Member Lines Ready To Sail In As Little As 30 Days As CLIA Announces Health Protocols

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

Norwegian Getaway in Miami.

CLIA member lines are ready to ramp up operations and start sailing in as little as 30 days, hinted cruise execs on a conference call yesterday that outlined their plans to resume sailings within the US. 

The conference was attended by top cruise officials including Carnival Corporation president and CEO Arnold Donald, Royal Caribbean Group president Richard Fain, Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Frank Del Rio, MSC Cruises chairman Pierfrancesco Vago, and CLIA global chairman Adam Goldstein, CruiseCritic reports.

"We have to fly crew back in, they have to go through rigorous testing, it takes about 30 days," said Carnival's Donald.

"30 days sounds great," chimed in MSC's Vago.

The encouraging news coincided with CLIA releasing its health and safety protocols, as well as the Healthy Sail Panel -- a collaboration between RCG and NCLH -- submitting its formal recommendations to the CDC. 

"Today's announcement, and all the thinking and learning that went into today's announcement, put us in a better position to have an engaged dialogue with all of our regulators," said Brian Salerno, SVP maritime policy with CLIA. " We'd like to salvage some of the 2020 season."

Throughout the conference call, executives repeatedly stressed that a phased approach to the resumption of cruise would be the way forward.

"We foresee a phased, sequential startup of operations," said CLIA's Goldstein. "We are confident we can operate ships safely and deliver fantastic vacations."

While nothing has been formally announced, a 30-day restart window plots a 01NOV return to sailings, provided the CDC agreed with that timeline.Currently, the CDC's No-Sail Order is valid until 30SEP and CLIA member lines have voluntarily suspended sailings through 31OCT.

CLIA Adopts Universal Testing & Mandatory Masks As Sector Prepares For Relaunch

CLIA's new health and safety measures include mandatory COVID-19 testing for all passengers and crew; mandatory use of masks by all passengers and crew onboard and during shore excursions; physical distancing rules; increased medical capabilities and preventative measures onboard; enhanced ventilation onboard; and the requirement that passengers wishing to go ashore do so only on cruise line-sponsored excursions.

According to Carnival's CEO Arnold Donald, the report was informed by the protocols already in place in Europe, where three cruise lines -- including Costa Cruises, which is part of Carnival Corp., and MSC Cruises -- have restarted successfully.

CruiseWeek reports the new policy will be mandatory for oceangoing member lines and will cover the entire cruise experience from booking through disembarkation. 

Certain factors, which will be unique to individual ships, are to be established by the lines themselves. Load factors is one example.

"Because the size and design of ships varies so greatly, a ‘one size fits all’ approach to capacity would not be appropriate,” CLIA head of Marketing and Strategic Communications Anne Madison told Cruise Week.

Embarkation Procedures and Testing, Onboard Procedures, Medical & Public Health and Shore Excursions fall under CLIA’s purview.

Embarkation & Testing

In addition to all passengers and crew being tested prior to embarkation, crew will also undergo testing before departing their home countries, at embarkation, and after a required quarantine period embarkation, and will continue to be tested at least monthly, Cruise Week reports.

Onboard Procedures

CLIA says masks will be required of passengers and crew (onboard and during excursions) "whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained" and ships must "align physical distancing measures with shoreside health authority requirements, including guidance from the CDC." 

Protocols & Health

Cruise lines will coordinate with destination authorities as to the offshore protocols, and lines will employ enhanced shipboard communications to promote illness reporting, implement isolation procedures for confirmed cases in pre-designated and conduct remote health evaluations, including internal shipboard telemedicine [i.e. videoconferencing], of suspect cases in their cabins.

With CLIA releasing its health and safety protocols, the onus is now on the CDC to issue directives that would allow sailings to resume from U.S. ports of call. Madison noted all timelines are subject to factors beyond the cruise lines' immediate control.

"The most important of which are regulators that have the oversight and responsibility for the waters and the ports where sailings could occur," she said.

Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.

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