Carnival Corporation is to make ships available as floating hospitals to support healthcare systems around the world.

The world’s largest cruise group said selected vessels from its global cruise line brands, including Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises and P&O Cruises Australia, will be made available to communities for use as temporary hospitals.

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The aim is to “help address the escalating impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

The move echoes an offer made by Saga Cruises to help the NHS in the UK.

A Carnival UK spokesperson said: “We are fully supportive of the announcement to requisition some of the Corporation’s ships as hospitals, should it be necessary. At this time ships from the P&O Cruises (UK) and Cunard fleets are not included.”

Cruise ships are capable of being quickly provisioned to serve as hospitals with up to 1,000 hospital rooms that can treat patients suffering from less critical, non-coronavirus conditions, the US cruise giant said.

The temporary hospital rooms can be quickly converted to install and connect remote patient monitoring devices over the ship’s high-speed network – providing cardiac, respiratory, oxygen saturation and video monitoring capabilities. The rooms also have bathrooms, private balconies with access to sun and fresh air, as well as isolation capabilities, as needed.

Ships would have the ability to provide up to seven intensive care units in their medical centres equipped with central cardiac monitoring, ventilators and other key medical devices and capabilities.

They can also house multiple medical functions in different locations by using different decks on the ship to separate each required medical area.

The temporary hospital cruise ships would be berthed at a pier near the community in need and operated by the ship’s crew, with all maritime operations, food and drink, and cleaning services provided by crew members.

Medical services would be provided by the government or hospital responsible for fighting the spread of coronavirus within the location.

The corporation said: “With the continued spread of Covid-19 expected to exert added pressure on land-based healthcare facilities, including a possible shortage of hospital beds, Carnival Corporation and its brands are calling on governments and health authorities to consider using cruise ships as temporary healthcare facilities to treat non-Covid-19 patients, freeing up additional space and expanding capacity in land-based hospitals to treat cases of Covid-19.

“As part of the offer, interested parties will be asked to cover only the essential costs of the ship’s operations while in port.”