In a joint guidance published this week, the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA) and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) outlined ways to facilitate the gradual restart of cruise ship operations.
The guidance follows a goal-based approach and identifies measures to be taken on ship and ashore and addresses health-related issues for passengers, crews, as well as the visited communities in order to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Planning and coordination between all parties involved will be crucial, EMSA said.
A passenger ship’s safe operation normally requires the involvement of several parties – from the shipping company and crew to the port and terminal where the ship will berth/anchor and visit. This will be even more so, when cruise ships are gradually allowed back into service.
It is recommended that measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission on board or during boarding and disembarking are in place, applied and verified.
EMSA explained that the recommendations contained in the joint guidance focus on fostering co-operation between all parties involved and on measures that would enable cruise ships to gradually resume operations under the ensuing pandemic.
More specifically they cover:
– The development of a company and shipmanagement plan based upon tailor-made COVID-19 risk assessment by the (cruise) company, proposing also suitable mitigation measures.
– The development of a management plan for each member state/port/terminal that receives cruise ships, for which measures are also suggested.
– Recommended elements on which the (cruise) company and the port/terminal receiving the ship should agree in advance, including co-operation in case of a COVID-19 outbreak on board.
Adina Vălean, Commissioner for Transport said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the cruise industry to a halt. Before passengers consider returning to this type of holiday, they need to be reassured of the highest safety standards, as need to be those cities receiving them during their journey.
“The EMSA-ECDC guidance provides concrete recommendations to ship operators and port authorities, which should be implemented before cruises set sail again. I recall the ultimate responsibility of cruise operators for their passengers and crews, and invite them to implement today’s guidance, while working closely with port authorities for the safe resumption of their services,” she said.
EMSA Executive Director, Maja Markovčić Kostelac and ECDC Director, Andrea Ammon added: “The joint EMSA-ECDC guidance on resumption of cruise ship operations in Europe is another example of added value for the EU citizens by building on synergies between EU agencies. The co-operation of the main parties involved – from cruise companies to port authorities – is essential to restart cruise operations and to respond to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is important at this stage to facilitate the gradual recovery of this segment of the maritime sector by building trust in all stakeholders involved through the implementation of the highest safety standards,” they said.
In this context, strict adherence to the known personal protective measures, such as physical distancing, respiratory etiquette, meticulous hand hygiene and avoiding touching the face, nose, eyes and mouth are important to reduce infection risks.
Further, the use of a face mask should be considered as a complementary measure, especially when physical distance cannot be maintained, as a way to control for droplet spreading for both crew and passengers.
The guidance is meant for cruise ships flying flags of countries within the European Union and the European Economic Area (EU/EEA) that are engaged in international voyages and for cruise ships calling at an EU/EEA port.
The full EMSA- ECDC guidance can be found at: