Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) have joined forces following the coronavirus pandemic in a bid to develop new standards on board their ships. The companies hope to find new ways to enhance the health and hygiene measures currently implemented on big-name cruises.
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In the midst of the pandemic, the cruise industry was hard hit due to a number of fast-growing outbreaks on cruise ships around the world.
Cruises have also had a spotlight shone on them over the rapid spread of norovirus in the past.
Now, experts from Royal Caribbean and NCL are working together to employ new hygiene and safety methods to instil customer confidence when ships return to sailing.
By the end of August, the “Healthy Sail Panel” will put out its initial recommendations, which can then be used by a number of industries which deem the advice relevant to their operations.
“This unprecedented disease requires us to develop unprecedented standards in health and safety,” said Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group.
“Bringing aboard these respected experts to guide us forward demonstrates our commitment to protecting our guests, our crews and the communities we visit.”
“We compete for the vacationing consumer’s business every day, but we never compete on health and safety standards,” added Frank Del Rio, president and CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.
“While the cruise industry has always had rigorous health standards, the unique challenges posed by COVID-19 provide an opportunity to raise the bar even higher.”
A team of industry specialists, doctors and medical professionals are working to find the methods that will best protect guests and crew, whilst also not impeding on the holiday experience.
“In convening the Healthy Sail Panel, we sought the participation of a diverse group of leading experts in areas of science and public health that are directly relevant to the considerations listed by the No Sail Order,” said Governor Mike Leavitt, who is one of the chairs of the panel.
“We view our work as a profoundly important public health effort.
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“The health and safety of passengers, crew, and the communities that cruise ships visit will be the principal focus of this project.”
Though a full list of changes has not been announced, industry expert Rob Gower who has over 20 years of experience in the travel sector, has predicted some likely changes.
“Like many sectors of the travel industry, there will many changes as a result of the pandemic,” he told Express.co.uk.
“One of these will be about the focus of heath and well-being of passengers.
“The key to this is how cruise lines can gain back the trust and the cost of what this takes. Some will survive and others will fall.”
Measures will range from the boarding experience to port days according to Mr Gower.
He continued: “As well as new health measures to implement and the need to create some form of social distancing, temperature checking and testing, the other main challenge will be number of passengers that any one cruise liner is able to carry.
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“Some current views on this is that cruise ships may have to operate with up to 40 percent less passengers than capacity to meet the new measures which will, of course, have a major impact on profitability for the cruise companies.
“There is also the issue with visiting destinations whilst on the cruise and countries accepting cruise liners.
“Canada has already stated that it will not allow operational cruises in their waters until after the end of October 2020. Currently, the Seychelles are saying they do not want cruise liners visiting their islands until 2022.”
Both Royal Caribbean and NCL have been forced to cancel cruises amid the pandemic.
At the time of writing, Royal Caribbean plans to return to sailing as of September 16 2020.
NCL has outlined a return to sailing as of September 2020.
Despite the ongoing fallout from the pandemic, though, Mr Gower remains positive the industry will recover.
“The cruise industry is far too popular and in-demand not to come out of this pandemic,” he said.
“However, like a lot of travel at the moment, this is all about restoring customer confidence and building trust to convince people that cruise holidays are safe.”
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