Singapore to Launch Cruises to Nowhere for Residents From November 2020
Singapore Airlines’ “flights to nowhere” may not have come to fruition, but the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has approved the safe and gradual resumption of cruising from November, starting with “round-trips with no ports of call”—essentially, cruises to nowhere. These pilot cruises will also be sailing at a reduced capacity of up to 50 per cent, and are only open to Singapore residents.
While there may be concerns regarding the safety of such voyages amidst the pandemic, a research conducted by the Healthy Sail Panel—a joint safety task force between Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Line—had found that it may be easier to avoid contracting Covid-19 on a cruise ship as opposed to other forms of travel, due to their ability to ensure control within the entire environment while implementing enhanced health and safety protocols.
As such, STB has developed mandatory CruiseSafe certification for cruise lines, which sets out “stringent hygiene and safety measures through the passenger journey—from prior to boarding, to after disembarkation”.
This includes a mandatory Covid-19 test prior to boarding and infection control measures at every stage of a passenger’s journey, strict and frequent cleaning and sanitisation protocols onboard, ensuring 100 per cent fresh air through the ship and emergency response plans for any incidents related to Covid-19. Crew members will also be routinely tested.
Of course, safety measures aligned with the national policies apply, such as mask-wearing, one-metre safe-distancing, and discouraging inter-mingling between groups. The CruiseSafe certification is developed by DNV GL, an internationally accredited registrar and classification body.
According to STB, Genting Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International are in the process of attaining the certification, but have been approved for pilot cruises as they have demonstrated the ability to put these protocols and measures in place.
Overseas crew members serving on these cruises will be subjected to stringent measures, including a Covid-19 test and 14-day isolation period in their home country before departure to Singapore, followed by another Covid-19 test on arrival and at the end of a 14-day Stay-Home Notice in Singapore before serving on board.
Genting Cruise Lines’ World Dream will begin sailing on November 6, with Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas following in December. The outcomes of these sailings will be monitored in the coming months before deciding on the next steps leading to the resumption of cruising.