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Royal Caribbean cancels all November 2020 cruises

In:
Category: 
06Oct2020

Royal Caribbean announced on Tuesday it has extended its voluntary cruise suspension by canceling all of its November 2020 cruises.

A statement on its website states all of its sailings are cancelled through November 30, 2020 and the new goal to restart cruises is December 1, 2020.

"After further consulting with our partners at Cruise Lines International Association and in conjunction with the CDC, we have decided to extend the suspension of sailings for our global fleet for all sailings through November 30th, 2020."

"Our goal is to resume operations on December 1st, 2020."

Cruise operations had been suspended through the end of October, but will now be extended an additional month.

In an email to travel agents, Royal Caribbean expanded a bit more on the impetus to extend the cancellations, "Our most recent plan was to resume operation on October 31st, 2020. However, to ensure we have ample time to focus on our healthy return to service initiatives, our global suspension has been extended through November 30th, 2020, with a plan to resume operation on December 1st, 2020."

Compensation

Guests affected by the cancelled cruises between November 1 - 30, 2020 have three options for compensation.

Lift & Shift: Select next year’s sailing with the same itinerary type, sailing length, stateroom category, and within the same 4-week window of the original cruise date, and you can take your existing reservation and move it to next year. Option expires on October 16th, 2020

125% Future Cruise Credit: To account for the inconvenience this has caused, guests are eligible for a 125% Future Cruise Credit (FCC) that is based on the total cruise fare paid at the guest-level and will be automatically issued on-or-before November 4th, 2020 — if neither of the other options is selected.

Taxes and fees, as well as any pre-purchased amenities or onboard packages will be automatically refunded to the original form of payment within 45 days from the cancellation date. 

If you previously opted to take advantage of our Cruise with Confidence policy, the 100% FCC will stand, and this new option is ineligible.

Additionally, if you redeemed your Cruise with Confidence Future Cruise Credit on a sailing that is now cancelled, their original FCC will be reinstated, plus 125% of any amount paid by the guest on the cancelled reservation.

FCCs for sailings in November will automatically be sent via email by November 4th, 2020.

Refund: If you prefer a cash refund, you can do so by requesting this option on-or-before December 31, 2020.

You can expect their refund to the original form of payment within 45 days from the cancellation date. 

If you redeemed a Cruise with Confidence Future Cruise Credit on an impacted sailing and would now prefer a refund instead, Royal Caribbean will process this request in the amount of any new funds paid above the original certificate and, in turn, will reinstate the Cruise with Confidence FCC for future use.

Cruise Planner Purchases: If you had purchased any cruise add-ons, such as shore excursions, drink packages, wifi and more, you could opt to convert your Cruise Planner purchases  to an Onboard Credit valued at 125% of the total amount paid. This offer expires on October 16th, 2020.

What's next for Royal Caribbean?

The latest round of cancellations likely come as no surprise to cruise fans, but the question of when cruises might actually restart again remains.

A few hours before this announcement, Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain did not rule out cruises in 2020.

Speaking at an industry event on Tuesday, Mr. Fain shared a sense of confidence that cruises could still restart sometime in 2020.

"We're going to start with test cruises, I think, and and then a few shorter cruises and and gradually build up as we build up our experience. But I do think that's going to start this year. I'm highly I'm highly optimistic."

Regardless of the cruise line plans, the U.S. Center for Disease Control "No Sail" order remains the most visible obstacle for Royal Caribbean to restart cruises.

The federal agency extended its cruise ship ban by another month, through the end of October, and there does not appear to be any signs that it could end.

The CDC has been adamant in its belief cruise ships are not safe environments during the current global health crisis.

"Cruise ships continue to be an unsafe environment with close quarters where the disease spreads easily and is not readily detected," is the direct rationale for why cruise ships may not sail.

Royal Caribbean, and the entire cruise industry, has been working on comprehensive new health protocols it believes will make cruises safer than any other form of travel.

Just today, cruise lines announced they would implement 100% testing, alongside over 70 new policies that will create a layered approach to keeping guests and crew members safe.

Fain believes a bubble approach to cruise ships could very well be the answer, with testing at the top of that myriad of protocols.

Royal Caribbean plans to have 100% testing of everyone on its cruise ships

In:
Category: 
06Oct2020

When Royal Caribbean resumes sailings, it intends to test every single passenger and crew member.

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain highlighted a recommendation of the Healthy Sail Panel to institute 100% testing of cruise ship guests and crew members.

