COVID-19 - safe, sustainable and enjoyable cruising
Coronavirus health and safety is top priority for Whalesong Cruises
Update: August 9th, 2021
Whilst South East Queensland are now out of lockdown and able to travel, it's not recommended to do so just yet.
An email from our State Industry body, Tourism and Events Queensland, has said that ‘COVID-normal’ restrictions apply in the remaining parts of Queensland.
However, if someone has travelled to an 'impacted area' ie. South East Queensland or Cairns/Yarrabah, they may be subject to following the requirements of that area for the following 14 days once they leave that area. For example, if a person visits the South East Queensland region then travels onwards to the Fraser Coast, they will be required to wear a mask until 14 days have passed since they left South East Queensland.
Tourism businesses are not expected to enforce Public Health Directions, however they do have the right to refuse service should they choose, and can report any suspected breaches to their Public Health Unit or Queensland Police.
We are missing all our SEQ guests. At the same time, we need to remain safe and ensure COVID-19 doesn't get in to Hervey Bay...it would be devastating for the entire industry!
All we can ask is for your honesty and please respect the QLD Health directives. If all you need to sacrifice for a whale watching cruise is to wear a mask...then it's a small price to pay.
Update: February 22nd, 2021
We're planning for our 2021 Whale Watching season and want to let you know we'll be adhering to all cleaning & sanitisation, social distancing and contact tracing processes, as required. The 2020 season was very busy and due to our rigorous COVID-safe plan, procedures and practices, we are proud to say we didn't record any COVID cases on board. We're planning on keeping it that way for 2021! With out flexible cancellation policy, it makes sense to book in advanced, and directly with us (you'll even receive a free gift when you book direct - on our website or over the phone).
Update: January 8th, 2021
With the lockdown in Greater Brisbane, we aren't accepting any guests on board who have been in the Greater Brisbane area since January 2nd. It's a difficult time for us all, especially as Queensland has done it's best to contain the virus for the past 10 months, since March 2020. We hope all Brisbane people stay safe and well over the next few days. We look forward to being able to host you back on the boat once you're permitted to travel again.
Update: December 18th, 2020
One week until Christmas Day and Queensland has been doing a great job of keeping the State virus-free for quite some time now. Whilst the virus isn't present in Hervey Bay, we still haven't let our guard down and continue to operate by the procedures outlined in our COVID-safe plan. We are continually monitoring our guests and crew for signs of the virus. Cleaning and sanitisation are still regularly performed, yet in a way that doesn't detract from our cruising experience.
Unfortunately, it looks like our NSW friends from the Northern Beaches of Sydney, won't be able to join us this festive season. We look forward to hosting them once they've hotel quarantined for 14 days prior to visiting us. More to come, when we know more too...
Update: September 1st, 2020
Spring has sprung and so have the Mums and Calves in Hervey Bay. With our COVID safe plan in place, you can be rest assured the crew will do everything to look after your health and well-being throughout the cruise. We're surveyed for 100 guests but only ever take around 60 guests anyway. There's enough room on board so your group can maintain social distancing and can enjoy the experience knowing (with our strict, regular cleaning and sanitisation procedures in place), the boat is kept as COVID-safe as possible.
If we chose to take up to 50 guests, we would need to adhere to a checklist only, put out by QTIC (approved by Queensland Health). Our COVID-safe plan is far more rigorous and has much more regular cleaning and sanitisation procedures. It also places higher demand on our crew (even if it means only 10 more guests on the boat), yet they look after it all so well.
Having said that, we give everyone the opportunity to get off the boat, and reschedule or receive a full refund, if they decide they don't want to be with many others. Again, this can affect our financial bottom line, but we want everyone to feel safe and happy to be on board. Any questions, please call the office and ask to speak with Kristy or Bec - we're happy to explain it all further.
Update: July 10th, 2020
As restrictions ease and the borders to Queensland are open (except for the poor Victorians), we're seeing a lot more interest in whale watching cruises. As of June 3rd, because we have our COVID safe plan in place, and our boat has an industry 'approved option', we can operate almost to our normal capacity, as everyone on the boat is considered to be one group. Now, although this would have been great this week due to having a waitlist every single day. We've done so well in Queensland and we're going to make sure we keep it that way!
Update: June 26th, 2020
The night before our 'whale search' cruises begin and we have fabulous news! We've adapted the COVID-Safe plan for the tourism industry to our cruises, which means we can take 46 passengers on board, with social distancing (we can actually take 54 passengers but we're limiting it to 46 passengers so everyone can move around fairly freely). It's been a hard slog by Rebecca and the team to make it all happen, but we made it...hooray! We've added unobtrusive yet obvious social distancing stickers to the boat (see below photo for the blue stickers) so our guests can see exactly what distance they should be maintaining throughout the cruise.
Update: June 15th, 2020
Being environmentally conscious, our delicious food has always been served on reusable plates with reusable cutlery; hot drinks are even served in reusable mugs. In the 27+ years of operation, Whalesong has always strived to minimise the environmental impact wherever possible. We're happy to say, even with COVID-19 restrictions, we can still reuse our crockery and cutlery.
We've installed a commercial grade dishwasher!
Believe it or not, we weren't required to have a commercial grade dishwasher on beforehand...a domestic one was sufficient for our purposes. However, the water doesn't heat to the required temperature to eliminate viruses. Our commercial dishwasher does - over 85 deg celsius.
Yes, it cost a fair bit to purchase and install. It just means we can keep true to our values of providing a safe and enjoyable experience for everyone on board...in a sustainable manner. Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or thoughts on this.
