Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings opts into voluntary US Covid mitigation scheme

Brands under the Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings umbrella have opted into the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s voluntary Covid-19 risk mitigation initiative.

The scheme for foreign-flagged cruise ships operating in US waters came into effect on Saturday after the expiration of the CDC’s temporary extension and modification of framework for conditional sailing order.

The Company advised the CDC of its three brands – Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises – opting into the programme on Friday.

NCLH’s SailSAFE global health and wellness council, chaired by former head of the US Food and Drug Administration Dr Scott Gottlieb, continues to advise the business on protocols in light of advancements in medicine and technology to combat the spread of Covid-19.

President and chief executive Frank Del Rio said: “Furthering our commitment to health and safety, with the expiration of the CDC’s conditional sail order, our three brands have opted into the CDC’s voluntary programme, which provides the cruise industry with a set of operating provisions to protect the health and safety of guests and crew.

“Our adoption of the voluntary programme provides guests, crew, travel partners and other stakeholders with the assurance that our brands will continue to meet and exceed the provisions laid out by the CDC and provide unparalleled health and safety protocols not found in any other sector of the travel and leisure space.”

He added: “The health and safety of our guests, crew and communities we visit is our number one priority.

“We have demonstrated this commitment since our return to service in July of last year, with protocols that exceeded those required by regulatory agencies, including 100% vaccination of guests and crew, universal testing of all guests prior to embarkation and routine testing of all crew.”

The move came as NCL cancelled Norwegian Breakaway sailings from New Orleans until January 23 due to “ongoing Covid-19-related disruptions” after previously warning that the line may “suddenly change” itineraries under the current circumstances.

A spokesperson said: “Every single vessel in our 17-ship fleet follows stringent health and safety protocols adjusted as needed based on local and international requirements.

“Given the fluidity of the current environment, destinations may suddenly change their travel guidelines and restrictions, requiring us to revise our itineraries.

“Although we endeavour to maintain itineraries, at times unforeseen circumstances may require us to make modifications. We appreciate our guests’ patience during this time and will share necessary itinerary updates promptly.”

Del Rio last week hit out at recent media coverage of how surging Omicron cases numbers are affecting the cruise sector.

Carnival Cruise Line said: “With 19 ships already in guest operations and its remaining three US-based ships scheduled to resume in March, Carnival continues to implement a rigorous set of public health protocols focused on the health, safety and well-being of its guests, crew and the communities it visits.”

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