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New Rescheduling Policy Due to Covid-19 Concerns

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June 8, 2020

Testing the Waters

Northwest Navigation / David B Small Ship CruisesWe’ve been doing a lot of head-scratching the last couple of months to try to come up with safety protocols for operating the David B during the pandemic. Our approach has been to learn as much as possible about the virus, how it’s transmitted, how to contain it, and how to avoid spreading. Our COVID-19 protocols are continuously evolving, but we believe they reduce the risk of transmission to passengers and crew alike, while also giving you the best experience possible during this confusing time.

Our philosophy is that the out-of-doors and the experience of nature is an important part of life. Having access to nature during a time of stress and upheaval is crucial. Some of the pros of traveling on the David B are that we specialize in small group travel with an 8 passenger maximum, and our 65-foot boat offers plenty of spaces where we can spread out and maintain proper social distance from one another.

Pre-travel Preparations
First, you will be asked to minimize non-essential interactions and wear face coverings in public spaces for 14 days prior to your trip. During that time, you will be given access to Discovery Health MD, our telemedicine provider’s portal, for reporting daily temperatures and any symptoms. If you develop any COVID-19 symptoms, please call Sarah to talk about your options. Remember, we don’t have any penalties for rescheduling. We want you to be safe and to take care of yourself.

When traveling to Alaska, you will be required to follow the direction of the State of Alaska Health Mandate 10 and take PRC test for Covid-19 at least 72 hours before departure. Upon arrival in Alaska you will need to provide a certificate of a negative result to a health officer at the airport. Additionally, passengers must minimize their interactions in the community for the first 14 days. To achieve this last requirement, the crew will be picking you up directly from the airport. Sarah will be contacting all currently scheduled Alaska passengers to discuss and confirm travel plans.

On the Boat
In trying to reduce the likelihood of infecting each other on the boat, we’ve looked at following elements of transmission:

Person to Person: Trips aboard the David B are fun social events. We talk a lot, we laugh a lot, we shout with joy when a glacier calves or a whale breaches. However, even with pre-trip testing, we cannot guarantee that everyone is COVID-19 free. We are following CDC and Alaska Health Mandates that indicate face coverings, hand washing, and social distancing are the most effective tools at our disposal to mitigate the risk of infection.

For that reason, you will often be seeing your crew wearing some form of face-covering inside, especially the wheelhouse, saloon, and galley. Additionally, we strongly encourage and invite you to do the same.

Fortunately, there are plenty of spaces on the boat where you won’t need to wear a face-covering if you can maintain a proper distance. Now with the new upper aft deck, we have even more useable outside space.

New for this year, we’ve purchased touchless hand sanitizer and soap dispensers for the public spaces. Plus we still have a handwashing station in between the galley and the saloon. Needless to say, we have lots of soap on board and we look forward to hearing your best handwashing song.

Exposure from Surfaces: To minimize the risk of transmission from surfaces we will be conducting additional cleaning and disinfecting of hard surfaces. We will also be encouraging you to use disinfecting wipes to clean shared spaces such as the forward head (restroom) and handwashing station after each use. The crew will conduct an additional nightly cleaning of the shared spaces.

Exposure from Air: All of our cabins and the main cabin (saloon) have been outfitted with new air purifiers that have high-efficiency particle air filters (HEPA) that are able to filter the air every 12 minutes to reduce virus and bacteria levels. We also think these purifiers will improve the air quality in the boat.

If Someone Gets Sick
We recognize that even if we follow all of these precautions there is always a chance that someone will get sick. With that in mind, we will be monitoring crew and passenger health each day with temperature checks. If anyone develops any symptoms we will consult with our telemedicine provider, and if necessary Alaska Fjords Photography Cruiseend the trip, and return to port. Then, as per the State of Alaska Health Mandates, everyone will be tested.

Travel during this time period is uncertain, but we can all work together to mitigate the risk to ourselves and to others. If you are comfortable with taking all the precautions described, then we would enjoy seeing you on the boat this season. If wearing a face covering, social distancing and the pre-travel preparation seems like just too much to deal with or you think it would detract from your experience, then please by all means wait a while longer and come with us next year or in 2022. We look forward to seeing you when the time is right.

