As mentioned in ICSI’s news columns, many cruise lines have started to publish their health and safety protocols and to highlight what the future will look like on a cruise ship.
According to Peter Deer, Managing Director of Fred.Olsen Cruises (pictured), this is still a little bit too early, given the very changeable situation and ever evolving science.
There is a lot of speculation over temperature scanners, the wearing of masks, removal of buffets and new air-conditioning systems. However, he said a more considered approach is needed.
“We have been working very hard with other UK cruise lines, our industry body – CLIA, Public Health England and the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) to ensure we all agree on the best protocols before we start sailing again. And this work continues,” he said, adding; “So while we further our efforts to ensure our policies are in line with the latest research, we have developed our ’Safe Sailing Charter’ to let you know all the ways we already keep you safe on board our smaller ships.”
Before sailing, Fred.Olsen has updated its ‘Plain Sailing Guarantee’ to ensure any guests who test positive for coronavirus and therefore cannot travel can move their cruise to another date with no administration fee.
Fred.Olsen’s preferred insurance partner, Holiday Extras, has updated its policy details to include cover for coronavirus. This will add support if a person becomes ill during a cruise with medical assistance, plus repatriation costs and accommodation including a companion should it be necessary. All guests must have cruise specific travel insurance, which includes coronavirus cover, the company stressed
The protocols that the company uses on board follow those approved for hospitals. They involve a dedicated sanitation team who work throughout the day and night ensuring all surfaces in all areas are frequently cleaned with anti-viral solutions. To ensure these protocols are strictly followed, regular auditing using UV and swab testing is carried out by a Sanitation Officer.
To maintain high standards, crew training will include any new industry approved processes.
The cabins will be cleaned with the same anti-viral solutions every day during a cruise and each cabin is also deep cleaned between guests departing and arriving. These solutions will kill bacteria and viruses, including norovirus and coronavirus.
Some of guests were concerned about air recirculation through air conditioning systems on ships. Fred.Olsen’s smaller ships are designed to deliver 100% fresh air. This means there is a much lower requirement for air recirculation on board, the company explained.
Medical centres are available on board ships managed by teams of doctors and nurses. Fred.Olsen is working with Public Health England, the CLIA Medical Action Group and other UK cruise lines to develop agreed and comprehensive processes for how guests are isolated and treated with symptoms either on board or at the destination.
The company said it would continue to follow the latest advice and guidance from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office on which ports are visited once the ship start sailing again. If government advice changes about one of the planned ports of call during a cruise, the smaller ships have more options for alternative ports, which allow the company to change course more easily.
Fred.Olsen also claimed that it only sells shore tours from pre-approved partners in the country to be visited and where the company is confident that they will uphold the standards required locally. The tours only visit attractions when the approved local tour providers are confident they are following the expected health and safety protocols.
Finally, the smaller ships allow for smaller tours and a capacity limit of no more than 25 guests in each shore tour group is observed.