Collaboration between competitors in a time of crisis has become more common amidst COVID-19. Cruise Industry leaders Royal Caribbean cruises and Norwegian Cruise Lines announced a collaboration to develop enhanced cruise health and safety standards in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have hired a team of experts. The newly formed group, chaired by Governor Mike Leavitt and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, is being referred to as the “Healthy Sail Panel.” The panel’s task is to develop recommendations for cruise lines to advance their public health response to COVID-19, improve safety and achieve readiness for the safe resumption of cruise operations.
The health and safety of passengers, crew and the communities that cruise ships visit will be the principal focus of this project. The panel’s members are globally recognized experts from various disciplines, including public health, infectious disease, biosecurity, hospitality and maritime operations.
“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 Governor Leavitt.
The panel has been working together for nearly a month and will offer initial recommendations by the end of August. This work will be “open source” and could be 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 D. Fain, chairman and CEO of 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.”
“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 CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. “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 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other regulators apply the best available public health, science and engineering insights.
Health and safety are the highest priority for all cruise line members as demonstrated by this initiative. Members are working tirelessly to develop appropriate protocols based on input from health authorities and medical experts in the United States and abroad. The work of the panel will be shared with the entire industry and regulators.
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