Cruise ship capacity could be cut by as much as 40% if lines follow a new social distancing template created by a US company.

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line has become the first in the US industry to publicly outline how the on board experience will change for passengers and crew once ships resume service after the coronavirus pandemic.

Although a minnow compared to giants such as Carnival, Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line, the changes could set the tone for other companies.

The overhaul envisaged includes the closure of two decks of passenger cabins to reduce capacity and encourage social distancing.

Self-service buffets will be abolished in favour of service by crew wearing face masks, hats, aprons, and gloves.

Tables and seats will be spaced to keep passengers six feet apart.

Online check-in will mean passengers board at designated arrival times to minimise crowding.

Tour bus capacity will be halved and players in the casino restricted.

Isolation wards will be created in the ships’ medical centres to treat passengers concerned they may have been exposed to Covid 19.

The changes were unveiled as the line put back the resumption of sailings by its two ships which operate two-night cruises between Palm Beach in Florida and the Bahamas.

Cruises are due to resume by the ship Grand Celebration on July 25 and Grand Classica on October 2.

The extensive list of new preventative measures designed to ensure the health and safety of both passengers and crew was unveiled by the line with the new re-start dates.

But no indication was given of the costs involved or the impact on cruise fares.

Bahamas Paradise Cruise Line chief executive Oneil Khosa said: “As things begin to return to normal after months of quarantine, we can all use a quick getaway. When we return, our onboard experience may look a little different to our guests.

“The wellness of our passengers and crew members remains our top priority, and as such, passengers can expect enhanced sanitisation procedures from embarkation to disembarkation so that they can enjoy a relaxing, safe, stress-free getaway.”

The new measures include protocols for passenger accommodation, common areas on board ships, recreational facilities and food hygiene.

They include:

Capacity control

  • Closing two decks of passenger cabins to reduce crowds on board
  • Limiting the number of cabins available to reduce capacity by 40%

These protocols will encourage social distancing and provide one of the highest guests to space ratios in the industry

Embarkation and disembarkation:

  • All passengers required to practice social distancing from valet parking to terminal check-in
  • All terminal staff members will be monitored and required to wear masks and remain behind safety plexiglass for minimal contact
  • Passenger luggage will be disinfected prior to onboard delivery
  • Mandatory touch-free temperature checks and pre-boarding health declarations for all guests
  • Extensive sanitisation and disinfection processes at entry of port terminal, ships, and passenger walkway areas
  • Online check-in for guests, who will receive designated arrival times at cruise terminal to streamline embarkation and minimize crowds in Port

Passenger accommodation:

  • Sanitisation of all cabins with hospital-grade disinfectants
  • Fogging of vacant cabins and twice-daily wipe down of hallways
  • Disinfection of guest bathrooms with heavy-duty alkaline cleaner
  • Timely housekeeping cabin turnover with sheets and linens cleaned and disinfected at sterilising temperatures

Common areas:

  • All public areas will undergo a two-tier sanitisation process, which includes cleansing and fogging using hospital-grade disinfectant. Frequency includes:

o   Elevators every two hours

o   Public areas and facilities up to ten times per day

  • Frequently touched areas, including handrails, table-tops, and door handles will be sterilised every hour
  • All floors will be disinfected with a heavy-duty neutral PH floor cleaning solution
  • All on board areas will include fully stocked self-service hand sanitiser stations

Food hygiene:

  • All restaurants and bar areas will be cleaned and sanitised three times a day
  • Self-service buffet stations have been suspended; all food and drink will be served by crew members wearing face masks, hats, aprons, and gloves
  • Tables and seating areas will keep guests six feet apart to facilitate social distancing
  • Stringent procurement guidelines will be enforced, and products from certain regions will be prohibited

Entertainment and recreation:

  • Theatres will be thoroughly sanitised before and after each show
  • Kids’ club facilities will be cleaned twice a day
  • Spa and gym areas will be sanitised before and after each use, including common areas within these facilities twice daily
  • Tour buses for excursions will be reduced to 50% capacity, sanitised frequently, and tour operators will be trained using guidelines from the World Health Organisation
  • Casino players per table will be restricted to ensure social distancing and slot machines will be positioned to separate players

Practices and standards for crew members:

  • Twice daily temperature checks
  • All frontline crew are required to wear face masks, and all food service crew serving guests in the buffet are required to wear disposable hats, aprons, masks, and gloves
  • Housekeeping and food and beverage crew are required to wear both disposable gloves and masks. The disposal of all gloves and masks will align with US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines
  • All crew will be required to use antibacterial hand soap for at least 20 seconds to sanitise hands
  • All crew members are required to practice social distancing, and each crew member will be allocated their own cabin on board

Medical centre:

  • Isolated wards available in the medical centre for ill guests or those who are concerned that they have been exposed to Covid-19
  • Contaminated items and medical waste will be sealed and disposed of according to CDC guidelines
  • Used face masks and protective equipment will be disposed of at designated central collection points
  • Medical equipment and waste bins will be thoroughly cleaned, disinfected, and washed twice daily with hospital-grade disinfectants

Fresh air ventilation system:

  • A fresh air ventilation system implemented to ensure healthy air quality in all on board cabins and common areas
  • All air filters and cooling coils will be thoroughly checked, cleaned and replaced as needed