CLIA Announces Mandatory Core Elements of Health Protocols on Behalf of Member Cruise Lines

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.

CLIA Core Elements Overview

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.

CLIA Cruise Industry US Economic Impact

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.

Cruise Reearch Highlights Sept 21 2020

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?

9 Replies to “CLIA Announces Mandatory Core Elements of Health Protocols on Behalf of Member Cruise Lines”

  1. Sam

    I think Disney is perfectly set up to be able to announce limited new cruises to Castaway Cay on the Disney Wonder for the Holidays if the CDC approves the “new” guidelines and allows cruising to resume.

  2. Michael

    What is the point of having 100% testing but still requiring masks? Basically they are saying they don’t trust the tests so why do it at all? You either have it or you don’t.

  3. Tom

    These protocols are comprehensive and will be as effective as is reasonably possible. Now let’s put them to use for the December 19, 2020 sailing of the Fantasy. 😁

  4. Mary Ann Morrison

    Thanks for the update Scott. I agree with you Sam. My next cruise is on March 1, 2021, and if the “new guidelines” are approved, I am going to push that cruise up to January or February 2021.

  5. Jo

    I agree with you Michael. I go cruising to breathe in the ocean air. If tests are required, I do not see the need for wearing a mask.

  6. Sam

    Because masks slow the spread, if one person comes back positive with mask wearing chances are better that only one comes back positive. If masks aren’t required then the likelihood of the virus having spread is far higher resulting in more positive results, more quarantines, more problems. Frequent testing identifies new cases faster. Masks slow the rate of transmission making it easier to quarantine a few vs the whole ship.

  7. Walt

    Did anyone hear the CDC say that having a good temperature reading does not guarantee that you are coronavirus free when boarding the ship. There are so much we don’t know about this virus and yet many are willing to sacrifice there lives and the lives of their families and friends for a moment of pleasure. Well go. That’s your choice. Just don’t cry when things don’t work out the way you want them. Me and my family will wait for more info or a vaccine. Quick question…….Will your travel insurance cover you if you get the virus on the ship? Just asking…..🤔

  8. Casey

    I’m very concerned about the excursion element. European itineraries would be kind of worthless if you can’t get off the boat without reasonably priced excursion options. Most of Disney’s are super pricey in comparison to local tours/guides. How do the ports visited benefit financially if the cruise lines monopolize this and those who cannot afford an excursion in every port are stuck on the ship?

  9. Alice

    And that’s the point at which the negative pre-boarding virus test becomes meaningless. The bubble can be controlled ONLY if no one leaves the bubble (ship). A single person becoming infected then returning to the ship WILL be shedding virus as soon as their load becomes large enough (and if you want to be horrified, read the studies on how much higher the loads are in asymptotic children versus symptomatic adults). If that person is a mask non-believer, then the bubble has lost it’s purpose. The vector point in my state’s infection traces back to a particular Princess cruise- guest got infected in a port, brought it back to the ship, crew member picked it up, guests were offloaded, new guests loaded for another 10 day cruise (that second sailing was the one that got banned from all ports making the news).

    Your last point about the financial incentive for the ports is important. The “closed loop” does not benefit the local economy at all (or very very little). Any port with a dock has been forced to provide tax incentives for the construction of the dock (most often in the form of reduced or eliminated docking fees) or has outright built the dock (bonding the debt onto the back of the local property taxpayers)- a “build it and they will come” mentality. The trade-off expected by the town is that a large enough number of guests will spend independently thus providing an actual economic benefit. But understand, all those tourist jobs are minimum wage jobs. In Alaska, a significant number of the land based people serving the cruise ship passengers are actually brought in and housed by the employers (who are also usually not Allaska companies either-you know that strip of identical shops in every port? ), so not even the tiny wages paid make it into the local economy. One cruise line in particular (see reference in prior paragraph) brings in boatloads of tourists, puts them in a company owned rail car ships them north to a company owned hotel, where they shop in a company owned gift store stocked with product made in china where the minimum wage cashier is from Pennsylvania living for the summer in company provided dorm housing. There is very little ( to virtually no) opportunity for a local business to profit off that scheme. The ones that want to be included on the list of “safe” shopping are required to pay a fee (aka kickback) to the cruise line.

    Then there’s the cost (borne by the nearest onshore community) of the damage caused by waste dumping…but that’s a whole other diatribe 🙂

    Key west has finally done something about it by publishing the impact of excessive cost over economic benefit to those communities….then used that data to ban the larger cruise ships. I hope other ports follow suit so that an honest conversation about the role of cruise lines in a healthy economy can take place.

    Sadly, Covid will force Disney to close their loop making them more like the way the other lines already operate.


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