Mr. Fain asserted that no other section of the travel industry has 100% testing, which separates Royal Caribbean (and other CLIA member lines) from the rest of travel.

"No other section of the travel industry, no other section does one hundred percent testing. In fact, no other industry in the world requires 100 percent testing. The closest anyone comes is the bubble that was organized to the NBA teams and that's been so very successful."

Fain seems very excited about the recent advances in testing and how much of it is offered.

"The improvement in our country's ability to test has been phenomenal," Mr. Fain explained. "The capacity for traditional testing has grown exponentially, and we now regularly seeing more than a million tests performed in a single day. That's unheard of."

Specifically, Fain believes the development of new test capabilities, combined with decreasing testing costs and speedier results is "staggering."

Vaccine vs. tests

To exemplify how important testing is and the advances made with them, Richard Fain went as far to say that he expects tests to have a greater impact on cruises than the vaccine in the short term.

"The advances are so significant that I believe in the near term we will see more benefit from testing than we will from vaccines in the near term."

Fain thinks the impact of a vaccine will take time, and in the meantime, new and better testing will make a quicker difference.

"Vaccines are the ultimate weapon against this virus and their development has been nothing short of amazing. But I do think it's likely that a vaccine will be available before the end of the year. But getting enough for widespread distribution is going to take probably until sometime in the spring."

"On the other hand, faster, cheaper and widespread testing will be much more impactful, much sooner. Widespread testing enables contact tracing, and it's the one two punch of testing and contact tracing that is so effective in limiting the community spread of the disease."

Testing can't solve the problem by itself

While testing is going to be a big part of Royal Caribbean's approach to ensuring cruises are safe when they return, it is not a silver bullet.

Mr. Fain admitted that as helpful as it is, testing cannot solve the problem by itself. That is why the Healthy Sail Panel's recommendations take a variety of different steps to create a layered approach of several different operating protocols.

"Each individual step whittles away at the risk levels until you have architected a overall much safer journey."

"I compare it to a car. The brakes keep you safe, of course, and a seatbelt and you've got even better protection. Then add an air bag and you start to see the effect of a layered approach."

Fain believes a bubble approach to cruise ships could very well be the answer, with testing at the top of that myriad of protocols.

Carnival and NCL cancel more cruises: Is Royal Caribbean next?

In:
Category: 
05Oct2020

UPDATE: The answer is yes, Royal Caribbean has cancelled its November 2020 cruises.

In the days since the No Sail Order was extended, Royal Caribbean's primary competitors have each announced a new round of cancellations, so is Royal Caribbean next?

There has been no official word by Royal Caribbean on any new cancellations, but typically when one of the "big three" cruise lines has announced a new wave of cancelled cruises, the others have eventually followed suit.

Royal Caribbean currently only has cruises cancelled through October 31, 2020, although it has also canceled transatlantic, European and Australian itineraries beyond that date.

The dominos begin to fall

The first cruise line to announce changes was Carnival Corporation, when it canceled sailings from most ports through December 2020.

Carnival essentially cancelled all of its cruises, minus ships sailing from Port Canaveral and Miami in Florida. The line has not yet canceled November or December sailings from those two ports.

Earlier today, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. cancelled all of its cruises through November 2020, with three ships cancelled through the end of March 2021.

Both cruise lines made their announcements less than a week after the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) extended its No Sail Order through October 2020

An unconfirmed, but widely accepted, report claims the CDC wanted to extend the No Sail Order to February 2021.

Cruise line executives were scheduled to meet with White House officials last week, but the meeting was postponed.

What will Royal Caribbean do?

The big question is if/when Royal Caribbean may announce a new set of cancellations to match what the other cruise lines have done.

Royal Caribbean rarely gives any kind of warning when a new set of cancellations are going to occur, and there is no consistent pattern to when they have been announced.

Earlier today, Royal Caribbean Group Chairman and CEO Richard Fain offered a video update that did not specifically call out any new changes to its cruise schedule, but did allude to some recent news impacting the cruise industry.

"Soon, we hope to have the opportunity to put our plans to the test. It's not going to happen overnight. It is going to take time for this process to work through."

"The process will be carefully evaluated by independent outside observers and then only on a ship or two at first, we hope to start sailing again."

 

Cruise fans are quite eager to know what the cruise line will do, with many having sailings scheduled to depart in less than a month.

