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S'pore cruises set to call at some regional ports in 2022 after talks with Asean governments: STB

SINGAPORE — After more than a year of "cruises to nowhere", passengers setting sail from Singapore look set to be offered cruises calling at various regional ports starting later this year.

In 2021, more than 400,000 domestic passengers took to the seas on close to 300 "cruise to nowhere" sailings.
In 2021, more than 400,000 domestic passengers took to the seas on close to 300 "cruise to nowhere" sailings.
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SINGAPORE — After more than a year of "cruises to nowhere", passengers setting sail from Singapore look set to be offered cruises calling at various regional ports starting later this year.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said on Tuesday (Jan 25) that Singapore is working with various governments of countries in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) on the plan.

Ms Jeannie Lim, assistant chief executive of STB’s policy and planning group, said at a press conference on Tuesday that Singapore is in discussions with the various governments to harmonise safe cruising standards.

“I think Singapore is in a good position because we have developed the very first set of cruise-safe sailing standards and that has worked very well for us over the past year of sailings," she added.

“We are in talks with the different governments in terms of harmonising some of these cruise-safe standards so that at least there is agreement on what are the safety protocols and processes that we will follow.”

Ms Lim also said the cruises out of Singapore calling at some Asean ports would start "hopefully later this year". She did not specify any particular ports.

The cruise industry has rebounded quite strongly since STB launched "cruises to nowhere", which are round-trips with no ports of call, in October 2020.

Last year, more than 400,000 domestic passengers took to the seas on close to 300 such sailings. There have been no Covid-19 clusters on board the two cruise ships to date, STB said.

I think Singapore is in a good position because we have developed the very first set of cruise-safe sailing standards and that has worked very well for us over the past year of sailings
Ms Jeannie Lim, assistant chief executive of Singapore Tourism Board's policy and planning group

Royal Caribbean International, one of the two firms given the green light to offer cruises to nowhere, said that bookings have been open for cruises from Singapore to Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam on board its cruise ship Spectrum of the Seas. 

The cruises are scheduled to set sail from Oct 21 this year, with the trips lasting between three and nine nights, subject to receiving the relevant governmental approvals.

However, earlier this month, the firm called off its Spectrum of the Seas cruise, a "cruise to nowhere" operating out of Hong Kong, after nine guests were identified as close contacts to a Covid-19 case in Hong Kong.

Ms Lim of STB said that the demand for cruises before the Covid-19 pandemic reached record levels and cruising has gained popularity among Singapore residents even during the pandemic. 

“So we remain quite optimistic over the longer term that cruising will be very popular. It remains quite nascent at this part of the world but we are seeing a good level of interest and queries coming in from different parts of the world as well, people who are interested in coming to Singapore for a cruise experience,” she said.

STB on Tuesday said that the total visitor arrivals in 2021 hit a historic low due to travel restrictions and border closures, but there have been “encouraging signs of recovery” in the tourism sector.

It will be increasing its focus on sustainability and urban wellness, in line with Singapore’s aspiration to be a top sustainable and innovative urban destination, and has established various roadmaps with targets and strategies to develop the country's tourism offerings. 

Related topics

cruises Singapore Tourism Board cruise to nowhere Royal Caribbean International tourism Covid-19

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