We’re excited to announce the establishment of Royal Caribbean Group’s Healthy Sail Panel — a team of the best minds and leaders in public health, bio security, epidemiology, hospitality and maritime operations. As we prepare for our return to service, this diverse team has been enlisted to develop recommendations and guide our way forward with unprecedented standards in response to COVID-19. Their combined expertise will help us reinforce our current safety procedures onboard our ships, create new ones and ensure our vacation experience. Our collective efforts will be shared across the cruise industry, as well as other industries that may benefit from our findings — because we’re all in this together.

The well-being of our guests, crew and the communities we visit is our top priority. But beyond that, we believe everyone should benefit from advances in health and safety related matters. That’s why the important work and findings derived from this collaboration will be shared with the entire cruise industry and other industries it may benefit — because we’re all in this together.

There’s nothing like breathing fresh air while cruising the open ocean. But what happens once you step inside a cruise ship — how does the air flow into your stateroom, restaurant and other spaces on board? This is precisely what Royal Caribbean Group wanted to confirm and understand in detail.

Enter the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) and National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI), with the support of the Healthy Sail Panel, globally recognized experts in medical practice and research, public health, infectious diseases, biosecurity, hospitality and maritime operations to recommend the most effective, scientifically sound ways to make the cruise experience healthier and safer. The team from UNMC and NSRI — specialists in bioaerosols (the study of airborne particles) and more recently worked with the U.S. Department of Defense on the study of air flow on airplanes — boarded a Royal Caribbean Group ship while berthed in Miami in July 2020. The scientists set out to determine the efficiency and effectiveness of the ship’s air management as well as understand how aerosols pass through the HVAC (Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) system.

Their work confirmed that under the current HVAC system the transmission of aerosol particles between spaces through the air handling system is exceptionally low and undetectable both on surfaces and in the air in most test cases. This is thanks to the robust and efficient system originally designed into the ship for maximum ventilation, continual fresh air intake and filtration. To add layers of safety and further minimize the possibility of spread, the team recommended adjusting shipboard settings to allow for the maximum air changes per hour and upgrading to MERV 13 filters throughout the system. In the medical facility, already equipped with an independent ventilation system, HEPA filters have been added for extra precaution.



Michael Leavitt
Governor Michael Leavitt

Leavitt Partners, Founder
Former Governor of Utah and Secretary Health and Human Services in the Bush Administration

Lisa Vogt
Dr. Scott Gottlieb

Resident Fellow at AEI, Partner at
NEA & Contributor at CNBC
Former Commissioner of
the U.S. Food & Drug Administration



Helene Gayle MD, MPH

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
Julie Gerberding, MD, MPH

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
Steven Hinrichs, MD

Dr. Steven Hinrichs is Professor and Chair in the Department of Pathology and Microbiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha and the Director of the former Nebraska Public Health Laboratory (NPHL), and Director of the University of Nebraska Center for Biosecurity. In his position as laboratory director he has been responsible for the development of a statewide program for the rapid identification of biological agents of mass destruction. He is principal investigator of multiple national awards from the Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) and the CDC and the Department of Defense for the development of an outreach program to extend training and expertise in the early recognition of biological warfare agents.

Michael Osterholm
Michael Osterholm, MD, PhD

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 foodborne diseases, hepatitis B in health care 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
Stephen Ostroff, MD

Dr. Ostroff brings years of experience in public health, having served at high level positions at the Food and Drug Administration and 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 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
William Rutala, PhD, MS, MPH

Dr. Rutala 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 multiply-drug resistant organisms, prevention of healthcare-associated Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, investigation of healthcare-associated outbreaks, and new and emerging pathogens in healthcare.

Kate Walsh
Kate Walsh, PhD

Kate Walsh is the Dean at the School of Hotel Administration at Cornell University and E.M. Statler Professor.  A professor of management, she is a leader in education for the global hospitality industry; and a renowned expert in organizational service design, leadership and career development, as well as the impact of strategic human capital investments. In addition, Dean Walsh holds extensive industry knowledge from serving as the former director of training and development for Nikko Hotels International, corporate training manager for the former Bristol Hotels, and senior auditor for Loews Corporation. She is also a former New York State Certified Public Accountant. Since the beginning of her administration as dean, Dean Walsh has focused on positioning the school for the future of education. This includes undertaking a comprehensive renewal of the graduate and undergraduate curricula, developing the school’s online global presence, identifying international partners for master-level program development, and providing thought-leadership for the hospitality industry, most notably through the creation of industry research partnerships for faculty, fostering new initiatives through the school’s six centers and institutes, and providing faculty-developed resources to guide the industry.


Royal Caribbean Group has named Dr. Calvin Johnson as Global Head, Public Health and Chief Medical Officer. In this new role, Johnson willlead the Group’s global health and wellness policy, manage its public health and clinical practice, and determine the strategic plans and operations of its global healthcare organization. Johnson will also collaborate with the Healthy Sail Panel to ensure the company establishes and implements its protocols and recommendations. His extensive experience in public health and clinical care will help us raise the bar on protecting the health of our guests, crew and the communities we serve.

Dr. Johnson, most recently Principal at Altre Strategic Solutions Group, is the former Chief Medical Officer for Corizon Health, then the largest provider of correctional health care in the United States, and for Temple University Health System. He served as Secretary of Health for the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania from 2003-2008 and was Medical Director for the New York City Department of Health from 1998-1999. He earned his medical degree from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, a Master of Public Health from Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, and a BS in Chemistry from Morehouse College.


With our keen focus on health and safety, we are excited to introduce Muster 2.0, an entirely new approach to delivering safety information to our guests. This innovative program — the first of its kind — reimagines a process originally designed to address large groups of people into a faster, more personal approach that encourages higher levels of safety. With this enhanced experience, the essential safety information will be offered to guests through new “eMusterTM” technology via their mobile devices, as well as on the interactive stateroom TVs.

This new approach offers guests the flexibility to complete this very important process at their leisure prior to setting sail, allowing guests to jump right into their vacation — uninterrupted. Once onboard, each guest will be required to visit their assigned assembly station where a crew member will verify the completion of the safety requirements and will be available to answer any questions. All steps must be completed prior to the ship’s departure, as required by international maritime law.

Throughout the development of this enhancement, international regulators, the U.S. Coast Guard and other maritime and government authorities were consulted to ensure this new muster process meets all safety requirements. Muster 2.0 is just one part of the comprehensive set of protocols and procedures Royal Caribbean Group is developing along with the Healthy Sail Panel.