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HEPA filters, UV-C light, Anschutz Medical partnership in Windstar health program

Outdoor dining is an option on Windstar Cruises
Windstar Cruises plans a holistic 'Beyond Ordinary Care' program to address travelers' health concerns.

The line will retrofit its six yachts with hospital-grade HEPA filters and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation and will employ a safe sanitization formula used in health-care settings. A new partnership with the epidemiology department at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Center provides ongoing guidance.

Multimillion-dollar effort

'We are taking extensive measures and making multimillion-dollar investments to operate our yachts more safely in this new environment,' Windstar CEO Andrew Todd said. 'Building upon Windstar’s 180 degrees from ordinary service, the Beyond Ordinary Care program implements a layered system of science-led best practices aimed at keeping everyone aboard healthy.'

Windstar connected with the epidemiology department at the Anschutz Medical Center, known for its expertise in infectious diseases. The collaboration aims to implement appropriate layers of protection to create a safe experience for travelers on Windstar’s yachts.

Hospital-grade standards

'Windstar’s holistic approach has multiple layers of safety at hospital-grade standards,' according to Dr. Michelle Barron, medical director of infection prevention at the University of Colorado Hospital and professor of medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, at the Anschutz Medical Center.

Enhanced cleaning protocols include crew dedicated to frequent cleaning with special attention to high touch points and public areas.

As well, HEPA filters will be installed to filter the air on board. Current Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Healthcare Facilities recommend HEPA filtration for recirculated air from patient isolation rooms in hospitals.

In another layer, the HEPA-filtered air will be treated with UV-C light for germicidal irradiation. When air passes the UV-C light, microbes such as bacteria and viruses not trapped in the HEPA filter are destroyed. Germicidal irradiation is a solution that has been proven to kill coronaviruses.

EvaClean with PurTab for surfaces

EvaClean with PurTab will be used to disinfect surfaces via sprayers. This EPA-approved powerful sanitizer uses a safe formula to disinfect all types of hard and soft surfaces including guest rooms, crew spaces and public spaces.

Every yacht will be sanitized regularly by dedicated crew trained and assigned to monitor and clean with the improved sanitation products.

'There are major advantages to smaller ships besides less tonnage and passengers. Let’s face it, cleaning and purifying a 342-passenger ship is logistically easier than a 5,000 passenger "city at sea,"' Todd said.

New pre-trip protocols include a pre-departure questionnaire and a request to wear masks when traveling to and from the ships. Each passenger will receive a health screening prior to embarkation. Staggered arrival and departure times at check-in and disembarkation in ports will reinforce proper social distancing between guests.

Dining changes

On board, dining times will be expanded and seating arranged to provide more space between diners. The popular top-deck barbecue will still be held with crew to serve passengers. Additional alfresco restaurants and complimentary room service (main restaurant dinner menu available via room service) will increase dining options. Main dining venues will operate at 65% capacity, while specialty venues will operate at 60%.

The 'Windstar wave'

Crew, who will also be COVID-19 tested before signing on, will wear masks and instead of the usual embrace or handshake, look for the new 'Windstar wave' — a W made with one’s index fingers and thumbs. Temperature measurements will be required twice daily for crew.

Safety standards on board will carry over to shore-side experiences. Tenders, motor coaches and smaller boats will operate at 50% capacity and will be cleaned between each use. Windstar will also expand medical staff on board, and increase crew training in cleaning practices, social distancing and emergency response protocols.

Wind Spirit to resume sailing in Tahiti

The 148-passenger Wind Spirit will be its first Windstar yacht to resume sailing, on Sept. 10 in Tahiti. French Polynesia is opening to all travelers starting July 15.