Health & Safety Measures On Our Trips

Updated: 11/9/20 at 9am EST

Today’s Updates: None

The health and safety of our travelers is always our #1 priority and we understand travelers are concerned about traveling abroad in light of the unprecedented crisis we are currently facing. For that reason, we wanted to share with you the specific measures we are taking on our trips and aboard our privately-owned 86- to 162-passenger river ships to support social distancing and give our travelers greater peace of mind when we begin to travel again. Click here to learn more about the protocols we are implementing on our privately-owned river ships.

We are working with our 36 regional offices and more than 2,500 regional associates and Program Directors around the world, as well as listening to feedback from our travelers to create and update these new health and safety protocols. We will be addressing each of our trips and making specific updates to each itinerary to ensure the safety of our travelers. As we continue to make changes, we will keep this page updated with our latest information.

New Health & Safety Guidelines
Hear from Harriet how O.A.T.'s regional offices around the world are putting your safety first during these unprecedented times.

Traveler Screening Process & Safety Measures Prior to Arrival in First Destination on Trip

  • Your Program Director will contact you approximately 3 weeks prior to departure to introduce himself or herself and provide you with specific information regarding updated safety and health measures and protocols you can expect on your trip.
  • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has updated its security screening procedures, including increasing the distance between travelers as they enter security check points, requiring travelers to return to the area outside of security if prohibited items are found, and having travelers scan their own boarding passes.
  • Many airlines and airports have specific safety procedures they are following, so travelers are encouraged to check with their airline prior to their trip and arrive at the airport early as these updated protocols will add more time to check in and security check points.

Traveler Screening Upon Arrival at First Destination on Trip

  • All travelers will have their temperature checked at the airport by a Grand Circle representative or Program Director using a non-contact infrared temperature scanner before transferring to the first accommodation or lodging on their trip.

Face Coverings & Hand Sanitizer

  • N95 face masks (or the equivalent in the country), gloves, and hand sanitizer will be provided to all travelers throughout the trip, however travelers can bring their own preferred face covering and hand sanitizer from home.

Whispers Headsets

  • Whispers will be provided for all included features and activities to support social distancing—and remain with each traveler for the entire trip.
  • Whispers will be thoroughly sanitized before the trip begins.

Included Features & Activities

  • All included features and activities to popular locations or sites will be rearranged to avoid large crowds—this may mean that we will arrive early or visit the location later in the day.
  • Travelers will be broken into smaller groups as needed for Home-Hosted meals to support social distancing.
  • Our local regional offices have carefully selected included features and activities with a focus on the safety of our travelers, however all included features and activities are optional, so travelers can choose whether to participate in an activity or explore on their own.
  • Our Program Directors will offer alternate options if a traveler chooses not to participate in an included feature.

Local Transportation & Coaches

  • All local transportation and coaches on our international itineraries will operate at approximately half the vehicle’s capacity. Our domestic U.S. itineraries will operate with no more than 38 travelers aboard a 55-passenger coach.
  • All coaches will be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized with disinfectant before each use.
  • The driver will have his or her temperature checked daily.


  • Our local regional offices have carefully selected your accommodations by city or town on our trips because of their high standards for quality.
  • In some instances, we have changed accommodations or lodgings to better ensure the health and safety of our travelers. We will continue to make updates to our accommodations and lodgings as needed to ensure the highest quality of service and safety for our travelers.
  • Our local regional offices will contact each accommodation or lodging prior to our group’s arrival to ensure enhanced safety and health protocols for cleaning and sanitization of rooms, public areas, and elevators have been properly followed.
  • Your Program Director will contact you shortly after check in to ensure you are comfortable with the cleanliness and sanitization of your room.
  • The staff at all of our accommodations and lodgings will have 24/7 access to a doctor or medical staff, should medical assistance be needed.

Local Restaurants

  • Whenever possible, meals in restaurants will be individually plated and served.
  • Buffet breakfasts will still be available and the dining staff will follow best health and hygiene practices to ensure food safety and prevent the spread of illness.
  • To promote social distancing when dining in local restaurants, our group may be separated into smaller groups and each dine in a different restaurant.
  • Items usually shared, like bread and butter or salt and pepper, will be served to each person individually upon request.

Screening Process & Safety Measures for Program Directors

  • Health screenings of Program Directors, including a COVID-19 test, will be completed before joining the trip
  • All Program Directors will be trained on health and safety protocols to follow during the trip.
  • All Program Directors will check his or her temperature daily.
  • Your Program Director will be available to you 24/7, with the support of our local regional office.
  • Your Program Director will be prepared to make adjustments to the itinerary as needed during the trip.

Health & Safety Measures Aboard Our Privately-Owned River Ships

  • ALL of our ships have been inspected and received a Certificate of Compliance by Bureau Veritas in accordance with their Guidelines for the Management of COVID-19 and Infectious Disease. As the world leader in ocean classification and offshore safety standards, Bureau Veritas subjects each marine vessel to rigorous testing and inspection protocols, and only members who consistently meet and demonstrate adherence to their high standards are eligible and granted certification.
  • All travelers have temperatures checked using a non-contact infrared temperature scanner when embarking the ship for the first time, and temperatures are checked daily using a non-contact infrared temperature scanner when boarding the ship after tours and free time.
  • N95 face masks, gloves, and hand sanitizer are provided for travelers. All crew and staff will wear masks or face shields and gloves, including at the front desk, bar and lounge, dining room, and when cleaning cabins.
  • ALL of our ships are equipped with High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) conditioning filters that are cleaned and disinfected prior to each sailing. HEPA filters are among the highest grade air purification filters and remove at least 99.97% of particles from the air passing through the filter.
  • Whispers Headsets are provided for all included features and activities off the ship to support social distancing—and remain with each traveler for the entire trip. Whispers are thoroughly sanitized before embarkation.
  • Health screenings of all crew and staff are completed before boarding the ship, including an instant polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which will also be administered on a regular basis.
  • All crew members are trained on best health and hygiene practices from ECOLAB and the European Union’s SHIPSAN ACT to prevent the spread of illness onboard the ship.
  • Strict limitations on how often the crew and staff go ashore will be implemented, and all crew and staff temperatures are checked when reboarding the ship.
  • Sanitization is conducted every night utilizing an electrostatic disinfection spraying machine for a more complete cleaning in public areas—including the dining room, lounge, bar, lobby, elevator, and all crew areas.
  • Meals served in the dining room are split into two seatings to increase safe distancing between travelers and all meals are served by the dining staff—buffets are no longer available.
  • All local transportation and coaches will operate at approximately half the vehicle’s capacity.

We will do all we can to ensure our travelers’ safety and health while on our trips, but we need your help. We expect travelers to follow best health and hygiene practices to prevent the spread of illness as well—from washing your hands regularly, covering your mouth when coughing or sneezing, and following social distancing guidelines. By working together, we can create a safer travel experience for everyone.