A new health framework to define cruising’s future
The health and safety of cruise line passengers, crew and destinations are an operational imperative and a top priority for CLIA members. Following close collaboration and consultation with expert health advisors and other industry-initiated expert groups around the world, CLIA has established a COVID-19 Member Policy that builds upon the Core Elements announced in October that commit to 100% testing of passengers and crew prior to embarkation – a travel industry first.
The Policy sets a high bar for initial resumption to convey a clear commitment to passenger, crew and destination health during the pandemic. Although no setting is immune from the potential presence of the virus that causes COVID-19, the measures contained within the Policy are designed to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 in a cruise setting.
Outlining a phased approach to a return to sailing, the CLIA COVID-19 Member Policy entails a comprehensive layered prevention, detection and response strategy from the time of booking to disembarkation.
A comprehensive overview of the Policy components can be downloaded here.
Each enhanced protocol and procedure outlined within the Policy has been informed by the recommendations of leading outside health experts, local and regional governments, and the experiences of CLIA cruise lines that have resumed sailing on a limited basis with enhanced measures in place.
This Policy joins CLIA’s Compendium of Member Policies, with all elements of the policy applicable worldwide, except where any such elements are prohibited by law or government authority and wherever there are not more stringent requirements in place from governments and health authorities. These measures will be continuously evaluated against the state of the global pandemic and may change over time as circumstances evolve.
The COVID-19 Member Policy includes the following:
- Medical: Augmented shipboard medical staffing, capacity to provide for intensive care of COVID-19 cases, illness reporting, diagnostic equipment, personal protective gear, daily temperature checks for staff and crew and a dedicated onshore entity to address all inquiries and aspects related to COVID-19 case management, among others.
- Ship Environment: Reserved cabins for isolation, physical distancing, air management risk mitigation strategies to increase fresh air flow and deploy enhanced filtration technologies, strengthened sanitation protocols, hand washing stations, signage, among others.
- Measures for Crew: Conducting 100% testing of all crewmembers, with a requirement for negative test results, prior to their departure from home, prior to embarking the ship, upon conclusion of a minimum quarantine period and at least once monthly; daily symptom screening, mask-wearing in public spaces and service areas, limited cabin occupancy and access to mental health support resources, training in new protocols, among others.
- Measures for Passengers: Frequent communication from the time of booking including instructions for complying with public health requirements, staggered guest arrivals and departures, completion of a health declaration, requirement for a negative test result prior to boarding, health screening, physical distancing, mask-wearing, strict adherence to shoreside protocols at ports of call, tracking and tracing for at least 30 days following disembarkation to facilitate post cruise communication, among others.
- Case Detection and Management: Immediate isolation for possible or confirmed cases of COVID-19 in pre-designated, reserved isolation cabins, rapid implementation of response protocols to identify and quarantine close contacts, risk-based response plans, screening and testing of disembarking passengers who are close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases, among others.
- Response Mobilization: Pre-arranged response logistics for each itinerary for transportation providers, shoreside quarantine and medical facilities in the event infectious illness exceeds onboard management capability; medical priority to be assigned to disembark confirmed COVID-19 cases as soon as reasonably practical, among others.
- Implementation, Audit and Review: Verification of implementation by Member cruise line CEOs either prior to initial restart or during annual review of the CLIA Compendium of Member Policies; following any cruise on which COVID-19 is detected, Members are to conduct a review at the first opportunity to identify opportunities for improvements, among others.
- Supplemental Procedures Specific to Brands/Ships: Development of plans as needed to implement this Policy and to reflect all necessary details for ship or fleet-specific prevention, surveillance, and response protocols applicable in the ports and regions in which they operate. Such plans are to also address contractual services, if any, that provide for applicable medical response measures and procedures for transport and care ashore.
With stringent protocols in place, CLIA research confirms that cruisers support enhanced measures and are willing to comply with them when they resume cruising: 90% of cruisers agree that mask wearing is necessary in order to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 and over 80% of cruisers agree that the cruise industry’s commitment to 100% testing of passengers and crew prior to embarkation will promote a safe environment aboard the ship.
