Jul 6, 2020 · News

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

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 the panel

Introducing Royal Caribbean Group’s and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ “Healthy Sail Panel” — a team of cross-disciplinary experts enlisted to guide the cruise industry’s way forward in response to COVID-19. Comprised of globally recognized specialists in public health, infectious diseases, hospitality and maritime operations, the panel will advise us on a science-backed plan for a healthy return to service that ensures the wellbeing of our guests and crew as well as the communities we visit. 

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.

Panel members

Helene Gayle, M.D., M.P.H.  

Dr. Gayle is CEO of the Chicago Community Trust, one of the nation’s leading community foundations. Prior to this role, and for almost a decade, she was president and CEO of CARE, a leading international humanitarian organization. An expert on global development, humanitarian and health issues, Dr. Gayle spent 20 years with the CDC, working primarily on HIV/AIDS. She worked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, directing programs on HIV/AIDS and other global health issues. She also launched the McKinsey Social Initiative (now McKinsey.org), a nonprofit that builds partnerships for social impact. Dr. Gayle serves on public company and nonprofit boards, including The Coca-Cola Company, Colgate-Palmolive Company, Brookings Institution, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, New America, the ONE Campaign, the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, and the Economic Club of Chicago.

Julie Gerberding, M.D., M.P.H.  

Dr. Julie L. Gerberding is Executive Vice President and Chief Patient Officer for Merck, leading all aspects of strategic communications, global public policy, population health and patient engagement. A former head of the CDC and a world-renowned public health expert, Dr. Gerberding is deeply committed to achieving sustainable global health impact and tackling some of the most challenging health priorities of our time. This includes addressing critical issues such as affordable access to important therapies, advocating for health policies that promote and sustain innovation of new medicines and vaccines, and improving maternal mortality through the Merck for Mothers program – a public-private partnership helping to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal to reduce maternal mortality. Prior to joining Merck, Dr. Gerberding served as the Director of the CDC from 2002-2009 and was the first female to hold that position. While at the agency, she led more than 40 emergency responses against crises such as anthrax, SARS, bird flu, food-borne outbreaks and natural disasters.  

Steven Hinrichs, M.D.  

Dr. Steven Hinrichs is Professor and Chair of the Department of Pathology and Microbiol­ogy at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, former Director of the Uni­versity of Nebraska Center for Biosecurity and the former Director of the Nebraska Public Health Laboratory (NPHL). He is the principal investigator of multiple national awards from the Association of Public Health Laboratories, CDC and the U.S. Department of Defense for the development of an outreach program to extend training and expertise in the early recognition of biological warfare agents. He has published greater than 180 papers in basic science and medical journals.  

Michael Osterholm, M.D., Ph.D.  

Michael Osterholm is one of the nation’s foremost experts in public health, infectious disease and biosecurity. As the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, he is an international leader on the world’s preparedness for pandemics. He has led numerous investigations into internationally important disease outbreaks, including food borne diseases, hepatitis Bin healthcare settings and HIV infection in healthcare workers, and he is a frequent consultant to the World Health Organization, the National Institutes of Health, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Defense and the CDC. From 2001 to 2005, Dr. Osterholm served as a special advisor to the secretary of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on issues related to bioterrorism and public health preparedness. From June 2018 through May 2019, he served as a Science Envoy for Health Security on behalf of the U.S. Department of State. He has also been appointed to the National Science Advisory Board on Biosecurity and the World Economic Forum’s Working Group on Pandemics, among other prominent advisory positions.  

Stephen Ostroff, M.D.  

Dr. Ostroff brings years of experience in public health, having served at high-level positions at the Food and Drug Administration and the CDC. He was the Acting Commissioner of the FDA from 2015-16, and before that served as the FDA’s chief scientist. Ostroff joined the FDA in 2013 as chief medical officer in the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and senior public health advisor to FDA’s Office of Foods and Veterinary Medicine. Prior to that, he served as deputy director of the National Center for Infectious Diseases at the CDC, where he was also acting director of CDC’s Select Agent Program. While at the CDC, he focused on emerging infectious diseases, food safety and coordination of complex outbreak response. He retired from the Commissioned Corps of the U.S. Public Health Service at the rank of Rear Admiral (Assistant Surgeon General). Ostroff was also the director of the Bureau of Epidemiology and acting physician general for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and has consulted internationally on public health projects in South Asia and Latin America. 

William Rutala, Ph.D., M.S., M.P.H.  

Dr. Ruta la has experience medically managing a variety of diseases and extensive experience studying epidemiology and virology, particularly managing outbreaks and emerging pathogens. Dr. Rutala’s research interests are the etiology and prevention of healthcare-associated infections with a special focus on disinfection and sterilization of reusable medical and surgical devices. Other areas of active research include contribution of the hospital environment to disease transmission, hand hygiene, preventing transmission of infectious agents including multi drug-resistant organisms, prevention of healthcare-associated Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, investigation of healthcare-associated outbreaks, and new and emerging pathogens in healthcare.  

Kate Walsh, Ph.D.  

Dr. Walsh is Dean and E.M. Statler Professor at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University, a leader in education for the global hospitality industry. A professor of management, Dr. Walsh’s primary research is in organizational service design, leader­ship and the strategic investments of human capital. She has over 20 years of academic experience. In addition, Dr. Walsh has held a number of executive positions in hospitality human resources and is a former New York State certified public accountant. Dr. Walsh serves on the board of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.  

Patrik Dahlgren, S.V.P. of Global Marine Operations and Fleet Optimization, Royal Caribbean Group  

Captain Patrik Dahlgren is the Senior Vice President of Global Marine Operations and Fleet Optimization for all Royal Caribbean Group global brands. Dahlgren’s seagoing experiences started as a bridge officer aboard tugboats, yachts and an array of cargo vessels and ferries. He rose through the ranks with over 15 years onboard Royal Caribbean International cruise ships, with his last seagoing command as Master of Oasis of the Seas and Quantum of the Seas. He was a lead contributor to the Quantum of the Seas development and received the esteemed RINA (Royal Institute of Naval Architects) award for its innovation and contributions to maritime safety.  

Robin Lindsay, E.V.P. of Vessel Operations, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. 

Robin Lindsay is the Executive Vice President of Vessel Operations for Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd. Lindsay was appointed to this position in January 2015. In this role, Lindsay is responsible for Marine & Technical Operations, Hotel Operations, Entertainment, Product Development, Port & Destination Services, Fleet Personnel, Out Islands and New Build & Ship Refurbishment for all three of the company’s brands – Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. 

Prior to joining Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., Lindsay served in a similar capacity as Executive Vice President of Vessel Operations at Prestige Cruise Holdings, the parent company of Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises. Lindsay’s history with the company goes back to the inception of Oceania Cruises in 2003, where he joined as Senior Vice President, Hotel Operations and Vessel Operations. Lindsay earned his B.S. degree from Louisiana Tech University. 

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