October 20, 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. As we welcome guests back, we have further augmented our practices to improve on health and safety measures that address changing requirements amidst COVID-19. The following information is based on what we know today – but best practices and the information on which they are based change 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.

As of this writing (OCT 2020), traveling to most countries requires a negative PCR test prior to departure, and most destinations require health checks during your stay. 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.

Our crew members have been working hard for our guests’ arrival. Our new operational protocols include several preemptive boarding and cleanliness measures that affect the guest’s journey from arrival to departure, including additional health and well-being requirements across all points of contact on the vessels.

Environmental consciousness remains at the heart of what we do. Where possible, we’re sourcing approved cleaning agents that are also eco-friendly, as well as evolving COVID-19 policies to reduce potential environmental impact. We continue to adapt these strategies to keep both our guests and the ocean’s safety top of mind.

Read a complete list of our health and safety liveaboard protocols below.

OUR COVID-19 HEALTH & SAFETY POLICIES

PRE-TRIP & BOARDING:

• Vessel evaluation: We have completed an evaluation and continue to assess points of guest contact. This has resulted in the integration of heightened 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.
Temperature & Covid Checks: Precautionary temperature and oxygen checks for both crew and guests may be done daily at some destinations. Guests will be required to take a negative PCR test before arriving at their destination.
Boarding: To help ensure that all team members and guests stay healthy, all staff are required to wear face masks during check-in, when screening guest temperatures, during meal service, in public areas inside the vessel, and when off the vessel and at other times as may be necessary. Bags and shoes will also be fogged in pre-boarding.
Masks: Guests are encouraged to wear masks as is practical and we suggest the use of reusable masks. Masks made from recycled ocean plastics have been provided to the staff and are available onboard for guest purchase.

DAILY OPERATION:

Briefings: Guest welcome and daily briefings include reminders on best practices for safety, hand washing, and avoiding illness.
• Social Distancing: 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 include spacing guests out on the dive deck as much as possible, asking that guests keep control of snorkel equipment 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.
• Dining: The guest dining experience has been modified to limit contact points of normal buffet service. Typical food service is now plated, with servers wearing 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 and limit contact.
• Provisions: Local vendors and suppliers are required to have minimal physical contact, and we sanitize all touchpoints, including equipment, and remove all outer packaging upon arrival.
Land Tours & Taxis: We have worked 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 are planned to accommodate cleanliness and distancing expectations.

CLEANING & SANITATION:

• Crew Training: Crew have been trained in appropriate Covid-19 cleaning and disinfection procedures from accredited organizations.
• Disinfection: Cleaning, disinfection and sanitation are 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 area of the vessels are fogged weekly with disinfectant.
• Chemical Agents: Simple Green Pro 3 and Vital Oxide are the primary cleaning agents used for disinfection and fogging. Both agents are Covid-19 approved and are biodegradable, keeping environmental impact top of mind.
• Room Cleaning: Daily room cleaning service is offered but stressed as optional if guests would prefer not to have others in their room at all. When cleaning, staff use gloves and mask. As always, staterooms are cleaned thoroughly between charters.
Linens: As always, careful cleaning and sanitizing of cabin linens and towels is a priority. Cleaning of linens is optional should guests decline the service.
• Air Purification: UBC lights have been installed for purification of air conditioning system.
• Handwashing: Additional hand washing and hand sanitizing stations are provided for guests and crew members throughout the vessels. Handwashing is emphasized before sanitizer to reduce environmental impact from both the chemical and plastics.
• Rinse Tanks: Mask rinse tanks have been eliminated in favor of running water rinses. Gear rinse tanks are treated to avoid cross-contamination of dive gear. Simple Green Pro 3 is used.
• Rental Gear: All gear is sanitized between rentals and handled carefully to reduce potential contamination.

WHAT DOES 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. Our vessels have room for only a certain number of crew and guests meaning social distancing can be difficult to maintain. Also, additional crew responsibilities may limit their time available with guests. While our goal remains to deliver an exceptionally good experience to every guest,  travel in today’s ‘norm’ requires some flexibility on the part of both guests and crew.

QUESTIONS?
Please reach out to our team with any questions. Rest assured, we’re here to help put you at ease and ensure your trip is comfortable and safe.

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

We had a remarkable time on the boat with the crew and in the water with these magnificent whales.

-- Lori & Don Traweek