Stay safe. Your crew,
Jeffrey, Christine, and Sarah

PS…So what if you would like to reserve a trip, but are unsure? We’ll hold your spot for you for a $100 nominal fee until November 1, 2020. Don’t forget our 2021 and 2022 schedules are posted online. Sarah can be reached at 360-747-7218 or by email.

May 3, 2020

Plotting a Course

Northwest Navigation / David B Small Ship Cruises“So, what if…,” has been the beginning of most of our conversations as we search for signs of when we’ll be able to start our season. Since we operate in two US states and a Canadian province, we’re constantly monitoring the orders of Washington, Alaska, and British Columbia looking for news of when we can fire up the engine and get underway.

Over the last few days it feels like there are some encouraging signs. The cases of coronavirus in Washington state have plateaued. There are some cautious steps being taken to ease some of our restrictions. It’s also been encouraging to see that some airlines are requiring people to wear masks, which is something we hope will become widespread in the coming weeks and months. As each day passes, the smart people in labs are learning more and more about how this virus works. It’s good to hear that new treatments are being tried and possible vaccines being developed.

So, what if…

Until there’s a vaccine, we are all going to have to adapt to life with a new and dangerous disease. It means we’ll do things differently and more cautiously. How will that happen? Here are some of the things that we’re monitoring:

  • The lifting of travel restrictions in Alaska, Washington, and Alaska.
  • The lifting of the mandatory 14-day quarantine period for all people arriving in Alaska.
  • The possible seasonality of the virus.
  • The ability to perform more testing.
  • The need for pre-travel health screenings and waivers.
  • The requirement to wear masks on flights and in public spaces.
  • The continued social distancing rules.
Last week when our scheduled departure date came and went, my heart ached. I was reminded of one of my favorite scenes in the movie, Winged Migration, where a grandmotherly woman, wearing a scarf on her head, watches a flock of cranes in a field. As the birds take flight, she stands with her arms at her sides. However, her wrists flick involuntarily in a wing-like motion. It gets me every time. Like the old woman, I see the cranes carry my dreams on their wings. I want to fly with them. I want to go where they go.Northwest Navigation / David B Small Ship Cruises

So what if we will be able to salvage the latter part of this season — either with the schedule we have or a modified schedule? However it works, we’re plotting a course for the future by working on safety protocols so we may still operate with passengers, who are comfortable traveling during this time. That way, if there is a chance to safely get underway and do what we love to do, we’ll be ready.

So, what if…?

Stay safe. Stay well,

Christine

 

March 27, 2020

Safe Harbor

Northwest Navigation / David B Small Ship CruisesWe sincerely hope this newsletter finds you well. It’s been another week of uncertainty and we just want to check in with y’all. We also want to say thank you to everyone who has responded back to us with words of encouragement, suggestions for promotions, prepayments, flexibility, and of course willingness to reschedule for next year and beyond. We know many of you are facing a lot of unknowns too, and this is a difficult, stressful, and uncertain time. With that said, we also offer you the encouragement that this will one day pass and the resilience to keep going.

Every day this past week has brought new challenges. The State of Washington, our home port, now has a shelter-in-place order. We had to furlough Tim, our winter maintenance employee and reschedule our shipyard appointment for mid-April. Canada’s border is closed until April 21. If that is extended we won’t be able to take the David B through Canada on our way to Alaska. The State of  Alaska has imposed a 14-day quarantine period for all people arriving into the state.

That leaves us on hold without the assurance of when we will be able to operate. We do know the David B will be ready to go in late April as originally planned, but we are now expecting to have to wait until travel restrictions are lifted.

While we wait, we hope that you will stay well, stay safe, and stay home so we can all get back to cruising on the David B as quickly and safely as possible. For more information on how this is affecting us see our COVID-19 page.

With gratitude,
Christine and Jeffrey

PS – Don’t forget you can contact us at any time for reservations, information, or recipes. Our phone number is 360-474-7218 or shoot Sarah an email.

