Clia says Covid infection rates on ships are still “much lower” than on land as it outlined how every vessel under its watch is scheduled to resume operations by August.
The sharp rise in Omicron case numbers globally has reignited the debate around the Covid protocols and guidelines introduced to protect cruise passengers.
Every cruise ship under the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s jurisdiction is currently being monitored or investigated due to Covid cases on board, although that is triggered by just 0.1% of passengers testing positive.
Clia Europe’s new director general Marie-Caroline Laurent told a Travel Weekly webcast that the sector’s “very efficient reporting” of case numbers was the reason behind the widespread investigations being carried out by the CDC.
According to Clia, almost six million people have cruised since operations restarted during the pandemic and just 1% of that number have tested positive for Covid-19.
“I don’t think we’ve mentioned it but compared to the rate of infection ashore, for ships we’ve only had 1% occurrence,” Laurent said. “This is much lower compared to the numbers we see on land.”
She added that existing protocols in Europe may be reviewed in the coming months but added there were currently no plans to change them.
Laurent said that the cruise body was “convinced” it had the right protocols in place, adding that she was “very confident” about the industry fully resuming operations.
About 220 of Clia member lines’ ships are operating currently, but Laurent expects all 289 vessels under its membership to return to the water before the peak of the summer season.
She said: “We were about 62% of our capacity back at the end of the year. We’re still anticipating 100% of our ships to be back in operation by July or August.”
Laurent added that Clia was doing its “utmost” to make the target a reality but admitted the situation could change “rapidly”.
Andy Harmer, Clia UK and Ireland’s managing director, said ships were resuming operations on a monthly basis.
“We expect the vast majority of ships to be operating within the next few weeks,” he said.