Carnival Corp. CEO talks about how social distancing might work on cruise ships

As virology experts and epidemiologists continue to study Coronavirus, informing the containment measures being enacted around the world, Carnival Corporation has also been considering how it can mitigate the spread of the virus aboard ship.

The CEO and President of Carnival Corporation, Arnold Donald, told Cruise Critic that the company was researching the entire cruise experience, from embarkation and the terminal environment to cleaning protocols and dining and shows.

Donald says social distancing measures will likely mean that entertainment will change

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He said that the main concern will be when passengers are moving around the ship.

“When you’re on the ship, if you’re in a cabin, you’re already socially distanced,” he said. “So the issue is more the public spaces on the ship and also sufficient capacity to handle if there’s spread that occurred on land that people brought on that is discovered on the ship.”

In some instances, the ship’s crew will be able to bring its considerable experience in virus containment to bear by enacting similar measures to those used when Norovirus is discovered on-board.

There may be more theatre shows with smaller audiences

When ships have norovirus outbreaks, for example, wait staff step in at the buffets and serve the food, rather than people using the tongs themselves. However, according to Donald, more though will need to be put into keeping passengers physically separated.

There might be mandatory room service one night to reduce the number of people needing dining menus in the restaurants, while additional dining venues might be used in addition to the main dining room to ensure social distancing.

Specialty dining venues may be repurposed as main dining rooms to ensure social distancing

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There might also be empty seats between passengers in the theatre, with more shows laid on as a result.

Queuing for any event, experience or meal service aboard ships is likely to change as well, according to Donald.

“Queuing might change. You might not be able to go out and line up in front of a restaurant. But we’ll see,” he said.

Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation

All of these were just ideas that Arnold Donald presented to Cruise Critic as examples of issues the company is considering. None of them are certain and won’t be for many weeks as information about the virus, and how it is spread, continues to grow.

Similarly, when it comes to the wearing of masks on cruise ships, he said Carnival Corporation will do whatever public health authorities recommend.

“Whatever the rules are, we’ll follow them,” he said. “Obviously, wearing masks in certain places like the theater is probably not as taxing as trying to wear it during dinner when you’re trying to eat. But we’ll see what happens with all that.”

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