Shares of cruise-ship operator Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings (NCLH -3.59%) surged 5.5% through 2:30 p.m. EST in trading Tuesday after the company announced it will partner with privately held AtmosAir Solutions (also known as "Clean Air Group," according to S&P Global Market Intelligence) to improve disinfection on its cruise ships to better fight coronavirus.
As Norwegian explained, it's preparing for a resumption of cruising by installing new air-filtration system technology from AtmosAir in all 28 of its cruise vessels across all three of its brands, which will provide "continuous active COVID disinfection through bi-polar ionization in the air and on surfaces, an all-natural solution with no harmful chemicals, radiations or by-products."
Norwegian advises that AtmosAir's technology doesn't require air to pass through an air-handler unit to be effective and thus treats larger volumes of air more efficiently. It cited a study by "Microchem Laboratory" that showed 30 minutes' exposure to AtmosAir's equipment reduces coronavirus levels in a given volume of air by 99.92%.
Cruise lines in the U.S. are no longer subject to the CDC's no-sail order, which expired on Oct. 31. They are, however, bound by a subsequent "framework" requiring them to establish new health and safety protections for crew and passengers, and must conduct a series of "simulated voyages" before they can receive "COVID-19 Conditional Sailing Certificates" that will permit them to resume cruising.
To date, no cruise line has yet secured such a certificate, but Norwegian's announcement yesterday suggests it's making progress toward meeting the conditions to obtain one. Meanwhile, as CruiseIndustryNews.com reported today, Norwegian has repositioned two of its vessels to Montenegro in Europe, probably with the aim of resuming cruising in Europe even before it starts cruising again in the U.S.
The cruise industry's recession may not be over yet -- but Norwegian is making progress toward being ready once it ends.