Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Team Up to Develop New Health Protocols

CRUISE LINE & CRUISE SHIP  ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL THERESA NORTON  JULY 06, 2020 PHOTO: View from a cruise ship. (photo via StudioBarcelona / iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise LineHoldings Ltd. are working together to develop health and safety standards so they can resume operations.

The partnership was jointly announced by the two cruise giants Monday morning at almost the same time as the third major cruise company, Carnival Corp., announced a July 23 virtual summit on COVID-19health protocols in partnership with the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

RCL Chairman and CEO Richard D. Fain and NCLH President and CEO Frank Del Rio said they created the “Healthy Sail Panel” to assure the plans they submit to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other regulators apply the best available public health, science and engineering insights. The work of the panel will be shared with the industry and regulators.

The panel will be co-chaired by former Utah Gov. Mike Leavitt, a former secretary of the U.S. Department Health and Human Services, and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Other members of the panel are experts from public health, infectious disease, biosecurity, hospitality and maritime operations.

The CDC’s no-sail order remains in place until July 24 or the COVID-19 public health emergency is declared over. As part of that order, the CDC and the U.S. Coast Guard must approve a detailed operational plan.

The member lines of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) have voluntarily extended the suspension of cruise operations from U.S. ports until Sept. 15, 2020, although some extended it beyond that date.

The panel has been working for nearly a month and will offer its initial recommendations by the end of August.

“This unprecedented disease requires us to develop unprecedented standards in health and safety,” Fain said. “Bringing aboard these respected experts to guide us forward demonstrates our commitment to protecting our guests, our crews and the communities we visit.”

Also on the panel are Capt. Patrik Dahlgren, senior vice president of global marine operations and fleet optimization for Royal Caribbean Group, and Robin Lindsay, executive vice president of vessel operations for NCLH