Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announced their ambitious new panel of health experts earlier this week, which aims to get its first set of recommendations for both cruise lines by the end of August 2020.
The Healthy Sail Panel will is comprised of 11 subject-matter experts, who represent a diverse group of health advocates that have experience not only in their professional fields, but also working with government officials.
The Royal Caribbean Group spoke with members of the media on Tuesday, and provided a timeline of events for the panel.
Carol Cabezas, Azamara's Vice President and Chief Operating Officer indicated the panel would have their initial recommendations by the end of August.
"The panel has been together several weeks now. And the goal is to offer their initial recommendations by the end of August."
Royal Caribbean Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Support & Service Vicki Freed echoed that timeline later in the meeting.
"We expect to get a first draft of a pretty good outline of what the changes we need to do by late August, they're going to be reporting back to us."
Open source transparency
While the Healthy Sail Panel is tasked with coming up with protocols for Royal Caribbean and Norwegian, their findings are going to be made available to any cruise line and company.
Ms. Cabezas indicated the work of the panel is going to be open source, which means it will be available to anyone who needs it or wants it at no cost.
"We want to make sure we're completely open, very candid on what we're doing, how we're doing it."
The Royal Caribbean Group has made it clear that it wants this work to be transparent, and freely available for all to scrutinize and build upon, regardless of which company wants to benefit from it.
"The one thing we know about our industry when it comes to safety and security," Ms. Freed said, "there is no competition."
Adding to that point, Dondra Ritzenthaler, Celebrity Cruises Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Support & Service, mentioned how proud she was of the work being done by this panel, "I think this Healthy Sail Panel is not only going to assist us and make sure that in the cruise industry that we have the best protocols and set us up on the healthiest and safest vacation possible, but frankly, to help all of the all of the industries, no matter what it is, hotel or airline or cruise line."
What new protocols to expect
The question on everyone's mind is what new policies and procedures the panel will come up with, and while the panel is hard at work to come up with their complete set of recommendations, we do have at least a preview of what direction they might work towards.
Dondra Ritzenthaler, Celebrity Cruises Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Support & Service spoke about the potential enhanced health and safety standards that will may come out of the panel's work.
"Enhanced embarkation screening, temperature screenings at the pier, testing options for our guests and our crew. Obviously enhanced sanitation and disinfection protocols, use of technology, things like the UV light."
"Clearly, social distancing when we can, and one of the ways to do that is, of course, reduce the amount of guests capacity on board, reduce the capacity in different dining venues, in public venues, and then things like, maybe doing an extra show where we have additional show times and staggered embark and check in."
Ultimately, the panel will work through all the options and practices considered, and come up with the best course of action for the cruise lines.