2020 Covid-19 Strategy & Safety Protocols for whale watching boat tours
Wildlife Name 1
Wildlife Name 2
Covid-19 Strategy & Safety Protocols for dolphin and whale watch tours
As always, the safety, comfort and health of our passengers and crew are our priority. Long before the present crisis this has always been our declared number one objective and everything else such as great dolphin, whale or bird watching always comes a close second.
We are strictly regulated and monitored by the Irish Department of Transport and our customers can rest assured that we will be fully complying with all their requirements and recommendations and any new regulations that they may introduce, and also complying with any restart date that is approved. At the present moment (25.05.2020) it appears that we may be able to restart our boat tours on June 08th for people travelling less than 20 kms - i.e. local. Then hopefully on a broader basis on June 29th, which is the third phase of the reopening process, as it seems safe to assume that we will be able to restart, on a limited basis at first, at the same time as restaurants are allowed to reopen and buses allowed to run on a reduced passenger basis, and also Ryanair have said that they will be resuming 40% of their flight capacity from July 1st. Happy Days!
At the moment we are taking bookings online on our website www.marinetours.ie for July, August, September, October and in the event of any cancellation the money will be directly refunded back to source if the trip is cancelled for any reason and the customer does not wish to reschedule to an alternate date or tour. This has always been our policy and we have refunded all customers to date who have cancelled their bookings for 2020. We hope to see them again next year!
As stated, we may start on a limited basis for the first few weeks (June 08th to June 29th) and we envisage limiting the number of passengers on board to approx. 25% - 33% of the full passenger complement of the boat initially, in order to achieve better physical distancing. In the case of M.V. "Blasket Princess" the passenger certificate is for 44 passengers but we will limit this to max. 12 passengers for the first few weeks after reopening. Likewise, our second vessel M.V. "An Blascaod Mór" has a passenger certificate for 36 passengers and we will also limit the number of passengers to 12 passengers initially. We will ask our passengers to stay in their own groups and to keep up to 2m from other couples / family / small group on board.
From June 29th, or July 20th, we will reduce the number of passengers by 50% of full complement in order to achieve proper physical distancing
So, as spaces may be limited (especially for late July and all of August) when we resume, due to reducing the number of passengers that we will take, please book your tour during May / June to be sure of a place for our July / August / September / October boat tours!
1. Hand Sanitiser:
We will provide approved hand sanitiser on the pier before each passenger embarks / disembarks from the vessel. At the moment we have a small supply provided by Dingle Distillery who have changed from distilling whisky to making 80% alcohol hand sanitiser and we would ask each passenger to use adequately but sparingly so that all passengers have their hands sanitised before touching any surfaces. Thank you. We will also have two hand sanitiser stations on board.
2. Physical Distancing:
As mentioned above we recommend, whenever possible,. that our customers come as a group or large extended family group and we can reserve one of our two boats for such a group / family.
Similar to restaurants, we have decided initially to only take 25% - 33% the permitted number on each boat tour to allow more space on the vesssel for physical distancing. Our vessel M.V. "Blasket Princess" has approx. 50 sq. meters deck space - approx. 30 sq. meters outside deck and 20 sq. meters inside in wheelhouse. As well as this we would ask each couple, family, or small group of friends coming on board to remain in each other's company as much as possible so that 2m physical distancing can be kept between each grouping.
3. On board Hygiene and Sanitation:
We have a separate marine toilet cubicle on board with closet and hand basin. We supply strong carbolic soap for hand washing with fresh water and also 80% alcohol sanitiser product. We also supply disposable paper hand towels.
Our crew disinfect and sanitise all surfaces that are regularly touched by passengers e.g hand rails, seats, step / stair railings before and after each separate voyage with strong approved disinfectant and sanitiser and also midway through each tour so that you can relax and enjoy your boat trip in the knowledge that everything possible is being done by a trained and efficient crew to make your voyage both safe and enjoyable.
At the moment face masks are entirely optional but this may change before the reopen date for our boat tours. The captain and crew will use their own face masks whenever interacting or communicating with passengers and if passengers wish to wear face masks on board please bring your own along. If there is a regulation or requirement for passengers to wear face masks then we will comply, otherwise we will leave optional.
