Windstar Cruises to Add HEPA Filters and Ultraviolet Light to Ships

Windstar Cruises, which plans to resume sailing Sept. 10 in Tahiti, is adding hospital-grade HEPA filters and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation to its six ships.

“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.”

The new “Beyond Ordinary Care” program will use a safe sanitization formula used in health care settings, Windstar said. A new partnership with the epidemiology department at the University of Colorado’s Anschutz Medical Center will provide ongoing guidance.

“When you’re sailing on a Windstar yacht, your biggest worry should be how to avoid a sunburn, not getting COVID-19,” 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.

Windstar’s parent company is Xanterra Parks & Resorts, which is owned by the Anschutz Corp., controlled by billionaire Philip Anschutz. His Anschutz Foundation is the major benefactor of the Anschutz Medical Center.

Windstar is making significant investments and major operational adjustments to meet the requirements of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and global governmental and public health guidance.

Among the additions is installing high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in the HVAC systems on all Windstar yachts. The HEPA-filtered air will be further sanitized and disinfected with ultraviolet-C light for germicidal irradiation. When air passes the UV-C light, microbes such as bacteria and viruses not trapped in the HEPA filter will be destroyed, Windstar said, adding that germicidal irradiation has been proven to kill coronaviruses.

The company also plans to use EvaClean PURTABs – a powerful EPA-approved sanitizer – to disinfect hard and soft surfaces via sprayers.

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

New protocols for guests include a pre-departure questionnaire and a request to wear masks when traveling to and from the ships. Staggered arrival and departure times at check-in and disembarkation in ports will reinforce proper social distancing between guests.

Onboard dining times will be expanded, and seating arranged to provide more space between diners. The outdoor, top-deck BBQ will still be held with crew on hand to serve guests. Additional al fresco restaurants and complimentary room service increase dining options.

Main dining venues will operate at 65 percent capacity, while specialty venues will operate at 60 percent. Crew, who will also be COVID-19 tested before joining the assignment, will wear masks. Instead of the usual embrace or handshake, crew will flash 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.

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. As more becomes known about the COVID-19 virus, Windstar’s policies will evolve. Information will be shared with crew and training ongoing.

The 148-guest Wind Spirit will be its first yacht to resume sailing on Sept. 10, 2020 in Tahiti. Other Windstar yachts will start cruising in the Mediterranean in October and the Caribbean in November, while other ships will come online in 2021 following scheduled major renovations.

For more information on Windstar’s health and safety information, click here.

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