As cruise lines prepare to return to the water, the safety of guests and crew have been their highest priority. We’ve seen cruise lines consulting with experts in public health and publish their new health and safety programmes to ensure that cruising is enjoyable as it ever was and safer than ever before.
It’s been great to see the cruise lines come together to share best practices, as in the case of the Healthy Sail Panel where cruise lines including NCL and Royal Caribbean have combined forces with leading minds within public health to share insights across the whole industry.
We’re pleased to share this information for all of our cruise lines, so you can be reassured when you plan your next cruise.
Healthy Sail Panel with Royal Caribbean and NCL
Cruise industry leaders, Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd have come together to work collaboratively on the development of enhanced cruise health and safety standards.
Responsible for seven cruise lines between them: Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara Cruises, Silversea, Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, both leaders have gathered together industry experts to create the Healthy Sail Panel.
The panel includes experts across the industries of public health, infectious disease, biosecurity, hospitality, and maritime operations. The team has already been working on its initial recommendations, which will be revealed at the end of August. The cruise lines have also said its workings will be ‘open source’ and could be freely adopted by any company or industry which would benefit from the group’s scientific and medical insights.
“This unprecedented disease requires us to develop unprecedented standards in health and safety,” said Richard Fain, Chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group, “bringing aboard these respected experts to guide us forward demonstrates our commitment to protecting our guests, our crews and the communities we visit.”
Fain also revealed that the new program will focus on four key aspects:
- Upgraded screening prior to boarding
- Enhanced processes on-board
- A special focus on addressing the destinations
- Procedures for addressing any reports of exceptions
Also commenting on the developments, Frank Del Rio, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. President and CEO said, “We compete for the vacationing consumer’s business every day, but we never compete on health and safety standards […]While the cruise industry has always had rigorous health standards, the unique challenges posed by COVID-19 provide an opportunity to raise the bar even higher.”
Each cruise line has also revealed their own developments for life on-board, including Royal Caribbean’s new approach to the muster drill and Norwegian’s Peace of Mind policy.
Digital Innovations with Royal Caribbean
Across the cruise industry, cruise lines have worked on innovative solutions to provide the best care and safety for guests and crew without inhibiting too harshly on the cruising experience many of us know and love. Many of our cruise line partners have integrated these new solutions through the use of smart technology, in particular Royal Caribbean’s smartphone initiatives.
The cruise line has revealed technological enhancements to its cruise line apps which will allow guests to partake in an electronic muster drill, check-in on-board, open cabin doors and more while maintaining crucial health and safety practices such as social distancing and minimising common touchpoints. This reveal represents ways in which to limit contact and crowds, while also improving the overall on-board experience. These technologies will be released across Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara and include:
- Expedited boarding – Complete check-in within the app and generate a mobile boarding pass with features such as scanning a passport and uploading a security photo.
- Assigned staggered arrivals – More emphasis is placed on requiring passengers to arrive at a specified time, easing crowds in car parks, drop-off areas and terminals to allow for social distancing.
- Muster 2.0 – Electronic mustering capability to allow passengers to do their required safety drills separately in their own time, rather than gathering in large groups together.
- Digital key – Select ships and staterooms will enable passengers to unlock their cabin doors with their smartphone. Currently, Royal Caribbean allows this through the use of its wearable WOW bands but this enables more guests to access the technology through their phones.
- Stateroom automation – Control elements in passenger staterooms such as the TV, lighting and temperature from your phone which limits touchpoints.
- On-board account – View on-board charges and credits in real-time, without the need to queue at guest services.
- Daily planning – View the daily schedule on your phone and make reservations for shows, dining and shore excursions without the need to visit guest services.
Read more: Digital innovations from Royal Caribbean
NCL’s Peace of Mind Policy
Over the past few months, Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) has worked with experts and internal safety and medical teams to ensure future cruisers can travel with peace of mind. Their new Peace of Mind policy includes:
- Enhanced and continuous screening protocols for guests and crew
- Increased sanitation with a 24/7 disinfection schedule
- New hospital-grade air filtration system
- Responsible social distancing from check-in to disembarkation
- Enhanced medical resources with bigger medical teams and the latest testing kits
- Expanded ship-to-shore safety and rest assured we will only visit safe ports
Sharing the protocols in a letter to all cruisers, NCL President & CEO Harry Sommers said,
“It is our belief that when taken as a whole, these protocols will allow a vacation with Norwegian Cruise Line to be among the safest vacation options available. Moving forward, we expect to implement additional safety measures as we continue working with the CDC, global health organizations and domestic and international government agencies.
