Cruise industry facing “unprecedented situation”

CLIA Chairman Adam Goldstein vows stricter screening and protocols for cruise guests

Adam Goldstein, Chairman of Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), has told the US Vice President that the organisation will work hand-in-hand with member cruise lines to introduce new protocols for testing passengers for coronavirus (COVID-19).

Goldstein, who until recently was also Vice Chairman of Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited, told VP Mike Pence last weekend that CLIA was keen to “listen, learn and work” with the Trump Government to allay its concerns regarding the spread of COVID-19 on cruise ships.

In recent days, the US State Department has issued an advisory to Americans, recommending that “travellers with underlying health conditions should not cruise”. Those travellers of concern are “older adults” and others with “health issues… that put them at increased risk for more severe disease”.

Similarly the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommended that travellers with similar health issues to “defer all cruise ship travel worldwide”. The organisation said cruise ship passengers are “at increased risk of person-to-person spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19”.

On its website, the CDC has said that “This is a dynamic situation and those travelling by ship may be impacted by travel restrictions affecting their itineraries or ability to disembark or may be subject to quarantine procedures implemented by the local authorities”.

US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's update

Addressing the US Government’s concerns, Goldstein said CLIA’s front-of-mind objective right now is to “build on our proven safety record, leverage the first rate medical facilities that exist on every cruise ship, [and] follow our public health protocols that we’ve worked under the guidance of CDC for at least 50 years”.

“It is critical that Americans keep travelling, but we recognise that this is an unprecedented situation,” he said.

Goldstein told Pence that CLIA was committed to working “aggressively” and closely with government and “to go above and beyond anything that we are currently doing to screen even more stringently”.

The objective of the screening is to “prevent those who should not be allowed to board, to monitor, test and care for those who are on board, and to transition and help pay for any sick guests or crew to move to locations staffed and equipped to handle COVID-19 cases.”

This morning [Wednesday 11 March, 2020], US Vice President Mike Pence said the government had received a “comprehensive proposal” from the cruise line industry.

Pence said the proposal, which will be reviewed over the next 24 hours, includes:

  • advanced screening,
  • improving medical services on ships, and
  • providing air lift evacuation and land-based care – at the expense of the cruise lines – for passengers and crew that might be infected with coronavirus or with any serious illness.

“The President’s objective is for us to make cruise lines even safer even as we work with the cruise lines to ensure that no one in a particularly vulnerable population is going out on a cruise in the near future,” Pence said today.

A downloadable graphic that CLIA Australasia has available for trade partners to share with concerned audiences

Locally, CLIA Australasia & Asia Managing Director Joel Katz reiterated that the health and safety of passengers and crew remains the organisation’s “highest priority”.

“Travellers will ultimately make their own decisions, so we encourage them to speak with a CLIA accredited travel agent who can help them consider the extensive measures that have been put in place by cruise lines globally,” Katz said.

“We remain focused on developing a more aggressive, responsive plan that goes beyond the already significantly enhanced protocols that are currently in place,” Katz added.

Similar to CLIA’s website landing page, CLIA Australasia’s homepage also features a very prominent alert to the Coronavirus outbreak and provides a list of frequently asked questions and answers relating to COVID-19 and cruising, as well as downloadable resources and infographics to help travel advisors promote safeguards that are already in place.

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