Royal Caribbean Group, in partnership with the University of Nebraska Medical Center and the National Research Institute, has announced the results of an independent study on the transmission of aerosol particles through the HVAC system on a cruise ship.
According to Royal Caribbean Group, the study concluded that the transmission of aerosol particles between spaces via the HVAC system is “exceptionally low and undetectable” both in the air and on surfaces.
The University of Nebraska Medical Center spent time understanding the ins-and-outs of air flow on Oasis of the Seas in July 2020 while the ship was alongside in Miami.
The study’s findings helped inform the Healthy Sail Panel’s 74 detailed best practices for the healthy return to sailing, which were submitted in September 2020 in response to a CDC request for public comment, Royal Caribbean Group wrote.
According to the company, this is the first-of-its-kind study in the industry.
Royal Caribbean’s HVAC systems were “intentionally designed to maximize ventilation, continual fresh air intake and filtration prior to the pandemic,” the company said.
“These systems continuously bring in ocean air through one side of the ship, filter it multiple times before it reaches staterooms and public areas, and maximize ventilation in every space for frequent air changes. The air is filtered again before it is exhausted from the opposite side of the ship. As a result, the system in place was already designed to reduce transmission of airborne diseases,” Royal Caribbean Group wrote in the press release.
Royal Caribbean said that it is implementing “additional layers of precaution to further minimize the possibility of COVID-19 transmission onboard by adjusting shipboard settings to allow for the maximum air changes per hour – twice more what is recommended for land-based venues by ASHRAE – and upgrading to MERV 13 filters throughout the system.”
In addition, the group already equipped its medical facilities with an independent ventilation system and has added HEPA filters for additional precaution, it said.