By Adam Martindale

How we travel has definitely changed in the short term, this is fluid and being improved day by day and best practices are being shared by different companies. Many of the changes are for the best and will create a safer environment for everyone. I believe that some of these changes should have been in place already, some will be annoying to some and many of the changes will be accepted and the way we navigate the new “normal” in travel.


“Service” is being redefined. The new goal is to have everything be contactless, from the front desk, check-in experience to the room key, non-touch door handles, no touch remote controls (using your phone) and in-room controls for lights and heat/cooling devices also on your phone if possible.  Cleanliness has almost become the new luxury, which has always been expected but now the emphasis on cleanliness and sanitizing has taken over the friendly smiles (through a mask) and personal ‘touches”. Hotels and resorts are trying their best to mesh both service and following the new protocols and most of the International hotel brands have created their own set of hygiene protocols, often in partnership with hospitals or research institutes.

 I worked on board cruise ships for 17 years, so seeing hand sanitizers at the entrance of restaurants and at the entry and exit of the ship was normal, now hotels are following that same protocol.

Expect to be greeted by a hand sanitizer station at your next hotel check-in as well as by a bellman or valet wearing a mask and gloves to welcome you. You will see markers telling you where to stand for check-in (if you did not download the app and get your digital key ahead of time) and to be greeted at the front desk by an employee wearing a mask behind a screen who will hand you as little paper as possible and may ask you to scan a QR code for a property map and all the information you need about the hotel, including menus for room service and the restaurants on property.

When you arrive at your room, you may find a welcome kit consisting of facemasks, hand sanitizer and gloves replacing the fruit basket and chocolates! Bottled water may be available sealed in a plastic bag (to prevent anyone touching the bottle before you) and most reading material will have been removed from the room as well as additional throw pillows, extra blankets, pillows etc.…

You should make a reservation for the restaurants as they will have eliminated tables for social distancing and don’t expect to find a breakfast buffet available anymore.

As far as the pool, some hotels may ask you to make reservations, others will just limit capacity and it will “first come, first served” with lifeguards walking around sanitizing the loungers after each use. You can swim in the pool and enjoy as you normally would. All these enhancements make the experience much healthier and will provide a safer environment for all to enjoy.

Airline Travel

“Touchless” check-in as much as possible (preferably by the airline app on your phone) middle seats blocked off, masks mandatory, no alcohol service, no magazines but a sparkling clean plane which has been fogged before boarding. Flying will be a much cleaner and healthier because of these new protocols as well as the fact that most people do not realize that, on average, cabin air is completely refreshed 20 times per hour, compared with just 12 times per hour in an office building. On most aircraft, air is also circulated through hospital-grade HEPA filters, which remove 99.97 percent of bacteria, as well as the airborne particles that viruses use for transport. Additionally, cabins are divided into separate ventilation sections about every seven rows of seats, which means that you share air only with those in your immediate environment and not with the guy who’s coughing up a lung ten rows back.


I may be biased in my opinion about cruises as I worked on board cruise ships for 17 years for 4 major cruise lines as Food and Beverage Director and always maintained and was responsible for the strictest standards imposed by the CDC. Their VSP (Vessel Sanitation Program) subjects this industry to federal scrutiny that is unique within the travel and hospitality industry. There is no similar federal program for hotels, airlines or restaurants.

The ships crew have always regularly cleaned and sanitized handrails, door handles, faucets and other commonly touched surfaces multiple times a day. Crews attack the possibility of an outbreak in other ways, such as “strict laundry protocols” aimed at eliminating viruses and bacteria on soft surfaces such as sheets. After a cruise ends and before the next passengers arrive, ships are cleaned from top to bottom.

Having said this the cruise lines have submitted their new protocols to the CDC and are awaiting approval to begin sailing again. Guests should expect enhanced pre-cruise health screening and ongoing screenings throughout the cruise. All guest screenings will be non-invasive, primarily involving touch-free temperature checks. Crew will be extensively screened prior to and throughout the voyage. Touchless temperature checks and monitors will be the norm. There may be on-board COVID-19 tests for staff during the cruise as well. Many cruise lines will probably use thermal cameras to take temperatures.

Medical grade H13 HEPA filters are being installed on many cruise lines. These filters remove 99.95% of airborne pathogens.

Ships will now be disinfected prior to every voyage in conjunction with CDC’s Vessel Sanitation Program. Terminals will be sanitized continuously and fogged (when possible) before and after embarkation and debarkation. In addition, you can expect:

  • Extreme cleaning that might include hypochlorous acid (HOCl) fogging in staterooms and public areas – this technology uses a non-toxic, powerful oxidant that kills bacteria, spores and viruses…it’s safe to use since it’s comprised of natural elements.
  • 24/7 cleaning, especially in public areas and high-touch points
  • Buffets and beverage stations will be staffed to ensure that many hands do not transmit disease.
  • Guests will be strongly encouraged to frequently wash hands – as they always have been – and hand sanitizer will be placed prominently throughout the ship.
  • Luggage and deliveries may be disinfected
  • Only authorized people and items will be allowed on board, and everything will be subject to disinfection.

You can expect to experience “staggered embarkation” and online check-in to assist with social distancing. While on-board, you will find that activities are still available, albeit sometimes modified to allow for social distancing…tis may mean reduced numbers of guests in performances and in given areas.

There will be limited capacities in common areas such as gyms, theaters and restaurants

Touchless systems will be in place such as a “band” on Virgin or a “Medallion” on Princess for keyless entry to your room and also for contactless payments.

The ships’ onboard medical centers will be fully equipped with the latest testing kits and medical supplies, and medical teams are being expanded. Additionally, each ship will have dedicated isolation areas for infected guests and staff if needed.

The medical facilities and staff will be increased on board. Staterooms will be kept empty for isolation purposes, if needed. Medical staff will review documentation received prior to embarkation, medical evaluations at the time of embarkation and ongoing surveillance during the cruise.

Ships will only visit safe ports of call, which means that itineraries are subject to change in case of outbreaks or other issues. Cruise lines will work closely with partners on shore – such as excursion providers – to ensure that health and sanitation protocols are extended to land experiences.

At the End of the Day

Travel will continue, in different ways but will evolve into a safer and healthier environment for all to enjoy. “Service” will include the highest hygiene standards and this will be very important when making your travel decisions. The age and health of the individual traveler will play a big role in factoring where and how travel is planned. The protocols that the travel industries are putting into place emphasize safety above all. I’m very confident that travel will continue to increase and it will be safer than ever to take plan your vacation with friends and family on land or back on the high seas where every effort will be made to make your vacation as worry-free and enjoyable as possible. Cheers to a bright travel future.

Adam Martindale is a Luxury Food & Wine Group Specialist with Cruise Planners, Your Land & Cruise Experts. For further info or to plan a trip Adam can be reached at 206-399-2123 or