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What will Celebrity's cruises look like when they restart? Celebrity Cruise Blog and Vlog

Updated: Feb 10, 2021

Celebrity Cruises’ parent company The Royal Caribbean Group joined forces with Norwegian Cruise Line to form The Healthy Sail Panel. This panel was formed to advise Celebrity’s and Norwegian’s procedures and policies when starting up after the shutdown due to COVID-19. In this article we will explore what cruising may look like on Celebrity once cruising starts up again. The ultimate goal of this panel besides to find a way to restart cruising is to “reduce the risk of transmission below the level people would experience in other normal activities.” according to the report. Keep reading to see what to possibly expect when cruising restarts. Some of these changes are temporary and will be removed or modified and other changes will be permanent.

Test sailings

“The cruise industry has a history of conducting test sailings when they introduce a new product. These are normally several cruises of short duration with selected invited guests and limited itineraries, which gives the operator the opportunity to train the crew and refine its procedures. We believe that such a process could be helpful in the introduction of these protocols and procedures.” These test sailings would allow cruise lines such as Celebrity Cruise Line to test out and modify their protocols as necessary. “In their return to sailing, cruise operators should use a phased approach to demonstrate that protocols can be successfully implemented on board their ships before returning to full operations with guests on board.”

Testing before boarding & health screening

All crew needs to test negative before boarding, quarantine on-board before starting their duties, and test negative after quarantine. In addition to periodic testing of the crew. “All guests joining a ship, regardless of method of travel to the ship, should be tested for SARS-CoV-2 between 5 days and 24 hours before boarding and receive a negative result that is shared with the cruise operator, before coming on board.” All who boards the ship will undergo a health screening including a contactless temperature screening. “Cruise operators should not allow an individual to sail if they do not affirmatively state their willingness to comply with current safety and public health protocols.” In addition those who test positive for Covid or who have been in close contact with anyone that had Covid in the past 14 days will be denied boarding. Any passenger who is at risk for severe illness should consult with their doctor before traveling.

Guest education & daily temperature checks

“Guests should be provided sufficient information on SARS-CoV-2 to assess their individual risk, to fully understand the safety precautions being taken by the cruise line to address Covid, and to agree to comply with the necessary safety protocols while traveling.” The cruise line should take daily temperature checks of crew and guests. The next item I am not sure what this entails or how frequently it will occur. Cruise Lines “should employ routine symptom screening methodologies to help ensure that potential SARS-CoV-2 infections are identified as quickly as possible.”

Picture from Quantum of the Seas which is operated by The Royal Group which is Celebrity’s parent company.

Mask wearing

Picture from Quantum of the Seas which is operated by The Royal Group which is Celebrity’s parent company.

All crew and guests must wear a mask or face covering. Crew members who come in prolonged contact should be required to wear other PPE (personal protective equipment) in addition to masks.

Picture courtesy of Cruise Critic. Picture taken aboard MSC Grandisoa

Capacity and social distancing

Cruise lines should adjust capacity levels to ensure social distancing of 6 feet: onboard, cruise terminal, and cruise line owned destinations (private islands, etc. ). To aid in distancing; “abundant signage and floor markers should be utilized to communicate physical distancing requirements in the terminal, at cruise line-owned destinations, and on board the ship, with a particular emphasis on high-traffic areas (e.g., gangways, elevators, ship common areas).”

Hand hygiene, sanitation and ventilation

Embarkation and debarkation should be streamlined to reduce time and contact with surfaces. Enhanced sanitation of surfaces on ships, terminals and cruise line owned destinations should be conducted using cleaners approved by the EPA to kill Covid.

Cruise Lines should follow CDC guidelines on hand washing and hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer, hand washing stations or wipes should be placed around the ship for use by guests and crew. Training will be provided to crew on proper infection control with an emphasis on proper hand hygiene. Filtration should be upgraded to minimize the spread of infectious diseases.

Clinic, treatment, quarantine & contact tracing

The ratio of medical personnel to guests onboard should be increased In addition the cruise line will designate 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.” The capacity of the onboard medical center should be increased to be able to treat the critically ill; besides expanding capacity the cruise line should increase the type and variety of medical equipment on the ship.

The new guidelines also provide opportunity to quarantine patients who are contagious. “Cruise ship facilities should be arranged to accommodate care for patients presenting with suspected infectious disease separately from care for those presenting with noninfectious diseases. A new and surprising recommendation to the medical center would include stateroom visits or remote appointments when feasible.

Treatment plans for illness should be based on the most recent understanding of Covid-19 and the individual patient. In addition cruise lines should establish relationships with shore-based medical institutions in the event ship-based staff need to consult other medical experts.

Contact tracing is another important aspect when cruising resumes. There should be transparency with guests about what information will be collected and how it will be used in terms of contact tracing. Multiple contact tracing methods should be used in order to detect infections quickly.

Procedures should be in place to determine when and how a passenger is quarantined. In addition cabins should be set aside for quarantine. Procedures should be in place in advance in order to determine when and how passengers with Covid, suspected Covid, or exposure to the virus will disembark.

Destinations & ports

Ports are important to cruisers so it is imperative that ports are still part of cruising. The recommendation of the panel requires cruise lines to get approval from local governments to be able to dock in that port. In addition they must allow Covid positive passengers and others who were exposed to be able to travel back home. Another recommendation is that the cruise line should take into account the local infection rate, positivity percent, and the local mitigation plan of Coronavirus. In addition it is recommended that “In the startup phase, cruises 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.”

Initially cruise lines should only allow shore excursions arranged through the cruise line in order to limit exposure at port and to be able to better control the environment that guests encounter. This recommendation is only temporary. In addition “Cruise operators should ensure that guests are thoroughly informed about potential exposure risks and how to minimize their risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 at the planned destination.”

The Crew

I am going to keep the recommendations that pertain to the crew brief. You can see all the recommendations at the link at the bottom. “Crew should be provided with regular training on protocols to reduce transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and empowered to take action to ensure these protocols are followed by guests and fellow crew members.” In addition “Cruise operators should limit crew members’ close 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.” The panel also recommends that crew are trained to reduce the risk of Covid transmission on ships.

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