WHY IT RATES: Ochsner Health will conduct assessments of the American Queen, American Duchess and American Countess and will work with AQSC on implementing disease prevention and mitigation strategies. —Janeen Christoff, TravelPulse Senior Writer
American Queen Steamboat Company (AQSC), a Hornblower Family Company, is partnering with Ochsner Health by implementing Ochsner’s Safe to Return Employer Solutions to help improve and maintain a healthy and safe return of guests and crew to its paddlewheelers.
Ochsner Health will conduct assessments of the American Queen, American Duchess and American Countess and will work with AQSC on implementing disease prevention and mitigation strategies across the entire AQSC fleet.
Another hallmark of this program is the real-time access to infectious disease experts within the Ochsner Health system should a need arise. AQSC will be announcing details on a healthcare partner for its Pacific Northwest itineraries onboard the American Empress in the coming weeks.
As part of Ochsner Safe to Return Employer Solutions, Ochsner Health will reassess the AQSC vessels on a monthly basis and provide updated recommendations as needed based on scientific data and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommendations.
As a result of the partnership with Ochsner Health recommendations, AQSC will implement the following actions:
—Offer a Virtual Employer Clinic, powered by TytoCare, so employees and guests, if necessary, can virtually talk to a healthcare professional without disembarking.
—Provide access to infectious disease experts within the Ochsner Health system.
—Utilize Ochsner Health personnel to oversee the pre-boarding screening process and assessments on all itineraries embarking in New Orleans, LA. AQSC will identify healthcare partners for the additional turn ports of call.
—Engage Ochsner Health to conduct monthly assessments of the AQSC health and safety protocols and make adjustments as needed.
“We are thrilled to have this ongoing support from Ochsner Health and their expert-team of providers,” shares John Waggoner, founder and CEO of American Queen Steamboat Company. “By partnering with Ochsner Health, we are able to provide added preventative measures to our already increased diligence in guest and crew safety.”
Along with the Ochsner partnership, AQSC unveiled new health and safety protocols being implemented across all vessels including pre-cruise screenings, crew screenings, updated boarding processes, increased sanitation measures, enhanced technologies and an onboard telehealth capability. Technology highlights include MXP Protect, which incorporates the use of thermal imaging. These new policies and practices will be implemented when AQSC resumes its operations.
Victory Cruise Lines, operated by AQSC, will implement similar health and safety protocols as the AQSC fleet when it resumes its operations on the Great Lakes and Canadian Maritimes.
To ensure the safety and comfort of both guests and crew, AQSC and VCL are staying current with guidance, mandates and public health advancements communicated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United State Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), United State Coast Guard (USGC) and the municipalities each vessel visits.
Below you will find an overview of the new health and safety protocols.
Prior to embarkation, all guests and crew will be required to complete a health and safety questionnaire and a medical travel screening survey. At the pre-cruise hotel, medical personnel will perform a health screening on each guest, including a temperature check, and will deny boarding to anyone that may pose a health risk. The 24-hour window between the pre-cruise hotel stay and vessel embarkation allows the AQSC and VCL crew and guests time to make any necessary adjustments following the pre-cruise screening. No guests or crew will be allowed to check-in directly on the vessel without having completed the above described pre-cruise screenings. Details on each vessel’s onboard sanitation and safety procedures will also be provided to all guests and crew prior to boarding.
Boarding Procedures and Gangway Screening
Once guests and crew are cleared during the pre-cruise screening process, embarkation will be conducted via one controlled access point where thermal cameras will take the temperature of each guest and crew member boarding the vessel in addition to the manual temperature checks completed in the pre-cruise screening. The onboard medical representative will conduct the gangway screening, complete the health and safety survey and provide reports to the Master and each Hotel Director.
AQSC and VCL will require a 24-hour notice for anyone that needs access to the vessel and has not been pre-screened during hotel screening, including guests, crew, visitors and contractors.
Screening and Monitoring During the Cruise
Trained staff will maintain protocols and observe guests and crew for symptoms throughout the voyage. The Master and medical representative will respond to medical calls, practice quarantine procedures and utilize shoreside medical facilities for passenger and crew as necessary. If a guest or crew member has an elevated temperature, they will be evaluated by the medical representative before being allowed to board the vessel. Any guest or crew who has an elevated temperature, shows signs or symptoms of illness or that vessel management feels needs further assessment will be sent directly to a local medical care partner for evaluation and testing. In addition, guests or crew who test positive for any contagious condition will not be allowed to rejoin the vessel.
The vessels’ access points will be monitored and controlled at all times. Utilizing the cutting-edge technology from MXP Protect, AQSC will be able to efficiently and effectively monitor all critical areas of operation with thermal scanning. All guests and crew will be passively monitored by thermal imaging when returning to the vessel in addition to random manual screening. In the event of a confirmed positive case on board, AQSC and VCL will manually screen 100 percent of all individuals coming and going from the vessel.
Onboard and Additional Medical Resources
Through the partnership with Ochsner Health, guests and crew can take advantage of the onsite Virtual Employer Clinic, powered by TytoCare. The Virtual Employer Clinic allows guests and crew to remotely see an Ochsner Health physician without leaving the vessel. In addition, each vessel in the AQSC and VCL fleets carries a certified onboard medical representative to assist guests with urgent medical care, implement quarantine procedures and coordinate shoreside medical assistance. The tele-health capabilities combined with the already onboard medical representative provides guests with a heightened level of onboard care. In an emergency, AQSC and VCL have the ability to quickly transfer guests and crew to emergency medical services ashore by coordinating pick-up at municipal landings and docking facilities.
Increased sanitation of all contact services such as handrails, tables, chairs, desks, work surfaces, door handles, telephones and elevator controls in both the front and back of house will be conducted hourly with an all-chlorine solution that meets or exceeds EPA standards. All public and crew spaces will be fogged twice daily and multi-purpose disinfecting wipes will be made available in staterooms for all guests.
Restaurant Areas: All self-service buffets are suspended, and waiters will be stationed at buffet stations to serve food to guests. Crew will minimize guest touchpoints by manually entering cabin numbers rather than using guest swipe cards and by replacing all communal items such as salt/pepper pots, sugar bowls and butter bowls with single-serve packets. All tables, chairs and countertops will be sanitized on the hour or when vacated by the guest, and menus will be printed on single-use paper and discarded after each use. All table items will be removed each time a table is vacated. All crockery, glassware and cutlery will be washed even if unused.
Bar Department: All self-service areas are now suspended, and individual bowls of bar snacks will be available upon request. Increased sanitation in accordance with the restaurant guidelines outlined above will also be implemented.
Deck Department: The Chief Officer will arrange for all deck rails, public swimming pools, the gangway and other external hardpoints to be thoroughly sanitized at least every hour when in use, with the gangway sanitation occurring every half-hour when in use.
Shore Excursions and Motorcoaches: A reduced number of guests will be transported on each motorcoach, targeting a maximum 52 percent capacity, to allow for adequate space between individuals. All bus seats, windows and handrails will be sanitized with an EPA-recommended solution each day before the first guests arrive and every hour when in use. Liquid hand sanitation dispensers will be available at the door for all guests. All shore excursions will be conducted within the guidelines of the local municipalities visited.
Staterooms: Cabin staff will clean and sanitize all surfaces of the stateroom and utilize an EPA-approved disinfectant spray, as well as the cutting-edge Protexus Electrostatic Sprayer equipment to fog staterooms daily.
SOURCE: American Queen Steamboat Company press release.
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