FILE PHOTO: Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas. Photo courtesy Kallis Video Production
By Kyunghee Park (Bloomberg) –Two cruise ships will start sailing from Singapore from next month into the open seas and back as the city-state aims to give residents some outlet for their wanderlust amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Genting Cruise Lines’ World Dream and Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas will begin round-trip journeys from November and December respectively, the Singapore Tourism Board said in a statement Thursday.
Stringent protocols for cruise operators and passengers to permit the pilot voyages have been established under a CruiseSafe certification program. They include Covid-19 testing of crew and passengers, increased sanitization, fresh air circulating measures, and onboard steps to discourage close contact and intermingling. The boats will sail at a reduced capacity of 50% and the journeys are only open to residents of Singapore.
“This cruise pilot is a valuable opportunity for cruise operators to reinvent the entire cruise experience in order to regain the confidence of passengers,” said Singapore Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer Keith Tan. “Singapore remains committed to supporting and growing cruise tourism in the region.”
The cruise-ship industry globally shut down in March after a series of Covid-19 outbreaks at sea, including one at cruise giant Carnival Corp.’s Diamond Princess off Yokohama, Japan, in February. Even healthy passengers have suffered, as many ports turned ships away for fear of seeding new shore-side outbreaks. Tens of thousands of crew members were trapped on vessels for months.
Singapore is looking at ways to boost its tourism industry, which has been hit hard as the pandemic decimated travel. The outbreak has led to record losses at the nation’s flag carrier Singapore Airlines Ltd. and destroyed traffic at Changi Airport. The government warned earlier this week that Singapore can’t afford to wait a year or two for a vaccine to become widely available.
A bar inside the main lobby of the Genting Dream cruise ship berthed at the Marina Bay Cruise Center in Singapore in 2018.
Genting is offering two- and three-night packages starting Nov. 6. In July, the cruise operator restarted services in Taiwan. Royal Caribbean will operate three- and four-night packages from Dec. 1.
Passengers will need to get tested and submit travel and health declarations before they board. During the trip, they’ll have to wear masks at all times and keep a safe distance of one meter. Tracing tokens or apps will be mandatory outside of cabins.
Crew members that are flying into the city-state will be required to take a test on arrival and another at the end of a 14-day quarantine.
The tourism board said that Singapore is one of the first countries to develop and implement a mandatory audit and certification program for cruise lines. Prior to sailing, all cruise lines out of Singapore must obtain the CruiseSafe certification, which requires assessment by a third-party certification firm.
Genting Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean are in the process of attaining the certification, the board said, adding that Singapore will decide on the next steps for the cruise industry after carefully monitoring the voyages.
To woo customers, Royal Caribbean is offering various flexible terms and conditions, including Covid-19 related onboard medical cost cover of up to S$25,000 ($18,400) per person.
© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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