"It’s less than 30 days from November 1st, and based on prior cancellations by Royal, we should have had Royal’s decision about November (at the very least) by now," writes S.Marie. "I would even be ok with Royal saying we are still waiting for the green light from the CDC but here are the ships we plan to deploy (or not deploy) for our start up phase."

"If I was a cruise line," twangster postulated, "I'd be hesitant to begin bringing thousands of crew back for two ships until there was an absolute green light from the CDC or CV Task Force that a restart is a sure thing."

CJS2766 exemplified the concern so many seem to have, "I'm also one of those that's supposed to cruise Nov 8... I wish we would hear something already, even though I know the realistic outcome."

Cruise line meeting with White House officials postponed

In:
Category: 
02Oct2020

The meeting scheduled between cruise line executives and White House officials has been postponed.

A meeting had been set up between the cruise lines and Vice President Mike Pence on Friday to discuss the No Sail order extension, but it is being reported that meeting has been postponed.

No reschedule date for the meeting has been announced.

Earlier this week, it was revealed the White House overruled the U.S. Center for Disease Control's recommendation to extend the No Sail Order until February.  Instead, the order was extended through just the end of October.

In addition, a meeting was set up for Friday afternoon between representatives of the cruise industry and the Trump administration to, "describe their transformation and dozens of ways that they will mitigate risk and ensure public health," according to a White House official.

And in that meeting there will be a discussion and afterwards a decision will need to be made about whether the order needs to be extended," the White House official added. "These things can be extended for a month and then we can reassess the conditions on an ongoing basis."

One senior official added that the cruise ship decision "is an example of the task force weighing all the equities of the departments and agencies represented on the task force and making a decision that properly balances the public health impacts and the economic ramifications on the country."

The CDC believes cruise ships would create an unacceptable amount of risk to the public health if allowed to resume sailings.

"Cruise ships continue to be an unsafe environment with close quarters where the disease spreads easily and is not readily detected," is the direct rationale for why cruise ships may not sail.

"Cruise ships continue to be an unsafe environment with close quarters where the disease spreads easily and is not readily detected," is the direct rationale for why cruise ships may not sail.

In short, the CDC sees these factors as necessitating the extension of the No Sail Order:

  • The continued spread of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide
  • Risk of resurgence in countries that have suppressed transmission
  • Ongoing concerns related to restarting of cruising internationally
  • Need for additional time to assess industry measures to control potential SARS-CoV-2 transmission on board cruise ships with passengers without burdening public health

Why did the CDC extend the No Sail order?

In:
Category: 
01Oct2020

The U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) extended it cruise ship ban on Wednesday, but why did it choose to lengthen its prohibition?

In reading through the No Sail Order, the agency provides its justifications for preventing cruise ships from restarting despite nearly every other sector of travel being able to operate.

"Unsafe environment"

The opening portion of the No Sail Order spells out why the CDC believes cruise ships should not operate.

"Cruise ships continue to be an unsafe environment with close quarters where the disease spreads easily and is not readily detected," is the direct rationale for why cruise ships may not sail.

In order to prove this, the Executive Summary cites CDC data on COVID-19 cases aboard cruise ships.

"Cumulative CDC data from March 1 through September 28, 2020, show a total of 3,689 confirmed cases of COVID-19 or COV1D-like illness cases on cruise ships and 41 deaths. These data have also revealed a total of 102 outbreaks on 124 different cruise ships, meaning more than 82% of ships within U.S. jurisdiction were affected by COVID-19 during this time frame. In addition, four cruise ships still have ongoing or resolving COV1D-19 outbreaks on board. Recent outbreaks on cruise ships overseas continue to demonstrate that reduced capacity alone has not diminished transmission."

In addition, the CDC cited small-scale cases of the virus on a few sailings that have restarted outside the United States.

All of this lead the CDC to believe cruise ships, "would likely spread the infection  into U.S. communities if passenger operations were to resume prematurely in the United States."

In short, the CDC sees these factors as necessitating the extension of the No Sail Order:

  • The continued spread of the COVID-19 pandemic worldwide
  • Risk of resurgence in countries that have suppressed transmission
  • Ongoing concerns related to restarting of cruising internationally
  • Need for additional time to assess industry measures to control potential SARS-CoV-2 transmission on board cruise ships with passengers without burdening public health

New protocols

While cruise lines like Royal Caribbean and Norwegian are working on crafting stringent new health protocols, it seems the CDC is unimpressed with any new health protocols added by other cruise lines.

