May 22, 2020
Liveaboard Operations in a COVID World
For the last 33 years, Explorer Ventures has researched, implemented and strengthened safety protocols to ensure that our guests are
able to enjoy their liveaboard vacation. In preparation for welcoming guests back to our operations in the Caribbean, the company will
further augment our practices and improve on health and safety measures that address changing client expectations amidst COVID-19.
The following information is based on what we know today – but best practices and the information on which they are based changes
rapidly, and we intend for our plans to be fluid enough to accommodate new information. We will continue to monitor the latest trends
and will adapt our operations and this document based on new insights and our experiences, and refine this plan not only in the
Caribbean, but in Galapagos and with our other partners worldwide.
Sustainable operations are always at the forefront of our minds, and where possible we’re sourcing suitable cleaning agents that are either environmentally friendly or can be neutralized prior to disposal. Environmental consciousness is at the heart of what we do but keeping everyone safe takes precedence for the time being for obvious reasons!
As of this writing (May 2020), it seems likely that traveling will require some level of health screening which may occur at airports, gate check-in, or arrival at your destination. While ideally such screening will give us a high degree of confidence that our arriving guests are COVID-free, we will be prepared if such (relative) clarity doesn’t exist in order to safeguard our guests and crew. Depending on availability and testing required enroute, we may ask that incoming guests have a recent COVID test in order to board. Fast tests are becoming more available, and some airlines and travel destinations are beginning to perform testing before boarding or upon arrival. We are attempting to source tests that can be performed weekly on at a minimum the crew of each vessel, as well. Our crewmembers have been working hard to prepare for our guests’ arrival. Our new operational protocols will include several preemptive cleanliness measures that affect the guest journey from arrival to departure, including additional health and well-being requirements across all points of contact on the vessels. Plans include:
A Pre-travel questionnaire/assessment is being developed for all our guests to complete that will give our crews and our other guests added confidence in their health at the time of boarding.
Operational Evaluation: We have completed an assessment of points of guest contact, resulting in the integration of hygiene practices across key points – starting from the moment guests arrive at the gangway through the entirety of their onboard vacation experience. These points include the salons, guest rooms, galley, food and beverage experiences, housekeeping and laundry, public bathrooms, dive deck and dive platform.
Crew are being trained in appropriate cleaning and disinfection procedures from accredited organizations.
Cleaning, disinfection and sanitation will be repeated multiple times daily, with a minimum of three inspections daily. These inspections and targeted cleaning steps include hard surfaces such as door handles and handrails, and include public restrooms, salon tables and chairs as well as other high-touch surfaces.
Interior areas of the vessels will be fogged regularly with disinfectant.
Daily room cleaning and service will be done with gloves and mask, and will be stressed as optional if guests would prefer not to have others in their room at all. As always, staterooms are cleaned thoroughly between charters.
Additional hand sanitizing stations will be provided for guests and crew members throughout the vessels.
The guest dining experience will be modified to limit contact points of normal buffet service. Servers will wear gloves and masks during all meal services. Any guest who chooses not to eat with the group in the salon may have the meal served on the sun deck. Guests will be asked to wash hands before meals.
Guest welcome and daily briefings will include reminders on best practices for avoiding illness, if necessary.
Social Distancing Practices will be encouraged so that guests maintain a safe social distance whenever possible, while sustaining the relaxed experience our trips are known for. This will include spacing guests out on the dive deck as much as possible, asking that guests keep control of mask, fins & snorkel on the way to the exits and on the way to their lockers upon returning from the tenders, and replacing handshakes with a nod and a smile.
To help ensure that all team members stay healthy, all staff will be required to wear face masks during check-in, when screening guest temperatures, during meal service, when off the vessel and at other times as may be necessary. We will encourage guests to do the same as far as is practical and will have masks made from recycled ocean plastics available on board.
Precautionary temperature and oxygen checks for both crew and guests may be done daily or per current recommendations.
Vendors and suppliers will be required to have minimal physical contact, and we will sanitize all touch points, including equipment, and remove all outer packing upon arrival.
We are working with our shore support companies to ensure that transfers are done in accordance with new recommendations for cleanliness and decontamination. The Friday night dinners ashore will be planned to accommodate new cleanliness expectations.
Mask rinse tanks are being eliminated in favor of running water rinses.
Gear rinse tanks will be treated to avoid cross-contamination of snorkel gear.
Our towel system is being reviewed to limit the potential for cross-contamination.
Rental gear availability may be limited by the availability of appropriate sanitizing agents
As always, careful cleaning and sanitizing of linens and towels is a priority
In addition, we are considering the feasibility of altering our operations in certain ways to increase the space between guests at
mealtimes, on the dive deck and during briefings.
What will this all mean?
Some of these altered procedures may temporarily impact the level of customer service, guest interaction and accommodation for which Aquatic Adventures and the Explorer Ventures Fleet is known. While each vessel and operation is different, some challenges are universal and our vessels have room for only a certain number of crew and guests. These additional crew responsibilities may limit their time available with guests. While our goal remains to deliver an exceptionally good experience to every guest, resuming travel will require flexibility on the part of both guests and crew.
We can’t wait to get back out on (and in) the water again with you and the “Whales of the Silver Bank”.
From Our Clients
The entire staff was excellent, always insuring that one had the best experience possible.
-- Judith W. Mead