A cruise ticks all the holiday boxes for many travellers. Not only do you wake up in a completely new destination each morning, but many adore the on board experience - which includes personalised service, delicious meals, like-minded friends to meet and outstanding entertainment - all served with that glorious backdrop of water views.
The COVID 19 pandemic has put a temporary halt on many cruise departures, but when they return in the coming year, many industry experts say it will be even safer than a holiday on land. Reputable cruise lines have made significant changes, all for the benefit of protecting their guests, crew and the communities in their ports of call. The changes made on these ships follow the recommendations outlined by the Healthy Sail Panel - a group of globally-recognised specialists in public health.
Below, you’ll find a list of your favourite cruise lines and what they are doing to keep you safer and healthier on your journey.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ Health and Safety Protocols cover all aspects of onboard and shoreside operations to protect guests, crew and the communities that are visited. Below is a list of the key changes being implemented across the Regent fleet and the updated procedures in places for guests and crew on board.
Safety on the Ships
- Continuous ship-wide disinfection and daily fogging of all suites and public spaces
- Upgraded medical-grade air filters removing 99.9% of airborne particles
- Dedicated public health officers responsible for all outbreak prevention initiatives
- Changing itineraries as needed to avoid high-risk locations
- All guests will undergo pre-embarkation health screening
- Socially responsible check-in process with touchless technology
- Ccontinuous sanitisation and social distancing
- No-touch food service ship-wide
- Reduced ship capacity to comply with recommended social distancing recommendations
- Partnerships with local destinations to extend safety protocol to shore experiences
- Constant monitoring of staff and crew health, including testing of crew members, temperature checks multiple times per day
- Larger medical teams on board
Seabourn has consulted a panel of eminent virologists, epidemiologists, engineers and public health experts, and tasked them with assessing the physical facilities and procedures and suggesting any enhancements or changes to further reduce the risk of contagion onboard. Any recommendations have been incorporated into the list below.
Prior to leaving home for your voyage, Seabourn recommends all guests:
- Download the Seabourn Source App which provides helpful information on social distancing and offers contactless options to aid your cruise experience
- Purchase travel insurance for any unforeseen circumstances
- Arrive at your cruise with your completed pre-boarding health questionnaire
The embarkation process has also been updated to include:
- A screening and another COVID-19 test administered by a crew member
- Strict boarding times to ensure appropriate physical distancing is maintained
- A mask must be worn in public spaces
- Enhanced filters and other technologies to increase air quality
- A risk-based response plan and a rigorous emergency response plan in case of infection
- All staff will undergo daily temperature checks and COVID-19 surveillance checks
- Enhanced sanitation procedures including changes in service style for food and beverages, continuous sanitizing of surfaces, high quality disinfectants and frequent hand sanitizer stations
Viking River Cruises
Viking’s new Health & Safety Program is claimed to be one of the most well-researched and comprehensive COVID-19 prevention and mitigation plans in the travel industry. The plan outlines significant updates to the health and safety procedures on board, such as:
Daily PCR COVID-19 Testing
Quick non-invasive saliva PCR test (the most reliable COVID-19 test) for all guests and crew will be conducted daily throughout the cruise itinerary through on board full-scale PCR laboratories at sea and a network of dedicated shoreside labs for the river cruise program.
Improved air purification
Every ship in the fleet will be upgraded with short-wavelength ultraviolet (UV-C) lights and new high-density filters, which will sanitize the air and kill 99.99% of all bacteria and viruses.
Regular health checks
Guests will complete a digital Health Questionnaire prior to travel and temperatures will be checked regularly using touchless thermometers and thermal cameras.
New enhanced sanitization protocols are in place to guarantee that surfaces are continually disinfected.
On board physical distancing
More options for spaced seating while dining will allow for physical distancing; replacement of self-serve dining stations with crew service; and new capabilities will allow guests to watch more live events and engaging content through their in-room entertainment system.
On shore enhancements
Only Viking shore excursions will be offered in port. While ashore, Viking’s measures will meet or exceed local guidelines for physical distancing and other precautions.
