I’ve been waiting to hear for months about what safety measures cruise lines will be taking when they begin sailing again. I cannot wait to get onboard a ship and head out for a cruise. Today, Virgin Voyages released some information on what sailing with Virgin will be like when they begin sailing in October. Here is the information straight from Virgin:
Just like you, we’re craving those quiet, sun-on-our-face moments spent out at sea, and we truly can’t wait to be sailing together soon. But given everything going on in the world, you may be wondering when it’ll be the right time to pack your bags and start traveling again. That’s understandable, and we get that.
So for the last few months, we’ve been hard at work creating a way for you to explore the world while feeling more relaxed and free. We got into sea travel with the goal of redefining it, so even though the circumstances have changed, we’re committed to innovating and creating an even safer sailing experience.
Below we’ve outlined our Voyage Well plan for tackling COVID 19 — from our ambitious goals for redefining health measures at sea, to our new industry-leading partnerships with EcoLab and AtmosAir Solutions, we’ve outlined all the key points for what you can expect before, during, and after your voyage. We’ll be updating these as the science and technology evolves, and we’ll continue to keep you posted as we evolve right along with it.
BIG IDEAS FOR MID-SIZED SHIPS
Traveling worry-free is what we all really want right now, and everything we’re doing here at Virgin Voyages centers around making sure that’s what you can expect. Ultimately, our goal is to prevent viruses from ever getting on board in the first place — so we’ve established our Voyage Well Expert Advisory Group to review and guide our decisions. This team is helping us to develop enhanced protocols and health screenings, implement new technologies on board, and guide our approach to quick and effective COVID-19 testing so that when the technology is available, we’ll have it. This team is composed of our partners at AtmosAir, EcoLab, Dr. Heymann at Vikand, Global Public Health Services, and close collaboration with the CDC as well as frequent reviews of WHO best practices and guidelines. Our goals are to:
– Work with medical testing developers, with an ambition to find a reliable, quick and simple test, that will enable us to ensure only those who test negative for COVID-19 are allowed to board.
– Notify our Sailors and Crew 14 days after leaving the ship (through the use of ethical contact tracing and health tracking app) if you’ve come in contact with anyone who has tested positive for the virus on land or at sea.
We’ll keep you updated with our progress both by updating the information above, and letting you know through email. As technology and science improve, our capabilities will improve as well. Until then, and based on thorough guidelines, we’ve crafted detailed plans around how to improve all our health and safety standards on board.
OUR COMMITMENT TO OUR SAILORS AND CREW
Our biggest priority is keeping you safe and giving you a sense of confidence when you sail with us, so we’re putting together our procedures based on the most reliable guidelines out there.
BEFORE WE SET SAIL
– Following recommended CDC guidelines, working closely with the Voyage Well Expert Advisory Group in order to inform and update our processes and procedures in real-time.
– Implementing additional and frequent pre-boarding health checks and screenings for both our Crew and Sailors.
– Installing Thermal Camera technology in terminals and on board to monitor our Crew and Sailors’ temperatures.
– Offering fair and flexible booking policies during this time — from moving the final payment dates to 60 days (from 120 days) before you sail, to allowing you to cancel up to 48 hours before and receive a 100% Future Voyage Credit for sailings through December 16th, 2020.
WHILE WE SAIL
During the voyage, we’re implementing best practices around sanitation, physical distancing, limited occupancy, and health checks for everyone on board. But let’s get down to the details of exactly what that will look like:
ON THE SHIP: THE CLEAN SCENE
– Adopting the use of advanced cleaning tools like fogging and UV technology — the same Ultraviolet Germicidal Irradiation methods used in hospitals and laboratories. Every single piece of luggage and delivery to the ship is fogged down, and all cabins will be fogged prior to Sailors stepping on board, or in the case that you change cabins during the voyage.
– Incorporating the latest hygiene initiatives specifically for COVID-19; sanitizing dispensers in every public space, touchless faucets, increased hygiene signage, and leveraging hospital grade EPA registered disinfectants from EcoLab — all while using best practices to sanitize and disinfect.
– Utilizing our partnership with Ecolab, identifying specific high touch points across cabins, public spaces, restaurants, and recreational areas that will be disinfected on a frequent basis, so that you don’t have to worry before touching a door handle or elevator button when you’re with us.
