Norwegian Cruise Line became the first major cruise line to offer specific details about health and safety protocols that will be implemented once service resumes. 

Among them are reduced passenger capacity, onboard social distancing, health monitoring throughout each cruise and full-service buffets. 

The cruise line said it has been working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on measures it is implementing now and says more are in development. The company also has created a new onboard position, public health officer, who is responsible for the oversight of all sanitation and outbreak-prevention initiatives and for monitoring the day-to-day cleanliness of all public areas and accommodations. 

Prior to boarding, all passengers and crew will undergo enhanced health screenings, Norwegian said, and those considered at risk will undergo additional screening. Staggered embarkation and online check-in will be implemented to allow for physical distancing. 

To allow for adequate onboard social distancing, Norwegian will reduce passenger capacity and limit guest counts in public areas. The cruise line said that all onboard activities would still be available but operated at a reduced capacity and in some cases “slightly modified in order to ensure safe social distancing.”

Norwegian said it would implement touchless temperature checks throughout each cruise to identify potential health issues. The checks will occur upon returning to the ship from a port of call, prior to all meals in dining venues and all activities in public venues, and before disembarkation. 

Norwegian said its ships will be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected prior to every cruise with standards developed in partnership with the CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program. Embarkation terminals will be sanitized continuously and, where possible, fogged before and after each embarkation and debarkation. The cruise lines said that all cabins, suites and public areas will be cleaned, sanitized and disinfected at an increased frequency. It will use electrostatic sprayers. 

A “24/7 prevention schedule” will feature continuous disinfection of public areas and high-traffic touch points such as elevators. Buffets and beverage stations will be full-service with staff available to serve guests, Norwegian said.  

The cruise line will expect passengers to employ enhanced personal hygiene. 

“All guests will be strongly encouraged to engage in frequent handwashing, including when entering food-and-beverage venues, and hand sanitizer will be prominently placed and easily accessible throughout the ship,” Norwegian said. 

Norwegian said it has partnered with destinations and tour operators to have its health and sanitation protocols “extend to the shoreside experience.”

“We will only visit safe, open ports of call which may cause changes to your itinerary,” the company said.

New ship features include medical-grade air filters that remove 99.95% of airborne pathogens and enhanced sanitation measures, increased medical teams and onboard medical centers equipped with testing kits. Each ship also will have isolation accommodations should the need arise.

The cruise line said that the new protocols are “just the start of a wave of new technologies and enhancements we are rolling out, so that you can explore the world with the ultimate peace of mind.”

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings CEO Frank Del Rio told Travel Weekly in May that no effort would be spared to ensure that vessels are safe. NCLH has been working with Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, to establish best practices and protocols and assess the viability and practicality of implementing new technologies. 

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