In today’s blog, we wanted to answer some of the questions potential travelers have regarding how safe they will be onboard a river or small ship cruise the midst of a pandemic. First of all, there’s a vast difference between sailing with 100 or so other guests on a small ship or river vessel than on a 4,000-passenger ocean-going megaliner. Many people don’t have a comfort level regarding vacationing by large cruise ship but feel better about a smaller ship. Major cruise lines don’t plan to resume service for months, while some smaller companies sailing America’s rivers and coasts plan to ease some ships back into service in the next few weeks. In fact, with international travel borders subject to closure, now is the time to travel within the Untied States.
Each line with which we do business has their own protocols, of course, but to give you some idea of the extent to which river and small ship operators are going to ensure your safety during these challenging times, we decided to look at what American Cruise Lines is doing. The following information comes straight from their website. We’ve chosen not to edit this list down because we believe it’s important to know how extensive the changes that cruise lines such as American Cruise Lines are making.
SHIP DESIGN AND SIZE
- American Cruise Line (ACL) ships have approximately 350 square feet of passenger space per guest at full capacity. This amount was increased to approximately 450 square feet per guest through capacity reduction measures and compared to approximately 140 square feet per guest on other ships.
- There are independent HVAC systems in every stateroom and lounge. Air conditioning ducting is cited as a source of virus transmission; ACL ships have no shared ducting between rooms or public spaces.
- UV-C water filtration systems for all potable water. These filtration systems kill a wide range of bacteria and viruses.
- ACL has implemented a touchless boarding and check-in process. Medical screenings may require contact between a medical professional and the guest, however proper PPE will be donned and utilized.
NEW OPERATING PROCEDURES
- Guest capacity has been reduced by 25%. Each cruise will sail with a maximum of 75% of the allotted guest capacity. Capacity reductions increase distancing measures and increase the ability for private crew accommodation.
- Increased time between cruises to allow for full vessel sanitation.
- Extensive pre-cruise screening measures and denial of boarding to anyone with flu-like symptoms or other qualifications of concern.
- Sanitation rounds to be conducted on an hourly schedule, including sanitation of all touchpoints, including railings, doorknobs, elevator buttons, and gangways.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) to be available at all times for guests and crew. PPE includes face shields, gloves, and face masks. PPE may be required during certain events as situations dictate.
- Public bathrooms will be closed. Guests will be asked to use the restrooms in their stateroom.
- Hand sanitizing stations placed throughout the ship and at the gangway before each boarding and unboarding.
- Luggage sanitation prior to loading on the ship. Deckhands performing sanitation will be wearing PPE.
- Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be kept behind transmission barriers and passed to guests individually. American Cruise Lines will not have buffets.
CLEANING AND SANITATION
- PPE will be provided for all housekeepers.
- Guests will have the same housekeeper for the duration of the cruise.
- Cleaning chemicals meet EPA and CDC Guidelines. Most cleaning and sanitizing chemicals provided by Ecolab, a company providing hygiene products to more than three million customer locations around the world, including to the foodservice and healthcare industries.
- Hypochlorous Acid Electrolyzed Water (HOCI) system onboard for sanitation.
- Daily sanitation of all touchpoints in staterooms, including doorknobs, light switches, sink, balcony railing, thermostat, etc.
- Disposable cover applied to each TV remote control prior to guest boarding.
- Onboard medical services provided by Vikand Solutions, a certified global medical company, with long-standing experience in the maritime and cruise industries.
- Resident nurse or EMT on each ship for the duration of each cruise.
- Compliance with CDC sanitation guidelines.
- Medical facility to be provided onboard with supplies.
- Covid-19 testing in conjunction with facilities ashore.
- Isolation rooms will be created and made available as necessary. An allotment of staterooms aboard each ship to be sanitized and kept unoccupied unless they become necessary for isolation purposes.
- Outbreak Management Plan in place to respond to confirmed Covid-19 case onboard.
- Coordinated care with shoreside medical facilities and evacuation plans in place from every port of call.
- Denial of boarding to anyone with flu-like symptoms or who has tested positive for Covid-19 in the past 30 days.
- Denial of boarding to anyone who has travelled internationally in the past 14 days.
- Private transportation directly to the ship (or to the arranged pre-cruise hotel, if the hotel has implemented suitable sanitation practices).
- Medical tent with pre-boarding screening including respirations, oxygen, and temperature check. Covid-19 testing will performed as needed.
- Touch free boarding and check-in process.
- Main dining room capacity reduced with removal of tables and chairs to allow for social distancing.
- All dining tables to be used only once during each meal service. There will not be multiple seatings at any table during any meal.
- The Back Porch Café will continue operating as an additional dining option.
- PPE will be provided for all chefs and galley workers.
- In-room dining will be available to all guests upon request.
- Breakfast service to private balconies will remain available.
- Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be kept behind transmission barriers and passed to guests individually.
- All tour venues screened for social distancing and sanitation practices.
- Private coaches travel directly to and from each venue.
- Coaches sanitized before every boarding.
- Reduced coach capacity to allow for social distancing during rides.
- Excursion capacities reduced to allow social distancing at each venue. Additional excursion times will be added as needed for guest enjoyment.
CREW TRAINING AND SCREENING
- Pre-boarding screening practices will apply to guests and crew members. Additionally, crew members will be screened at the conclusion of every cruise.
- Reduction of crew movement in public spaces and reduced shore leave. Crew trained to engage in social distancing at all times, including when off-duty.
- Covid-19 identification training for all crew members. This includes training on how to observe and report symptoms, as well as how to self-identify their potential symptoms.
- Covid-19 response training for all crew members.
- PPE training for all crew members, including the purpose, use, and donning of PPE.
Contact Select Waterways to begin planning your next river cruise and anticipate the time when the world of river cruising returns. Select Waterways are your river and small ship cruise insiders, specializing in European river cruises, including Danube River cruises, Rhine River cruises, wine cruises, Seine River cruises, as well as China river cruises with Yangtze river cruises, Vietnam river cruises with Mekong River cruises, Russia river cruises with Volga river cruises, Nile river cruises, Africa river cruises and Amazon river cruises. We also offer expedition cruises and small ship cruises throughout the world, with polar cruises such as Arctic cruises and Antarctica cruises among the most popular. Naturally, we have American river cruises with Mississippi River cruises, Ohio River Cruises, Columbia River cruises, Illinois River cruises and Tennessee River cruises. Whether it’s luxury river cruising, premium river cruising, expedition cruising or small ship cruising, we’ve got you covered. Visit our website at www.selectwaterways.com or give us a call at 1-844-SWCRUISE (1-844-792-7847). Be sure to join our Insider Club by clicking here and Like our Facebook page by clicking here.