From Covid-19 testing to anti-viral air filtration, Virgin Voyages has added a raft of new safety measures to make passengers on board its cruises feel secure. Sam Ballard reports
As part of new new soft launch, Virgin Voyages has created a “Voyage Well” plan that includes coronavirus testing for all embarking crew and guests, contact tracing that notifies crew and guests up to 14 days of leaving the ship and thermal camera technology in terminals to monitor body temperatures.
Richard Branson’s cruise line will also be installing a new system that disinfects air throughout its ship and will travel with a reduced passenger capacity when it finally sets sail for the first time.
Virgin Voyages, which is yet to start cruising with paying passengers, is planning on soft launching the Scarlet Lady, its first ship, in October 2020. Virgin Voyages was in the process of showcasing the vessel when the pandemic first took hold and delayed its launch plans.Onboard, the ship will also have its capacity reduced so that social distancing can be observed, as well as more contactless technology, including “virtual queues” and wearable technology for cashless transactions.
“The health and wellbeing of our Sailors is our number one priority, so we rolled up our sleeves with leading experts to further innovate and create an even healthier way to travel and still have an incredible vacation,” says Tom McAlpin, CEO of Virgin Voyages.
“We appreciate some people will be apprehensive about travelling, 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.”
In a statement describing the new air system onboard, Virgin Voyages says: “On top of a uniquely designed HVAC system that pumps fresh air through the new ship’s public spaces and cabins to effectively remove recirculated air, Virgin Voyages will be among the first in the industry to invest in the installation of a 100 per cent fresh air, ‘bow to stern’ air purification system. “In partnership with AtmosAir Solutions, Scarlet Lady and her sister ships will be equipped with an air purification system that also disinfects air on board by leveraging bi-polar ionization technology that has been shown to kill 99.9 per cent of viruses.
“In addition, recent tests performed by Microchem Laboratory, one of the world’s preeminent laboratories for testing EPA- and FDA-registered sanitising products, has reported that this HVAC device is more than 99.9 per cent effective in neutralising coronavirus.”
Steve Levine, president and CEO of AtmosAir Solutions, says: “Delivering effective health and safety measures is going to be essential for ensuring consumer trust in the cruise industry. 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.”
The world of cruise has come under especially high scrutiny of late. The Center for Disease Control in the US and the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office have both took steps to stop people taking a cruise during the global pandemic.
One of the first cruise lines to start operating again was the Norwegian operator Hurtigruten. However, earlier this week the company confirmed that 36 of its crew had tested positive for Covid-19.