How Cruise Ships Can Return to the Seas - Safely
By Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist
Friday, 11th December 2020

Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist at 4Hoteliers.comYesterday, I received an email from Viking Cruises detailing how the cruise line intends to protect its passengers, I was (and am) so impressed that I had to share it with you.

In this message from Viking Chairman Torstein Hagen, the travel provider offers a role model for how these potential floating germ farms can keep their passengers feeling safe, healthy, and happy.

Checking-In Safely
In an effort to avoid the usual congestion cruise embarkation, based on their flight arrivals in their embarkation cities, Viking guests will be assigned specific boarding times. Upon arrival at their ship, they will discover that check-in counters will be arranged to ensure proper physical distancing, plus, they will be sanitized between every guest.

Additionally, for people who do not want to handle anything, a touch-free online check-in option will be available. No one will be shocked to learn that all cruise port terminals will be specially sanitized prior to guest arrivals as well. But that is not all! Passengers will be temperature-checked using a touchless thermometer, and they will each complete a new Health Questionnaire---specially developed by Viking's team of scientific and medical advisors, ensuring that they are fit to travel.

Testing, Testing, Testing
Their testing regime really blew me away. The first passenger testing takes place as part of the embarkation process, when guests will receive a quick and easy non-invasive PCR test---conducted via simple saliva sample in a plastic tube and processed in a full-scale Viking-dedicated laboratory. Depending on the local regulations and the travel itinerary, passengers may be asked to wait for their test results (an estimated maximum of four hours) in their pre-cruise hotel or in designated waiting areas. Then once onboard, there is daily PCR testing for all Viking guests and crew, processed in fully equipped laboratories onboard the ships. Wow. (As I covered in an early COVID Herman Trend Alert, you may remember that PCR testing is typically the most reliable.)

Newly Installed Cabin Air Purification System
Though guest staterooms have always featured independent air handling units, now all Viking guest living quarters have been equipped with new air purification technology that ensure fresh purified air at all times. Guests may rest assured that the air in the public areas of your ship has also been purified with new short-wavelength ultraviolet (UV-C) lights and high-density filters, which kill 99.99 percent of all airborne viruses and bacteria. (You may remember, I also wrote about using UV light to disinfect hotel rooms.)

An Opportunity to Dine Safely
Both Viking river- and ocean-going ships offer spacious, airy public areas and abundant options for outdoor dining. Ocean cruises will continue to deliver complimentary 24-hour room service. And for enjoying indoor dining venues, spaced seating will allow for the important physical distancing. Predictably, buffet dining stations have been replaced with staff service and there will be additional table service at all bars and lounges.

Other Aspects to Reassure Guests
As I have covered ad infinitum, public health experts agree that proper physical distancing and the use of face masks are effective in helping prevent and slow the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses. Like many local guidelines currently in place, physical distancing measures are in place in public areas on board, and face masks may be required for all guests and crew while moving around Viking ships, depending on conditions at the time of sailing. Interestingly, face masks will not be required for guests seated in dining venues, bars, and lounges. There will be no more crowded auditoriums. Instead, new capabilities will allow passengers to watch more live events and other enriched content through enhanced in-room entertainment systems.

But Wait, There's More. . .
Additional health checks, sanitization, and physical distancing will protect Viking guests and crew at all points of their journeys. Guests returning from a day of sightseeing will seamlessly receive temperature checks quickly using automated thermal cameras when guests re-embark the ships. And like the hotel room UV-light-sanitizing robots, Viking uses similar robots in their public spaces. The use of these robots on river- and ocean-going ships is an industry first. Finally, Viking's state-of-the-art medical centers have now been upgraded with more specialized equipment.

Now You Know Why I Am Such a Fan of Viking Cruises
Based on the way that this novel coronavirus spreads, I wondered how anyone would ever feel comfortable getting on a cruise ship again. Now, I know. Under ordinary circumstances, Viking delivers extraordinary guest experiences; no one should be surprised that the company is now offering an effective and safe way to return to cruising. I wish I could buy the stock!

© Copyright 1998-2020 by The Herman Group of Companies, Inc., all rights reserved. From 'The Herman Trend Alert,' by Joyce Gioia, Strategic Business Futurist. (800) 227-3566 or www.hermangroup.com

The Herman Trend Alert is a trademark of The Herman Group of Companies, Inc. Reprinted with permission.

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