“We commit to taking every precaution to protect you, always placing the highest value on your well-being over profits so you can continue to explore the world with those you love, safely.”
Read more: NCL’s Peace of Mind
Azamara’s On-board Health Protocols
Many of Azamara’s current procedures have been elevated and introduced to ensure the cruise line keeps everyone on-board healthy. These include:
- Implementation of travel restrictions preventing guests and crew coming from or transiting through areas of a high risk of infection/exposure from boarding a vessel
- Performing enhanced screening at the embarkation port
- Providing hand sanitizing gel at boarding and throughout the voyage in all public areas and encourage guests to sanitize often
- Access to a 24-hour medical facility onboard with a doctor and nurses ready to provide medical care
- Working with our tour operators to sanitize transportation vehicles and provide Purell wipes for all guests
The cruise line is focused on additional safety enhancements for the return to service, collaborating with government health authorities, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), and their own team of medical experts.
Read more: Azamara on-board protocols
Carnival Cruise Lines’ Commitment to Health
Carnival Cruise Lines have revealed their ultimate responsibility and top priority is the compliance, environmental protection and the health, well-being and safety of their guests, the communities they visit and the crew. From health screening and illness surveillance to environmental sanitisation and ventilation systems, Carnival has developed its enhanced measures in conjunction with government health authorities, public health experts, local ports and CLIA.
The cruise line has added that their protocols are designed to be flexible and responsive, enabling them to quickly adapt to changes and the latest learnings as and when is necessary.
Cunard & P&O Cruises Sailing with Confidence
Through the Carnival Corporation, both P&O Cruises and Cunard are part of the development of the commitment to health. The cruise lines are also working with other relevant public health agencies at the highest level.
As well as the UK Department for Transport (DfT), the cruise lines are working in conjunction with EU Healthy GateWays and CLIA. Cunard has also confirmed it will be reviewing every aspect of a Cunard cruise to ensure it meets the new protocols, as well as implementing measures such as screening guests before boarding and introducing social distancing at levels right for the time of return.
P&O Cruises President, Paul Ludlow also added that they “will follow applicable guidelines to further enhance our already stringent measures to keep our guests and crew healthy and well and we will not resume sailings until this framework is in place. This will include rigorous protocols pre-boarding, on ship and in the destinations we visit.”
Fred. Olsen Safe Sailing Charter
The cruise line has been working hard with other UK cruise lines, CLIA and Public Health England to establish its approach, as well as reviewing the EU ‘Healthy Gateways’ guidelines to ensure that the best protocols are put into place before sailing resumes.
The Safe Sailing Charter has been developed to advise customers in all the ways which Fred. Olsen is keeping guests safe, and will be continually reviewed and updated as the situation evolves over the coming months. Initially, just some of the ways which Fred. Olsen has developed its Safe Sailing Charter includes a dedicated sanitation team frequently cleaning with anti-viral solutions; development of agreed and comprehensive processes to treat guests with symptoms on-board; pre-approved tour partners and small groups; and additional port options.
Read more: Safe Sailing Charter
Holland America Line’s Health Enhancements
As another cruise line under the umbrella of the Carnival Corporation, Holland America Line is also following the operational protocols put in place by Carnival Cruise Line for life on-board their ships.
The cruise line has confirmed it is planning the correct practices to put into place when cruising resumes, offering strengthened health measures which have been developed in line with government health authorities, public health experts, local ports and CLIA. This includes key procedures across health care, guest experience, health screening and education, sanitation, ventilation and collaborating with local partners.
Read more: Holland America’s health enhancements
Measures on-board MSC Cruises
MSC Cruises has also confirmed that they are offering preventative measures which go beyond any of the guidelines previously seen. This includes COVID-19 swab testing with results available to guests and crew before boarding, a step further than the temperature checks and health questionnaires. These tests will initially be carried out for Schengen guests coming from a list of 26 European countries. Those which are defined as ‘risk areas’ by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control will require COVID-19 swab testing 72 hours before embarkation. This is alongside health checks, temperature checks and detailed questionnaires which all guests will be required to pass before boarding.
Crew members will also undergo rigorous testing with a three-step process before joining the ship crew. Alongside this, all crew members will undergo monthly testing and temperature checks every day.
