Cruise giants Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings have collaborated to develop a panel of experts who will come up with ‘enhanced cruise health and safety standards’.

The two companies, behind nine major cruise lines between them, have formed the Healthy Sail Panel in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The panel, co-chaired by former governor of Utah and US secretary of health and human services, Mike Leavitt, and the ex-administrator of the US Food and Drug Administration, Dr Scott Gottlieb, is tasked with developing recommendations for cruise lines to safely resume operations.


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The 11-strong panel is made up of public health, infectious disease, biosecurity, hospitality and maritime operations experts. It has been working for nearly a month and will offer its initial recommendations by the end of August. The cruise lines said its work will be “open source,” and could be freely adopted.

“This unprecedented disease requires us to develop unprecedented standards in health and safety,” said Richard Fain, chairman and chief executive 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.”

Frank Del Rio, president and chief executive of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, added: “We compete for the vacationing consumer’s business every day, but we never compete on health and safety standards. 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.”

Kelly Craighead, president and chief executive of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), said: “Health and safety are the highest priority for all CLIA cruise line members as demonstrated by this initiative on the part of two of our largest members.

“We commend this and parallel efforts of all of our members, large and small, who are working tirelessly to develop appropriate protocols based on input from health authorities and medical experts in the U.S. and abroad.”

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”.