 

March 20, 2020

Assessing the Storm

Glacier Bay CruiseLast week Jeffrey wrote about weathering a storm and the need to weigh safety in all our decision making. As this week has progressed that storm on the horizon has become darker and more threatening. We have been monitoring the news from the travel industry closely, as well as news from the US Coast Guard, US Customs and Border Protection, and all the municipalities that we visit. Last night we read that the emergency room physicians in Alaska are asking to restrict air travel into the state because of the unique way that Alaska delivers emergency medical care, usually med-evac by air from remote areas with no services. With additional visitors from “the Outside” they worry they might be unable to manage.

As we gather information it is becoming more and more likely that we will be forced to reschedule our early season trips and maybe later trips as well. Like all small businesses, the thought of losing our income is frightening, but what is more frightening is the thought of losing you.

To me and Jeffrey you are all family and a big part of our David B community. For everyone who has traveled with us, you know that Jeffrey and I care about you. We love the time we have had on the boat together, the adventures and the experiences. We’ve loved the many ways you have stayed in touch with us after your trips. You have supported us and the David B for 15 years now and because of this, we want to make sure that you are safe.

Our season doesn’t officially start until April 23. In the meantime, we will be continuing to prepare the David B for the season. The boat’s annual chocolate order arrives in a few days, and on Monday we take the David B to the shipyard for its yearly haul out. We’ll keep doing all the regular spring outfitting and maintenance so we’ll be ready. We will also keep sending out updates on possible changes to our schedule and encouraging folks to reschedule for next year or later. If you are still scheduled to travel with us this year, we will be reaching out to you at about 30 days prior to your trip to determine if we can go or if we will need to reschedule.

As we watch this storm gather, we know this is temporary. It will strengthen in the coming days and weeks, but it will pass. The seas will calm down. Please be safe, and please take care of yourself and your family first, and your community.

Stay well,
Christine
Chef, Naturalist, Mate

PS – Don’t forget you can contact us at any time for reservations, information, or recipes. Our phone number is 360-474-7218 for Sarah in reservations, 360-201-8091 for Captain Jeffrey, 360-201-8184 for me, or shoot us an email.

 

March 13, 2020

Rescheduling Policy Update 2- More Flexibility

We’re also adding a slight addition to our rescheduling policy that makes it even more flexible and better for you:

We’d like to give you the most freedom to make your own decision about what’s right for you, so we are changing our rescheduling policy effective immediately to allow you to reschedule for any reason for any equivalent trip in the future.

We’ll even let you wait as long as you’d like to make your decision. This way you can wait it out without fear of losing your trip. In return, the only thing we ask is that you pay your remaining balance this year as if you were going on this year’s trip (but see below for a slight change.)

It’s that simple: Pay as if you were going this year. Wait as long as you want to decide if you can go this year. Cancel your trip for any reason. Reschedule whenever you want for any equivalent trip in the future.

Here’s the new twist: If you’d like to pick dates from our schedule for when you would like to reschedule your trip, you can wait to pay your remaining balance until 60 days before your actual trip.   Also, for anyone with a remaining balance, if you’d like to wait longer to pay, that’s okay. We’ll let you wait until 60 days prior to your trip if that works better for you.

Like before, let us know if you’ve changed your plans. I don’t want to get lonely waiting for you on the dock, if you’re not showing up.

If you have any questions at all in regards to any of our trips this season be sure to visit our website, give us a call at 360-474-7218, or send us an email.

Captain Jeffrey

WEATHERING A STORM

Travel during COVID-19 OutbreakAs another week passes, and the outside news gets crazier and crazier, with travel bans at the forefront, and big cruise lines canceling, we continue to evaluate how our summer is shaping up.

As a captain, I feel like this is very similar to how I plan for weather and storms. There’s a lot at stake. Every day I make multiple decisions about the voyage, the vessel, the weather, the guests, the crew. It’s what I’ve been doing for 29 years as a captain. I’m continually checking and updating my decisions, and trying to use as much new information as I can. One of the biggest hurdles is to avoid weighing one’s prior decisions over new facts. Just because it was forecast to be calm when I left the dock doesn’t mean that continuing into big seas makes sense.  Checking and rechecking myself doesn’t make me wishy-washy; it’s how to make safe decisions.