Uniworld Boutique River Cruises
Uniworld has introduced new health protocols to elevate hygiene standards and protocols. These can be broadly explained in three main categories.
Well-being Declaration & Health Screening
To help achieve this goal, all guests and crew will be asked to complete a Wellbeing Travel Declaration upon arrival. Additionally, all guests and crew will be required to have their temperatures taken prior to embarkation, and routinely throughout the cruise, using touchless technology.
New measures have been introduced to elevate the hygiene standards for every facet of the onboard experience—from the introduction of innovative, non-toxic cleaning solutions to hand sanitizer stations throughout the ship.
Uniworld is proud to become the first river cruise company to have European ships sprayed with ACT CleanCoat™—the antimicrobial coating that is odorless, nontoxic and most importantly, kills bacteria and viruses including COVID-19.
Hotel Managers, Cruise Managers and crew have all been trained by an external consultant in professional health, enhanced hygiene and physical distancing procedures. During your trip, they will operate with a duty of care and monitor the hygiene etiquette of all guests, reacting and advising as needed, to ensure high standards are maintained.
To ensure the provision and maintenance of a 'COVID-SAFE' sanitary bubble, PONANT has introduced a more stringent set of health protection measures incorporating a complete range of technological, human and equipment based measures.
Before Boarding, all guests and crew members must provide a first health questionnaire which should be completed by a doctor of their own choosing, proof of completion of a PCR test (the most reliable type of COVID-19 test completed in a clinic or hospital) and be prepared to submit to testing by a member of the Ponant medical team.
Maintaining a COVID safe zone, all persons onboard are required to comply with the health protocols below:
1. Disinfection of luggage and goods/merchandise
2. Provision of Protection Kits at embarkation
3. Compulsory mask-wearing onboard
4. Regular cleaning of public spaces and cabins, and continuous air replenishment
5. Use of dedicated isolation zones, if required
Checking and monitoring of the COVID-SAFE zone. Ponant has designed and developed a fully-fledged checking and monitoring system with respect to the health protection situation onboard the ships. An onboard hospital and a medical team of doctors and nurses Testing and sampling to be carried out regularly Constant monitoring and checking of both guests and the ship itself.
Aurora Expeditions has carefully considered the potential impacts and risks to expeditioners, staff and crew associated with COVID-19. The company has proactively implemented the following in-depth policies and practices to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone.
Screening & Testing
All expeditioners will be required to obtain a ‘Fit to Travel’ certification from their doctor, complete a pre-boarding questionnaire and agree to temperature checks on board.
Cleaning & Sanitation
Enhanced disinfection & fogging, continuous cleaning, vessel deep cleaning and enhanced sanitation.
Use of 100% fresh air, no air recirculation and dedicated isolation cabins.
Social distancing between passengers, compulsory mask-wearing, more hand sanitizer stations, full service meals and an Infection Control Management process if necessary.
Medical Team & Resources
Provision of full Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for expeditioners and crew, Free medical consultations (initial consults only) and a fully equipped medical clinic.
Silversea and Oceania
The Healthy Sail Panel is a team of cross-disciplinary experts enlisted to guide the cruise industry’s way forward in response to COVID-19. It is composed of globally recognised specialists in public health to develop, implement and continually evolve industry-leading health and safety standards.
Cruise lines such as Silversea and Oceania have announced their plans to update and implement all 74 best practices as recommended by the Healthy Sail Panel.
There are five key categories in which the 74 best practices fall into:
1. Testing, Screening and Exposure Reduction
2. Sanitation and Ventilation
3. Response, Contingency Planning and Execution
4. Destination and Excursion Planning
5. Mitigating Risks for Crew Members
Within each category is a long list of actionable activities, including some of the key strategies listed below:
- Taking robust measures to prevent COVID-19 from entering a ship
- Reducing transmission via air management strategies and enhanced sanitation practices
- Implementing detailed plans to address positive infection on board
- Closely controlling shore excursions
- Enhanced protection for crew members