Health & Safety – Covid19

AUTHOR Melissa Sotomayor

The well-being and safety of our guests continue to be one of our top priorties. While we have always maintained very rigorous health and hygiene guidelines, since the pandemic, cleaning procedures have been enhanced according to biosecurity standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO), Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA) Health & Safety guidelines, and SAFE TRAVELS approved by the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC).

Epidemiological Surveillance and health screening: Guests will be asked to fill out a small questionnaire about your health and medical conditions required by the Comite de Operaciones de Emergencia or COE from Galapagos.  All guests and crew will be screened during the cruise for their temperature and oxygen saturation level. The testing is performed by the Captains on Sundays and Wednesdays on every cruise departure.

Covid-friendly guest experience: All guests will maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet between themselves and other people including the crew. Upon arrival, you will receive a hot hand towel with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer ingredient and hand luggage, backpacks and bags will be gently sprayed with a disinfecting mist.  All cabin amenities will be thoroughly disinfected prior to each cruise. Guests will receive a personal bottle of hand sanitizer and, to avoid any cross-contamination, we have removed all paper and stationery from all cabins.  Hand-sanitizing stations are placed throughout all social areas of our yachts, with additional signage throughout guest and staff areas to remind everyone of important health and hygiene protocols, such as handwashing and physical distancing. During the welcome briefing, the biosafety measures to follow during the cruise will be explained. Briefings will be held in the main lounge and dining room to keep a distance and will be short and precise. Instructions for activities will be posted in the main lounge.

The National Park requires all visitors to wear a mask covering their mouth and nose while onshore excursions.  Guests will be asked to wear a mask while indoors except during meals. 

During Fit Departures, for activities such as panga rides, glass-bottom boat, snorkeling and excursions a maximum of 8 guests, 2 crew members and 1 naturalist guide are recommended per zodiac for each transfer to maintain social distancing among family groups.

Even though all of our expedition equipment is undergoing deep cleaning and disinfection procedures (and will be disinfected after every activity), we highly suggest guests bring their own mask and snorkel.

Only two guests from the same cabin are permitted to use the Fitness Center at any one time with a maximum of 45 minutes during Covid-19.  There is a sign-up sheet available with the Concierge, so the gym can be deep cleaned within 30 minutes with ozone between usage.

Only four guests are permitted in the Jacuzzi at any one time, with a maximum of 20 minutes during Covid if others are waiting. Captains will be in contact with other vessels to avoid coinciding in locations at the same time to avoid agglomerations.

As of August 2020, we will not visit the inhabited areas of Santa Cruz, including the Darwin Station and highlands.  Instead, we will substitute visits to Sombrero Chino and Sullivan Bay until further notice.

Cleaning and disinfection procedures: Cleaning products approved by the Galapagos National Park, which are effective against viruses, bacteria and other airborne and bloodborne pathogens are being used in all yachts. We have increased the frequency of deep-cleaning, while disinfecting with ozone machines (HEPA filters) all common areas, public spaces and guests’ cabins (in addition to crew quarters), with an emphasis on high-contact surfaces such as stair railings, doorknobs, coffee stations, water dispensers, coffee tables, dining and bar surfaces, social area restrooms, jacuzzi and sun deck areas. Shoe disinfection trays have been placed at the entrance of each yacht. Crew members follow strict cleaning and sanitation charts in every stateroom and social area. We have intensified and increased the cleaning of air conditioning recirculation filters every week, to guarantee the proper operation of the system, prior to each cruise.

Food & Beverage: We continue to reinforce our methods of identifying and managing food safety-related risk, including Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP), as well as the cleanliness and disinfection of our dining areas, bars and kitchens. We have eliminated our buffet service and replaced it with a menu a la carte, adjusted the dining areas to allow social distancing among groups, and placed screen protectors in the bars and buffet table. To reduce capacity in the dining room during meals onboard Origin and Theory, the sundeck will be open for meals and room service is offered on the Letty.

We have emphasized the cleaning and disinfection of kitchens and bars, with strict food safety standards. We follow a disinfection process in all the tableware, glassware and cutlery, as well as the utensils used by our concierges and waiters during the service. Service personnel will adhere to strict security procedures while serving all food and drinks. In order to avoid direct contact with paper, we have removed physical menus and created digital ones that will work through QR codes. The kitchen will be disinfected with ozone 3 times per week and only authorized crew members will be allowed to enter the kitchen during their working hours.

Mandatory procedures followed by our crew: All crew members residing in the Galapagos Islands will be tested before boarding. The crew arriving from the continent will have to pass all the controls and procedures established by the local Galapagos airports. They will follow complete disinfection procedures before boarding Ecoventura’s yachts. All crew members will be closely monitored on a daily basis for any symptoms (including a temperature reading) while aboard. They will be required to wear the appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment) based on their roles and responsibilities and will have to maintain a social distance of at least 6 feet between themselves and with guests. They have received detailed training on Ecoventura’s sanitation protocols, in addition to learning how to identify flu or virus-like symptoms, and follow procedures as stated in the ISM (International Safety Management) manual. Hand hygiene is the main measure of prevention and control of infection, and will be done with water and soap, following the right technique of the World Health Organization. No crew member is allowed to disembark on any populated island, unless ordered by the captain of the yacht. While on their disembarkation period, crew members have been recommended to self-isolate and their health will be closely monitored by our Human Resources Department.