In a press release announcing the No Sail Order extension, the CDC characterized extensive health and safety protocols as a burden on public health officials.

"When health and safety protocols were apparently observed, resuming passenger operations significantly burdened public health authorities by creating the need for additional SARS-CoV-2 testing, isolation of infected travelers, contact tracing, and quarantine of exposed people."

The Healthy Sail Panel has developed its own set of 74 detailed steps to safeguard the health of guests, crew and communities.

Recommendations include testing, the use of face coverings, and enhanced sanitation procedures on ships and in terminals. 

Healthy Panel co-chair Governor Mike Leavitt, former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, specified exactly how in-depth their recommendations go.

"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."

Double standard?

Reading through the rationale for the extension of the No Sail Order, it may sound a reasonable response until considering the reality of the rest of the travel sector, both in the United States and internationally.

While the CDC holds cruise ships to the standard of not potentially burdening healthcare workers, port personnel and federal partners, other aspects of travel have been able to operate while simultaneously doing the exact same thing.

Airlines have never stopped operating since the beginning of the pandemic, and are chiefly responsible for the spread of the virus from country to country and continent to continent. 

Theme parks have been allowed to re-open in many states, along with Las Vegas casinos and hotels.

The CDC claims its goal is "to protect the health of all Americans", yet has not enforced any regulations on any other aspect of travel other than cruise ships.

CDC extends ban on cruise ships until October 31

In:
Category: 
30Sep2020

Hours before the No Sail Order was set to expire, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has extended the ban on cruise ships by another thirty days.

The CDC website has been updated to indicate the No Sail Order has been extended until October 31, 2020, unless rescinded earlier.

On September 30, 2020, CDC extended the No Sail Order and Suspension of Further Embarkation; Third Modification and Extension of No Sail Order and Other Measures Related to Operations that was issued on July 16, 2020. The Order is effective upon signature and will be published in the Federal Register soon.

Prior to this extension, the "No Sail Order" was set to expire on September 30 at midnight, although Royal Caribbean and all the cruise lines have already voluntarily cancelled its cruises through October 31, 2020, with the intention to possibly resume November 1.

The extension matches an earlier report that the White House overruled CDC Director Robert Redfield's recommendation of extending the No Sail Order until February 2021.

According to the report, Redfield wanted to push the No Sail order out to February 2021, but the Trump administration would only allow an extension through the end of October 2020.

Vice President Mike Pence informed the CDC Director of a different plan than what the agency had in mind, according to the two task force members.

The No Sail order has been a legislative, as well as symbolic, barrier to the cruise industry restarting. Royal Caribbean has been shutdown since mid-March, and the No Sail order has been a major obstacle to any restart plan.

This is the third time the "No Sail Order" has been extended, after first being implemented on March 13.

What is the No Sail Order?

The No Sail Order is a policy of the CDC that restricts the embarkation of passengers on top cruise ships in the United States due to the global health crisis.

Like the previous orders, this order will remain in effect until one of the following occurs:

  • The expiration of the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ declaration that COVID-19 constitutes a public health emergency,
  • The CDC Director rescinds or modifies the order based on specific public health or other considerations, or
  • October 31, 2020.

Cruise industry's plan for healthy return

Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings teamed up to form an independent committee to come up with a way for cruise ships to operate in a healthy manner, known as the Healthy Sail Panel.

In late September, the Panel produced a list of 74 detailed steps on how a cruise ship could operate safely despite the current health crisis.

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 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 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
  • Mitigating Risks for Crew Members

In each category, the Healthy Sail Panel created practical and actionable recommendations to address specific safety concerns. Among the recommendations are key strategies such as:

  • Taking aggressive measures to prevent SARS-CoV-2 from entering a ship through robust education, screening and testing of both crew and guests prior to embarkation
  • Reducing transmission via air management strategies and enhanced sanitation practices
  • Implementing detailed plans to address positive infection on board, including contingencies for onboard treatment, isolation and rapid evacuation and repatriation
  • Closely controlling shore excursions
  • Enhanced protection for crew members

Furthermore, the CDC has been made aware of the panel and even invited to observe the planning and creation of procedures.

Report: White House overrides CDC on extending No Sail order

In:
Category: 
29Sep2020

It looks like the White House has overruled the U.S. Center for Disease Control (CDC) to only allow the No Sail Order to be extended through the end of October.

A report by Axios claims CDC Director Robert Redfield, "was overruled when he pushed to extend a "no-sail order" on passenger cruises into next year."

