Coronavirus prompts new measures by cruise industry

Visit Anchorage officials are urging members to follow CDC, travel association guidelines

This article was written before the first case of the novel coronavirus in Alaska was reported on March 12.


As coronavirus continues to spread around the globe, with serious impact on cruise ship travel, Cruise Lines International Association says it will implement more stringent boarding procedures and add temperature screenings at embarkation.

CLIA, a leading voice of the global cruise industry, announced on Sunday, March 8, adoption of additional enhanced screening measures in response to growing concerns over COVID-19.

The precautionary measures should be of interest in Alaska because while as of early March there were no reported cases of COVID-19 in the state, Visit Anchorage, the tourism marketing association for the largest city in the state, is now lobbying airlines, travel agents and tour operators to bring to Alaska travelers who have cancelled other trips because of COVID-19.

According to Jack Bonney, director of community engagement at Visit Anchorage, the visitor entity is following the guidelines of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Travel Association and monitoring the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services for guidelines. “We are a member-based association and able to share best practices across the industry,” Bonney said. “We want to make sure all Alaska businesses are observing best practices” for this situation, he said.

At Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport, airport manager Jim Szcześniak issued a statement outlining multilayer cleaning protocols in place to keep travelers and employees safe from communicable diseases. These steps include care of the separate ventilation systems in the north and south terminals, which provide a mix of fresh outdoor and recirculated air, disinfecting all restrooms three times daily, and cleaning of floors, vertical surfaces and handrails several times daily, and use of hand sanitizer stations throughout the terminal.

Measures being taken by CLIA members themselves are to include denial of boarding to anyone who, within 14 days prior to embarkation, have contact with, or helped care for, anyone suspected or diagnosed as having COVID-19, or who are subject to health monitoring for possible exposure to COVID-19.

CLIA also said that in coordination with cruise lines, medical experts and regulators around the world that CLIA and its member lines will continue to closely monitor for new developments related to COVID-19 and would modify policies as necessary for the health and safety of passengers and crew.
The adoption of these measures further demonstrates the cruise industry’s unique ability to respond quickly as circumstances evolve,” said Kelly Craighead, president and CEO of CLIA. 
We remain in close contact with local governments around the world, and while we regret that these changes will result in the denial of boarding for some of our guests, travelers should know that their health and safety is the absolute priority for the industry.”