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As cruise lines prepare to resume sailing in Europe, CLIA Europe, the industry governing body and the European Union have issued a set of recommendations for cruise lines.  It is expected that as cruise lines resume many if not all of the recommendations will be implemented.  So it gives us a good idea of what guests can expect as the sailings resume, at least initially.

One of the first things that is recommended and that we are likely to see from the cruise lines are shorter sailings for example 2, 3, 5 and 7 night sailing with fewer ports of call and more days at sea. 

One of the areas that has caused a lot of debate and speculation is the recommendation that guests over the age of 65 with chronic conditions and those who are immunosuppressed are advised to seek medical advice before booking a cruise.  I suspect following the outcry when the CDC in America tried to implement a similar rule cruise lines may very well be reluctant to enforce it, but strongly advise it.

You will notice changes from the moment you arrive at the cruise terminal because you will be expected to maintain a minimum of 1.5 metres social distancing.  You will also certainly be asked to fill in a much enhanced and more comprehensive pre-embarkation health screening form.  Check in staff will be looking out for guests who appear unwell and will be able to refer guests for a second level of screening with a medical professional and this will likely include a temperature scan and Covid-19 test. If you are found to have Covid-19 or they suspect you have Covid-19 you and your party will be denied embarkation.

Health monitoring will not end after embarkation nor will health monitoring be confined to just the guests.  Crew will be tested prior to joining the ship and regularly during their contract. Both Guests and crew will be subject to regular temperature checks throughout the cruise. 

It has been generally accepted that the cruise lines will be reducing the capacity of their ships.  For example Virgin Voyages have already announced they will be operating at 50% capacity.  There are two main reasons for this reduced capacity.  The first is to ensure social distancing.  The Second is that the EU have recommended lines set aside at least 5% of their cabins for Quarantine purposes.  The quarantine cabins will be located close to the medical Centre and will be well ventilated.  Cruise lines have been advised that rather than quarantining guests and crew for long periods on board ship, that they must have plans to transfer the sick in port to continue their quarantine on land either in a hospital or hotel or other accommodation. 

One of the most radical of the proposals is to separate guests into cohorts and social bubbles for activities, one way this may be done is by age group.  The idea is that this will cut down on the risk of cross infection.  You may also notice that many activities are limited to smaller numbers and you may be asked to make a reservation to join them in order to encourage social distancing.

Most of the recommendations revolve around and concern social distancing and how it could be implemented on board.  Guests will be asked where possible to maintain 1.5 metres social distancing.  In corridors and areas like shops you will likely find markings on the floor and the implementation of one way systems.

As in restaurants and bars on land, there will be fewer tables and except for family groups and those traveling together you are likely to be dining at a table for two and there will be at least 1.5 metres between tables.  Some cruise lines have indicated that they are abandoning the traditional style of buffet others are looking at adapting the buffet by cooking to order and pre-plated portions. In bars there will likely be table service and app ordering such as the Princess Medallion encouraged. 

Social distancing measures have also been recommended for casinos.  This is one area that could potentially be difficult to implement social distancing in.  So you can expect to see fewer gaming tables, fewer seats at the gaming tables and fewer machines. Machines will be cleaned and sanitized between players. It is likely that people will be discouraged from watching others play.  It is expected that drinking at the bar in the casino will be banned and the number of people allowed in the casino is likely to be limited.

In the gym there will be less equipment and what equipment there is will be spaced at least 2 metres apart and there may be shielding between each piece of equipment.  You can expect saunas and steam rooms to be closed.  Spa therapies such as massages are likely to be available but the therapists will have to wear Personal Protection Equipment and it is likely you will be asked to shower ahead of your treatment.  Indoor swimming pools will be closed, only outdoor pools will be open and the number of people allowed in the pool will be restricted to 4 square metres per swimmer and you will only be allowed to share jacuzzis with family members and people you share a cabin with.  You will be expected to shower before swimming.  Sun loungers will be spaced 1.5 metres apart and you will have to put a towel on the lounger to lie down.

Business centres are likely to be closed and use of WiFi will be encouraged instead.

Another area that features in the recommendations is guests personal protection.  They recommend guests wear masks in all areas where it is difficult to maintain social distancing and rather than recommending the use of gloves they emphasize the importance of hand washing and the use of sanitizer gel.  You can expect to find sanitizer gel at the entrance of all venues and guests will be prompted to use it.

You will also notice some changes in your stateroom.  The first thing you will notice is that there may not be some facilities such as minibar and tea and coffee making facilities.  You may also notice that rather than individual toiletries in the bathroom you may find dispensers. You may find that linen is changed less frequently.  You will also notice that tv remotes will be in a protefor each cruise

As you might expect some of the cruise lines have announced their new health and hygiene policies.  Many of them have installed Hepa Air Filters which will not allow the Corona Virus through as it is too big.  Many of the cruise lines are also fogging luggage prior to it being loaded.  Many cruise lines are also fogging staterooms between guests and public areas regularly.  Also you will notice crew wearing masks and where necessary wearing Personal Protective Equipment. 

Finally cruise lines will be monitoring ports of call for news of outbreaks and if necessary will change the itinerary to protect both passengers and crew.  These changes may even be at short notice.

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