Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Form ‘Healthy Sail Panel’

Experts in public health, infectious disease, biosecurity, hospitality and maritime operations

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Like much of the world dealing with the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 virus, Royal Caribbean Group finds itself in uncharted territory. We understand the public expects us to come back to the seas with even higher standards and are prepared to make sure that we meet and exceed those expectations. We will not sail until we know we are ready. 

This endeavor is perhaps the most complex and significant in the 50-year history of our company. And we are rising to the challenge.  Our Healthy Return to Service program has four main areas of focus: 

  • Upgraded screening prior to boarding 
  • Enhanced processes and procedures on board 
  • Special focus on addressing the destinations we visit 
  • Procedures for dealing with any reports of exceptions 

To address this very complex path, together with Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings we have established the Healthy Sail Panel, composed of leading experts in various fields of science and public health. We’ve asked Governor Mike Leavitt, former Secretary of the U.S. Department Health and Human Services (HHS), and Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, to co-chair this panel, which is tasked with collaboratively guiding the cruise industry’s way forward in response to COVID-19. The panel will develop recommendations  to advance public health protocols, improve safety, and achieve readiness for our safe resumption of operations.

“In convening the Healthy Sail Panel, we sought the participation of a diverse group of leading experts in areas of science and public health that are directly relevant to the considerations listed by the No Sail Order,” said Governor Leavitt. “We view our work as a profoundly important public health effort. The health and safety of passengers, crew, and the communities that cruise ships visit will be the principal focus of this project.”

Dr. Gottlieb said, “We know that the public health issues that must be addressed are complex, and in some areas, tackling them will require novel approaches. Our goal in assembling this team of leading experts was to develop best practices that can improve safety and provide a roadmap for reducing the risks of COVID-19.”

Because we do not compete in the areas of health and safety, the panel’s work will be “open source” and can be freely adopted by any company or industry that would benefit from the panel’s scientific and medical insights.


About Governor Mike Leavitt

Mike Leavitt was a three-term Governor of Utah and served as Administrator of the EQA and Secretary of HHS under President George W. Bush. He is the founder of Leavitt Partners, a firm that provides investment support, data and analytics, member-based alliances, and direct services to clients to support decision-making strategies in the value economy.







About Dr. Scott Gottlieb

Dr. Gottlieb was the Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from 2017 – 2019 and served as the agency’s Deputy Commissioner for Medical and Scientific Affairs.




About the panel

Click here for much more about the panel members.

Helene Gayle | MD, MPH

Dr. Gayle is CEO of the Chicago Community Trust and spent 20 years with the CDC, working primarily on HIV/AIDS.

Julie Gerberding | MD, MPH

Dr. Gerberding is Executive Vice President and Chief Patient Officer for Merck and a former head of the CDC.

Steven Hinrichs | MD

Dr. Hinrichs is Professor and Chair in the Department of Pathology and Microbiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the Director of the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory.

Michael Osterholm | MD, PhD

Dr. Osterholm is director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

Stephen Ostroff | MD

Dr. Ostroff was deputy director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases at the CDC.

William Rutala | MS, MPH

Dr. Rutala’s research interests are the etiology and prevention fo healthcare=associated infections with a special focus on disinfection and sterilization of reusable medical and surgical devices.

Kate Walsh | PhD

Ms. Walsh is the Dean at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University.

Captain Patrik Dahlgren

Captain Dahlgren is the Senior Vice President of Global Marine Operations an dFleet Optimization for Royal Caribbean Group.

Robin Lindsay

Mr. Lindsay is the Executive vice President of Vessel Operations for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.

Click here for much more about the panel members.