The article goes on to say that Redfield wanted to push the No Sail order out to February 2021, but the Trump administration would only allow an extension through the end of October 2020.

It is important to note that the CDC's website has not been updated yet to confirm any extension.

Axios cites the news following two sources who had "direct knowledge" of what happened in the White House Situation Room.

According to the two task force members, Vice President Mike Pence informed the CDC Director of a different plan than what the agency had in mind.

Axios also reports that cruise industry represenatives will meet with White House officials on Friday in order to, "describe their transformation and dozens of ways that they will mitigate risk and ensure public health," according to a White House official.

The current No Sail order is set to expire on September 30, and an extension by another month would have no affect on cruise ships since the industry had already volunteered to cancel all October cruises.

For its part, Royal Caribbean has not given up yet on offering cruises in 2020.  Armed with a new set of in-depth health protocols, it feels under the right circumstances, it could still offer cruises in 2020.

The No Sail order has been a legislative, as well as symbolic, barrier to the cruise industry restarting. Royal Caribbean has been shutdown since mid-March, and the No Sail order has been a major obstacle to any restart plan.

If Royal Caribbean follows the Healthy Sail Panel recommendations for resuming cruises, the cruise line would begin with a series of test cruises, where Royal Caribbean employees act as guests and the cruise experience is simulated in order to test and adjust the new policies.

The cruise industry has a history of conducting test sailings when they introduce a new product. These are normally several cruises of short duration with selected invited guests and limited itineraries, which gives the operator the opportunity to train the crew and refine its procedures. We believe that such a process could be helpful in the introduction of these protocols and procedures, giving the operators the opportunity to ensure that their programs are well understood and work appropriately.

In conjunction with succesful tests, it is likely the cruise line will announce some kind of start up plan where certain ships and sail dates are confirmed as ready to sail.

All of this work is centered around the question of can Royal Caribbean come back to a safe and healthy environment, which is what Mr. Fain asked the Panel.

"And their answer was, if you adopt all these protocols, you can."

"And obviously we are going to, and we believe that will greatly accelerate the time, so we're looking forward to coming back sooner."

Royal Caribbean extends ability to cancel cruise for a credit until November 30

In:
29Sep2020

Royal Caribbean has extended its Cruise with Confidence cancellation policy to now include sailings through November 30, 2020.

The popular program allows guests to cancel a cruise for any reason up to 48 hours before a sailing is scheduled to depart in exchange for a future cruise credit.

It was scheduled to end on September 30, 2020 prior to the extension.

In addition, the Lift and Shift option will be extended to November 30, 2020.  Lift and Shift allows guests to defer their cruise by a year.

The Cruise with Confidence program was introduced at the beginning of the health crisis, and provides significantly relaxed rules concerning canceling a cruise if the situation changes for a guest.

Royal Caribbean Group chairman and CEO Richard Fain thinks this extension makes a lot of sense for guests, "We want our guests to feel they can safely keep their existing cruise bookings or schedule new sailings, because this policy gives them more freedom and flexibility."

Ordinarily, guests would incur a penalty for canceling a sailing beyond the final payment date, which is typically 90 days before a sailing commences. Cruise with Confidence provides a great deal more flexibility to change minds with no penalty.

The extension applies to all cruises with sailing dates on or before April 2022, and applies to the company’s global brands Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, and Azamara.

Cruise with Confidence future cruise credits expire on December 31, 2021 or 12 months from the cancellation date, whichever is further out.

Miami-Dade Mayor calls for CDC not to extend No Sail order

In:
Category: 
26Sep2020

Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez issued a statement on Saturday to call for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to not extend or renew the No Sail order.

The the Miami-Dade County Commission passed a resolution "to expedite and conclude any analysis necessary for the establishment of the public health guidance and preventative measures required prior to the resumption of travel on cruise ships."

The No Sail order is scheduled to expire on September 30, unless it gets extended, and it is chiefly responsible for cruise lines from resuming sailings in the United States.

Mayor Gimenez simply stated, "Now that the cruise industry has adopted the mandatory core elements, I urge the CDC to not extend or renew the “No Sail Order."

The statement highlighted the core elements of the new health protocols aimed at allowing cruise ships to resume passenger service.

