As coronavirus cases continue to surge in dozens of states across the country the cruise industry has acknowledged that returning to operations as soon as August 1 would not be practical. Late last week the Cruise Line Industry Association (CLIA) announced that the international cruise industry would voluntarily suspend operations to the United States, at least through September 14.
Chief among the concerns of cruise line officials and the public alike are safety concerns. With many state governors recommending that residents in their states use face masks as the first line of defense in the fight against coronavirus, some are asking if cruise lines will make the same requirement of cruise passengers.
USAToday.com reports that because it is hard to socially distance aboard cruise ships it is likely that passengers traveling aboard them in the near future will have to use face masks when in public areas. The report even says that in April, Royal Caribbean applied for a patent for "sanitary masks for virus isolation purposes" called "Seaface."
Taken alone this would be nothing more than an anecdote. But when combined with other evidence, such as the fact that U.S. and European river cruise lines intend to require passengers to wear face masks, the likelihood that international cruise ships will do the same seems more probable.
Additionally, at least one cruise executive has acknowledged that cruise lines may require face coverings when they return to the sea. CEO and President of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Frank Del Rio, told Cruise Critic that he believes Norwegian will require masks, at least in the early days of the company's return to sailing.