Home Cruise Preparation How Domestic Cruise Lines Are Safely Preparing for June/July Return

By Jason Leppert, Travel Age West May 27, 2020

Both American Cruise Lines (ACL) and American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC) are aiming for a return to service by late June and into July. Each line has outlined extensive safety protocols and collaborations with expert medical organizations including Vikand Solutions (ACL) and Ochsner Health (AQSC).

Vikand Solutions will send medical professionals to join ACL ships “to ensure comfort, safety and wellness,” according to the line. And Ochsner Health will assess AQSC’s American Queen, American Duchess and American Countess every month against updated scientific recommendations made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A healthcare partner for the American Empress in the Pacific Northwest is forthcoming.

American Cruise Lines
ACL is reducing its overall passenger capacity to 75%, resulting in around 450 square feet of space per guest, up from approximately 350 square feet, to better facilitate social distancing. The reduction in capacity is voluntary despite ship capacities already being below the 250-guest threshold set by the CDC’s no-sail order for larger ships. Time will be added between voyages in order to complete full-vessel sanitation.

Prior to touchless boarding, guests will be screened via respiration, oxygen and temperature checks, in addition to being tested for COVID-19 as required. Anyone with flu-like symptoms will not be permitted passage. Each ship will sail with a resident nurse or EMT as well as a stocked medical facility.

Onboard, ACL vessels feature independent cabin and lounge HVAC systems to avoid shared ventilation, in addition to crew usage of personal protective equipment (PPE). Guests will not be universally mandated to wear face coverings, but ACL will always have PPE (including face shields, gloves and face masks) available.

According to the line, “PPE may be required during certain events as situations dictate.” As a further precaution, isolation rooms will be on hand as necessary, and public bathrooms will be closed in favor of guests using their own cabin’s facilities.

Enhanced cleaning will extend to daily sanitation of all touch points, the availability of hand sanitizing stations, luggage sanitation and even the use of disposable covers on television remote controls. Main dining room capacities will also be reduced for social distancing, and no table will be used more than once per meal service. There will be no buffets, and cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be fully served. Alternatively, in-room dining will also be an option for guests.

While ashore, coach capacities will be reduced, and tour venues will be screened for social distancing and sanitation. If needed, there will also be coordination with ports of call for evacuation to land-based medical facilities.

American Queen Steamboat Company
As part of its partnership with Ochsner Health, AQSC will provide a Virtual Employer Clinic for remote medical discussions, access to infectious disease experts and pre-boarding screening in New Orleans. New embarkation measures will encompass a health and safety questionnaire, as well as a medical travel screening survey before additional health and temperature checks and a 24-hour, pre-cruise hotel window to address any concerns ahead of boarding. Guests exhibiting health risks will not be allowed to sail.

As the cruise commences, trained crew will continue to monitor passengers for symptoms and implement thermal scanning.

“Any guest or crew who has an elevated temperature; who shows signs or symptoms of illness; or who vessel management feels needs further assessment will be sent directly to a local medical care partner for evaluation and testing,” according to the line. “In addition, guests or crew who test positive for any contagious condition will not be allowed to rejoin the vessel.”

Any guest or crew who has an elevated temperature; who shows signs or symptoms of illness; or who vessel management feels needs further assessment will be sent directly to a local medical care partner for evaluation and testing.

When returning to the vessel, guests and crew are subject to random manual screenings, and should a confirmed positive case be detected, AQSC will screen everyone coming and going from the ship. Also onboard will be a certified medical representative. Not mentioned is any requirement for passengers to wear face masks.

As expected, increased sanitation will include cleaning all contact surfaces. Disinfecting wipes will be available to guests. Self-service buffets will be converted to full-service stations, and communal condiments will be replaced with single-use packets. Menus will be disposable, while crockery, glassware and cutlery will be removed and cleaned after each table is vacated. At bars, snack bowls will be served only upon request.

Bus capacities will be reduced to a maximum of 52% to ensure social distancing during shore excursions, and all coach seats, windows and handrails will be further sanitized. In addition, liquid hand sanitizer will be available at the bus entrance.

ACL is set to initially return with American Song along the Columbia and Snake rivers on June 20, and the American Harmony on the Mississippi on June 28. AQSC is on track to restart American Empress on July 6; American Countess and American Queen on July 16; and American Duchess on July 20.

The Details
American Cruise Lines

American Queen Steamboat Company

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