The new health measures mentioned by the Mayor in his statement focus on the major changes proposed including:

  1. 100% testing of passengers and crew for COVID-19 prior to embarkation
  2. Mandatory wearing of masks by all passengers and crew onboard 
  3. Physical distancing in terminals, onboard ships, on private islands and during shore excursions.
  4. Air management and ventilation strategies to increase fresh air onboard and, where feasible, using enhanced filters and other technologies to mitigate risk.
  5. Dedicated cabin capacity for isolation and other operational measures, and arrangements with private providers for shoreside quarantine, medical facilities and transportation.

Royal Caribbean new cruise ship health protocols include masks, social distancing, testing and more

In:
21Sep2020

Royal Caribbean Group has submitted its new comprehensive list of new health protocols and policy changes to the CDC that it will implement on its cruise ships in order to restart cruises.

The Healthy Sail Panel announced on Monday 74 detailed steps that it believes will protect guests, crew members and the places cruise ships visit from the spread of COVID-19.

The list of protocols is 65 pages long that include testing, the use of face coverings, and enhanced sanitation procedures on ships and in terminals. 

Royal Caribbean Group Chairman Richard Fain said Royal Caribbean 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.

Here is a breakdown of the changes that are either going to be implemented in the short term and discontinued over time, or kept for the foreseeable future.

Blue = Temporary Change that could be modified or removed later.

Green = Change intended to be kept over time.

Testing

1. All crew should be tested for SARS-CoV-2 between 5 days and 24 hours prior to leaving their home location to join the ship and receive a negative result, quarantine for seven days on board the ship upon arrival, and take a test at the end of that seven-day period and receive a negative result, before beginning their duties.

2. Cruise operators should implement a crew surveillance program, including periodic testing for SARS-CoV-2, to provide a reasonable level of assurance that the virus is not circulating among crew.

3. Other employees and ancillary staff (e.g., luggage porters and transportation providers) should undergo daily symptom screening but do not need to be regularly tested like crew or guests.

4. All guests joining a ship, regardless of method of travel to the ship, should be tested for SARS-CoV-2 between 5 days and 24 hours before boarding and receive a negative result that is shared with the cruise operator, before coming on board.

Health Screening

5. At embarkation, all guests and crew boarding the ship should undergo health screening to identify any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 (or other infectious diseases) and any contact with individuals suspected or confirmed to have a SARS-CoV-2 infection prior to the cruise.

6. All individuals should have their temperature taken via contactless device as part of the boarding process.

7. Any individual who discloses symptoms of possible SARS-CoV-2 infection or close contact with an individual with suspected infection, or who displays a temperature of 100.4 degrees or above, should undergo secondary screening by medical personnel to determine whether they may board the ship or whether they will be denied boarding.

Denial of Boarding

8. Cruise operators should not allow an individual to sail if they do not affirmatively state their willingness to comply with current safety and public health protocols.

9. Individuals who have received a positive SARS-CoV-2 test or who have in the last 14 days been in close contact with an individual with confirmed infection should not be permitted to board the ship.

Policy on Guests at Increased Risk of Severe Illness

10. Cruise operators should rely on CDC guidelines to determine who is at an increased risk of severe illness and who may be at an increased risk of severe illness.

11. Cruise operators should recommend that guests who are or may be at increased risk of severe illness consult with their health care provider before traveling.

Guest Information & Education

12. In addition to the information typically communicated at booking, guests should be provided sufficient information on SARS-CoV-2 to assess their individual risk, to fully understand the safety precautions being taken by the cruise line to address SARS-CoV-2, and to agree to comply with the necessary safety protocols while traveling.

Onboard Symptom Tracking and Monitoring

13. Cruise operators should conduct once-daily temperature checks for guests and crew on board.

14. Cruise operators should employ routine symptom screening methodologies to help ensure that potential SARS-CoV-2 infections are identified as quickly as possible.

15. Cruise operators should ensure education efforts are in place to help guests understand the importance of reporting symptoms and potential repercussions of failure to report symptoms.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Usage

16. To prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, cruise operators should require guests and crew to wear cloth face coverings/face masks in accordance with CDC recommendations.

17. Crew members with prolonged contact (i.e., contact that may result in exposure by CDC’s definition) with guests on board the ship should be required to utilize complementary PPE, in addition to wearing a face mask/face covering.

Capacity Restrictions

18. When returning to sailing, cruise operators should adjust guest and crew load factors in a manner that allows for appropriate physical distancing on board in accordance with applicable guidance, taking into consideration the size and design of each ship.

