During a recent media round table about the new Healthy Sail Panel initiative, Vicki Freed, Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Support & Service, Royal Caribbean International, said there is no competition when it comes to health and safety.
So how did the partnership come to be? After reaching out to experts about the panel, Freed said they learned NCL was also on a similar path and rather than duplicating efforts, decided to work together as a team.
“We expect to get a first draft of a pretty good outline of the changes we need to do by late August, they are going to be reporting back to us,” she said.
Carol Cabezas, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Azamara, said the findings would be open source and available to anyone who needs it or wants it at no cost.
“What’s most exciting for the leaders of this group is the opportunities to provide benefits well beyond our companies,” Cabezas said. “When you think about a ship, it’s a microcosm of communities — you have hotels, restaurants, bars, shops, theatres, even casinos — all of these things exist on a ship just as they do on land. Any player in any of these industries can leverage the great work that this panel is doing.”
Cabezas said the goal is to create an environment that mitigates risk to the greatest extents possible while the virus is a threat across staff, guests and the destinations they visit.
Meanwhile, Dondra Ritzenthaler, Senior Vice President of Sales and Trade Support & Service, Celebrity Cruises said members of the panel previously worked together in 2005 through the bird flu outbreak.
“The neatest part of this whole strategy is that we will then individually prepare our own health and wellness strategies after the panel has given us what they recommend, and we listen to their expertise, we will then individually — Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings — will separately present our protocols to the CDC, get direction from them and implement it,” Ritzenthaler said.
Ritzenthaler pointed out that they expect to wind up with a robust set of health and safety protocols, such as enhanced embarkation screening, temperature screening at piers, enhanced sanitation and disinfection protocols, use of technology like UV light, clear social distancing where it can be implemented by a reduced number of guests capacity on board and in different venues, and the potential for additional show times.
“That’s the reason why we hired them — we know that COVID has changed the world and we want to be very strategic and very smart. We could certainly come up with ideas but to be honest, we purposely went to this Healthy Sail Panel so that we could learn from the experts and then implement the feedback that they give us.”