I’m writing to you directly about any upcoming travel plans you may have with us, or may be considering, for travel in 2020.
Of course, there are numerous questions as it relates to the COVID-19 virus. As you well know, this is very much a fluid situation with new information coming in every day.
Here are, however, some things I can answer definitively which, hopefully, is helpful for you in considering your plans.
First of all, we have a very experienced team that consistently reviews protocols on all our ships as it relates to anything that could possibly spread any form of sickness. Since the 1980’s this team has been led by Dr. David Lorber who is our consulting physician. He comes with a deep background in critical care and has served as medical director for several hospital intensive care units. He also served as Vice President of Medical Affairs for CVS Health from 2000-2010. So we are in good hands on board the vessels.
You may also be interested to know about our protocols aboard ship as it relates to screening of both crew and guests.
Before embarkation all guests and crew are required to submit a travel questionnaire regarding recent travel to impacted countries. This list of countries is constantly being updated by both the cruise industry and authoritative health organizations such as CDC and WHO. Under defined circumstances guests and crew may not be allowed to embark. In addition, crew coming from certain areas are tested for corona before leaving their home country. Before boarding our ships, guests and crew are screened for fever and our ship’s physician will further screen anyone with fever or signs of an upper respiratory illness. Once on board, should someone become ill, each ship has a physician who will obtain the necessary cultures for coronavirus. The physician may also test for influenza. We are able to isolate people to prevent further spread. In addition, should this event occur, the enhanced cleaning procedures and safety process outlined in the CDC Vessel Sanitation Program Manual are initiated. These procedures are designed for gastrointestinal illnesses but are applicable to all communicable illnesses. We also are very capable in evacuating severely ill guests should that become necessary.
We recently became the first self-disinfecting fleet in the cruise industry with the rollout of the ACT CleanCoat™ system. This is a photocatalytic process that works when illuminated, breaking down unwanted microbes such as bacteria, viruses, mold and airborne allergens. It can be applied to all surfaces which become self-disinfecting after application. This has been planned for well over a year and with the view of drastically cutting down on any number of germ-related transmissions, which it did with great success during the testing phase.
Aside from our internal protocols, I do believe it’s important to consider where our ships are in the next months and to specifically look at what the status of the virus is in these geographies.
Of course, there have been questions related to cancellations. We very much would like you to continue as planned and hope that you believe that the protocols we have put in place are solid.
However, as to any cancellations:
If you elect to cancel your 2020 expedition, provided you give us at least 24 hours’ notice, we will provide you with a 100% credit for your expedition fare which you may use on any future expedition in 2020 or 2021. This policy will stay in effect at least through June 30, 2020.
So, you really are well-protected in this regard.
Finally, I know that if you’ve traveled with us before, you know that we believe firmly in the first of our 10 principles – “Ensure that everything we do adds value to the guest experience.” Your safety and peace of mind are paramount. I assure you we are keeping a very, very close eye on developments and we will advise you immediately if any changes are contemplated that would affect your travels.
In the meantime, here is the link to the CDC website, which regularly updates information: https://www.cdc.gov/.
All the best,
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