ON THE SHIP: A BREATH OF (LITERAL) FRESH AIR
– No recycling of air — instead, providing a continuous stream of 100% fresh air in all our cabins, suites, and public spaces. As a brand new ship, we already had HVAC systems built for this explicit purpose.
– Taking it a step further by installing the latest technology from AtmosAir Solutions — an air purification system that disinfects air on board. Leveraging bi-polar Ionization technology, this air filtration system has been shown to kill 99.9% of viruses — and is the first of it’s kind in our industry.
– Our sea terrace ratio is one of the highest in the industry — allowing plenty of access to (salt-infused) fresh air.
ON THE SHIP: KEEPING IT SOCIAL (BUT DISTANT)
– Managing personal space by significantly reducing our overall ship capacity for our start-up sailing period — meaning that we can all easily adhere to appropriate social spacing/physical distancing recommendations. Additional measures include limiting large groups at our events through virtual ticketing and keeping empty seats between one another, and leaving tables empty between groups at each eatery.
– We don’t have buffets or large dining rooms; purposely creating smaller eateries to limit large crowds. And there’s no communal food sharing — food is only prepared when it’s ordered and delivered directly to you.
– When using our delivery food service on board, ShipEats, we have contactless drop-off and pick up.
– Leveraging our already-digital onboard experience to limit contact; The Band (for contactless payment), Service Chat (for assistance digitally) and our Virtual Queues (for getting in lines for onboard experiences without actually getting in physical lines). Frankly, the only lines we like are tan lines.
– For masks, we follow the same guidance as is recommended on land — so if people are advised to wear masks there, we will do so at sea, as well.
AT OUR DESTINATIONS
– Managing the arrival and disembarkation times of Sailors and Crew at the port terminals, so that necessary physical distancing is possible.
– For all our Shore Things and at The Beach Club at Bimini, we only suggest activities on land that meet the sanitation or physical distancing requirements that we have on the ship.
FOR OUR CREW
– Routine temperature checks for our Crew, as well as routine testing for the COVID-19 virus.
– Any Crew members who come into contact with anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will isolate and take part in additional health checks to stop potential outbreaks.
– Increased Crew uniform cleaning at our laundry facilities with the latest cleaning technology installed; high temperature cleaning that eradicates viruses and harmful bacteria that can live on clothing.
– Required gloves and frequent hand washing for high risk areas of contamination like pre-health check terminal welcome areas, delivery areas, laundry and waste disposal areas.
CARING FOR OUR COLLECTIVE FAMILY
– Basic COVID-19 testing and any cold or flu-like symptom health screenings are free of charge on board. Sailors and Crew have 24/7 access to our fully-equipped private medical health center.
– We’ve increased our medical capabilities with additional ventilators, and increased inventories of oxygen capacity and PPE.
– Any of our Sailors or Crew who become unwell are routinely isolated in their cabins to protect others, and anyone who has come into close contact with the impacted individuals will do the same.
– Isolated Sailors and Crew will receive care from third-party medical providers on board until they can disembark and receive any additional treatment that may be needed.
– Protecting our Crew who look after you through the use of masks and gloves, intense uniform cleaning, and extensive training and education around COVID-19 — from proper cleaning and disinfecting to care for those we look after.
AFTER WE SAIL
Caring for each other extends beyond the time we sail together. In the instance that any of our Sailors or Crew become unwell after we return home, we want you to know we’ve got your back:
– Aiming to set up a post-voyage notification process through which Sailors and Crew can inform us if becoming unwell within 14 days of leaving the ship (the COVID-19 incubation period).
– Contacting Sailors and/or Crew who may have come in close contact with anyone who became unwell, so you can arrange any necessary follow-ups or care.
AND UNTIL WE SAIL…
We want to thank you for the continued support and love we’ve received from you all. We’re so excited to meet you and get out on the open ocean with you soon, and when it’s time, we know we’ll appreciate it more than ever. Please know that as our processes and plans evolve, we’ll continue to update this page, as well as keeping you in the loop through email to make sure you’re aware of when those updates come in, and what exactly they are.
ONE FINAL NOTE
We’d like to extend a heartfelt shout-out to our frontline heroes making it possible for us all to begin to make our way slowly back to some semblance of normalcy. From doctors and grocery store clerks, to nurses and sanitation workers around the world — we are forever grateful to you.
I hope this has answered some of all our questions!