SAGA has become the first cruise operator to be awarded new COVID-19 health assurance accreditation by Lloyd’s Register (LR).
The move is a crucial step ahead of the planned return of cruise operations in spring next year in a COVID-secure environment, the company said.
Saga has received LR’s Shield+ accreditation, the class society’s highest category of health assurance.
This new framework was created to reduce risk and provide greater confidence in the safety procedures of operators against the introduction of infectious diseases o nboard cruise ships, including COVID-19, Norovirus and common flu.
Saga said that by being awarded this accreditation, it demonstrated that it had exceeded the compliance criteria in every category set out by the UK Chamber of Shipping’s guidance for COVID Secure Cruising, which has been supported by the UK government.
This safety accreditation is assessed against six key categories covering every aspect of ship safety where health risks are elevated: medical, policy, food, ventilation, accommodation and water.
It follows months of detailed planning by Saga, designing and putting in place detailed new procedures to meet the highest standards of health and safety. The company’s ships have been surveyed and inspected in all key areas and the accreditation was awarded for both the ‘Spirit of Discovery’ and the new ‘Spirit of Adventure’, which is due to set sail for the first time in May 2021.
Both ships are currently idle in Tilbury Dock, UK.
Nick Stace, Saga’s CEO of Travel, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the highest health and safety accreditation from Lloyd’s Register for our two ships – the newest on the seas.
“We have been working with the government, all the relevant authorities and our peers in the cruise industry to put in place all the measures needed to ensure a safe return to cruising. At Saga we believe that our ships offer one of the safest places in the world to see the world.
“This important step removes one of the last barriers to a safe return for cruising. We know there is considerable pent up demand from our customers for cruising. In our most recent round of cancellations, more than 80% of guests immediately rolled their booking over to a new cruise and our guests tell us they are ready to sail. Being the first cruise operator to achieve Lloyd’s Register’s Shield+ accreditation is testament to the work done by all our Saga colleagues and brings us one step closer to welcoming our guests back on board our ships in the safest capacity possible,” he said.
Joep Bollerman, LR’s Global Passenger Ship Manager, added: “We are delighted to award our first ever Shield+ certification to Saga. Our new standards are based on medical science from the global health industry, including guidance from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in line with the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
“Shield+ provides a detailed survey and inspection regime of the key areas where health risks are elevated, which helps operators like Saga maintain the highest health standards at sea,” he said.