CLIA recognizes that continued collaboration between destinations and the cruise community will remain essential to the further gradual resumption of cruise operations that keeps the health of passengers, crew and the communities we visit at the forefront. Cruise is a key driver of the world’s economies and the return of cruising around the world will be vital to putting people back to work and fueling the global economic recovery from the pandemic.
For more information about the cruise industry’s response to COVID-19, please see the FAQ below.
COVID-19 Member Policy FAQs
Why is a COVID-19 Member Policy necessary?
The adoption of the COVID-19 Member Policy signifies the cruise industry’s continued commitment to leading the way in public health and responsible tourism and establishes a unified approach to planning for a phased and controlled resumption of operations in 2021. The Policy is designed to support continued collaboration with local, national and international governing authorities while maintaining the industry’s focus on and commitment to effective, science-based measures to protect public health.
How will these measures help keep people safer from COVID-19 on cruise ships than they were earlier in the year?
Cruise ships have gradually resumed in some parts of the world with science-backed protocols that mirror those outlined within the Policy, including 100% testing for passengers and crew prior to embarkation, physical distancing, mask-wearing, enhanced ventilation measures and strict guidelines for passengers who engage in shore excursions. These measures, among others, are designed to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 in a cruise setting and allow for a quick and coordinated response mechanism, both onboard and onshore. The important thing to note is that this is a continuous process, and these measures will be continuously evaluated and adjusted against the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic.
What are the main components of CLIA’s COVID-19 Member Policy?
The COVID-19 Member Policy entails comprehensive prevention, detection and response strategies from the time of booking through the cruise itinerary and at disembarkation. A comprehensive overview of the Policy components can be found here.
How and where is the COVID-19 Member Policy applicable?
As a condition of membership within CLIA, all ocean-going cruise line members with the capacity to carry 100 or more persons onboard are required to implement the COVID-19 Member Policy. The Policy is applicable worldwide, wherever there are not more stringent requirements in place from governments and health authorities
What type of testing will be administered?
CLIA ocean-going cruise lines are responsible for operationalizing the testing requirement globally, including the requirement for a negative test prior to embarkation for both passengers and crew. As testing technology continues to improve, testing methods are likely to vary based on effectiveness and availability.
Will the COVID-19 Member Policy be a permanent CLIA policy?
The cruise industry has an extensive track record of working to protect the health of our guests, our crew and the communities we serve—adopting new measures along the way to continuously improve to make cruising one of the safest and best ways to experience the world. As with all Member policies, the COVID-19 Policy will be regularly evaluated and may change over time as circumstances evolve. Key considerations will likely include the availability of new prevention and mitigation measures, such as testing, treatments and, ultimately, the introduction of an effective vaccine.
When will cruising resume?
Since the first day of our voluntary suspension of operations in March, the cruise industry has remained steadfast in our commitment to making science-led, people-first decisions. While an initial resumption of cruising has begun in some parts of the world with approval from local governments, the COVID-19 Member Policy outlines a phased approach to global resumption, enabling cruise operators to monitor the effectiveness of the new protocols and to make adjustments as warranted. CLIA Australasia is continuing to engage with the Australian and New Zealand governments to develop a framework for a phased, carefully managed resumption in this region. While the current suspension runs to 17 March 2021, the Australian Federal Government has confirmed that the restrictions can be amended or removed at the appropriate time to facilitate resumption.
Even with enhanced measures in place, some cruises have still experienced cases of COVID-19 onboard. How will the COVID-19 Member Policy address that?
Although no setting is immune from the potential presence of the virus that causes COVID-19, the measures contained within the COVID-19 Member Policy are designed to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 in a cruise setting. To date, over 200 successful sailings have occurred around the world with enhanced measures in place and support from local governments. Based on these initial sailings, we have seen that the enhanced protocols are successful at mitigating the risk of COVID-19 when followed rigorously and correctly.
Do you think cruisers will support these changes to the cruise experience?
Our data shows that cruisers are eager to cruise again and are willing to comply with stringent public health measures in order to return to sailing. People have grown accustomed to taking such precautions on land and understand it is a small sacrifice to make in order to experience the joy of cruising while maintaining a focus on the health and safety of oneself and others.
