Cruise line association announces 'mandatory' coronavirus regulations for resuming cruises in the Americas

Cruise Lines International Association hopes to resume voyages before end of year — and that means mandatory masks and COVID-19 testing

An association of dozens of major cruise lines has announced the voluntary adoption of new health protocols — which would be mandatory for its members — in the hopes of resuming cruise voyages in the Americas “during the remainder of 2020.”

Among these new “core elements” for health and safety, all cruise passengers will be tested for COVID-19 prior to embarkation, and all guests will be required to wear masks when physical distancing is not possible.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which counts Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian cruise lines as members, announced the new measures, or “mandatory core elements,” in a news release Monday.

The new protocol will be submitted to the CDC on behalf of CLIA’s member lines and would apply to all oceangoing ships affected by the CDC’s No Sail Order, which advises against resuming cruise operations at least until Sept. 30, when the order expires.

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“Guided by world-class experts in medicine and science, CLIA and its ocean-going cruise line members have outlined a pathway to support a phased-in, highly-controlled return to passenger service in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America with protocols that promote the health and safety of passengers, crew and the communities visited,” reads a statement issued by CLIA. “The core elements mirror the successful resumption of cruising in other parts of the world and include 100% testing of passengers and crew prior to boarding — a travel industry first.”

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In addition to mandatory testing (the specifics of which were not outlined), the CLIA’s new “core elements” include: the wearing of masks by all passengers and crew both on and off ships when social distancing is not possible; the organization of proper social distancing;  appropriate “air management” and ventilation efforts to increase fresh air; “risk-based” medical response plans tailored to each ship; and the capacity to isolate passengers if need be, along with plans for “shoreside quarantine” and medical facilities.

Any passengers who fail to abide by the CLIA’s rules on shore excursions will not be permitted back on the ship, the CLIA proposed.

The CEOs of each major cruise line are also being instructed to confirm their adherence to these rules — in writing — before sailing.

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Kelly Craighead, CLIA president and CEO, hopes the new regulations will convince regulators and ports to resume sailings in the Americas just as some operators have already done in Europe.

“Based on what we are seeing in Europe, and following months of collaboration with leading public health experts, scientists, and governments, we are confident that these measures will provide a pathway for the return of limited sailings from the U.S. before the end of this year,” Craighead said.