CLIA Adopts Health Protocols Including 100% Testing for Passengers and Crew

The MSC Grandiosa has relaunched service in Italy

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) announced today the adoption of mandatory core elements of health protocols to be implemented as part of a phased-in, controlled resumption of operations.

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, CLIA stated.

CLIA’s announcement coincided with Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings also releasing the recommendations of their Healthy Sail Panel to the Centers for Disease Control, which at press time, still has its No Sail order in effect until Sept. 30.

Highlights of the CLIA’s core elements include:

Testing: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.

Social Distancing: Physical distancing in terminals, onboard ships, on private islands and during shore excursions.

Ventilation: Air management and ventilation strategies to increase fresh air onboard 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 permitted 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.

Commenting on the recommendations, CLIA Chairman Adam Goldstein said that all passengers and crew would be tested prior to boarding. Brian Salerno, senior vice president of maritime policy at CLIA, added that all crew would undergone three levels of testing before being allowed to work onboard. He added the elements are to be considered as “building blocks” intended to be adjusted or changed as conditions change.

Goldstein said that he envisions a phased, sequential startup of operations and pointed to the successful resumption of service in Europe.

Cruise line executives participated in a call today, including Frank Del Rio, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, who said it will also take time to train crew and that may include sailing for a few days at sea without passengers, working up where there can be passengers onboard. He said it could take up to 30 days to get a ship back into service with crew.

For the brands that have already restarted in Europe, Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation, and Pierfranceso Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises, said there were rigorous protocols in place, not only for the ships, but also for the destinations.

Goldstein would not commit to the type of testing to be implemented, because while the cruise lines are committed to testing, he said, technology is evolving so fast so that there may be new tests available when the ships resume service.

Vago noted that MSC has already dropped old testing technologies in favor of new ones, and said he believes quick testing, done in minutes, will be part of the solution going forward.

Meanwhile, Goldstein added that the industry is working with destinations throughout the Caribbean, Mexico and Latin America.

According to CLIA, implementation of these elements onboard every oceangoing ship subject to the CDC’s No Sail Order will be mandatory and requires written verification of adoption by each company’s CEO. These elements do not preclude additional measures that may be adopted by individual lines. Measures will be continuously evaluated and adjusted against the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the availability of new prevention and mitigation measures.

CLIA said that their protocols are based on its work with the cruise lines and teams of scientists and medical experts, including the recommendations from the Healthy Sail panel established by Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, also released today, as well as MSC’s Blue Ribbon group and Carnival Corporation’s collection of outside independent experts. Other considerations included the effective protocols developed for the successful sailings in Europe by MSC Cruises, Costa, TUI Cruises, Ponant, SeaDream, and others.

CLIA also said that 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 core elements will be submitted by CLIA on behalf of its members in response to the CDC’s Request for Information (RFI) related to the safe resumption of cruise operations.



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