5. Announcments and Posters:
We will display all mandatory Covid-19 related posters on board as well as including in our normal pre-voyage Safety Announcement details of our on board Covid-19 Safety Protocols.
6. Inboard Perspex screening:
On our passenger vessel M.V. "Blasket Princess" we have inboard seating in the wheelhouse for 18 passengers as well as seating for 26 passengers on the outside deck. We intend to separate the indoor seating (combination of 4 X two seat and 4 X 3 seat units) by clear perspex sheeting separating the seating units from each other. We intend to leave the outdoor deck and seating as existing.
7. Tendering (when required):
Occasionally we have to tender passengers by licenced tender to / from the mother vessel "Blasket Princess" when there is not enough water to come alongside the pier especially around +/- L.W.S. [Low Water Springs] and always to land passengers at Great Blasket Island (relevant to All Day Tour passengers only) where tendering is always required by all passenger vessels landing passengers there at the island slipway
Our tendering vessel is a 5.5m X 2.2m Avon dinghy licenced by Dept. of Transport for 8 pax. and 1 crew (CE stamped / approved on transom for 12 pax.). In order to achieve 2m physical distancing we propose to limit this by 50% to 4 pax. initially (33% of CE approved passenger load) or unit of family group or unit of close group of friends who are travelling together. The total area of the tender is 12 .10 sq. meters.
8. Other Measures:
As the situation is still evolving we will take any other suitable precautions that are introduced before our projected restart date of June 08th e.g. We saw today at our local garage a very compact free-standing disposal bin with unit on top dispensing disposable gloves and hand wipe dispenser which we would also consider installing on board for those who wish to avail of same.
9. Greeting and Farewells:
We normally like to greet and say farewell to our passengers with a handshake and /or hug but regrettably in these times we will have to change our traditional Irish greeting of "Dia dhuit! Fáilte ar bord" and "Slán go fóill. Go n-éirí an bóthar leat!" with a more Thai style wai (bow) and a "Sawasdee kharp!" or "Sawasdee khaa....". But coming from the second friendliest nation in the world (Thailand) after Ireland, and the "Land of a thousand smiles" we are happy to exchange our traditional warm Irish handshake and smile for a friendly Thai style bow, at least until next year!
Enjoy your trip with Blasket Islands Eco Marine Tours
The above are the protocols that we hope to put in place once we restart our 2020 boat tours again hopefully from June 08th to October 31st.
We will follow all current rules and regulations, guidelines and protocols for our passengers' safety and all / any of these may change or adjust over time.
Please do not let any of the above stop you from taking or enjoying your trip with Blasket Islands Eco Marine Tours from Ventry Harbour, as being out in the open air and especially the sea air is very healthy and hopefully we will have some good sightings on the trip to cheer your spirits. The scenery around the Blaskets, both landscapes and seascapes, is still as breath taking as ever and our marine wildlife, both avian (puffins), terrestrial (seals) and marine (dolphins, whales, porpoises) as rewarding to see as ever. Please note that we cannot guarantee sightings on every one of our tours as the animals are free (thankfully) and the ocean is big and our boat is small (relatively speaking although she is 43 ft. long) but with experienced skipper and crew we will find any animals that are there and either way we ourselves always enjoy being out on the ocean billow irrespective of sightings and are looking forward to starting our tours again and sharing our experience with you.
Please stay positive and book one of our tours today (in the column on the right hand side) in the knowledge that we will be obeying all rules and protocols; that it is good for the soul and spirit to be out in the wild again after the forced lockdown and that all that marine wildlife, landscapes and seascapes, are still out there waiting to be rediscovered again.
Also, you can be confident that we have a "no quibbles" refund poloicy in place in the event of any cancellation of a trip for any reason and if you cannot reschedule to another tour or date. Unlike many other (big) companies, we have refunded in full in cash (not vouchers) all the many international cancellations that we received since this crisis started, and those are all customers whom we hope to see next year, just as we hope to see you this year!
I look forward to welcoming you on board!
Mick Sheeran T/A Blasket Islands Eco Marine Tours 25.05.2020