Based upon the findings of proprietary research conducted by CLIA as of October 2020, cruisers are expressing overwhelming support for the types of measures that are outlined within the Global Policy:
· 93% of cruisers support mask-wearing
· 92% of cruisers support social distancing
· 88% of cruisers support COVID-19 testing prior to embarkation
Will COVID-19 vaccination become a requirement for cruising in the future?
The measures implemented by cruise lines operating in all regions are to be continuously evaluated against the evolution of the global pandemic. The measures implemented by CLIA Members at initial restart may be adjusted as circumstances change over time including the discontinuation or persistence of travel restrictions, updated guidance from cognizant health authorities, low or high levels of community spread, increased herd immunity, new virus strains, and the development and availability of effective rapid testing, treatments and vaccines.
What about geographic scope—the policy provides a macro-level set of requirements. There are certain parts of the world that have lower spread or incidence of the virus. Is there any consideration to bridging or applying different levels of the policy based on need?
What we know from scientists and healthcare experts is that no venue is immune to the virus. The best the world can do—and any industry can do—is to make efforts to reduce the ability of the virus to enter an environment and to mitigate its impact by having rigorous protocols in place that evolve over time as conditions change, addressing prevention, detection and response.
While the initial restart phase of the COVID-19 Member Policy was developed to establish a firm and stringent foundation for the mitigation of the COVID-19 virus in a cruise setting, the Policy was built with the objective to allow for flexibility and may be amended over time as circumstances related to the pandemic evolve.
Does this policy apply to river cruise operators?
CLIA’s Compendium of Policies apply to ocean-going cruise line members. River cruise operators are subject to different regulations to Ocean vessels, and they may choose to use this policy as guidance to establish COVID-19 public health protocols that are specific to the river environment.
Here are some resources to help you through this challenging time.
Government Resources - Australia
- Australian Government Department of Health
- Australian Government’s Smartraveller website
- Australian Government Business - Economic Response to the Coronavirus
- Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman
- Tourism Australia - Coronavirus Information and Resources For Australia's Tourism Industry
Government Resources - New Zealand
- Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment
- Ministry of Social Development - COVID-19 support for employers
- Free Online Anxiety & Stress Management Course (Redsheed)
- Looking after mental health and wellbeing during COVID-19 (Mental Health Foundation of New Zealand)
People First - Always: The cruise industry’s absolute priority is always the safety, health and wellbeing of passengers, crew and the places we visit.
The cruise industry has put its focus on the health of its guests for more than 50 years. Right now, the industry is working to redefine health measures globally so that it’s ready when the time comes to resume sailing.
Above and Beyond: Vital Economic Artery: We are making significant changes in our operations, so that we can move forward and be successful as the world recovers from COVID-19.
The cruise industry is working in tandem with medical experts and health authorities globally to ensure we learn as much as possible from these unprecedented events and exceed community expectations in our response.
Vital Economic Artery: People are at the heart of the cruise community, which supports more than 18,000 jobs around our region.
The cruise industry is worth more than $5 billion a year to communities around Australia and New Zealand. Right now, the industry is working to redefine health measures globally so that it will be ready when the time comes to restore its economic contribution to people throughout our region.
Leadership: The cruise industry will take a leadership role when it comes to responsible tourism, putting people first, and with a focus on health and safety.
The cruise industry is not alone in having to confront the impact of COVID-19 – but as it works to create a new global health framework for the future, the industry aims to set standards that other sectors may follow.
Resilience: The cruise community will emerge from the COVID-19 crisis stronger for the challenges we have faced and the experience gained.
While cruise operations are suspended, the cruise industry is using this time to lay a new foundation and make sure we’re ready when the time comes to sail again. Significant changes are planned to uphold the safety, health and wellbeing of passengers, crew and the places we visit.
100% of CLIA ocean cruise line ships are required to have medical facilities with highly trained medical professionals and doctors available 24/7
Passengers and crew on CLIA cruise line ships are carefully screened before they board
100% of CLIA ocean cruise lines are employing enhanced screenings to ensure the safety and well-being of passengers and crew
The health and safety of guests and crew is always the number 1 priority for CLIA cruise lines
Select here to access Travel Agent COVID-19 Toolkit.