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Rivals Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line Team Up to Plan Restart



(Reuters) – Cruise industry competitors are cooperating in an effort to sail again.

On Monday, Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd announced a joint working group to develop security standards to restart their companies during the coronavirus pandemic.

The “Healthy Sail Panel,” along with chair of former Utah Governor Mike Leavitt and former US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, advises companies on restart plans they will submit to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other regulators at the end of August. The panel plans to share its results with the entire cruise industry and regulators.

The cruise industry has taken a big hit from the pandemic, with some of the earliest major clusters of COVID-19 occurring aboard cruise ships where thousands of passengers and crew were packed in close quarters.

On March 14, the CDC issued an order without sail for all cruise ships, which was then extended to July 24.

Operators including Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and Carnival Corp have voluntarily extended their break in operations from US ports until September.

During a group interview on Monday, Leavitt, Royal Caribbean Chief Executive Officer Richard Thain and Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Frank Del Rio did not disclose which protocols may be included in a restart of the industry or whether recent spikes in US coronavirus cases could further prolong the break in operations.

“We just feel here and it has become clear to me that there is a shift that happens sociologically in connection with masks,” Leavitt said. “I think it will be very interesting to see what other companies are doing. And not just the cruise lines, but others. We just work through this. “

(Reporting by Helen Coster; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)


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