas collaborating with our industry, and what’s most exciting is the opportunity to provide benefits well beyond our company,” Cabezas said. “When you think about a cruise ship, it’s a microcosm of communities across the globe. You have hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, theaters and even casinos, and any player in any of those industries can leverage the great work that this panel is doing.”
The DetailsNorwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.www.ncl.com
Royal Caribbean Groupwww.royalcaribbean.com