Semester at Sea understands there is significant concern and increased reports about the coronavirus outbreak and we wanted to provide you with an update regarding the steps we are taking to keep our shipboard community safe. Yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared¬†the coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. The U.S. State Department, Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and other health and safety agencies have advised against travel to and from China. While this reinforces our decision to divert from China, we acknowledge that the virus is not isolated to one country. In an effort to keep our voyagers safe and healthy and cause as little disruption as possible to the Spring 2020 Voyage itinerary, we are implementing a series of enhanced health and safety measures.
The MV¬†World Odyssey¬†is now proactively following an International Maritime Organization (IMO) sanitation level 2 protocol, which means that our crew will increase the (already frequent) sanitizing of all surfaces in public areas and replacement of buffet utensils, among other measures. Additionally, as voyagers embark or disembark the ship they will be required to use hand sanitizer and be subject to additional health screenings, as necessary. The CDC also recommends the following precautions while in port, which will be reinforced in communication on-ship and in pre-port presentations:
- Avoid animals (alive or dead), animal markets, farms, and products that come from animals (such as uncooked meat).
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available.
- If voyagers develop a fever or respiratory illnesses they should notify the voyage medical team and seek medical care immediately.
The scientific understanding of the virus, the virus‚Äô properties and the spread of the virus change daily. Based on this context, we are tracking the screening technologies and restrictions in future ports, developing contingency plans for alternative port stops, and continuing to enforce shipboard infectious disease protocol and recommendations of the CDC and WHO. To the extent necessary, we will continue to communicate regarding potential impacts of the coronavirus on the Spring 2020 Voyage.