Coral Expeditions have this week returned to sailing again, 6 months after being alongside in Cairns following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Australia.
The company have been very proactive in responding to the impact of the pandemic on the cruise industry, re-engineering their operational model to plan for a return to sailing as soon as they could. With an established and trusted brand and a high level of return guests, it was important that Coral Expeditions’ re-launch was supported by a watertight COVID-Safe plan.
Their ”Sail Safe” plan has been created, tested and implemented with the support of the team at Respond Global, and it has been approved by all Australian state and territory governments. Preparation for re-launch has included training and simulations to ensure that both crew and senior management know what to do to remain COVID-Safe and how to respond in the unlikely case of an illness on-board one of their ships.
Group GM Mark Fifield said the sailing is a ‘major milestone’ in the company’s history.
‘We hope that our successful return to operations gives confidence to travellers and authorities that small-ship expedition cruising with a local operator is a logical and prudent point of a restart for the marine expedition industry,’ Fifield said.
Prior to boarding all guests are tested for the virus as part of a robust health screening approach. Respond Global’s medical specialists created a health screening plan for the company to implement, including pre-testing, pre-departure screening and onboard daily health checks by Coral Expeditions on-board medical team.
Coral Expeditions are initially offering 7-day cruises between their home port of Cairns and the magnificent Great Barrier Reef.
Joel Katz, MD of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia, said the restart of Coral Expeditions is a ‘welcome milestone’ for Australian tourism.
‘Coral Expeditions has worked hard to lay a new foundation for its operations, drawing on expert medical insight to create new health and safety measures in response to COVID-19,’ Katz said.
‘Coral Discoverer’s first departure shows how a carefully controlled operation with strict health protocols in place can help revive tourism in Queensland and Australia, while at the same time keeping a focus on safety as the highest priority.’