Cruise lines, long referred to as “floating petri dishes”, have found themselves at the centre of a raging debate amid the coronavirus crisis, with cleanliness and hygiene standards of cruise ships called into question.
In response, a new health framework is being developed by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and its members to “uphold the safety of guests and prepare for future operations” post Covid-19.
CLIA Australasia & Asia managing director Joel Katz said the industry was working with medical experts and health authorities internationally to lay a new foundation for the cruise sector as it prepared for its long-term recovery.
“While cruise operations are suspended, we are using this time to define the new landscape we will work within and make sure we’re ready when the time comes to sail again,” he said.
“Many teams of people around the world are working in tandem with experts to ensure we learn as much as possible from these unprecedented events and exceed community expectations in our response.”
Katz said maritime policy work underway within CLIA would define the specific screening, cleansing and medical protocols that cruise lines would adopt globally, in addition to those already in place.
He said while it was too early to discuss specific procedures being developed or the timing, the industry’s priority would be to ensure the safety and security of guests, crew and the communities that cruise lines visit.
“The challenges before us are great and there is no quick fix, which is why we have embarked on a process that will be extremely thorough and will address the concerns that communities and authorities expect to see us confront,” Katz said.
He said once finalised, the new protocols would provide further opportunity to communicate with industry stakeholders, government and the wider public to provide reassurance on future cruise operations.
Katz added: “Our thoughts are with all those who have been impacted by Covid-19. The cruise industry is not alone in having to confront this disease, but we will aim to set standards that other sectors may follow when it comes to our response.”