CLIA announces mandatory health protocols as path to phased restart of U.S. cruises

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has announced a set of “mandatory core elements” of health protocols as part of a phased-in, highly controlled resumption of cruise operations in the Americas.

The new protocols follow the strict measures in place for initial sailings in Europe, and address the resumption of operations in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America.

The core elements – developed with input from teams of science and medical experts –include the recommendations from the Healthy Sail panel established by Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., MSC’s Blue Ribbon group and Carnival Corporation’s collection of outside independent experts. It also considered effective protocols used for the successful sailings in Europe by MSC Cruises, Costa, TUI Cruises, Ponant, and Seadream.


Highlights include 100% testing of passengers and crew for COVID-19 prior to embarkation; mandatory wearing of masks by all passengers and crew onboard and during excursions whenever physical distancing cannot be maintained; physical distancing in terminals, onboard ships, on private islands and during shore excursions; and air management and ventilation strategies to increase fresh air onboard and, where feasible, using enhanced filters and other technologies to mitigate risks.

The new protocols also call for cruise lines to provide increased onboard medical capability, with risk-based response plans tailored for each ship to manage medical needs, and dedicated cabin capacity allocated for isolation. It also calls for advance arrangements with private providers for shore-side quarantine, medical facilities, and transportation if passengers fall ill while onboard.

In addition, only shore excursions that meet the cruise operators’ prescribed protocols are permitted, with strict adherence required of all passengers and denial of reboarding for any passengers that do not comply.

CLIA says that implementation of these elements on board every oceangoing ship are subject to the CDC’s No Sail Order, is mandatory and requires written verification of adoption by each company’s CEO. These elements do not preclude additional measures that may be adopted by individual lines and measures will be continuously evaluated and adjusted against the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the availability of new prevention and mitigation measures.

A wide range of tourism and government officials are supporting the adoption of the protocols.

CLIA president and CEO Kelly Craighead comments:

“We recognize the devastating impact that this pandemic, and the subsequent suspension of cruise operations, has had on economies throughout the world, including the nearly half a million members of the wider cruise community and small businesses in the Americas who depend on this vibrant industry for their livelihoods.

“Based on what we are seeing in Europe, and following months of collaboration with leading public health experts, scientists, and governments, we are confident that these measures will provide a pathway for the return of limited sailings from the U.S. before the end of this year.”