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World cruise fleet rises to the health challenge with new tech and health plans

You should see us now.

That is the message from the cruise industry as it ramps up sailings for 2022 and 2023 with a host of changes to address COVID issues.

Last year the Royal Caribbean Group and the Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd commissioned a far-reaching report into the industry and COVID-19’s impact.

The Cruise Line International Association, the Carnival Group and MSC Cruises were observers to the Healthy Sail Panel of experts which made 74 recommendations for changes for cruise lines to ensure the cleanest and safest environment for passengers.

You may chose a cruise to escape the COVID world

Of those recommendations 50 are to be permanent with 24 to be scaled up or down or discontinued as the pandemic wanes.

The recommendations have been adopted across the industry with some shipping lines such as Viking Cruise Lines going even further.

Of course, passengers and crew must be double vaccinated 14 days prior to the date of embarkation with a US FDA approved vaccine.

On the day of departure all passengers will receive a non-invasive saliva Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19 and need to pass a temperature check which must be less than 38.0°C.

Viking river cruise ship going under the Liberty Bridge on the Danube in Budapest.
Camera IconViking river cruise ship going under the Liberty Bridge on the Danube in Budapest.
Credit: Stephen Scourfield/The West Australian

On board passengers will also be tested on a regular basis with Viking having a full PCR Laboratory on board. The testing is complimentary.

Passengers are also required to undergo daily temperature checks, and temperatures will be measured continuously onboard through a system of cameras equipped with infrared thermal sensors.

These thermal cameras also have face recognition capabilities and measure the temperature of any individual approaching the reception desk or walking into all onboard corridors.

Viking ships now have new high-density filters and UV-C lights, which kill 99.99 per cent of airborne viruses and bacteria in shared spaces and all ships have independent air handling units for guest staterooms, meaning no air is shared between staterooms or public areas.

There is also increased spacing between seats and tables in public and restaurant areas and on-board group gatherings are limited to a maximum of 6 people.

It says masks may be required in public areas if social distancing rules cannot be maintained while all guests receive a small contact tracing device to wear around their neck or keep in their pocket.

Norwegian Gem at PortMiami in Miami.
Camera IconNorwegian Gem at PortMiami in Miami.
Credit: Supplied/AP

Face masks are required for all guests and crew members when moving around the ship but may be removed while guests are in their stateroom and when eating or drinking.

They are also required on all shore excursion motor coaches and may be required on shore excursions to comply with local requirements.

Viking says to start with passengers will only be allowed to participate in excursions or activities executed and “escorted by Viking-approved tour operators who maintain Viking’s level of COVID-19 controls to help limit potential exposure.”

The deep clean of the ships is quite exceptional.

Viking advised West Travel recently that UV-C robots to sanitise public spaces on a nightly basis while restaurants and lounges are disinfected two to three times per day, plus every two hours for high touch point areas.

There is also extra sanitization of staterooms between each itinerary departure.

Now it could well be said that you may chose a cruise to escape the COVID world.

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