At Saturday’s meeting between cruise line executives and
Mike Pence, the vice president challenged the group to come up with a plan in
72 hours that would meaningfully enhance its protocols for mitigating or
avoiding Covid-19 infections on cruise ship.
And 71 hours and 53 minutes after the meeting ended, CLIA
submitted its plan.
The government doesn’t similarly have a timeline in which
they must respond, said CLIA chairman Adam Goldstein in an interview with
Travel Weekly, but the cruise lines will begin implementation of new protocols
outlined in the plan as soon as possible.
“The shorthand for what we focused on is ‘prevention,
detection and care,’” he said.
“The first has to do with who is allowed to come onboard at
the beginning of a cruise. We already had a number of protocols in place. For
instance, if you had been to one of the countries listed [as level 3 by the
Centers for Disease and Prevention], you wouldn’t be able to come on the ship.”
Goldstein said they looked for additional vulnerabilities
and ways to address them “to maximize the chances that people boarding a ship
The CLIA chair declined to go into specifics, saying he
first wanted to give the government a chance to review and respond to the
proposal. At a press conference Tuesday evening, Pence revealed one detail,
saying that the cruise line proposal indicated they would provide airlift
evacuation as part of enhanced procedures.
Regarding the second part, detection, the cruise lines asked
for the ability to begin testing for Covid-19 onboard the ship. “We have first
rate medical facilities and personnel on board, but no test kits,” he said.
Analysis of the samples would still take place on land.
The third area addresses what transpires if there is a
suspected or confirmed case onboard. “We thought about how we could be
proactive and distinguish between risk levels, determining who might need to be
quarantined or who might need to be sent to an urgent care facility,” Goldstein
The announcement by the State Department on Sunday
recommending that all Americans avoid cruising took the industry by surprise,
he said. They had expected a warning about “elderly travelers with serious,
chronic underlying conditions” who might be especially vulnerable in any type
of travel but were “surprised and disappointed” by the broadness of the
The industry did not, he said, communicate their unhappiness
to government officials. “We were putting all our energies into developing this
plan, given the relatively short time frame we had. We didn’t engage about the
specific of the advisories, given the time pressures.”
Although the government is under no obligation to respond
within a specific time frame, he added, the vice president indicated it would
be reviewed over the next 24 hours.
Asked about the reputational damage the industry has endured
over the past few weeks, Goldstein replied that “this is a new and difficult
situation, and it will take time to recover. But it’s an industry that has
great resilience. We’ve displayed it before, and we’ll display it again.”
He said the cruise lines were aware that travel advisors are
under tremendous pressure. “We’re all in this together and we’re all hurting --
cruise companies, agents, our suppliers. We value the contributions of travel
advisors enormously, and understand they’re suffering, enduring extra expense,
hassles, long hours. It’s happening to everybody.”
He said he was encouraged with the way that advisors and
associations have advocated for cruise lines to elected officials about the
value cruising represents, both to their business models and the experiences
that consumers have. “It’s important. Ultimately, the government must do the
best job of balancing the health, economic and consumer aspects.”