Windstar Cruises has committed to introducing a range of new health and safety measures on boards its fleet of six ships. 

The luxury line has partnered with the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Centre to gain ongoing guidance on onboard protocols and has announced a multi-million dollar investment across its fleet as part of a “multi-layered” programme to help combat Covid-19.

The line will introduce hospital-grade Hepa filters to help filtrate recirculated air, ultraviolet germicidal irradiation and will also use a “powerful” sanitizer formula traditionally used in health care settings.

New pre-trip protocols will include a pre-departure questionnaire, and a request for guests to wear masks when travelling to and from the ships.

Each guest will receive a health screening prior to embarkation, with the arrival and departure times of check in and disembarkation due to be staggered to help enforce social distancing.

Dining times onboard will be expanded and seating will be arranged to provide more space between diners.

Main dining venues will operate at 65% capacity while speciality venues will have a cap of 60%.

Crew will wear masks and instead of handshaking, will offer the ‘Windstar Wave’ hand single – a W made with index fingers and thumbs.

Temperature measures will be required twice daily for crew.

Shoreside activities will also see new measures enforced. Tenders, coach journeys and small boat activities will operate at 50% capacity and will be cleaned between each use.

Chief executive Andrew Todd said: “We are taking extensive measures and making multi-million dollar investments to operate our yachts more safely in this new environment.

“Building upon Windstar’s 180 degrees from ordinary service, the Beyond Ordinary Careprogram implements alayered system of science-led best practices aimed at keeping everyone aboard healthy.”

The line said guest rooms would be thoroughly sanitised before each cruise departure. Public spaces would be disinfected before each departure and then regularly during each cruise. Crew quarters will be cleaned and sanitised often, as will the medical clinic and other wellness areas.

Todd stressed the benefit of booking a small-ship cruise over a larger vessel.

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

“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.’”

Dr. Michelle Barron, medical director of infection prevention at University of Colorado said: “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. When you’re sailing on a Windstar yacht, your biggest worry should be how to avoid a sunburn, not getting COVID-19.”