Cruise lines have started preparations to welcome people back on board by working on a "health framework" to uphold the safety of passengers after the COVID-19 crisis.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and its cruise line members are consulting medical experts and health authorities to establish a new foundation for the cruise sector's future operations, according CLIA Managing Director Australasia Joel Katz.

"While cruise operations are suspended, we are using this time to define the new landscape we will work within and make sure we're ready when the time comes to sail again," Katz said. "Many teams of people around the world are working in tandem with experts to ensure we learn as much as possible from these unprecedented events and exceed community expectations in our response."

The maritime policy work underway within CLIA would define the specific screening, cleansing and medical protocols that cruise lines would adopt globally, in addition to those already in place.

While it was too early to discuss specific procedures or the timing, Katz said the industry's priority would be to ensure the safety and security of passengers, crew and the communities that cruise lines visit.

"The challenges before us are great and there is no quick fix, which is why we have embarked on a process that will be extremely thorough and will address the concerns that communities and authorities expect to see us confront,"he said.

Once finalised, the new protocols would provide further opportunity to communicate with industry stakeholders, government and the wider public to provide reassurance on future cruise operations.

"Our thoughts are with all those who have been impacted by COVID-19," Katz said. “The cruise industry is not alone in having to confront this disease, but we will aim to set standards that other sectors may follow when it comes to our response."