COVID-19 - Keeping you safe
As we start to emerge from these strange and difficult times and consider travelling again, it would be natural to prioritise your own health and safety on tour – probably more so than ever before. That is our top priority too, but we want to do more than just tell you this. We’ll prove it with a number of key actions designed to keep you safe and well.
Whilst the risk of contracting COVID-19 on your travels can never be completely eliminated, the risk of transmitting the virus can be significantly reduced. Our team of experts here at Andante Travels has created the following 11-step initiative, including ‘travel safe’ kits with daily masks and sanitisers, new hygiene protocols for all our hotels and cruise ships and social distancing on tour. No tour operator is doing more to preserve your peace of mind and enable you to book and travel with confidence.
FREE ‘Travel Safe’ kits for every traveller
Other measures detailed on these pages try to allow for a measure of social distancing, but there will be moments on every tour where it is impossible to maintain a distance of 2m from other people, including your fellow travellers. In those circumstances, the wearing of face masks and regular sanitisation of hands and surfaces reduces the risk of transmission considerably. Our kits, packed in a fully sanitised environment, comprise a face mask for every day of your tour, including travel days, flight-friendly bottles of hand sanitiser and packs of anti-bacterial wipes. These kits will also include a marker pen so that plastic water bottles can be identified and filled remotely on a daily basis to minimise contact. Every one of our guests will receive a ‘Travel Safe’ kit in the weeks before departure.
Enhanced Health and Safety audits
We have always, in partnership with two globally renowned organisations, applied rigorous health and safety checks to our hotels, airlines, cruise ships, coaches, excursion transport and any other significant aspect of an Andante Travels tour.
Now though, we are going even further, by requiring that these services pass COVID-19 hygiene and cleanliness tests as part of our health and safety protocols.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, many travel insurance providers are excluding COVID-19 from their cover. However, we have sourced a provider offering coverage in the event that you fall ill on your holiday as a result of COVID-19 and need to return home, in addition to standard coverage.
If you have independently arranged insurance, please check its COVID-19 terms.
Distanced seating on coaches
The average group size for an Andante tour is 17-18 guests, and the overwhelming majority do not exceed 25 guests. But we will be securing a 52-seater coach for every departure, so everyone has the option of two seats to themselves.
This preserves an element of distancing across the coach but, as the distance to the guests in front and behind may be as little as one metre, we recommend that face masks from your ‘Travel Safe’ kit are worn throughout coach journeys.
We are in the process of arranging self-drive options on UK and selected European itineraries for those who wish to maintain complete social distancing during travel.
Simply follow the coach or a pre-supplied map in your own car or a hire vehicle and join the rest of the group at attractions and hotels.
‘Get me home’ service and private airport transfers
In the unlikely event that you are denied entry to your destination as a result of airport temperature checks, or you are forced to curtail your holiday as a result of COVID-19 symptoms, you may wish to avoid public transport on your journey home. We can arrange a private transfer service to take you to your front door. This private home transfer service is also available to book if you simply wish to ensure social distancing on your way to and from the airport. There will be an additional cost for this service, but our option is competitively priced.
COVID protocols at our hotels, and aboard our cruise ships
We are working with every single one of our hotel and cruise suppliers to ensure minimal COVID-19 transmission risks. We expect the very highest standards of food hygiene, gloved and masked staff, lower floor rooms to minimise lift usage, larger lecture spaces to allow for social distancing and so on.
To give a couple of examples on the cruise side, our river cruise partner A-Rosa and coastal cruise partner Variety have already implemented numerous measures including the following (full details may be found at the bottom of this page).
Packed lunches and flexible dining options
Though we acknowledge that communal dining is an integral part of the Andante Travel experience, if it is not possible to dine in a COVID-safe way, we will provide packed lunches (prepared in an enhanced hygiene environment) instead. We are also looking to offer opportunities to opt out of communal dining on selected itineraries, so you can better control your social distancing at meal times by dining independently. There may be a reduction in price for choosing to do this, but it will depend on the arrangements we have with our suppliers and the number of people opting out – let us know if you would like to opt-out of meals at time of booking and, if applicable, a deduction will be applied when you holiday balance becomes payable.
Flexible balance payment date and COVID-friendly refund conditions
If there are signs of COVID-19 in the area you are due to visit, we will contact you with a change to your balance due date. To give us more time to assess whether it is possible to run your tour, we can postpone the payment of your balance from 10 weeks before departure to six weeks. Furthermore, if you are forced to cancel your holiday close to departure as a result of COVID-19 symptoms and you are not able to claim through your insurance provider, we pledge to be as flexible as possible in our cancellation costs – instead of the industry-standard 100% cancellation fee, we would negotiate with our suppliers and charge only those costs which we could not recover ourselves.
COVID-testing and medical training for tour staff
When reliable ‘on demand’ testing becomes available, it is our intention to test tour managers, Guide Lecturers and any other tour staff within 72 hours of departure.
We are also enhancing the medical training that our tour managers receive to include COVID-specific knowledge and actions.
Constant monitoring and post-tour tracing
Dedicated Specialist Journeys staff produce daily reports on the COVID-19 situation in every one of our destinations, along with any regulations or restrictions specific to airlines, attractions and local authorities. We can therefore provide you with the most useful and up-to-date advice and plan contingencies in the event of staff or guest symptoms and the closing of a hotel, restaurant or other venue. In the event of a localised outbreak, we will be able to change our itinerary and arrangements swiftly to avoid possible exposure. We will also be in touch with you upon your return – if you show any symptoms and need to self-isolate, we can let all your fellow travellers know, so that they can do the same.
COVID protocols at our hotels, and aboard our cruise ships
- Infrared temperature screening upon boarding
- A minimum 1.5-metre distance maintained on board through ‘one-way streets’, floor markings, increased seating space etc
- All crew and guests required to wear face masks in public areas (excluding guests in the restaurant and open-air areas)
- New air refreshment and filtration system for guest rooms
- Mandatory hand sanitising on embarkation/disembarkation and at all entrances/exits
- No self-service food – two set sittings for meals and all food and beverage to be brought by staff
- Guest luggage disinfection and enhanced hygiene measures for guest room cleaning
- Pre-cruise and daily medical screening for guests (twice-daily for crew)
- Mandatory hand sanitising on embarkation/disembarkation and at the restaurant
- Half-capacity, daily-sanitised coaches for excursions, and site visits out of ‘rush hour’
- Daily UV sterilisation of public areas, hospital-grade disinfectant use in guest room cleaning and twice-daily sterilised wipe-down of guest rooms and corridors
- Hourly sterilisation of ‘high touch’ areas including buttons, handrails etc
- Lounge and bar sterilisation before, during and after service
- More distanced restaurant seating and no self-service food – staff with masks and gloves bring all food and beverages (disposable cutlery available on request)
- Daily screening for crew, and enhanced medical training procedures
- Social distancing introduced onboard and all furniture placed a minimum of 1.5 metres apart
- Twice daily cleaning of public areas and cleaning of tables and chairs after every use; multiple daily disinfection of ‘high touch’ areas
- Hand sanitisers at all entrances and exits
- No self-service food – staff with masks and gloves bring all food and beverages – and food to be served in the saloon and outside deck for greater distancing
I am most impressed with your faithfulness of many years and I’m full of admiration for your extensive thoughtfulness, wide-ranging expertise, thorough organisation, unsurpassed planning, clear foresight and positive vision.