The cruise sector could “lead the world” in developing new health and safety protocols in a post Covid-19 world, the boss of Norwegian Cruise Line believes.

Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, told a virtual summit hosted by the Global Travel and Tourism Resilience Council he was confident that strong cruise companies will continue to thrive after the pandemic.

And he said firms like Norwegian were working on new protocols to implement on board their ships that will regain the trust of the travelling public.

“The cruise industry at large is working on protocols,” he said. “My company has hired experts to help us develop protocols from A to Z.

“Once we get past government obstacles the real work begins and that is regaining the trust of the travelling public.

“We believe that the cruise industry can be a world leader and that, in a controlled environment, we can be in a safer place than the general population.”

Del Rio said cruise ships are effectively “islands at sea” and have extensive experience in developing protocols to deal with viruses and health and safety.

“This industry has demonstrated its value by the dynamic growth over the past 20 years and for the next 10 years with the order books for new ships still full.

“The strong cruise companies will continue to thrive, innovate, and push forward, finding ways to improve the health and safety of our crew and guests in way that does not effect the experience.

“That will no change. That’s what customer want. We see that throughout the world. People are going to go back to do what they like, and people love to cruise.

“As soon as we are allowed to return and implement innovative protocols to keep our crew and guests safe, people will come back.”

Clive Jacobs, chairman of Travel Weekly parent Jacobs Media Group, said the travel sector in general was more used to crises than others and as “adept at adapting very quickly”.

“Cruise has reacted to viruses for many years and has done it very well. The industry is very responsible and it wants to get back to normal as quickly as possible,” he added.