Cruise industry giant Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings have announced a collaboration to develop enhanced cruise health and safety standard,in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
The companies have asked former Utah governor Mike Leavitt and doctor Scott Gottlieb to serve as co-chairs of a newly formed Healthy Sail Panel.
The panel is tasked with collaboratively developing recommendations for cruise lines to advance their public health response to Covid-19, improve safety, and achieve readiness for the safe resumption of operations.
The expert panel has been working for nearly a month and will offer its initial recommendations by the end of August.
The cruise lines said its work will be “open source,” and could be freely adopted by any company or industry that would benefit from the group’s scientific and medical insights.
“This unprecedented disease requires us to develop unprecedented standards in health and safety,” said Richard Fain, chairman and chief executive, 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.”
The panel is co-chaired by Leavitt, who is also a former Secretary of the United States department health and human services (HHS), and Gottlieb, former commissioner of the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
The panel’s members are globally recognised experts from various disciplines, including public health, infectious disease, biosecurity, hospitality and maritime operations.
“We compete for the vacationing consumer’s business every day, but we never compete on health and safety standards,” said Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
“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.”
Fain and Del Rio said they initiated the panel to assure the plans they will submit to the United States Centres for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) and other regulators apply the best available public health, science and engineering insights.
The work of the panel will be shared with the entire industry and regulators.
“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 Leavitt.
“We view our work as a profoundly important public health effort.
“The health and safety of passengers, crew, and the communities that cruise ships visit will be the principal focus of this project.”