Cruise lines are beginning to release their recommendations for how they plan to keep crew members and passengers safe once they are finally allowed to set sail once again. The ships have been docked since March 14 when the CDC’s "No Sail Order" went into effect.
With cruise lines eager to get back in business after being forced to halt operations for six months, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line submitted their plans to the CDC on Monday for how they plan to keep their cruises a safe environment. The plans included a total of 74 different recommendations that mentions testing, masks and temperature checks.
The long list of recommendations come with major changes, such as testing passengers for COVID-19 five days to 24 hours prior to boarding in order to ensure that no one may be a carrier before they get onboard the ship. Crew members would also be tested multiple times before being allowed to set sail.
There would also be daily temperature checks for both passengers and crew members, and the cruise lines said they also plan to have more medical staff on board their ships.
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Another major change would come from the air filtration system on board the cruise liners. All heating and air-conditioning systems on board would be upgraded to MERV 13 filters, which are similar to the air filtration systems used by hospitals. The air would be filtered before anyone actually breathes it in which is a similar method to what airlines have implemented to help keep their circulated air clean onboard their planes.
Everyone would also be required to wear masks during the extent of the trip and those who don’t agree to comply will not be allowed to set sail.
CDC data from March through July shows nearly 3,000 COVID-19 cases or COVID-like illness happened onboard cruise ships, with a total of 34 deaths. These cases came from nearly 100 different outbreaks on over 123 different ships, so cruise lines are focused on making sure the ships are a safe environment to return to.
Once cruise travel resumes, the trips could also be shorter with more visits to private islands. However, the current No Sail Order is in effect until Oct. 1. Most cruise lines have said they don’t plan to resume operations until at least Oct. 31, with some as late as next year.
The full list of recommendations cruise ships are considering implementing to keep passengers safe, can be viewed here.