Monday, March 30, 2020

Europe's Largest Freight and Passenger Ferry Company Maintains Services Despite the Virus

Controversial Decision to Continue Most Operations During Covid-19 Outbreak
Shipping News Feature

EUROPE – Whilst we have seen the likes of P&O Ferries suspend passenger ferry services to concentrate on freight carriage during the current crisis, Stena Line has opted for different tactics and is maintaining some passenger routes. Now it is reassuring customers that it is taking every precaution possible to help ensure the safety of customers and employees, whilst maintaining the supply lines for vital medical goods and food supplies.

In the last few weeks Stena Line’s European business has been impacted significantly by Covid-19, but despite crippling trading circumstances, the biggest ferry company in Europe says it remains resolute in its determination to keep services going whilst strictly adhering to government guidelines on travel, as well as observing the very latest medical advice on helping to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

Despite it being somewhat counterintuitive to many Stena is adamant that by asking customers to adhere to those government travel guidelines, and introducing a slew of countermeasures, the safety of its passengers can be assured. The procedures adopted include:

  • Staged embarkation and disembarkation, with all arriving passengers asked to clean hands
  • Hand sanitisers available for customers and staff use throughout
  • ‘High contact’ surfaces sanitised on a regular basis
  • Freight drivers have their own cabin
  • Social and Counter Distancing measures in line with governmental recommendations
  • Electrostatic Fog Machine for deep cleaning of specific areas (Irish Sea routes)
  • Cashless payments are requested in all payment points
  • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) kits for staff
  • Use of contactless thermometers to help should someone show any symptoms
  • All newspapers & magazines removed to reduce the risk of cross contamination
  • Isolation cabins have been allocated and set aside should they be needed
  • Daily staff briefings for crew and strict guidelines to adhere to
  • Detailed Evacuation Plan (ship and shore) for affected customers/crew

All of Stena Line’s ferries still in place are continuing to run on schedule, however, some services have restricted passenger numbers in order to ensure strict social distancing guidelines are adhered to. To assist passengers who need to reschedule their trips, Stena Line has also committed to waiving amendment fees for all travel bookings, until 30th April 2020. Stephen Bryden, Group Head of Onboard Sales & Services said:

“We really are in uncharted waters right now so we are having to dig deep and use all of our experience and take the advice of the governments where we operate, and their medical experts, to help us navigate our way through this crisis too. Keeping our customers and colleagues safe while keeping our important services operational is our main priority at the moment.

“We are acutely aware of the responsibility we have to help maintain vital supply lines between the UK and Ireland, as well as Continental Europe. Our services and work colleagues will be put under immense strain in the weeks and months ahead. We appreciate people will still need to travel for essential reasons and we will be there to support them.

“Now, more than ever, freight supply lines are vital to help keep the supermarkets stocked and ensure critical medicines and medical equipment are delivered. We will do everything within our means to keep these important logistics routes open and functioning.”

Stena Line says it will continue to operate its UK and Ireland sailing schedules as normal, however, given the now daily changes in prevailing circumstances and government advice, sailing schedules are naturally under constant review. Earlier this month the company stopped operating the Oslo – Frederikshavn and Trelleborg and Sassnitz routes until further notice. For the very latest information, Stena Line customers are advised to contact 03447 707 070 (UK) or 01 907 5555 (Ire). For Stena information on the coronavirus please click HERE.