I make a lot of decisions by playing out the consequences in my head and thinking about how I would explain it afterward if it didn’t go well. It’s part of my training and experience. If I can finish the sentence that begins with “Well, your honor, the reason I was doing that was because…” in a way that seems plausible, it’s probably not such a bad idea. I use a risk/reward model as well. In this case, the reward (the grandeur of Alaska) is high and the risk is still low.

At this point, like before, we’re still operating as if our summer is going to go as planned. Right now, I still feel like it’s safe. Each new piece of news or information makes me re-evaluate the decision and each time I come back to the same decision: We’re still going unless it becomes unsafe or impossible for our guests, our boat or us.

In a lot of ways, I feel like this decision is like all the nautical decisions I’ve made in my career. It takes a lot of thought, a lot of hand wringing and a lot of worry. There are big stakes. I feel like I’ve been training my whole life to make this decision.

 We’re still going. Things may change. I’ll reevaluate then.

Captain Jeffrey

 

March 9, 2020

Last week we had a long discussion about COVID-19 (coronavirus) and what it means for travel and tourism in the coming months. While we are planning our season to go ahead as normal, we do recognize that COVID-19 might alter people’s travel plans. As a result of this Captain Jeffrey sent a letter to all of our guests this week letting them know that for this year we have changed our rescheduling policy for more flexibility. If you are looking to book a trip with us this summer, please read Jeffrey’s letter below and feel free to contact us with any questions. We’ll also extend this policy to you as well.  

Hello,
I’m reaching out to you to tell you about our plans for this summer and to ease any fears you might have regarding your trip and coronavirus. At this moment we feel like our summer is going to be just fine, but there are plenty of reasons that are out of the ordinary like flight cancellations or other disruptions to think that might change.

As part of running the boat, we have a lot of plans and procedures to deal with safety and health issues. We prepare and train for them all the time and we spend a lot of time worrying about your safety. We deal with emergencies as they happen, inform you and the other guests about what we’re doing and give you options if it’s appropriate, then try to get back to normal as soon as we can. Our plan for coronavirus is much the same.

We’d like to give you the most freedom and flexibility to make your own decision about what’s right for you, so we are changing our rescheduling policy effective immediately to allow you to reschedule for any reason for any equivalent trip in the future. This applies to all new bookings as well.

We’ll even let you wait as long as you’d like to make your decision. This way you can wait it out without fear of losing your trip. 

It’s that simple: Pay as if you were going this year. Wait as long as you want to decide if you can go this year. Cancel your trip for any reason. Reschedule whenever you want for any equivalent trip in the future.

I always have lots of fears and concerns that things outside my control will affect our guests, and I’m sure you have concerns as well.  I’m including my personal cell phone at the bottom of this if you’d like to call me. One of the great things about being a small company is that we’re able to talk with you personally. I’d love to talk to you. The info for Sarah and Christine is there as well.

There are plenty of reasons to worry about what’s going to happen in the future. I don’t want your trip to be one of them. That being said, I think that being out in the wilderness, away from any crowds is really the best place to be. It’s where I want to be, and I’m pretty sure it’s where you would rather be.

Oh, and of course, if you change your plans, please let us know so we don’t wait around the dock wondering where you are. 

Looking forward to seeing you,

Captain Jeffrey —  Cell# 360-201-8091

P.S. Christine always has a way to solve your troubles with cooking, so here’s her recipe for hand sanitizer you can make at home (that also smells really nice). I really like it.

Homemade Hand Sanitizer
1 part 90% isopropyl alcohol
1 part Aloe Vera gel
Optional add 10 drops Tea Tree oil


Chef Christine
Cell# 360-201-8184

Captain Jeffrey
Cell # 360-201-8091

Sarah – Reservations
Cell# 734-612-3327

 

More information links:

Links for Travel:
Seattle-Tacoma Airport
Ketchikan Airport
Juneau Airport
Alaska Marine Highway System

Links for the David B:
Policies for cruises on the David B
David B FAQs

Links for Health Advisories:
Center for Disease Control
Washington State Health Department
Alaska Health Department
Health Canada
World Health Organization
US State Department