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According to Cruise Critic, Princess Cruises have announced new health guidelines that they will be applying to ships, passengers and crew when they are allowed to restart cruising. These measures break down into a number of different areas: pre-cruise; embarkation; and of course on board measures.

For pre-cruise activities, Princess will pro-actively monitor the Covid-19 situation globally, and will adjust  itineraries, which could include cancelling or modifying them, if required. Passengers will be screened before embarkation, and those passengers known to have had contact (presumably recent) with a known or suspected case of Covid-19, or those presenting with fever or flu-like symptoms, or those with chronic underlying health conditions, will be refused boarding.

At embarkation time there will be enhanced medical screening, including mandatory thermal screening of all passengers and crew. There will also be a new health questionnaire that all passengers will be required to complete. Passengers who fail the thermal screening, or who give answers on the health questionnaire that cause concern, will be referred for further screening, and may be refused boarding. However, any passenger refused boarding at this point, or during the pre-cruise period, will be given a full refund – or, more likely, a full credit for a future cruise. Any passenger found during the cruise to have falsified their answers to the questionnaire will be disembarked at the next port of call.

On board, there will be enhanced sanitary measures throughout the ship. Hand sanitisers will be everywhere, and passengers will be expected/required to use them. Wherever possible food will be served to passengers by crew, including at the buffets. Where this is not possible, e.g. on the newer ships with ‘island’ buffet points, crew members will be in attendance to advise passengers on the correct procedure to ensure health. Finally, there will be enhanced cleaning of cabins and public areas, especially popular areas, and of objects/fittings that are regularly touched by many people, e.g. lift buttons and door handles.

That’s just for Princess so far, but my assumption is that all of the Carnival brands are likely to adopt similar measures, and that will include P&O and Cunard, of course. I haven’t seen anything from Royal Caribbean or NCL yet.

However…. Of course all of these measures seem sensible at first sight, but they do raise some questions. For example, the pre-cruise screening may identify passengers with chronic underlying health conditions, and stop them from taking their cruise. Well, I might be wrong, but I have a feeling that quite a few of the passengers I’ve sailed with on previous cruises would have fallen into that category. I know there are people in their late 70s, 80s and even 90s who are basically fit and healthy, but an awful lot aren’t – or at least don’t look it. This policy, if implemented rigorously, could stop these people from cruising, ever, because I can’t see that an 80-year old person with underlying health conditions will to turn into a fit and healthy 85-year old. I think there will be a need for clarification and transparency on these issues. What underlying health issues would prevent a passenger from cruising? How age-dependent are they? Is it the combination of issues? More information, please, Princess.

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