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Cruise lovers have been left devastated this year with most cruise lines forced to cancel all itineraries until the end of the year or even the beginning of 2021 in some cases. However, a team of experts from Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line put forward new regulations to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week in a bit to get cruises back sailing again.
Though the rules are aimed at increasing safety for passengers and crew, they do mean that guests may no longer enjoy some much-loved elements of a cruise holiday.
According to the Healthy Sail Panel proposal passengers would be limited from freely roaming around towns near ports.
Instead, excursions would be limited to only those who had booked an excursion.
These excursions will be led by staff and numbers likely limited.
The experts say that this proposal would reduce contact between passengers and crew members with local residents in various cruise stops along the way.
“Prior to COVID-19, cruise operators allowed for both fully curated excursions and self-guided excursions and independent exploration at destinations of interest,” states their proposal which was revealed by Fox News.
“However, the risk of exposure for the people in communities that are visited, and for cruise ship guests and crew, increase as more mixing between these groups occurs.
“Therefore, the panel recommends that cruise operators initially prohibit self-guided tours and independent exploration and only allow certain curated indoor activities until further notice.”
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It is hoped this move would prevent the spread of coronavirus.
At the time of writing, the CDC has yet to comment or make a decision on the proposals.
The rules on excursions have already been trialled out on the MSC Grandiosa which set off on its first Mediterranean sailing post-lockdown in August.
Passengers were caught flouting the strict regulations and as a consequence found themselves kicked off the ship.
The unnamed passengers were travelling on the MSC Grandiosa, which had stopped on a shore-excursion, were punished after separating from the group to explore the city of Naples, Italy, on their own.
Under the cruise lines regulations, passengers must stick with their group and tour guide.
In a statement, MSC Cruises explained: “In line with our health and safety protocol, developed to ensure health and wellbeing of our guests, crew and the communities we visit, we had to deny re-embarkation to a family who broke from their shore excursion.
“By departing from the organised shore excursion, this family broke from the ‘social bubble’ created for them and all other guests, and therefore could not be permitted to re-board the ship.”
“These organised shore excursions allow MSC Cruises to uphold the same high standard of health and safety as on board, for instance ensuring that transfers are properly sanitised and that there is adequate space for social distancing,” the line further said in its statement.
Much like MSC Grandiosa, cruise lines may also implement further measures for passengers
Other health protocols could include mandatory COVID-19 tests at check-in for passengers.
Heightened cleaning throughout ships will also be seen.
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