“A daunting mission.” That was how Norwegian Cruise Holdings president and CEO Frank Del Rio described the work of the Healthy Sail Panel – a team of cross-disciplinary experts assembled together with Royal Caribbean Group – which submitted its recommendations today to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control on how to resume cruise operations in the COVID-19 era.
The team of specialists in public health, infectious diseases, biosecurity, hospitality and maritime operations proposed more than 70 recommendations across five key areas: testing, screening and exposure reduction; sanitation and ventilation; response, contingency planning and execution; destination and excursion planning; and mitigating risks for crew members.
Speaking in a video released by the two companies, Del Rio said: the Healthy Sail Panel was made up of some of the most sophisticated, best educated, most experienced public health officials in the world, certainly in the United States, adding that the results spoke for themselves.
Del Rio called the panel’s recommendations “as comprehensive as can be, saying that the 74-point set of recommendations “touches upon just every single facet of a cruise operation, not just on board, but what happens when we get to our destinations, what happens at embarkation, disembarkation.”
He added that the panel delved into areas that he had not imagined, but that this was necessary in order to create the comprehensive, layered approach it had come up with to prevent the virus from coming on board.
At the end of the day, that’s the goal,” Del Rio said. “Keep the virus off of our ships, keep the virus away from our guests and our crew. It was a daunting mission.”
Fain reveals CDC was “strong participant” in health panel’s work
Royal Caribbean Group chairman and CEO Richard Fain described the members of the panel as an “all star team,” which he said had leveraged innovation to create a layered approach to the problem
“They didn’t look for a silver bullet,” Fain said. “They looked for a series of things … it was really wonderful to watch.”
He said the panel had understood from day one that Royal Caribbean and Norwegian were not looking to achieve the minimum necessary to resume sailing, but to establish best practices and that the team had “constantly challenged themselves” to make sure that objective was kept in mind.
>>Cruising Can Be Safe, Testing Is Key Measure, – Joint Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Healthy Sail Panel Concludes
Fain revealed that the CDC had been a “strong participant” in the process and had sent “two very senior people,” giving the Healthy Sail Panel team “the very best information that’s available anywhere on earth.”
The Royal Caribbean Group CEO said that in addition to focusing on how to keep COVID-19 off ships and how to control transmission if a case does get through screening measures, the panel had also focused on how to handle excursions.
“How do we make sure that we’re not doing anything to hurt the communities that we serve and that we’re not picking up anything from those communities that would hurt our guests and our crew,” he asked.