For guests going ashore, similar health and safety measures will be in place. No independent shore excursions will be allowed, with MSC Cruises designing a collection of shore excursions that uses guided in PPE and will conform to all measures onshore.
The cruise line has confirmed it is ready to go and committed to giving guests the cruise experience that they know and love.
MSC Cruises’ Blue Ribbon Panel
Another cruise line which is using the guidance of an expert panel is MSC Cruises. The Blue Ribbon panel comprises a cross-functional task force of in-house experts across fields such as medical services, public health and sanitation, hotel services, HVAC and other shipboard engineering systems, information technology and logistics to help guide its return to service.
Speaking on the formation of the panel, Executive Chairman of MSC Cruises, Pierfrancesco Vago commented, “I am pleased to announce that the work of our task force is being further supported by the formation and engagement of a Blue Ribbon COVID Expert Group for consultation on protocols and planning, as well as bringing additional specialized advice to augment our own existing resources and knowledge.”
The group has been designed to meet and exceed the guidelines provided by key international and regional regulatory and technical bodies, including the World Health Organisation (WHO), EU ‘Healthy Gateways’ and European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA).
Princess Cruises Cruise With Confidence
Princess Cruises are constantly monitoring the global health map, as well as actively working with public health officials and medical experts to ensure everything possible is done to prevent illnesses on-board their ships
Pre-cruise, the cruise line are watchful of the development in COVID-19, modifying itineraries to impacted areas and preventing any guests and crew who have recently travelled through any high-risk locations from boarding. This is the same for anyone suffering from fever or flu-like symptoms prior to embarkation.
Upon embarkation, mandatory health screenings which might include thermal scans, temperature checks and secondary screenings will be given to all guests and crew, with certain individuals denied boarding upon results. Terminals will also have enhanced sanitation procedures for highly touched services throughout, while full sanitation will be undertaken after each embarkation and debarkation.
Life on-board includes a rigorous daily cleaning regimen and free-flowing hand sanitiser with entrances to venues monitored by staff. Medical protocols will also be revised to ensure the team remains highly capable with special training for COVID-19. Alongside all this, Princess Cruises will also monitor world health developments, offering daily health broadcasts to all on-board.
Read more: Princess Cruises health and safety measures
Virgin Voyages launched its ‘Voyage Well’ health plan to support the innovative protocols on-board Scarlet Lady when it begins sailing in October 2020. The cruise line has worked with leading experts to expand its existing standards and meet recommendations before, during, and after a voyage.
The ship will feature a HVAC system that pumps fresh air through the ship’s public spaces and cabins, effectively removing recirculated air. In partnership with AtmosAir, Virgin Voyages will be amongst the first in the industry to invest in the installation of a 100% fresh air, bow-to-stern air purification system. The system will also disinfect air on-board with bi-polar ionisation technology which is shown to kill 99.9% of viruses.
Some of the key pillars of Virgin Voyages’ plan include:
- Rapid and effective testing of all passengers and crew as well as pre-boarding health checks prior to embarking
- Post-voyage notification process for all passengers and crew to report becoming unwell within 14 days of leaving the ship (operated through a health tracking app)
- Thermal camera technology in terminals and on-board
- Managing overall ship occupancy and implementing best practices around sanitation, physical distancing and health checks
- Leveraging digital on-board technology to limit contact, including the Band for contactless payments; Service Chat for digital assistance; and virtual queues to enable guests to get in lines for experiences without physically waiting in a queue
Read more: Virgin Voyages health plans
Book with Confidence
Cruise118.com is an award-winning cruise agent, supported by our team of cruise experts who hold personal experience and knowledge to help you book your perfect cruise. In light of the current global situation, we want to reassure our customers that they can rebook with confidence with Cruise118.com.
- Flexible booking amendment terms from the cruise lines allowing you to change your travel plans, even close to your departure date, should you need to
- Not only are we bonded ABTA members, but we are also financially protected by the ATOL scheme. This allows us to give full peace of mind, ensuring your money is always protected and covered by ABTA from start to finish.
- We are part of World Travel Holdings, the world’s largest cruise retailer
- Award-winning customer service and booking advice
- £0pp deposit
- 0% interest monthly payments
Flexible Amendment Policies
As well as improving health and safety on-board, many cruise lines have also introduced flexible amendment policies. These cover amending your sailing close to the departure date, price guarantees and Future Cruise Credit. You can find out more about these policies here.