Resuming Port Operations: What needs to be considered?
Ramon Hurtado, Global Product & Operations Manager, recently participated as a speaker for a Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) webinar, providing expert insight on what will need to be considered to resume Port Operations (port agency, crew handling and logistics).
If we look at port operations, what are some of the challenges that need to be prepared for before resuming operations?
Firstly, we have to consider that as with all areas of travel, there are going to be more requirements and restrictions, which will likely mean a longer and more complex process for all operations at the pier. There is a lot of information to consider for Port Operations, so this is just a high-level summary, which can be broken down into three key areas:
• Prevention: Reduce personal contact and touch-points, implement social distancing and enhanced hygiene measures
• Infrastructure & Equipment: Port terminals and warehouses/storage locations
• Communications: Safety briefings, internal processes and national/local information
Technology will play even more of a key role and where possible will be utilized for communications, documentation and all other processes. This ranges from radios - which will need to be sanitized before and after use - to where we can use automatic sliding versus manual doors. Port agents themselves will need to wear personal protective equipment and have regular temperature checks, as per local legislation and industry best practice. For crew, there will need to be strict queue management and perhaps pre-designated time slots for crew movements, something that should also be considered for deliveries. The deliveries should only be touched if absolutely necessary and will probably need to be sanitized, as will luggage – how and with what will have to be discussed, but there will need to be clear standards and some serious considerations in this area – from where is the sanitizing product sourced? What is the best practice for use? Is it environmentally friendly? – all these questions will need to be answered.
Infrastructure & Equipment
A coordinated approach between the port authorities, terminal operators, cruise line and port operations team is vital in achieving a consistently sanitized area, from entering the port terminal, to stepping foot onboard. There will be hand sanitizer in key areas, more regular and enhanced terminal cleaning, and possibly thermal controls. If luggage sanitizing is to happen in the terminal, then a larger space and more time will be required to make this happen. The enhanced cleaning will also need to be replicated at warehouses and storage areas.
This is key for operations throughout the travel industry and is incredibly important for port operations. All port agents will need to understand and adhere to all implemented Health & Safety measures – the communication of this will be a priority for Intercruises. There will also need to be good communications and understanding between the port agent, ship team, terminal operators and port authorities to ensure that everyone involved is aware of what measures are being taken. Furthermore, there should be more communication from the port agents to the ship, which should be receiving clear information about the local regulations and any change to the current state of alert. We also need to be clear on how we communicate any type of illness or possible symptoms related to COVID-19 - what is the correct process and who is informed? Additionally, there will be a significant impact on an often overlooked area, which is the necessary paperwork and documentation for coming into port – I realize this may not be the most exciting topic, but this is very important for those planning operations – nobody wants to delay a ship call due to technicalities.
As part of the TUI Group, we are fortunate to be able to rely on the expertise of experienced Health & Safety, Legal and Sustainability professionals, which are heavily involved in ensuring we make progress in the right areas. We continue to work with cruise lines, port authorities and destination partners in sharing this information - a collaborative approach that is helping to ensure that port operations resume in a consistent, efficient and safe manner.
These comments are based on information as of June 2020 and should only be considered as suggestions, very much dependent on local legislation and the requirements of port authorities, cruise lines and other key industry stakeholders.