We understand that you might have concerns about travelling in current COVID-19 times, and we aim to address those in this letter. We are convinced that if we all observe the right policies and measures, travelling to the remoteness of the polar regions in one of the safest travel destinations. If we all maintain a couple of basic guidelines, the risks for infections and diseases will be much lower than in most public areas or transport in the world.
with the start of the Arctic season in May 2021, we expect that the most vulnerable people in our societies will be vaccinated, but it will take at least till the end of 2021 before large parts of the general population will be vaccinated. In other words; the virus will be in decline, but not beaten. That is why we assume the below protocols will be fully in place, but they might be relaxed during the season if developments happen quicker than expected.
Information, advice, and policies change
Our first recommendation is to always check the latest updates, advice, or travel policy from Albatros Expeditions, your own government, and the country of embarkation, as learnings and scientific insight and travel advice changes regularly.
Local laws and rules always supersede our protocols. It is at this stage unclear what requirements Ireland, The United Kingdom, Iceland, Norway, and Greenland/Denmark will have in place by May 2021. Due to fast developments in testing capacities and abilities, we expect that testing requirements (either before travel or upon arrival) will in place replacing quarantine requirements and travel restrictions.
What Albatros Expeditions does to keep you safe
You can expect the following key actions from Albatros Expeditions to keep you safe,
(1) Full compliance with all health and safety requirements of the operating area/ports, our ship flag state, our ship classification society and the IAATO membership association.
(2) Physical adaptation of the Ocean Atlantic to reduce hazards that could lead to spread of disease.
(3) Pre -and during- voyage ship disinfections.
(4) Enhanced cleaning procedures for cabins and all public areas.
(5) Health screening and daily monitoring for all guests, staff, and crew.
(6) Physical distancing onboard – a minimum of one meter.
(7) We will follow a separated group policy – to guarantee appropriate separation of guests in public areas, during activities, entertainment, and meals.
(8) We offer plenty of sanitizing units and hand washing facilities onboard.
(9) Self-service buffets are replaced by serviced buffets serviced by staff wearing masks.
What you should do pre-travel
To travel safely and healthy, we recommend you the following.
• Always register your travel plans with your respective consulate, please see https://www.embassypages.com for address details.
• We advised you to acquire appropriate travel insurance, including travel interruptions, denied boarding and repatriation. Please discuss any travel insurance concerns with your insurance provider.
• Check your travel history and travel plans, to establish if all countries you plan to visit or will travel through before joining vessel will allow you to travel.
• Please check health requirements of destination and transit countries, as well as those of transport services (airlines).
• Please study the WHO recommendations. ‘Protecting yourself and others from the spread of COVID-19’: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public
• One of the best things you can do to keep you and others safe, both at home and on our ship, is proper hand washing. Hands can be sanitized but note that sanitation of hands should not be a replacement to washing hands unless soap and water is not available. Please refer to hand washing guidelines by the WHO; https://www.who.int/gpsc/clean_hands_protection/en/
• In the 2 weeks prior to travel, we recommend you to closely monitor your health, do a symptom self-check and practice good especially hygiene (physical distancing, hand washing, limited social interactions).
• Please consult with your physician if they are concerned about symptoms.
• Please buy an appropriate personal travel kit before leaving home for your travels to our ship. This include face cover, hand sanitizer spray and wipes, thermometer, gloves.
• Optional, but possibly mandatory, to take a COVID-19 test 72 hours before departure (possibly shorter than 72 hours with rapid tests getting better).
What you should during travel to the ship
During your travels to our ship, we recommend you the following.
• Refrain from handshaking and hugging.
• Carry hand sanitizer spray and wipes, wash hands regularly.
• Observe physical distancing during travel whenever possible.
• Consider face covering when in prolonged or close contact with others (flights and public transport).
• Sanitize outside luggage between handlers.
• Sanitize identity documents / tickets between handlers or if exposed to public scanners and surfaces.
• Minimize use of public transport while in transit.
• If you do not feel well, please be vigilant, open, and honest about symptoms.
• It is important to start daily temperature and symptom checks.
