Royal Caribbean & NCLH collaborate to form health & safety panel for cruise industry
Governor Michael Leavitt (left) and Dr. Scott Gottlieb

Royal Caribbean & NCLH collaborate to form health & safety panel for cruise industry

MIAMI — Putting competition aside, Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd (NCLH). have teamed up to develop enhanced health and safety cruise standards that would be open to any company to adopt.

The two cruise lines have formed a new group of experts called the ‘Healthy Sail Panel’ and have asked U.S. Governor Mike Leavitt and Dr. Scott Gottlieb to serve as co-chairs. The panel is tasked with collaboratively developing recommendations for cruise lines to improve safety in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and achieve readiness for the safe resumption of operations.

The panel has been working for nearly a month, with its initial recommendations anticipated to be released by the end of August. All recommendations will be “open source”, meaning they could be freely adopted by any company or industry that would benefit from the group’s scientific and medical insights.

“We compete for the vacationing consumer’s business every day but we never compete on health and safety standards,” said Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of NCLH. “While the cruise industry has always had rigorous health standards, the unique challenges posed by COVID-19 provide an opportunity to raise the bar even higher.”

Richard D. Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group, added: “This unprecedented disease requires us to develop unprecedented standards in health and safety. Bringing aboard these respected experts to guide us forward demonstrates our commitment to protecting our guests, our crews and the communities we visit.”

In addition to Governor Leavitt, former Secretary of the U.S. Department Health and Human Services (HHS) and Dr. Gottlieb, former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the panel’s members are globally recognized experts from various disciplines, including: Dr. Helene Gayle, CEO of the Chicago Community Trust who previously spent 20 years with the CDC; Dr. Julie Gerberding, Executive Vice President and Chief Patient Officer for Merck and former head of the CDC; Dr. Steven Hinrichs, Professor and Chair in the Department of Pathology and Microbiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Director of the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory (NPHL); Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota; Dr. Stephen Ostroff, former Acting Commissioner of the FDA and former deputy director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases at the DCD; Dr. William Rutala, epidemiology and virology expert; Kate Walsh, Dean at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University; Captain Patrik Dahlgren, Senior Vice President of Global Marine Operations and Fleet Optimization for all Royal Caribbean Group global brands; and Robin Lindsay, Executive Vice President of Vessel Operations for NCLH.

Said Governor Leavitt: “We sought the participation of a diverse group of leading experts in areas of science and public health that are directly relevant to the considerations listed by the No Sail Order. We view our work as a profoundly important public health effort. The health and safety of passengers, crew and the communities that cruise ships visit will be the principal focus of this project.”

Get travel news right to your inbox!