Cruise lines will have to make “significant changes in our operations in order to move and be successful in the new world”, a panel of experts has said.

Speaking to Travel Weekly editor Lucy Huxley in the latest Travel Weekly COVID-19 webcast, Princess Cruises vice president UK & Europe for Princess Cruises, Tony Roberts, who is also the chair of Clia UK & Ireland, said: “In the history of cruising, public health and safety has absolutely been at the forefront of what the cruise lines have done and what Clia has done, educating people about the safely of cruising. It’s been paramount in our communications forever.

“But we’ve had a global crisis that’s impacted travel and all travel needs to change. Cruise isn’t exempt from that. We will have to make significant changes in our operations in order to move and be successful in the new role. And the role of Clia will be, first of all, in helping the cruise lines to work together to create these new protocols and then to educate both travel agents and consumers as to what’s been put in place that means we can comfortably and confidently welcome people back onto our ships.”

Silversea UK, Europe, Middle East and Africa managing director Peter Shanks added: “It’s too early to say what these protocols will be.

There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes. But you just have to look at what we’ve done in the past. If you go back 10 years, norovirus was prevalent and seen as a cruise ship issue, but the work that’s been done there has been terrific and we have educated travel partners, consumers and notably the travel journalists that write about us, about that.

“We have to start that all over again but I am confident that the ambition of the industry will be to go above and beyond what people would expect so that we can safely welcome people back onto our ships in the future.”

MSC Cruises UK & Ireland managing director Antonio Paradiso said many protocols were “already in place”.

“We already have thermal cameras, and we all have deep fleet sanitation and cleansing five times a day. There is a lot already going on. But we just need to focus on some different areas like social distancing and how that is going to come into place because we will be back and we will be back stronger.”

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