The latest cruise line to go above and beyond when it comes to the health and safety of their guests is not only improving their air filtration and sanitation procedures, but also partnering with the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Center.
Windstar Cruises announced what they’re calling the Beyond Ordinary Care program, a multi-million dollar initiative to make their fleet of sailing and motor yachts as safe as can be. The cruise line has long been known for luxury cruise vacations to destinations like the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and Tahiti on board their fleet of sailing and motor yachts.
What is the Beyond Ordinary Care Program?
Windstar Cruises will retrofit their fleet of six ships with hospital-grade HEPA filters, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation and will practice a safe sanitization formula used in the healthcare industry. The initiative also involves a new partnership with the epidemiology department at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Center provides ongoing guidance in matters related to guest health and safety.
“We are taking extensive measures and making multi-million dollar investments to operate our yachts more safely in this new environment,” said Windstar Cruises CEO Andrew Todd. “Building upon Windstar’s 180 degrees from ordinary service, the Beyond Ordinary Care program implements a layered system of science-led best practices aimed at keeping everyone aboard healthy.”
The University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Center, known for its expertise in infectious disease epidemiology, made a fitting partner for the cruise line.
“Windstar’s holistic approach has multiple layers of safety at hospital grade standards, and when combined with responsible hygiene practices from guests, it’s the safest environment achievable with tech and science as we know it today,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, Medical Director of Infection Prevention at University of Colorado Hospital and Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, at University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Center. “When you’re sailing on a Windstar yacht, your biggest worry should be how to avoid a sunburn, not getting COVID-19.”
The new features and procedures were detailed in a press release from the cruise line:
- Install high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to filter the air on board
Current CDC Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Healthcare Facilities recommend HEPA filtration for recirculated air from patient isolation rooms in hospitals. These filters are being installed in the HVAC systems on all Windstar yachts.
- Add yet another layer to sanitize/disinfect the HEPA-filtered air with UV-C light for germicidal irradiation
Once air has moved through the HEPA filtration system, there is an opportunity to “zap” the air with UV-C light (also called germicidal irradiation) before the air recirculates on the ship. When air passes the UV-C light, microbes such as bacteria and viruses not trapped in the HEPA filter will be destroyed. Germicidal irradiation is a solution that has been proven to kill coronaviruses.
- Use EvaClean with PurTab for disinfecting surfaces via sprayers
In addition to an elevated frequency of cleaning, sanitizing provides another layer of safety. This EPA-approved powerful sanitizer utilizes a safe and effective formula for disinfecting all types of hard and soft surfaces throughout the ship including guest rooms, crew spaces, and all public spaces. It has been used for everything from lower-level sanitization required for food-contact surfaces to infection control used in health care settings. Every yacht will have the following areas sanitized regularly by dedicated crew trained and assigned to monitor and clean the ship by use of the improved sanitation products:
- Guest rooms – Before each cruise departure
- Public spaces – Lobbies, restrooms, open deck areas, restaurants, public sitting areas, etc., will all be disinfected before each cruise departure and then regularly during each cruise.
- Crew quarters – To help the crew stay healthy, their environments will be cleaned and sanitized often.
- Medical clinic and other wellness areas – Will be frequently sanitized
A Multi-Layered Approach to Health and Safety
Along with changes on board, the cruise line is implementing new protocols for pre-departure, including a health questionnaire and mandatory masks when traveling to and from the ships. Each guest will receive a health screening prior to embarkation. Staggered arrival and departure times at check-in and disembarkation in ports will allow for social distancing. The crew will space seating further apart at all dining venues and public spaces.
All crew will be tested before joining the ship and will wear masks. Instead of the usual embrace or handshake, there will be a new “Windstar Wave” hand signal – a W made with one’s index fingers and thumbs. Temperature measurements will be required twice daily for crew.
Windstar is scheduled to resume sailing in the Fall so there’s plenty of time to implement the new features. Have you cruised with Windstar Cruises? Let us know about your experience!