When business across the globe grinded to a halt in response to COVID-19, two competing cruise leaders came together to formulate a plan. Their efforts and findings are now guiding the rest of the industry toward calmer waters.
With health and safety as the highest priority, Royal Caribbean partnered with one of their largest competitors, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Together, the two companies would lead a group of the world’s top public health experts to form the industry’s first Healthy Sail Panel. At the helm would be a top expert from each cruise operator.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb is former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and the chairman of Norwegian’s company-specific Sail Safe Global Health and Wellness Council. Governor Mike Leavitt is former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and an expert advisor to Royal Caribbean Group. The two cruise lines agreed to fund and organize the Healthy Sail Panel, and selected Gov. Leavitt and Dr. Gottlieb to lead the panel as co-chairs and recruit its members.
Gov. Leavitt and Dr. Gottlieb sought a diverse group of leading experts with directly relevant experience in the challenges the industry faces. Each Healthy Sail Panel member was able to offer deep insight in their respective fields of medical practice and research, public health, medical policy, infectious disease control, hospitality management and maritime operations.
Among the recommendations were:
“The Panel’s recommendations are grounded in the best scientific and medical information available and are intended to meaningfully mitigate public health risks to those who sail.”
Governor Mike Leavitt
The Healthy Sail Panel shared these detailed findings and recommendations widely ensure the entire travel industry has the tools necessary to contribute to a global resumption of travel.
Royal Caribbean has also partnered with the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the National Strategic Research Institute to study how ventilation systems can keep indoor air clean. Based on those findings, the cruise line made upgrades to their systems across the fleet.
Major investments in technology, improved working relationships with governments plus a reallocation of capital to ensure safety is funded first is what Royal Caribbean believes will allow the cruise industry to bounce back.
“We are confident about the ability of Royal Caribbean Group to recover and return to the positive growth we had before the pandemic. The decline in cases and the growing availability of vaccines are encouraging and give me hope that we can soon get back to making unforgettable memories and showing the world to our guests.”
Richard Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group
The Healthy Sail Panel’s well-informed findings, along with Royal Caribbean’s ever-growing guest loyalty, are showing the business on track for a strong recovery from the extraordinary obstacles of the past year.
2021 will continue to be a year to fine-tune the cruise industry’s safety strategy. As new insights emerge, Royal Caribbean plans to continue to evolve protocols and standards as needed to protect lives and keep ships at sea.