No Buffet, Fewer Passengers & Lots of Masks: One Cruise Line Announces New Policies to Return to Sailing

Social distancing, masks for crew, hourly sterilization, and no more buffet?

That’s what’s in store for cruise passengers aboard at least one cruise line — Bahamas Paradise — as it plans to return to sailing in just under two months from now.

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line's Grand Celebration
Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line’s Grand Celebration looks to be among the first cruise ships back to sailing.

Since the cruise industry first paused sailing back in mid-March, there’s been lots of speculation over when sailings will return.

At first it was announced for April, then pushed to May, June, and now many are scheduled to return in August. It is still to be seen if sailing in late summer will actually happen, or if the suspensions will be extended.

But in addition to when cruises will sail again, many are wondering just how cruises will work in the face of the pandemic. Obviously the world has had major changes made to daily lives with social distancing and mask-wearing becoming commonplace.

As of yet, however, major cruise lines have been relatively quiet on what they plan to implement to keep passengers healthy.

Now, we’ve received word from a smaller cruise line about what they will do when cruises return.

Big Changes In Store For Passengers & Crew

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line isn’t a household name for most cruise passengers. The line has only two ships, which sail short two-day trips from the Port of Palm Beach to the Bahamas.

Like the rest of the industry, Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line has suspended its sailings in the face of the ongoing pandemic. As of now, however, they plan to restart sailing on July 25.

As you might expect, there are going to be some major changes to the experience on the ship. A recent press release spelled out more than 30 changes that the cruise line is implementing to keep passengers healthy.

As far as we know, this is among the first definitive list of changes from a cruise line and gives a good clue as to how cruising across the industry could look when it finally does return.

Here is the full list of changes announced:

Capacity control:

· Closing two-passenger stateroom decks to reduce crowds onboard the ship
· Limit the number of in-use staterooms to reduce onboard capacity by 40 percent

Embarkation and disembarkation:

· All guests required to practice social distancing from valet parking to terminal check-in
· All terminal staff members will be monitored and required to wear masks and remain behind safety plexiglass for minimal contact
· Passenger luggage will be disinfected prior to onboard delivery
· Mandatory touch-free temperature checks and pre-boarding health declarations for all guests
· Extensive sanitization and disinfection processes at entry of port terminal, ships, and passenger walkway areas
· Online check-in for guests, who will receive designated arrival times at cruise terminal to streamline embarkation and minimize crowds in Port

Guest accommodations:

· Sanitization of all cabins with hospital-grade disinfectants
· Fogging of vacant cabins and twice-daily wipe down of hallways
· Disinfection of guest bathrooms with heavy-duty alkaline cleaner
· Timely housekeeping cabin turnover with sheets and linens cleaned and disinfected at sterilizing temperatures

Common areas:

· All onboard public areas will undergo a two-tier sanitization process, which includes cleansing and fogging using hospital-grade disinfectant. Frequency includes elevators every two hours, and public areas and facilities up to ten times per day
· Frequently touched areas, including handrails, table-tops, and door handles will be sterilized every hour
· All floors will be disinfected with a heavy-duty neutral PH floor cleaning solution
· All onboard areas will include fully stocked self-service hand sanitizer stations

Food hygiene:

· All restaurants and bar areas will be cleaned and sanitized three times a day
· Self-service buffet stations have been suspended; all food and beverage will be served by crew members wearing face masks, hats, aprons, and gloves
· Tables and seating areas will keep guests six feet apart to facilitate social distancing
· Stringent procurement guidelines will be enforced, and products from certain regions will be prohibited

Entertainment and recreation:

· Theatres will be thoroughly sanitized before and after each show
· Kids’ Club facilities will be cleaned twice per day
· Spa and gym areas will be sanitized before and after each use, including common areas within these facilities twice daily
· Tour buses for excursions will be reduced to 50 percent capacity, sanitized frequently, and tour operators will be trained using guidelines from the World Health Organization (WHO)
· Casino players per table will be restricted to ensure social distancing and slot machines will be positioned to separate players

Practices and standards for crew members:

· Twice daily temperature checks
· All frontline crew are required to wear face masks, and all food service crew serving guests in the buffet are required to wear disposable hats, aprons, masks, and gloves
· Housekeeping and food and beverage crew are required to wear both disposable gloves and masks. The disposal of all gloves and masks will align with the CDC’s guidelines
· All crew will be required to use antibacterial hand soap for at least 20 seconds to sanitize hands
· All crew members are required to practice social distancing, and each crew member will be allocated their own cabin onboard the ships

Medical center:

· Isolated wards available in the medical center for ill guests or those who are concerned that they have been exposed to COVID-19
· Contaminated items and medical waste will be properly sealed and disposed of according to the CDC’s guidelines
· Used face masks and protective equipment will be disposed of at designated central collection points
· Medical equipment and waste bins will be thoroughly cleaned, disinfected, and washed twice daily with hospital-grade disinfectants

Fresh air ventilation system:

· Implemented a fresh air ventilation system to ensure healthy air quality in all onboard cabins and common areas
· All air filters and cooling coils will be thoroughly checked, cleaned and replaced as needed

To be sure these changes are drastic, but so are the changes we’ve seen in day-to-day life.

“When we return, our onboard experience may look a little different to our guests,” said Oneil Khosa, CEO of Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line. “The wellness of our passengers and crew members remains our top priority, and as such, passengers can expect enhanced sanitization procedures from embarkation to disembarkation so that they can enjoy a relaxing, safe, stress-free getaway.”

Notably absent from the list is any word on mask-wearing for passengers, whether it be required or recommended. We reached out to the company for more details on if passengers will be asked to wear masks during the trip. According to the cruise line, “Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line is continuing to monitor and assess the situation, and will come to a final decision closer to its sailing date of July 25th.”

That seems to leave the door open for the possibility of asking passengers to wear masks on the ship.

If you want to sail aboard the Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line, their first trip is scheduled to depart on July 25. The two-day cruise will depart from Palm Beach, heading to Grand Bahama. Prices start at $139 per person.

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