CLIA members have taken a proactive role in addressing the quality of shipboard medical care, and many cruise ship physicians are members of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) and serve on that organization's Cruise Ship and Maritime Medicine Section.
As a result of cooperative efforts between experienced cruise ship physicians and ACEP, CLIA ocean-going cruise lines worldwide carrying 100 or more persons on board traveling on itineraries to international waters, have agreed to meet or exceed the requirements of the ACEP Health Care Guidelines for Cruise Ship Medical Facilities as revised January 2019. ACEP's guidelines address the facilities, staffing, equipment and procedures for medical infirmaries on cruise ships traveling outside territorial waters of the coastal state. Patients requiring more comprehensive facilities or treatment are typically referred to a shoreside medical facility.
These guidelines are not intended to constitute medical advice, nor to establish standards of care applicable to the industry as a whole. They reflect consensus among members of the facilities and staffing needs considered appropriate aboard cruise vessels, within the recognized limitations of the sea environment. However, the practices of individual cruise lines and shipboard physicians may vary depending upon passenger and crew demographics, itinerary, ship's construction and other circumstances.
The guidelines are generally intended to foster the following objectives:
- To provide reasonable emergency medical care for passengers and crew aboard cruise vessels
- To stabilize patients and/or initiate reasonable diagnostic and therapeutic intervention
- To facilitate the evacuation of seriously ill or injured patients when deemed necessary by a shipboard physician
The ACEP guidelines can be viewed here.
As part of their commitment to passenger and crew health and safety in the context of communicable diseases, CLIA’s members have adopted the following policy for all oceangoing vessels:
Recognizing the wide variations in ship designs and capacities, itineraries, voyage lengths, and traveler demographics, cruise lines are to maintain appropriate public health measures to mitigate the introduction and/or spread of infectious illnesses on board ships.
Cruise lines are to recommend guests and crew remain up to date with relevant vaccinations before traveling consistent with guidance from cognizant health authorities.
Pre-boarding health screening measures are to be implemented to mitigate the introduction of communicable diseases.
Cruise lines are to maintain prevention and response protocols to manage any increasing risks for transmission of communicable illnesses on board.
Member cruise lines are to comply with any health requirements issued by relevant authorities in their flag states and port / destination jurisdictions. Cruise lines should coordinate with the authorities in ports and/or destinations to verify applicability and facilitate compliance with local requirements, including the submission of health reports as required.