Negative COVID tests for cruise ship crew have become a new requirement for cruise ship jobs especially as cruise lines and countries navigate how to facilitate safe crew changes. Although the majority of the cruise industry is still on an operational pause, a small complement of crew remains on each ship to maintain essential operations. Here is what cruise ship crew need to know about COVID tests and working onboard.
COVID Tests for Cruise Ship Jobs
While most of the cruise industry is on pause with no passengers onboard (a few cruise lines have started cruising again), cruise ships still have some crew onboard (minimum non-operational manning). Although the majority of cruise ship crew repatriation was completed by June 2020, ongoing crew changes still need to occur as each ship maintains this minimum manning. The new requirement is that prior to joining a cruise ship, crew will be need to produce a negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction test (PCR test).
In most cases, the crewmember will be expected to get their PCR test done prior to flying to the port where they will join their ship. This is to confirm to their manning agency and the cruise line that their test results are negative. The crewmember may be expected to take another PCR test once at their destination and prior to embarking the ship.
Ports and countries around the world have crew change requirements in regards to both testing and the quarantine of seafarers in advance to them joining or disembarking their vessels. For example, from 1 September 2020, the Port of Singapore will use its Crew Facilitation Centre (CFC) at the Tanjong Pagar Terminal for joining crew. The CFC is dedicated to sign-on crew, providing testing and accommodation for up to 48 hours prior to them boarding their ships.
Additionally, a crew member may even have to present a negative PCR test when checking in for their flight. For example, Emirates’ passengers travelling from or via Dubai to UK or Europe are required to take a COVID-19 PCR test no more than 96 hours before departure and present the test result certificate at check-in.
Cruise Lines Health and Safety Protocols
A number of cruise lines have begun to detail what their new health and safety protocols will look like once they start cruising again. Cruise Critic has compiled a comprehensive list of confirmed health policies by cruise line. The list outlines new procedures for crew and passengers which include pre-embarkation screenings, COVID tests, temperature checks, wearing of masks, and shore leave restrictions.
Some of those protocols include Costa Cruises requiring that all their crew must pass three negative COVID-19 PCR tests before joining the vessel. Norwegian Cruise Line crew will be required to complete a more comprehensive Pre-Employment Medical Examination, temperature checks throughout the day, and COVID-19 testing throughout crewmember’s contract. MSC Cruises will also require all crew to have a PCR test prior to joining the ship.