Update: June 4th, 2020
The magic number is....40!
A picture says a thousand words. Whilst it's a very crude image, the boat has been measured three times and we've come up with the same figures each time. We can officially (yet conservatively) take a maximum of 40 people on board each cruise, given COVID-19 social distancing measures. There will be nine (9) zones on the boat and each zone will have a maximum permitted number of people in that spot at any one time. Our crew will ensure this is adhered to, in order to keep everyone safe (yet still able to enjoy the experience). All the highlighted yellow parts of the boat aren't included in the calculations as they are either no-go zones for our guests, or places where you (hopefully) won't be spending too much time on the boat, i.e. the toilets and the stairwell.
Whilst our numbers are limited, we're still happily accepting families on board. Please remember to book in early though to get on the cruise you'd like and to avoid disappointment.
Update: May 20th, 2020
With the ever changing situation, we'll keep you posted with updates. In the meantime, if there's anything else we can help with, please let us know. Remember, from June 13th, we're cruising again and if you live within a 250km radius of Hervey Bay (that's you in Bundaberg, Rockhampton, Gympie, Monto, Noosa, Mooloolabah and Central/North Brisbane) and we'd love to have you on board to help you enjoy living again.
Update: May 15th, 2020
We know things are never going to be the same again. Travel and tourism isn't excluded from this. Whalesong Cruises has had to adapt (and quickly) with the changing COVID-19 situation to ensure the guaranteed health and safety of our guests, crew and the wider community. Rest assured, the team at Whalesong are still dedicated to providing incredible and unforgettable experiences as in the past...we've just needed to make a few modifications.
When are you operating again?
We will begin cruises again from June 12th, 2020 with limited capacity.
The Queensland State Government roadmap states:
- from June 1st - we can have up to 20 guests on board.
- from July 10th - we can have up to 100 guests on board (we wouldn't take that many under 'normal' circumstances anyhow)
- we must maintain social distancing regardless of maximum group numbers allowed
From June 12th:
- we will commence our 1.5 hour Hervey Bay Sunset Cruise (departing Urangan Marina at 4:30pm) for Friday and Saturday nights for the public, up to 20 guests. We can run this as a private charter so please contact us for more information, if you're interested.
From June 27th:
- we will run our 5-6 hour Whale Search/Dolphin Watch cruise (departing Urangan Marina at 8am and returning between 1pm and 2pm). This is our pre-guaranteed Whale Watching cruise and is fabulous for getting out on the water and being some of the first people to spot the first whales of the season. We will take up to 20 people until July 9th, then potentially increase capacity from July 10th until July 17th.
From July 18th:
- we'll be operating our twice daily, Guaranteed Whale Watch Cruises. We normally take up to 60 guests on board, but with social distancing and the square meterage of MV Whalesong, we'll have a maximum of 40 guests on board. This season will offer a unique opportunity to view whales all season, with highly limited capacity. Even better news for our guests, our prices will remain the same, so you're still getting the same wonderful inclusions and an even more exclusive cruise. There's no better value for money! The two daily cruises are:
- 5 hour Extended Morning cruise from 8am-1pm
- 4 hour Afternoon + Sunset cruise from 2pm-6pm(ish) sometime back around 6:30pm (this cruise commences on July 25th as we tend to spend more time in the mornings on the whales)
Our unique half-day Fraser Island Beach + BBQ cruise won't be running again until November.
What is Whalesong doing to ensure safety of guests and crew?
Prior to the shutdown due to COVID-19, Whalesong Cruises had already produced a basic document for the health and safety of everyone on board. Of course, now there's a much more rigorous COVID Safe procedure we've developed to ensure the safety of everyone on board. This enhanced procedure which is fully compliant with Queensland Health guidelines, will be made available to all our guests.
Please note: our cruises are the only half-day cruises to offer meals. These have typically been served buffet-style. There are changes being made to the way we serve our delicious food, but don't worry, you'll still be receiving the same great food onboard and in a safe and sustainable manner, as you always have done!
What is Whalesong's cancellation policy for COVID-19?
Our cancellation policy has always been very flexible. We generally require 48 hours notice prior to the cruise departure, for you to receive a full refund. This still stands. Also, there are no cancellation or change of date fees. If you need to postpone or cancel due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, you'll know well within 48 hours of travel and Whalesong Cruises will postpone or cancel your booking as you need.
How can we be sure that Whalesong's cleaning are best practices?
Whilst we've not been cruising, we've been taking the time to research and develop new business procedures. This includes our hygiene and cleaning standards (which will be attached above before we commence cruising again on June 12th). In addition to training crew in health and safety, Whalesong Cruises is also developing a COVID-19 SAFE plan which will be reviewed and approved by Queensland Health. This will ensure we're meeting best practise standards and continue to offer a safe environment to travel.
How do I know if I'm doing the correct thing in terms of COVID-19 on board Whalesong?
When you embark the vessel, you'll be marked off the manifest, asked a few health questions and receive explanation about social distancing and sanitisation on board. In our general safety briefing, the skipper will remind you of what you can do. There will also be signs around the boat to outline what you can do to keep yourself and everyone else on board, safe. If you're ever in doubt though, our crew are still friendly, helpful and dedicated to showing you the best time on the boat, so please just ask one of them. Whalesong Cruises is committed to keeping everyone safe during (and beyond) COVID-19, as it always has done.
Whalesong Cruises - Hervey Bay, Queensland's premium mid-sized, modern, environmentally friendly and multi-functional boat, providing unforgettable boat tour experiences all year round.