Victory Cruise Lines (VCL), operated by American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC), a Hornblower Family Company, has created enhanced health and safety protocols to keep guests, crew and the communities that the vessels visit safe.
New protocols for the 202-passenger Victory I and Victory II include pre-cruise screening, crew screening, updated boarding processes and increased sanitation measures. They'll be utilized when VCL resumes operations in 2021.
Victory's twin vessels sail the Great Lakes and cruise along the Canadian Maritime provinces and New England and southeastern U.S. coastlines.
Prior to embarkation, all guests and crew will be required to complete a health and safety questionnaire and a medical travel screening survey. At the pre-cruise hotel, medical personnel will perform a health screening on each guest, including a temperature check, and will deny boarding to anyone that may pose a health risk.
Here's how it will work:
- The 24-hour window between the pre-cruise hotel stay and vessel embarkation allows the VCL crew and guests time to make any necessary adjustments following the pre-cruise screening
- No guests or crew will be allowed to check-in directly on the vessel without having completed the above described pre-cruise screenings
- Details on each vessel’s onboard sanitation and safety procedures will also be provided to all guests and crew prior to boarding
Boarding Procedures and Gangway Screening
Once guests and crew are cleared during the pre-cruise screening process, embarkation will be conducted via one controlled access point where thermal cameras will take the temperature of each guest and crew member boarding the vessel in addition to manual temperature checks.
In addition, the onboard medical representative will conduct the gangway screening, complete the health and safety survey and provide reports to the captain and hotel director. VCL will require a 24-hour notice for anyone that needs access to the vessel and has not been pre-screened during hotel screening (that includes guests, crew, visitors and contractors.)
Screening and Surveillance During the Cruise
Trained management and crew will maintain protocols and observe passengers and crew for symptoms throughout the voyage. The ship's captain and medical representative will respond to medical calls, practice quarantine procedures and utilize shoreside medical facilities for passenger and crew as needed.
Among the protocols:
- The vessels’ access points will be monitored and controlled at all times
- All passengers and crew will be passively monitored by thermal imaging when returning to the vessel
- In the event of a confirmed positive case onboard, AQSC and VCL will increase manual screening at the primary vessel access point from 15 percent to 100 percent throughout the voyage
Onboard and Additional Medical Resources
Each vessel in the VCL fleet carries a certified onboard medical representative to assist guests with urgent medical care, implement quarantine procedures and coordinate shoreside medical assistance.
Given the nature of the VCL itineraries, the medical representative has the ability to quickly transfer passengers and crew to emergency medical services ashore by coordinating pick-up at municipal landings and docking facilities in case of an emergency.
In the public spaces of the ship, all deck rails, public swimming pools, the gangway and other external "hard points" will be thoroughly sanitized at least every hour when in use. The line will use an all-chlorine solution at a higher concentration. Gangway sanitation will occur every half hour.
Increased sanitation of all contact services will cover everything from handrails to tables, chairs, desks, work surfaces, door handles, telephones and elevator controls in both the front and back of house. All public and crew spaces will be fogged twice daily. Multi-purpose disinfecting wipes will be made available in staterooms for all guests.
Cabin staff will clean all surfaces of guest staterooms with EPA-approved solutions. Additionally, each stateroom will receive a follow-up electrostatic fogging after each guest departure.
Restaurant and Bar Protocols
In the ships' restaurant areas, the following steps will apply:
- Self-service buffets will remain suspended and wait staff will be stationed at buffet stations to serve food to guests
- Crew will minimize guest touch points by manually entering cabin numbers rather than using guest swipe cards
- Communal items such as salt/pepper pots, sugar bowls and butter bowls will be replaced with single serve packets
- All tables, chairs and countertops will be sanitized on the hour or when vacated by the guest
- Menus will now be printed on single-use paper and discarded after each use
In the bar department, all self-service areas will be suspended and individual bowls of bar snacks will be available upon request. Increased sanitation, in accordance with the restaurant guidelines outlined above, will also be implemented.
Shore Excursions and Motorcoaches
A reduced number of guests will be transported on each motorcoach, targeting 52 percent capacity, to allow for adequate space between individuals.
All bus seats, windows and handrails will be sanitized with an EPA-approved solution each day before the first guests arrive and high-touch areas, including the restroom, will be sanitized every hour and after each service.
Liquid hand sanitation dispensers will be available at the door for all guests.
A new VCL vessel, Ocean Victory, will begin its inaugural Alaska season in 2021, and the new protocols will also be used on that ship, as well as on all AQSC river vessels.