Genting, Royal Caribbean to offer ‘cruises to nowhere’ from Singapore

Quantum of the Seas. Credit: HASENPUSCH DIETMAR

The Singapore government is planning a gradual resumption of cruise travel, and is piloting ‘cruises to nowhere’, with the ships not making any stops at any ports.

To prepare for the scheme, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) and DNV GL have developed a CruiseSafe certification programme to outline hygiene and safety measures from prior to boarding the ship to after disembarkation.

STB announced on 8 October 2020 that the pilot cruises will start from 6 November with Genting Cruise Lines’ World Dream. Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas will begin sailing in December. Genting Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International are in the process of attaining the CruiseSafe certification.

Singapore will monitor the outcomes of the pilot sailings carefully in the coming months before deciding on the next steps for cruises. CruiseSafe was created in consultation with the industry and is benchmarked against global health and safety standards.

The CruiseSafe standards include: infection control measures at every stage of a passenger’s journey, including a mandatory COVID-19 test prior to boarding; strict and frequent cleaning and sanitisation protocols on board; safe management measures aligned with prevailing national policy at the time of sailing; ensuring 100% fresh air throughout the ship; reducing ship capacity to enable sufficient safe distancing; setting up onboard measures to discourage close contact and inter-mingling between groups; and emergency response plans for incidents relating to COVID-19.

As part of CruiseSafe, the pilot cruises will have to comply with prevailing safe management measures, such as wearing a mask and maintaining 1 m of social distancing. To ensure compliance, regular inspections will be conducted on board during the pilots. Cruise lines that are found to be non-compliant will be subjected to penalties, including fines, suspension of sailings, and revocation of CruiseSafe certification.

The crew on pilot cruises are subjected to stringent measures beyond Singapore’s prevailing requirements for cross-border travel. For example, the crew who need to enter Singapore to serve on board the pilot cruises must first undergo 14-day isolation in their home country and test negative for COVID-19 before their departure to Singapore. Upon arrival in Singapore, they are required to undergo a test, serve a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) in Singapore, and will go through another test at the end of their SHN. Once sailings begin, all crew members will also be routinely tested.