In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, a Healthy Sail Panel submitted its recommendations to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in order to enhance safety onboard cruise ships.
Following the unprecedented crisis due to the outbreak, the Healthy Sail Panel identified five key areas for every cruise operator that should take into consideration so as to improve health and safety for guests and crew, and reduce the risk of infection and spread of COVID-19 onboard cruise ships:
1.Testing, Screening and Exposure Reduction
All crew should be tested for coronavirus between 5 days and 24 hours prior to leaving their home location to join the ship and receive a negative result, quarantine for seven days on board the ship upon arrival, and take a test at the end of that seven-day period and receive a negative result, before beginning their duties.
2.Sanitation and Ventilation
Cruise operators should educate guests in advance of travel about the sanitation measures that are being used preboard, on board, and at private, cruise line-owned and operated destinations.
Enhanced sanitation protocols should be employed to protect against the risk of COVID-19 transmission via inanimate surfaces or objects, with attention to both high- and low-touch areas of the ship, terminal, and cruise line-owned and operated destinations.
3.Response, Contingency Planning and Execution
Cruise operators should ensure there is sufficient onboard medical leadership on all ships, including the designation of a crew member with responsibility for infectious disease prevention and response who will inform and oversee execution of components of the response to an outbreak.
Also, operators should ensure they have a doctor on board with intensivist training to manage the medical care of severely ill patients.
4.Destination and Excursion Planning
In the startup phase, cruise itineraries should be as simple as possible, utilizing private, cruise line-owned and operated destinations or ports where there can be tight control of the onshore experience.
During the initial return to sailing, cruise operators should only allow guests debarking from a ship at a destination port to participate in cruise line-sponsored or verified excursions as a way of limiting potential exposures in the destinations they visit.
5.Mitigating Risks for Crew Members
Cruise operators should provide opportunities for crew to debark from the ship at destinations while maintaining reasonable limitations on their movement to reduce risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2.
At the same time, operators should limit crew members’ close personal contact with guests over extended periods of time wherever possible. When distancing isn’t possible, crew should be provided with additional PPE appropriate to their job type.
Explore more herebelow