Royal Caribbean Group Releases Analysis on Cruise Ship HVAC Programs

The Royal Caribbean Group today announced the results of an independent study conducted in conjunction with the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) of the diffusion of aerosolized particles through a cruise ship’s heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) system.

With the support of the Healthy Sail Panel – a group of world-class experts brought together by the Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, the Royal Caribbean Group hired the UNMC and the National Strategic Research Institute (NSRI) of the University of Nebraska to do the Conduct this research.


The study was conducted by UNMC and NSRI scientists aboard the Oasis of the Seas in July 2020 to gain a full understanding of the role of HVAC systems in airborne particle transmission around cruise ships. In particular, it examined the effectiveness and efficiency of on-board air management – such as supply, ventilation and filtration – and analyzed airflow in various areas of the ship, such as guest cabins, crew quarters, lounges and other public areas.

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A team of five medical professionals who specialize in bioaerosols found that the transfer of airborne particles through the ventilation system between areas on board was undetectable in most test cases, both in the air and on surfaces is.

The research was originally conducted to support the Healthy Sail Panel’s comprehensive recommendations on industry best practices to protect guests, crew and the communities they visit, presented to the CDC last September.

The Royal Caribbean Group’s existing HVAC systems, always at the forefront of implementing the latest industry innovations, were already robust and efficient enough to provide exceptional filtering of incoming and outgoing air, continuous fresh air intake and maximum ventilation in all ships. However, based on the results of the UNMC study and the recommendations of the Healthy Sail Panel, the Royal Caribbean Group is adopting new practices and adding additional protective layers to further minimize the possibility of aerosol particle spread.

In the future, onboard settings will be adjusted to allow the maximum number of air exchanges per hour, and system-wide upgrades will include MERV 13 filters to add another layer of protection. The Royal Caribbean Group’s medical facilities have already been fitted with independent ventilation systems, complete with hospital-grade HEPA filters.

“Our existing HVAC system is designed with several layers in order to continuously bring in the sea air and filter it several times before it reaches our guests and our crew. We are pleased that the study concludes that our robust system is effective at reducing transmission, ”said Patrik Dahlgren, senior vice president of global marine operations for the Royal Caribbean Group and a member of the Healthy Sail panel. “By taking a scientific approach and implementing the recommendations of the experts at the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the National Strategic Research Institute, we have created an environment that is even safer for our guests and crew. And that without compromising on comfort – which is always in the foreground, because this is the vacation of our guests and the home of our crew at sea. “

An overview of the UNMC study commissioned by the Royal Caribbean Group and details of how the HVAC system works on board can be found here.

More information is available at royalcaribbeangroup.com.

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