How to stay safe from Corona while on a Liveaboard
Posted on: August 13th, 2020
While it is still uncertain whether the end of the Corona pandemic is in sight, a lot of people are feeling confident enough to go traveling again and do what they love so much: diving. If you are one of those people, this article is for you! Even if you are still on the fence about it, the following 5 minutes may very well convince you to take the plunge.
Liveaboard operators have always been known to welcome yearning divers with open arms. Unfortunately, due to social distancing, hugging is a big no-no nowadays. It does however help keep the Corona virus at bay. Apart from social distancing, operators are implementing many other kinds of safety measures, the most common of which we will be outlining here. As you may very well know, operators have always been committed to offering their guests a clean and safe environment by default, but this current situation has made them go above and beyond to keep their highly appreciated customers - and staff - safe and sound.
Bare in mind, not all measures and/or protocols are imposed by operators themselves; some are a direct result of local or national government guidelines and (emergency) laws, for example.
Staff members are being actively trained and instructed on specific protocols (social distancing, health checks, quarantining) and methods (cleaning, food preparation, providing assistance) to prevent infection. Furthermore they can be subjected to:
- Frequent medical checks (e.g. daily)
- Symptom checks (coughing, chest pains, etc.).
- Temperature and oxygen saturation measurements.
- Requirement to wear masks and gloves, especially when dealing with customers face-to-face or when preparing / serving food and drinks.
- Higher standard of hygiene: sanitize hands after surface interaction, wash hands after each workspace transition.
- Working with fewer crew members on board per trip (without impacting customer service level).
General hygiene and cleaning measures
Apart from the efforts made by the staff, clients are urged to wash their hands more frequently and sometimes operators will request guests to bring an extra pair of shoes to wear especially when going on land. To make it easier for everyone to adhere to the cleanliness guidelines, hand sanitizers are placed at strategic points along the vessel.
When it comes to cleaning, a common approach on most vessels is scrubbing surfaces daily – with high usage areas like corridors being given treatment several times a day. When it comes to cabin and laundry cleaning, popular measures include:
- Daily cleaning regimen by carefully instructed staff wearing masks and gloves.
- Use of special disinfectant cleaning materials.
- Washing linen with a special agent and at higher temperatures than usual.
Ideally guests that want to go diving should bring their own gear, but rentals are available if needed and all equipment will be subjected to a specialized cleaning regimen after diving. Stationery will be removed from public spaces to prevent particles from spreading through hard-to-clean surfaces.
Given the latest news on the spreading of the pathogen through air conditioning systems, most operators will clean the filters more often, and many offer the possibility to turn off the A/C for your room.
Food and drinks
Operators will generally provide cabin service for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Some operators still offer buffets, but will invite smaller groups simultaneously.
Most operators will also ensure your food is prepared and handled with the strictest of care (even more so than before!); i.e. staff will usually be wearing masks and gloves and food may be delivered in covered trays.
Protocols before, during and at the end of the trip
Luggage will often be disinfected before bringing it on board. Many operators will perform health checks (i.e. symptoms, temperature, oxygen level) on their visitors before boarding, and away from the ship. Some even require a doctor’s note saying you are Covid-19 free, though this is generally requested by the local government and a prerequisite for gaining entry to the country of destination in the first place. If someone shows signs of infection, they will not be allowed to board.
These same health checks can be performed during regular intervals mid-trip as well. If it is established someone is infected during the trip, they will be quarantined in their cabin until their symptoms improve. If their condition worsens, the operator will make port and escort the individual to the nearest hospital for further treatment. Some operators advise you to avert this potential scenario by self-quarantining for two weeks prior to departure, as well as taking all necessary precautions to prevent infection during the transfer (e.g. flight, transport) to your destination.
Guests are urged to adhere to the social distancing guidelines as much as possible. This also means social gatherings are actively discouraged. Again, please keep in mind that many operators are required to enforce social distancing due to current government regulations. To help comply with these guidelines, many operators accept fewer guests per trip than normal.
Apart from social distancing, other general anti-Corona actions are encouraged, i.e. please cough and sneeze in your elbow or handkerchief, try to minimize the touching of the face as much as possible and wash one’s hands before leaving and after returning to the cabin.
What you can do
There are several things you can do to make the trip as safe as possible for everyone, including yourself!
- Follow the operator’s instructions.
- Practice social distancing.
- Minimize the risk of getting infected prior to departure and during your transfer.
- Make sure you’re symptom-free before going to public places. - Wear a mask in the public domain.
- Wash your hands more often (not just during the trip).
Just remember: it’ll all be worth it once you get to actually take the plunge again! And as an added bonus: you don’t have to worry about catching anything underwater.
Please be advised: different operators may have different ways of dealing with safety guidelines and regulations when it comes to Covid-19. If you want to make sure what measures a specific operator has in place, please contact us! We’ll be happy to assist.