Enhanced Safety Protocols, Features with Start to Cruise in Seattle
Pending U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) authorization of cruise lines’ applications for a Conditional Sailing Certificate, passenger cruises are expected to start July 19th with Royal Caribbean International’s Serenade of the Seas.
Prior to sailing, cruise lines must submit to the CDC operational plans to prevent the spread of COVID or respond to any documented positive cases. The CDC introduced the Conditional Sailing Order phased approach in October 2020 and continued to refine specifications this spring.
Key preventative measures include cruise vessels sailing at less than full capacity, with at least 95 percent of both guests and crew vaccinated on most cruise lines. Cruise lines sailing with less than 95 percent of their guests vaccinated will conduct a successful simulated sailing audited by CDC to receive a Conditional Sailing Certificate. As of June 22, all cruise lines calling on the Port of Seattle have submitted their application for a CDC simulated voyage or a CDC Conditional Sailing Certificate.
“The safety of our communities, passengers, and crew has been our foremost priority since the pandemic began,” said Steve Metruck, Executive Director for the Port of Seattle. “Since last year, we have been working with health authorities at all levels, along with cruise stakeholders and staff, to ensure that our facilities are safe for public use.”
“Royal Caribbean Group has been eagerly anticipating a safe return of the upcoming Alaska cruise season homeporting at the Port of Seattle,” said Preston Carnahan, West Coast director of destination development, Royal Caribbean Group. “It has been a challenging journey over the last year and a half and we want to assure all of our destination partners in Seattle and Alaska that the health and safety of the communities we visit as well as our guests and crew are top priorities. We look forward to creating vacation memories that last a lifetime on our ships departing from Seattle.”
The Port of Seattle will continue to prioritize measures for both the cruise lines and terminal operations that will complement health and safety standards on cruise vessels to minimize potential outbreaks, as well as provide clear protocols for responding if there are cases of COVID found on vessels. The Port has been working with local public health agencies to make sure all procedures meet high local standards and are consistent with other visitor-related efforts, such as those in place at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. The Port provides additional information online at its Cruise Healthy and Business, Tourism, and Community Partners webpages. Major terminal safety enhancements include:
● Updated ventilation systems where needed to hospital-grade MERV 13 filtration or better
● Installation of touchless fixtures in the restrooms and water-bottle filling stations
● Barriers to limit face-to-face contact and technology implemented to provide touchless check in and passenger processing in many cases
● Signage to limit crowding and contact
The seven major brands calling the Port of Seattle will resume cruises with eight vessels, with over 80 trips scheduled, pending CDC authorization. To make the 2021 season possible, public health officials, cruise lines, and federal leaders addressed or reached major milestones, including temporary federal authorization to sail directly from Seattle to Alaska without a stop in Canada.
Prior to the pandemic, the cruise industry in Seattle sustained 5,500 jobs and generated almost $900 million in economic impact, with each homeported cruise vessel bringing over $4 million to the local economy.