But testing depends on availability
Virgin said it would implement best practices around sanitation, physical distancing, limited occupancy and health checks. Rapid COVID-19 testing for all passengers and crew prior to embarkation will depend on medical advances and availability.
Voyage Well Expert Advisory Group
The Voyage Well plan was created in partnership with expert advisors including scientists, doctors and clinicians. This Voyage Well Expert Advisory Group is composed of partners at AtmosAir Solutions, EcoLab, Dr. Bill Heymann of Vikand Solutions and Global Public Health Services.
'We appreciate some people will be apprehensive about traveling, so we are committed to being led by science and creating ways to give people confidence to explore the world while feeling safer, more relaxed and free to enjoy themselves,' said Tom McAlpin, CEO of Virgin Voyages.
100% fresh air and bi-polar ionization technology
On top of an HVAC system that pumps fresh air through the new ship's public spaces and cabins, Virgin Voyages will be among the first in the industry to invest in a bow-to-stern air purification system, in partnership with AtmosAir Solutions. Scarlet Lady and sister ships will be equipped with a system that uses bi-polar ionization technology shown to kill 99.9% of viruses.
According to Virgin, recent tests by Microchem Laboratory, one of the world’s preeminent laboratories for testing Environmental Protection Agency and Food and Drug Administraton-registered sanitizing products, reported this HVAC device is more than 99.9% effective at neutralizing coronavirus.
'Delivering effective health and safety measures is going to be essential for ensuring consumer trust in the cruise industry,' said Steve Levine, president and CEO, AtmosAir Solutions. 'We're proud to partner with Virgin Voyages and believe our bi-polar ionization technology will be crucial to creating a safe, clean and sanitized indoor environment throughout the entirety of the Scarlet Lady.'
Screening, temperature checks, post-voyage reporting
Other key pillars of the Voyage Well plan include rapid COVID-19 testing for everyone prior to embarkation, depending on medical advances and availability. In any case, there will be pre-boarding health checks and screenings for crew and passengers.
Thermal camera technology in terminals and on board will monitor crew and passenger temperatures.
A post-voyage notification process will facilitate passengers and crew reporting on becoming unwell within 14 days of leaving the ship, through what Virgin called an 'ethical health tracking app.'
Wearable technology to reduce contact, crowding
Overall ship occupancy will be managed to allow appropriate physical distancing across all public spaces, while Virgin Voyages will leverage The Band, its wearable technology, to limit contact via contact-free payment), Service Chat for assistance digitally and virtual queues for on-board experiences without actually getting in physical lines.
There will be no communal food sharing, buffets or large dining halls.
As previously reported, for sailings through Dec. 16, final payment date is reduced to 60 days, from 120 days, and customers can cancel up to 48 hours before sailing and receive a 100% voyage credit.
Eyes October 'soft open'
Virgin Voyages said it still hopes for a 'soft open' for Scarlet Lady in October, should regulations allow.