Genting Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International have both unveiled plans to restart cruise operations in Singapore.
The moves come less than a week after Singaporean authorities revealed that concrete steps were being taken to allow the resumption of cruises from the city-state’s port.
Genting Cruise Lines brand Dream Cruises will be the first to launch, with its 150,600-gt World Dream (built 2017) scheduled to depart on its first cruise on 6 November.
“Working very closely with the Singapore government, Dream Cruises was granted approval by the local authorities to start a pilot based on the company’s stringent and enhanced health and safety protocols, complemented by its exemplary safety track record during its first two months of operations in Taiwan,” the company said.
Dream Cruises became the first cruise company in Asia to relaunch when it began operating domestic cruises out of the Taiwanese port of Keelung in July
Out of Singapore, the World Dream will operate a series of two and three night “Seacation” cruises out onto the high seas.
Royal Caribbean International’s 169,000-dwt Quantum of the Seas (built 2014) is scheduled to begin its series of three and four night high seas cruises on 1 December.
Both cruise operators went to great lengths to detail the protocols that will be put into place to minimize the risk of any coronavirus outbreaks on board their ships including mandatory testing before boarding.
With Singapore’s foreign borders still largely closed, the cruises will be aimed exclusively at local residents.
Travel industry sources believe that they will be well subscribed due to pent up demand from Singaporeans who have been living under Covid-19 restrictions since April.
“We're a small island. There is a growing feeling of cabin. People want a break, even if it is on a cruiseship going nowhere in particular,” explained one cruise industry observer.
While Singapore was hard hit by the pandemic earlier this year, daily new infection numbers have dropped to single digits, with most new cases involving foreign arrivals under quarantine and expatriate labourers living in dormitories.
Community cases have averaged one per day over the past two week, according to data released by the Ministry of Health on Thursday.
Government ministers have said that residents should not expect to take foreign holidays during the end-of-year holiday period because while the pandemic has been contained in Singapore, many countries are still experiencing rising infection rates.
Cruises to nowhere are considered a low risk as passengers on the ships will not come into contact with any foreigners. They are effectively a domestic cruise as the ships will effectively remain under the Singapore safety bubble.
Last week the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) awarded a tender to DNV GL to create a cruise compliance audit and certification programme for cruise lines that want to restart cruise operations out of Singapore.
STB said it planned to initially allow only high seas cruises to nowhere lasting from two to four nights, with the passenger capacity of cruiseships capped at 50% for at least the first three months.