Windstar Return to Service: HEPA Filters, UV-C Lights and Much More

Wind Spirit

Windstar Cruises announced it has committed to a holistic Beyond Ordinary Care program and will retrofit its fleet of six ships with hospital-grade HEPA filters, 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, the company said. 

“We are taking extensive measures and making multi-million dollar investments to operate our yachts more safely in this new environment,” said Windstar Cruises CEO Andrew Todd. “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 University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Center, known for its work and expertise in infectious disease epidemiology. 

"Windstar’s holistic approach has multiple layers of safety at hospital grade standards, and when combined with responsible hygiene practices from guests, it’s the safest environment achievable with tech and science as we know it today,” said Dr. Michelle Barron, Medical Director of Infection Prevention at University of Colorado Hospital and Professor of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, at University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Center. “When you're sailing on a Windstar yacht, your biggest worry should be how to avoid a sunburn, not getting COVID-19."

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

The Beyond Ordinary Care program includes: 

1. Install high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters to filter the air onboard. These filters are being installed in the HVAC systems on all Windstar yachts.

2. Add yet another layer to sanitize/disinfect the HEPA-filtered air with UV-C light for germicidal irradiation. Once air has moved through the HEPA filtration system, there is an opportunity to “zap” the air with UV-C light (also called germicidal irradiation) before the air recirculates on the ship. When air passes the UV-C light, microbes such as bacteria and viruses not trapped in the HEPA filter will be destroyed. 

3. Use EvaClean with PurTab for disinfecting surfaces via sprayers. In addition to an elevated frequency of cleaning, sanitizing provides another layer of safety. This EPA-approved powerful sanitizer utilizes a safe and effective formula for disinfecting all types of hard and soft surfaces throughout the ship including guest rooms, crew spaces, and all public spaces.

Todd stressed that the cruise line, working with health experts and following the guidelines of the CDC, has chosen cleaning and sanitation methods that have been shown to be effective against coronaviruses, as well as many other illness-causing microorganisms. 

“Windstar operates small yachts that visit ports and waterways that large cruise ships simply can’t access,” said Todd. “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.’”

As part of the multi-layered approach, new pre-trip protocols for guests include a pre-departure questionnaire, and a request to wear masks when traveling to and from the ships, Windstar said, in a press release. 

Each guest 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.

Once onboard, guests will find personalized service by dining staff in all venues, expanded dining times and seating arranged to provide more space between diners.

The popular outdoor, top-deck BBQ will still be held with crew on hand to serve guests.

Additional al fresco restaurants and complimentary room service (main restaurant dinner menu available via room service) increase dining options for all. Main dining venues will operate at 65 percent capacity, while specialty venues will operate at 60 percent.

Crew, who will also be COVID-19 (PCR) tested before joining their assignment, will wear masks and instead of the usual embrace or handshake, look for the new “Windstar Wave” hand signal – a W made with one’s index fingers and thumbs.

Temperature measurements will be required twice daily for crew, Windstar said. 

Tenders, motor coaches and smaller boats will operate at 50 percent capacity and will be cleaned between each use.

Windstar will also expand medical staff on board, as well as increase crew training in cleaning practices, social distancing, and emergency response protocols.

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