General Distancing Guidelines

19. Cruise operators’ facilities on board the ship, at terminals, and at cruise line-owned and operated destinations should be modified to promote and facilitate physical distancing in accordance with the CDC recommendation of a distance of at least six feet.

20. Abundant signage and floor markers should be utilized to communicate physical distancing requirements in the terminal, at cruise line-owned destinations, and on board the ship, with a particular emphasis on high-traffic areas (e.g., gangways, elevators, ship common areas).

Terminal, Boarding, Debarkation Controls

21. Cruise operators should utilize processes and protocols for touchless check-in and speedier boarding to reduce contact and potential congestion in the terminal.

Sanitation

22. Cruise operators should educate guests in advance of travel about the sanitation measures that are being used preboard, on board, and at private, cruise line-owned and operated destinations.

23. Enhanced sanitation protocols should be employed to protect against the risk of SARSCoV-2 transmission via inanimate surfaces or objects, with attention to both high- and low-touch areas of the ship, terminal, and cruise line-owned and operated destinations.

24. Cruise operators should ensure that all disinfectants used for cleaning and disinfection are on the EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 or national equivalent for terminals located outside the U.S., which must also comply with local government regulations.

Hand Hygiene

25. Cruise operators should follow CDC recommendations regarding the use of hand sanitizers and hand washing with soap and water to craft their recommendations for guests.

26. Cruise operators should ensure that hand sanitizer stations, wipes, or hand washing stations are conveniently placed around the ship for guests’ and crew members’ usage.

27. Cruise operators should ensure that crew members are thoroughly trained on all aspects of infection control with emphasis on proper hand hygiene techniques.

28. In addition to providing hand sanitizer and hand washing stations on board, cruise operators should encourage hand washing or use of hand sanitizer before and after guests participate in recreational activities.

Ventilation, HVAC, Filtration Controls

29. Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through the air is sufficiently likely that airborne exposure to the virus should be controlled for.

30. Cruise operators should use a variety of indoor air management strategies aimed at reducing occupant exposure to infectious droplets/aerosols.

31. All cruise operators should upgrade the HVAC systems on their ships to, ideally, MERV 13 filters to minimize pathogen dispersal from infected guests and crew.

32. Cruise operators’ indoor air management strategies should be optimized given the constraints of ship age and ventilation type.

33. When considering air management strategies, cruise operators should have a primary focus on reducing exposures in the core set of areas where guests and crew would be most vulnerable to droplet/airborne exposure to virus.

Medical Personnel

34. As a part of augmenting onboard medical capacity to ensure preparedness for potential COVID-19 cases, cruise operators should increase their existing ratios of medical personnel to guests and crew.

35. Cruise operators should ensure redundancy and back-up for onboard medical personnel.

36. Cruise operators should ensure there is sufficient onboard medical leadership on all ships, including the designation of a crew member with responsibility for infectious disease prevention and response who will inform and oversee execution of components of the response to an outbreak. Cruise operators should also ensure they have a doctor on board with intensivist training to manage the medical care of severely ill patients.

Onboard Clinic Design & Operations

37. Cruise operators should increase the capacity in their onboard medical facilities to treat patients who may become critically ill from SARS-CoV-2 infection or other unrelated illnesses.

38. Cruise operators should amplify the varieties and amount of equipment in the onboard medical facilities, including the ability to test for SARS-CoV-2 infection on board.

39. Cruise ship facilities should be arranged to accommodate care for patients presenting with suspected infectious disease separately from care for those presenting with noninfectious diseases.

40. Rather than a patient having an in-person appointment at the medical facility to receive a diagnosis or care, medical appointments should be scheduled virtually/remotely and/or medical staff members should hold appointments in the patient’s stateroom when possible.

Treatment Plan

41. A cruise line’s medical treatment plan should be responsive to the current understanding of COVID-19 and optimal treatment protocols, as well as to the specific clinical needs of each patient.

42. Cruise operators should have established relationships with onshore medical institutions that can provide telemedicine consultations in the event of a more serious COVID-19 case.

Contact Tracing

43. Cruise operators should use CDC guidance as a general guide regarding exposure (< 6 feet for ≥ 15 minutes), pending updates based on emerging scientific evidence.

44. Cruise operators should define high-, medium-, and low-risk exposures such that recommendations for each exposure level can be efficiently operationalized

45. Cruise operators should employ a variety of contact tracing methodologies to ensure that all potential SARS-CoV-2 infections are identified as quickly as possible.

