The Healthy Sail Panel made their observations and high level plan available to the CDC but the question on everyone’s mind is will there be a safe return to cruising in 2020?
When it comes to travel 2020 — so far — has been a year filled with bad news, uncertainty, and fear. The cruise industry has been shut down since March, people have future cruise credit to use for their next cruise and there hasn’t been much reason to be confident cruising will resume in any meaningful way this year.
Personally, I have been wondering why the cruise lines and their support organizations have been taking their time announcing plans to resume. While the rest of the hospitality industry has been proactive in the planning and implementation (and marketing!) of what they’re going to do to return to service the cruise lines have been largely silent. When pressed, the answer is, “we didn’t want to guess or spread misinformation.” In my opinion when it comes to giving people hope about a safe return to cruising, there should be some middle ground between silence and the irresponsible spread of false information.
Today, the Healthy Sail Panel — a group of experts put together by Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Lines — released their findings and high level plan to the CDC to begin the process of returning to service. The full report outlines 74 recommendations across five core focus areas:
- Testing, screening, and exposure reduction
- Sanitization and ventilation
- Response, contingency planning, and execution
- Destination and excursion planning
- Mitigating risks for crew members
Unsurprisingly, the action items are things like more handwashing stations, reduced number of guests, more health monitoring for guests and crew, and newer ventilation technology. While this is the first step, it is a step toward a safe return to cruising. Once this plan is approved, the cruise industry can continue to implement protocols with the focus areas in mind.