When and how cruise ships will return to sail is far from clear yet amid the coronavirus pandemic, but cruise lines are already talking about the measures they will take to stop the spread of communicable diseases when embarkation resumes.
Royal Caribbean and P&O Cruises, a UK subsidiary of Carnival Corporation, are the latest companies to speak about how they may tackle health challenges once the coronavirus crisis recedes and the no-sail orders are lifted.
Royal Caribbean Senior Vice President of Sales Vicki Freed in a Facebook live interview with TravelPulse Canada spoke about the company’s patented protective antiviral “Seaface” mask which TrvlTrend wrote about earlier this week.
Freed said Royal Caribbean would make the mask a fun fashion accessory, adding that she expected people to be wearing masks on cruises for quite some time.
“I think initially when we start back service, people will be wearing masks until the time we get control of COVID-19 until we get a vaccine,” Freed said.
Scientists expect a vaccine to take at least a year to develop and possibly much longer.
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Return to Vacation Sooner Rather than Later
Freed said that she had no doubt that despite the coronavirus people would return to sail on cruises, and sooner rather than later.
“Once we can reassure the client, the guest that it is a safe and healthy and clean environment, people are going to come back. They are going to go back on vacations to all kinds of destinations,” she said.
The veteran Royal Caribbean executive added that the company, like the rest of the industry, was in the process of putting together its protocols.
“We do need to change the way we operate. We have to make sure that … what happened to people with the quarantine… that’s more fearful to people than actually getting the illness. They don’t want to be stuck in a room for 14 days, we’re going to make sure to the best of our ability that that doesn’t happen again.”
As for hygiene measures, Freed noted that for many years the cruise line has operated handwashing stations and that it constantly reminds guests that “the best way to stay healthy on a cruise is to wash your hands.”
An End to Self Service Buffets?
Freed also commented on dining arrangements, suggesting that all you can eat buffets may look a little different.
“You won’t be able to serve yourself; we will have servers who will wear gloves that will serve you whatever quantity and whatever you want,” she said.
In a separate webinar for travel advisers, Freed said Royal Caribbean would not at the moment be requiring guests to provide a doctor’s note in order to board a cruise.
“We are working on our return to service protocols, and they may look very different in the next couple weeks or months. Until that’s finalized, we can’t say for sure this is never going to happen, but we will keep you informed.”
Reassurance and Peace of Mind
Meanwhile, P&O Cruises, a UK subsidiary of Carnival Corporation say passengers will be forced to pass “rigorous” medical checks before being allowed to board ships when sailings resume.
The UK’s biggest cruise line told the PA Media service that among “stringent measures” being considered are reducing on board capacity of ships, implementing one-way walk systems, and introducing service for buffets.
“These new stringent measures which may, no doubt, encompass rigorous pre-embarkation screening, changes to the onboard experience for guests and also working with our shore experience operators and ports of call, will be in place as soon as we reintroduce our ships,” said P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow.
Ludlow said passengers would get used to the measures in the same way they got used to airline hand luggage restrictions.
“They will become the new normal and they will give us reassurance and peace of mind,” Ludlow said.