What you can expect at embarkation
• You will be screened for COVID-like symptoms before boarding; your temperature will be taken, and you will be asked to disclose any symptoms. Any temperature above >38°C is considered to be indicative of an infection. Please note that you could be denied boarding by the doctor/captain if you present COVID-like symptoms or if you refuse screening.
• A “rapid” COVID test may be taken upon boarding; you should remain in your cabin until results are available (usually within an hour).
• Wash and sanitize hands, luggage, and footwear at bottom of gangway before boarding the vessel.
• You must join the mandatory passenger briefing on our ‘Clean Ships and Healthy People Strategy’, outlining the new procedures intended to prevent the spread of infections.
• You will be assigned to fixed social groups for meals, gatherings, and activities.
Testing. We expect to do a “rapid” antigen test with all guest boarding our ship. Test results will be available within an hour – guests should remain in isolation in their cabin until a negative result is given. Guests with a “positive” result, and guests that have “symptoms” will be required to take a PCR-test and remain in isolation until results are known, which could take a couple of hours. Guests that can show a “negative” result of a test taken within 24h before embarkation (e.g. upon arrival at the airport) or have a proof of vaccination, will be excluded from the testing requirement. Costs of testing is not known at this time, but will not be higher than $100, and will be charged to your onboard account.
What you should do on the ship to keep you safe.
• We will organize daily temperature and symptom checks for everyone.
• If you have any cold, flu or COVID-19 like symptoms, you need to inform the ship’s medical staff immediately.
• If you have fever or certain symptoms, you may not be allowed to participate in any activities, including landings, excursions, and lectures.
• Upon Doctors or Captains orders you could be isolated in a specific isolation cabin. You will be taken care off, but you will not be allowed to leave your cabin, until symptoms have disappeared and/or the Doctor (or Captain) states it is safe to do so.
• Physical distancing: we try to maintain a minimum of >1m physical distancing on board and ashore between people not sharing a cabin.
• The recommendation from the WHO on face cover is “for areas of widespread transmission, with limited capacity for implementing control measures and especially in settings where physical distancing of at least 1 meter is not possible – such as on public transport, in shops or in other confined or crowded environments – WHO advises governments to encourage the general public to use non-medical fabric masks”. Face covering on-board outside your own cabin is mandatory, except for the outdoor decks and ashore, where face covering is optional but recommended. A wide range of face cover will be allowed, including neck gators, that are also sold on board.
• Please refrain from handshakes and hugging.
• Key activities, like breakfast, lunch, dinner, lectures, and any other on-board activities will have multiple sittings, or venues could have strict capacity limits. Please check your group and stay in your group, unless told otherwise.
• Please wash your hands as frequently as possible, as a minimum before and after every meal, activity, excursion, and after using the toilet of course. Hands can be sanitized but note that sanitation of hands should not be a replacement to washing hands unless soap and water is not available.
• There will be no open bridge policy until further notice.
• Please use credit/debit card to settle your final bill, no cash payments please.
• On social media, please refrain from making jokes, suggestions or creating rumors about Coronavirus / COVID-19 on board of a particular (or your) ship. During current times this is like making a bomb-joke at airport security – just do not do it!
• In case of a ship’s emergency, the physical distancing guideline will become superseded.
Will my experience be significantly impacted by the protocols? We estimate that turn-around times (between cruises) will need to be extended with two additional hours to implement the new cleaning requirements, leading to slightly later boarding times. Upon boarding, expect some waiting time in your cabin for test results. We will still offer the same activities, but they will be more spread out over the day. Expect busy and long days, but the same unforgettable experiences as you are used to with Albatros Expeditions
At Albatros Expeditions, we are committed to your health and safety, and to deliver you the best polar experiences available. If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us or ask anyone of your crew onboard!
Should travellers deem it necessary to cancel a cruise because of a proven COVID-19 issue then travellers are entitled to a rebook on a future cruise with no transfer fee. Should Albatross cancel due to COVID-19 issues then travellers may choose a free transfer to a future cruise, or request a full refund.