46. Cruise operators should collect metrics on the effectiveness of contact tracing.

47. Cruise operators should be transparent in their communication with guests about what information is being collected and how it will be used for contact tracing

Isolation/Quarantine

48. Cruise operators should designate certain cabins on the ship as isolation and quarantine spaces.

49. Cruise operators should provide guidelines for the determination of whether, when, and where an individual should be isolated or quarantined based on their exposure risk, symptoms, etc.

Debarkation Scenarios

50. Cruise operators should have a thorough mobilization response plan in place prior to sailing to address the various scenarios that may require individuals with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection (guests or crew), and their close contacts, to debark from the ship.

51. Cruise operators should define the criteria for small-, moderate-, and large-scale debarkation scenarios in advance of cruising, including a clear decision-making process to guide thinking about when the threshold has been met for each risk level.

52. Cruise operators should establish offsite incident management with designated medical professionals’ advice to respond rapidly and to aid in decision-making.

53. In any debarkation scenario, individuals with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, close contacts, and persons under investigation should be kept separate from any healthy individuals (i.e., those not identified through contact tracing or those who have tested negative).

54. Cruise operators should establish a communications plan, and assign a communications lead in advance, to share timely, relevant information with crew and guests on board the ship in the event of a SARS-CoV-2 infection during or after the cruise. Additionally, cruise operators should have systems in place to coordinate information about SARS-CoV-2 infections to relevant health authorities.

Destination & Itinerary Planning

55. There are two essential prerequisites that need to be satisfied in order for a ship to sail to a given port:

  1. Approval from the local government to visit a port
  2. Agreement to allow safe passage to SARS-CoV-2-infected individuals and their close contacts to debark and travel home.

56.Cruise operators should rely primarily on three key parameters when determining whether to travel to a given port:

  1. Current burden of SARS CoV-2 as defined by testing rate, positivity rate, and death rate.
  2. Local testing capacity.
  3. Local/regional/national implementation of SARS CoV-2 mitigation protocols.

57. In the startup phase, cruises itineraries should be as simple as possible, utilizing private, cruise line-owned and operated destinations or ports where there can be tight control of the onshore experience.

58. Cruise operators should initially return to service with shorter length trips.

Guest Excursions

59. During the initial return to sailing, cruise operators should only allow guests debarking from a ship at a destination port to participate in cruise line-sponsored or verified excursions as a way of limiting potential exposures in the destinations they visit.

60. Cruise operators should establish expectations of the vendors at the destinations they visit to ensure that they are taking recommended steps to reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2

61. Cruise operators should incorporate verification of compliance with SARS-CoV-2 protocols into their routine ongoing monitoring guidelines for excursion vendors.

62. Cruise operators should ensure that guests are thoroughly informed about potential exposure risks and how to minimize their risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 at the planned destination.

63. Cruise operators should offer indoor excursions only if physical distancing, use of masks, and other recommended protective measures can be implemented.

Prevention (Crew)

64. Cruise operators should manage the population density of crew areas of the ship

65. Cruise operators should provide opportunities for crew to debark from the ship at destinations while maintaining reasonable limitations on their movement to reduce risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2.

66. Crew should be placed in single-occupancy crew cabins whenever possible to minimize extended periods of close contact with other crew members.

67. Cruise operators should limit crew members’ close contact with guests over extended periods of time wherever possible. When distancing isn’t possible, crew should be provided with additional PPE appropriate to their job type.

68. Cruise operators should include crew in the surveillance, contact tracing, quarantine, isolation, and debarkation protocols that will be employed in the event that a SARS-CoV2 infection is discovered on board.

Training & Culture

69. Crew should be provided with regular training on protocols to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and empowered to take action to ensure these protocols are followed by guests and fellow crew members.

70. Cruise operators should reinforce a culture of honesty and collective responsibility among crew for following protocols and creating a safer environment.

Validation of Implementation

71. Cruise operators should have measures and metrics in place to perform continual self assessment of compliance with all updated health and safety protocols as well as methods for third-party verification of compliance.

72. Cruise operators should perform an “after-action review” following a cruise on which a SARS-CoV-2 infection was detected to assess gaps and make improvements prior to the next trip.

The Path Forward

73. In their return to sailing, cruise operators should use a phased approach to demonstrate that protocols can be successfully implemented on board their ships before returning to full operations with guests on board.

74.Cruise operators should implement a formal process to review health and safety experiences related to COVID-19 on cruises to enhance best practices and shared learnings for continuous improvement.

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