Here's a quick read of some of some recent coronavirus-related cruise news and announcements.

Only Marella Explorer to operate this season

Marella Cruises canceled departures through September and said the only ship that will be sailing this season is Marella Explorer, homeporting in Corfu from Oct. 2.

Impacted customers will receive a refund credit and up to 10% incentive of the total value of their booking, or they can request a cash refund via an online form on the TUI website.

Due to the ongoing uncertainty, customers with bookings for cruises scheduled to sail in October can amend their trip for free before July 31 to any other holiday on sale until October 2021.

FMC approves relief for small US vessel operators

The Federal Maritime Commission voted to support a proposal put forward by Commissioner Louis E. Sola that provides limited and temporary relief to small passenger vessel operators impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

In approving the Policy Statement on Passenger Vessel Financial Responsibility, which will be published on the FMC’s webpage and in the Federal Register in the near future, the Commission said it will look favorably on requests from small passenger vessel operators for alternative forms of evidence of financial responsibility provided applicants meet key conditions. The relief will remain in effect until April 1, 2021.

Commission regulations require all passenger vessel operators demonstrate financial responsibility by submitting a surety instrument equal to 110% of the highest amount of unearned passenger revenue the carrier held over the previous two years. This required surety amount is capped at $32m. Currently, only the smaller carriers hold a surety at an amount below the cap.

Smaller passenger vessel operators are concentrated in the Pacific Northwest, have a very limited sailing season and carry fewer passengers. Their unearned passenger revenue is much less than the previous two seasons.

To be considered for the relief, cruise operators must provide monthly reports to the FMC that satisfactorily demonstrate the company’s unearned passenger revenue. If an operator fails to comply with the requirements and conditions of the alternative form of evidence of financial responsibility, they will be subject to the default requirements in the commission’s regulations.

Crystal Clean+ protocols

The initial Crystal Clean+ protocols for when ocean ships Crystal Serenity and Crystal Symphony resume sailing are detailed here. They start with online check-in, a health questionnaire, assigned embarkation time to reduce congestion, temperature check prior to entering the terminal and a second health questionnaire. Luggage will be disinfected.

Ship capacity will be reduced, along with capacity in restaurants, entertainment, fitness center, pool deck, casino, retail spaces, bars and lounges, and elevators.

Masks required

Crystal will require masks and provide them to guests and crew. These will need to be worn in venues and instances where proper distancing is not possible, including restaurants before being seated, show lounges, casino, fitness center, elevators, ship tenders, shoreside terminals and tour dispatch areas. Crystal will comply with all destination health authorities, which may require masks ashore.

Enhanced cleaning protocols of public rooms and accommodations include frequent disinfection with medical-grade products listed on the EPA List N, and approved for use against COVID-19, norovirus and other infectious diseases. High-touch points will be disinfected more frequently, along with youth facilities and recreational equipment.

Public areas will be deep cleaned and disinfected during overnight hours. Electrostatic foggers will be used as an additional tool.

No self-service dining

Open-seating dining will continue with social distancing considerations. Disposable cutlery will be provided, on request. In-room dining choices will be available 24/7. Self-service options will be eliminated in the Marketplace, Bistro and other venues.

Crystal ships are designed with a 100% fresh air supply to all staterooms and main public spaces. 

Accommodations and corridors set aside for isolation in the event of illness have ventilation systems with separate ducting and air supply.

Crystal is working with shoreside partners to ensure Crystal Clean+ protocols extend to the shore experience. Tour coaches and tenders will be disinfected, and excursion group sizes reduced.

Crew will be tested for COVID-19 prior to boarding and will undergo frequent temperature checks and regular health monitoring. They will wear face shields, masks and other necessary PPE when interacting with guests. Crew transfer between ships will be minimized.

The medical team comprises a doctor and three nurses aboard each ship. Crystal’s medical centers are well equipped with ventilators, virus testing equipment, X-ray machines, extensive first aid tools and common prescription and over-the-counter medications Medical centers will be equipped to perform PCR testing, and isolated wards are available.

Dedicated public health officer

A dedicated public health officer will support the Crystal Clean+ protocols and medical teams.

Crystal Clean+ protocols are being developed for Crystal’s river, yacht and expedition vessels.