Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents 95% of global ocean-going cruise capacity, announced Monday September 21, 2020, the adoption of mandatory core elements of a strong set of health protocols to be implemented as part of a phased-in, highly controlled resumption of operations. A critical next step, now that initial sailing has begun effectively with strict protocols in Europe, is the resumption of operations in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America (the Americas), which encompass the largest cruise market in the world.
The biggest takeaway from the set of protocols is a travel-industry first, 100% testing for passengers and crew. This is has been a common request in the CDC public comments.
Although the announcement originated from CLIA, the protocols are shared among member cruise lines, which includes Disney Cruise Line. As of publication, Disney Cruise Line did not make an individual statement on the subject and the following statement remains posted on their website.
While we are still evaluating the timing, when we return to sailing we will inform you of enhanced health and safety measures—for you, our other Guests, Cast and Crew Members. You will be required to follow all posted instructions while sailing with Disney Cruise Line.
An inherent risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists in any public place where people are present. COVID-19 is an extremely contagious disease that can lead to severe illness and death. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, senior citizens and Guests with underlying medical conditions are especially vulnerable.
By sailing with Disney Cruise Line you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19.
Help keep each other healthy.Disney Cruise Line COVID-19 Warning as of September 21, 2020
Informed by leading scientists, medical experts, and health authorities, the core elements are the product of extensive work by CLIA oceangoing cruise lines and their renowned teams of science and medical experts, including the recommendations from the Healthy Sail panel established by Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. released early Monday morning, as well as MSC’s Blue Ribbon group and Carnival Corporation’s collection of outside independent experts. Other considerations included the effective protocols developed for the successful sailings in Europe by MSC Cruises, Costa, TUI Cruises, Ponant, Seadream, and others.
The CLIA Global Board unanimously voted to adopt all of the listed core elements for an initial restart of limited operations in the Americas and, most important, operations related to U.S. ports. These core elements will be continuously evaluated and adjusted against the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the availability of new prevention, therapeutics, and mitigation measures.
Coinciding with the release of the core elements agreed to by CLIA ocean-going cruise line members, the Association issued the following statement:
Guided by world-class experts in medicine and science, CLIA and its ocean-going cruise line members have outlined a pathway to support a phased-in, highly-controlled return to passenger service in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America with protocols that promote the health and safety of passengers, crew and the communities visited. The core elements mirror the successful resumption of cruising in other parts of the world and include 100% testing of passengers and crew prior to boarding — a travel industry first. Initial cruises would sail on modified itineraries under stringent protocols that encompass the entirety of the cruise experience, from booking to debarkation. With support and approval of regulators and destinations, cruises could feasibly begin during the remainder of 2020.
The core elements, which are applicable to CLIA member ocean-going cruise ships subject to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) No Sail Order, will also be submitted by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) on behalf of its members in response to the CDC’s Request for Information (RFI) related to the safe resumption of cruise operations. CLIA’s response to the RFI also details other measures that address the entire cruise experience from booking to disembarkation.
Highlights of the core elements include:
- Testing. 100% testing of passengers and crew for COVID-19 prior to embarkation.
- Mask-Wearing. Mandatory wearing of masks by all passengers and crew onboard and during excursions whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained
- Distancing. Physical distancing in terminals, onboard ships, on private islands and during shore excursions
- Ventilation. Air management and ventilation strategies to increase fresh air onboard and, where feasible, using enhanced filters and other technologies to mitigate risk
- Medical Capability: Risk based response plans tailored for each ship to manage medical needs, dedicated cabin capacity allocated for isolation and other operational measures, and advance arrangements with private providers for shoreside quarantine, medical facilities, and transportation.
- Shore Excursions: Only permit shore excursions according to the cruise operators’ prescribed protocols, with strict adherence required of all passengers and denial of re-boarding for any passengers that do not comply.
Implementation of these elements on board every oceangoing ship subject to the CDC’s No Sail Order is mandatory and requires written verification of adoption by each company’s CEO. These elements do not preclude additional measures that may be adopted by individual lines. Measures will be continuously evaluated and adjusted against the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the availability of new prevention and mitigation measures.
