Aqua Expeditions, a luxury small ship expedition operator, will start welcoming back passengers onboard its ocean explorer yacht Aqua Blu, which sails the waters of eastern Indonesia. Indonesian residents will be able to set sail beginning this month, while international travelers can expect to depart from September 12, 2020, with enhanced health and safety protocols.
In a press release, Aqua Expeditions said that early in the pandemic, it "took early, swift and decisive action to maintain strict anti-viral hygiene standards on all three vessels in operation. As a result, the company experienced no cases of COVID-19 onboard any of its vessels."
Aqua Expeditions’ ocean and river vessels accommodate a maximum of 30 to 40 guests. The line said that small ship capacity provides "ample personal space and constant safe physical distancing among passengers and crew."
The line's vessels comply with the health and safety standards of the International Safety Management (ISM), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
Aqua Expeditions also has adopted new measures and protocols to address guests' concerns about travel, including:
- Conducting health screenings and pre-boarding medical evaluations for all crew and staff
- Introducing a pre-embarkation health and safety assessment to be completed by all guests
- Eliminating crew changes during the entire duration of each itinerary, reducing the risk of potential outside exposure
- Conducting daily crew health checks to ensure all health concerns are actively addressed and monitored
- Intensifying disinfection standards by developing a combination of manual and contactless disinfection procedures
- Cleaning and sanitizing cabins three times a day
- Providing face masks, latex gloves and hand sanitizer to all crew and guests as required in accordance with each destination's regulations and guest preference
- Having a Health and Safety Officer for each ship; that officer's responsibility is the well being of crew and guests, as well as proper compliance and implementation of safety standards
In addition, Aqua Expeditions said that dining rooms for each vessel already take into account physical distancing but have been reconfigured to further create a dining environment where guests can enjoy their experience without worrying about health risks. This includes greater flexibility and options for table seating and spacing, as well as two seatings for each meal in the dining room.
Aqua Expeditions has also implemented a global food safety policy via an internal auditing system, following HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) principles for cold chain supply protocols, supervised by a qualified food safety officer.
Aqua Expeditions' small group shore excursions have no more than 10 passengers per group. The cruise company's team will clean and disinfect all excursion equipment, prior to and after use. On Aqua Blu, which sails around east Indonesia, scuba and snorkel gear is distributed to guests to keep for their exclusive use throughout the entire voyage.
Lastly, each Aqua Expeditions ship is flagged in the country in which it operates, reassuring guests that they are always allowed to disembark in any port or anchorage location on an itinerary.