Cruise body Clia has agreed to adopt a series of health and safety measures it hopes will allow the return of sailings from the US by the end of the year.
The move comes as Clia continues to lobby the UK government to relax its ban on cruises from British ports.
The “mandatory core elements of a strong set of health protocols” will be implemented as part of a phased and “highly controlled” return of US cruises.
“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, which encompass the largest cruise market in the world,” Clia said.
It is seeking approval from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to relax its no sail order, imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic, for an initial restart of limited operations from American ports.
The association said: “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.”
Clia added: “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.”
The industry measures follow recommendations by medical experts and scientists brought together individually by Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Carnival Corporation and MSC Cruises
“Other considerations included the effective protocols developed for the successful sailings in Europe by MSC Cruises, Costa, Tui Cruises, Ponant, Seadream and others,” Clia said.
Highlights of Clia’s health protocols:
- 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, on board ships, on private islands and during shore excursions
- Air management and ventilation strategies to increase fresh air on board 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.
Carnival Corporation said: “Our highest responsibility and top priorities are compliance, protecting the environment, and the health, safety and well-being of our guests, our crew members and the communities we visit.
“That ongoing focus is reflected in the core elements of extensive health protocols for a gradual resumption of cruise operations in the Americas submitted today by Clia, our cruise industry association, to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“The core elements submitted to the CDC incorporate input from Carnival Corporation and our nine cruise line brands, along with our fellow Clia members.
“Across the industry, we are engaged with some of the world’s top medical experts and scientists, who are providing valuable insight to inform the ongoing and evolving development of new and enhanced protocols based on the latest scientific evidence and best practices for protection and mitigation.
“The cruise industry will continue to share learnings and best practices while working together as one united industry focused on the well-being of guests, crew and the communities we visit.
“Our Costa Cruises brand successfully restarted cruise operations this month in Italy, with important learnings and best practices being shared broadly across the corporation’s eight additional cruise line brands.
“In addition, the global cruise community continues to make significant progress in developing enhanced health and safety protocols.
“We look forward to collaborating with Clia and our fellow cruise operators to work collectively with the CDC for a safe and successful restart to cruise operations in the US.”