Leaders representing governments, destinations, science and medicine responded favorably to the core elements announced by CLIA today, including the following:
“Cruise tourism is incredibly important to our regional economies and we are eager for its safe return to help revitalize our economies and share the beauty of our destinations. As part of the Americas Cruise Tourism Task Force, government leaders in the Caribbean, Mexico, Central and South America, have been working productively with the Florida Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA), CLIA, and the cruise lines to implement guidance for cruise resumption and good progress is being made. The cruise lines’ commitment to conduct 100% testing for all passengers and crew is significant and unique as compared to any other sector. Having this core element in place as part of an initial phase of operations adds a layer of confidence for us as we continue to work together developing guidelines and protocols so we may safely welcome cruising back to our regions.”Prime Minister of Barbados Mia Mottley, who co-chairs the Americas Cruise Tourism Task Forc
“The industry’s commitment to create best practices for mitigating the risk of SARS-CoV-2, is a necessary step. By embracing best practices to protect public health, cruise lines can provide a clear pathway for resuming operations in a way that safeguards the health of our guests, crew and communities. There have been many lessons learned and advances made by medicine and science over the past six months, and we need to continue to advance our approach going forward.”Governor Mike Leavitt, Co-Chair, Healthy Sail Panel and Former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS)
With the development of these rigorous safety protocols, the cruise industry is once again demonstrating its leadership and commitment to public health in travel and tourism. Simply put, the cruise industry has taken such a thorough and comprehensive approach to caring for public health. Based on the effectiveness of the protocols implemented by CLIA members in Europe and other parts of the world, I am confident that a slow and gradual resumption of cruise operations in the Americas can be done responsibly in the coming months.Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez
“What we have seen is that when procedures are in place and they are rigorously followed, the risk is minimized. The core elements of the approach developed by the cruise industry which adopt scientific evidence-based EU guidelines for COVID-19, go further than I have seen in almost any other industry—and serve to demonstrate this industry’s commitment to upholding the highest standards of health and safety onboard ships and within the communities they visit. I am satisfied with the engagement of the cruise industry to follow the EU guidelines and impressed with the level of detail that has gone into the planning process. I look forward to continued progress as cruises resume on a limited basis with a phased-in approach.”Christos Hadjichristodoulou, Professor of Hygiene and Epidemiology, University of Thessaly
““As the Travel & Tourism sector continues in its fight for survival, the cruise industry is proving the importance of testing as effective tool to resume travel. The core elements of the approach, developed by the cruise industry are in line with WTTC’s Safe Travels protocols, which were designed to enable travellers to identify destinations around the world that have adopted our health and hygiene global standardised protocols. An industry wide testing programme is the key to recovery and the cruise industry is leading by example, testing all passengers and crew prior to boarding.
Implementing this comprehensive programme, and adopting these enhanced measures, serves to demonstrate the commitment of this industry to uphold the highest standards of health and safety. We are impressed with the level of detail that has gone into the planning process and look forward to seeing the continued progress as cruises resume on a limited basis and phased-in approach.”Gloria Guevara, president and CEO of the World Travel & Tourism Council
“We recognize the devastating impact that this pandemic, and the subsequent suspension of cruise operations, has had on economies throughout the world, including the nearly half a million members of the wider cruise community and small businesses in the Americas who depend on this vibrant industry for their livelihoods. Based on what we are seeing in Europe, and following months of collaboration with leading public health experts, scientists, and governments, we are confident that these measures will provide a pathway for the return of limited sailings from the U.S. before the end of this year.”CLIA president and CEO Kelly Craighead
According to CLIA’s most recent Economic Impact Study, cruise activity in the United States supported over 420,000 American jobs and generates $53 billion annually in economic activity throughout the country prior to the pandemic. Each day of the suspension of U.S. cruise operations results in a loss of up to $110 million in economic activity and 800 direct and indirect American jobs. The impact of the suspension has been particularly profound in states that depend heavily on cruise tourism, including Florida, Texas, Alaska, Washington, New York and California.
For more information about the cruise industry’s response to COVID-19, including a fact sheet outlining some of the key categories of protocols being considered and the progress of the disciplined approach to cruise resumption in Europe, please visit the CLIA COVID-19 Resource Page.
Now, we enter the next phase, the sit and wait phase as it is time for the CDC to respond to CLIA and to the public since the public comment period ended on Monday. Hopefully, The CDC will make a statement soon with and end date of the No Sail Order, and distinct guidelines on the controlled resumption of cruise operations.
What do you think about these core elements announced by CLIA on behalf of the member cruise lines?