As the world slowly transitions back into traveling and vacationing, there remain many questions on the protocols and changes that will be implemented. In this article, we’ll focus on what the ministry of tourism is doing to keep visitors safe in the Galapagos, Ecuador, and Amazon rainforest.
When Will Travel Operations to Galapagos and Ecuador Begin?
Avianca, American airlines, and Latam airlines will most likely begin flight operations to the Galapagos Islands in early August.
New Biosecurity Protocols of Tour Operators
- Commercial flights will require masks.
- Guests will depose of gloves and masks in a biosecurity waste bag upon arrival of their flights.
- Upon arrival, your Galapagos guide will provide a “COVID kit” which includes new PPE equipment and hand sanitizer.
- Every staff member and passenger will take a temperature reading before boarding the ship, each guest will require a prior test proving they are clear of COVID beforehand. This is not just for Galapagos and Ecuador but will be a commonplace practice in other destinations in the world.
- For those unable to get the test at home, cruise owners and marina authorities will be able to give visitors a rapid COVID test, and following a clearing, guests will be able to board.
- For the duration of the cruise, staff members will not be returning home and will be on the cruise or on excursions for the entirety. This means that passengers and staff enter COVID-free, and do not have the chance to get bring the virus aboard the ship at any point. Thus, traveling on Galapagos cruises will be one of the safest options for cruises.
- During all cruise periods, guides and crew members will have PPE & gloves for boarding procedures.
- All clothing worn during travel to the Galapagos will be stored in a provided toat bag, and may not be worn until after the cruise. This includes shoes! This procedure limits the spread of any contamination during travel, and most travelers will not likely be wearing travel clothing during their time spent in Galapagos either way.
- Staff will disinfect passenger shoes
COVID-19 Galapagos Prevention Measures
- Staff will frequently sanitize and deep clean all areas of the ship daily, especially in the social areas.
- Antibacterial soap and gel dispensers are available in each cabin and social area.
- Towels will be labeled for each individual guest for use during their stay
- No use of hot tubs until further notice
- Common areas have furniture more spread apart to increase social distancing.
- Buffets will cease until further notice. Table service will be implemented, and tables will be separated by groups (If you are a couple or group, you will be placed together!) Tables will maintain at least two meters of distance.
- Signage with proper handwashing procedures within bathrooms.
- Cabins will be cleaned twice daily. There will be one staff member assigned to each cabin throughout the duration of the stay to prevent any potential cross-contamination.
- After departure, the ship is sanitized top to bottom, along with a fumigation procedure.
- Staff will be consistently refreshed in training protocols. Additionally, the staff is required to take tests to pass safety, sanitation, and hygiene standards.
- Monitoring and replacing air conditioning filters upon every new departure.
- Guides will assure social distancing measures during briefings. Every evening, guides give a 10-15 minute briefing to guests on the following day’s activities, Galapagos animals likely to be seen, and what to bring.
- Traditionally, the Galapagos has a 1:16 ratio for guides to guests. Now, the new ratio will be one guide per eight guests, meaning cruises will have additional guides. This benefits guests in that they will have a more personalized experience, with more time for questions!
What happens if someone gets sick on a cruise?
What happens if someone gets sick on a Galapagos cruise?
Guide, crew members, and passengers will immediately be informed of any illness, and procedures will determine whether the guest has COVID-19 or another illness. Until a determination is made, the guest will maintain two meters (six feet) from other guests. If the guest has COVID-19 symptoms, the guest will be isolated temporarily in the cabin with all companions that share that room until intervention by local authorities. The guest will have in-room dining, and a staff member trained in disease prevention trained would be charged with cleaning the cabin and assisting the passenger in any way. Additionally, The guest would be requested to wear a mask and will be given a biohazard waste bag. The cruise will immediately return to the port, and the ill passenger will be transported to a local hospital. The rest of the guests can then continue the cruise, but guests will have to be assigned to a specific hotel for quarantine before continuing travels.
How will Galapagos cruises be cleaned?
Galapagos cruise lines are acquiring electrostatic sprayers and ultraviolet light devices to disinfect the ship in a quick and efficient manner. These lights will be placed at entry points and doors when guests enter, so guests will be rapidly disinfected. Foot baths will be used, with sanitized mats available at all times. Baggage will be disinfected before entering the ship and will be carried by crew members on board (This is normally done anyway). All cruise lines will be undergoing international certification to make sure they are following international standards and protocols correctly. Suppliers of food, transport, and more will be required to follow these measures too.
Food on the Galapagos cruises
Multiple cruises in the Galapagos have begun sourcing food from local farms in the Galapagos that implement hydroponic technology, which allows them to reduce the need for any food transport and limit contamination potential. It also reduces carbon emissions from transport, recycles filtered rainwater, and provides delicious food out of season. Other benefits include no pesticides or antibiotics, better nutritional yield, and helping the local economy.
Hotels in the Galapagos and Ecuador
All hotels will follow protocols implemented by the ministry of tourism. Common spa areas will be discontinued until further notice. Instead, spa treatments will be available in-room, with hygienic protocols to keep guests safe. Hotels will arrange private in-room dining, and social distancing is currently in place. Staff members must shower before shifts, and change clothing after transportation.
The Amazon Rainforest of Ecuador
Ecuador has one of the best and closest access points to the Amazon rainforest. Within three hours by car, guests can arrive at this pristine destination. Regarding buses, they will travel at minimum capacity, and travelers will have social distancing on buses. Moreover, flights of 40 minutes are available that travel directly into the Amazon. Additionally, guides and drivers will be trained by the ministry of tourism on sanitization, proper hygiene, and social distancing protocols. For lodging, each group or couple will have a private bungalow, perfect for social distancing. Additionally, there are large properties with plenty of space between each area to allow for plenty of distance between guests.