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Singapore to start ‘cruises to nowhere’ from November under pilot scheme

SINGAPORE — Travel-starved Singapore residents will soon be able to board “cruises to nowhere” under a pilot scheme with stringent Covid-19 safety measures set in place, including mandatory testing for both passengers and crew.

Genting Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International are in the process of attaining the Singapore Tourism Board's CruiseSafe certification.

Genting Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International are in the process of attaining the Singapore Tourism Board's CruiseSafe certification.

  • Two cruise lines, Genting Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International, given green light to offer cruises with no ports of call
  • They must sail with reduced capacity of up to 50 per cent and implement various safety measures
  • STB will monitor outcome of pilots to decide next steps

 

SINGAPORE — Travel-starved Singapore residents will soon be able to board “cruises to nowhere” under a pilot scheme with stringent Covid-19 safety measures set in place, including mandatory testing for both passengers and crew. 

Two cruise lines have been given the green light to offer such round-trips with no ports of call — Genting Cruise Lines’ World Dream will begin sailing on Nov 6, followed by Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas in December, said the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) in a press release on Thursday (Oct 8).

Both vessels are homeported here and must sail with a reduced capacity of up to 50 per cent, and only take passengers who are Singapore residents.

The safety measures are being developed under the tourism board’s new CruiseSafe certification programme, which must be attained by cruise lines before they can sail out of Singapore.

The measures include: 

  • Infection control measures at every stage of a passenger’s journey, such as a mandatory Covid-19 test prior to boarding
  • Frequent cleaning and sanitisation onboard the ship
  • Safe management measures aligned with prevailing national policy at the time of sailing
  • Ensuring 100 per cent fresh air throughout the ship

The STB said its programme is benchmarked against global standards from various cruise lines, airlines and institutes such as the World Health Organization. 

The board added that Singapore is “one of the first countries to develop and implement a mandatory audit and certification programme for cruise lines before they can commence sailings”.

Genting Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International are in the process of attaining the certification. 

“They were approved for the pilot as they have demonstrated the ability to put in place stringent protocols and precautionary measures as part of their CruiseSafe certification,” said the STB. 

Pilot cruises will have to comply with prevailing safe management measures, such as mask-wearing and 1m-safe distancing.

“Regular inspections will be conducted on board during the pilots to ensure compliance,” the STB said.

“Cruise lines that are found to be non-compliant will be subjected to penalties including fines, suspension of sailings and revocation of CruiseSafe certification,” it added.

“The Government will monitor the outcomes of the pilot sailings carefully in the coming months before deciding on the next steps for cruises." 

CREW SUBJECT TO STRICTER RULES

The crew on pilot cruises are subjected to stringent measures beyond Singapore’s prevailing requirements for cross-border travel, said the STB.

Those who need to enter Singapore must first undergo 14 days of isolation in their home country and test negative for Covid-19 before their departure to Singapore.

They will then be tested on arrival in Singapore, serve a 14-day stay-home notice and undergo another test after. Once on board, crew members will also be routinely tested.

PROTOCOLS IN PLACE, SAY CRUISE LINES

In a separate press release, Royal Caribbean said it has implemented “rigorous protocols” which include upgraded heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems that enhance filtration.

It is also offering perks such as full refunds for guests who test positive for Covid-19 during their voyage.

Meanwhile, Genting Cruise Lines said in a press release that safe food and beverage handling procedures will be put in place. Self-service at buffet restaurants will also be suspended, its website stated.

RISKS INVOLVED, SAY CRITICS

The global cruise industry has largely ground to halt due to virus-related travel restrictions, and following a series of outbreaks on packed vessels.

But the STB’s move to resume cruises could spark future Covid-19 outbreaks, critics have warned. 

In an AFP report on Monday, Ms Marcie Keever, oceans and vessels programme director at Friends of the Earth, cautioned about "the potential to have Covid outbreaks" on cruise liners.

"The cruise industry was a large contributor to Covid outbreaks in several ports around the world," she said.

Related topics

STB cruise tourism Royal Caribbean Genting Cruise Lines

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