CRUISE Lines International Association (CLIA) ocean-going members last month agreed to conduct pre-embarkation testing of all passengers and crews on ships with a capacity of more than 250 people, in a move which puts cruising at the forefront of safe travel in the COVID-19 era.

CLIA Global President & Chief Executive Officer Kelly Craighead announced the major initiative during a virtual conference in the USA, saying “we see testing as an important initial step to a multi-layered approach that we believe validates the industry’s commitment to making health, safety and the well-being of the passengers, the crew and the communities we visit our top priority”.

She also noted cruise lines were optimistic the measures would allow for a “gradual, phased resumption of cruising”, and said members had already been working for many months with experts worldwide to develop protocols for resumption.

The announcement came in the lead-up to the ground-breaking news that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was replacing its long-running “no-sail” order for ships in American waters with a plan which would allow a resumption of voyages under strict protocols.

Meanwhile closer to home, last month also saw CLIA Australasia announce significant value-adds from its cruise line members for travel agents who renew their membership of the organisation into 2021.

The new CLIA Travel Agent Rewards Program promises more value than the annual membership cost, and is being backed by more than 20 operators.

The Rewards Program will allow travel partners to receive exclusive benefits such as rebates, gift cards or extra commission when making eligible bookings with participating cruise line members throughout next year.

Initial cruise line participants will include Aurora Expeditions, Azamara, Celebrity Cruises, Celestyal, Crystal Cruises, Cunard, Dream Cruises, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Paul Gauguin, P&O Australia, Ponant, Princess Cruises, Riviera, Royal Caribbean International, Seabourn, Scenic, Silversea, Uniworld, Virgin Voyages and Windstar Cruises.

CLIA Managing Director Australasia Joel Katz said “the new bonus commission and rewards available in 2021 can repay the cost of CLIA membership many times over.

“This is a significant and tangible benefit from CLIA cruise lines and creates a clear advantage for those who support their professional success with CLIA membership.”

“Together with all our existing member benefits including our education programs, events and certification program, this additional 2021 benefit will ensure CLIA agents are rewarded as our industry moves into recovery.”