Cruises to nowhere to run from November

The island state is starting “cruises to nowhere” from November, as the travel hub tries to kick-start a tourism industry battered by the coronavirus pandemic.

Two cruise lines have been given the green light to offer “cruises to nowhere”, following the development of safety guidelines to prevent the on-board spread of Covid-19.

Genting Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International will run the cruises, with no ports of call, half the usual capacity and stringent health protocols, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) said yesterday.

The cruises, classed by the STB as “round trips”, are open only to people who live in Singapore and will sail in waters just off the city-state.

The cruise industry has taken a major hit from the Covid-19 pandemic, with some of the earliest big outbreaks found on cruise ships.

Singapore’s plan comes as travellers in Asia have snapped up tickets on “flights to nowhere” that take off and land at the same airport.

“This cruise is a valuable opportunity for operators to reinvent the cruise experience in order to regain the confidence of passengers, ” said Keith Tan, STB chief executive.

Cruise ships have not been allowed to call here since March 13, when the nation joined a number of countries in closing its ports to these vessels over fears that they may carry infected passengers.

The Diamond Princess, which was quarantined off the coast of Japan in February, served as a cautionary tale of the Covid-19’s rapid spread, with over 700 passengers and crew members found ill.

Facing its deepest recession this year, the island state has been gradually loosening its Covid-19 curbs to boost its economy.

The cruises will require guests to have mandatory Covid-19 tests prior to boarding and refrain from close contact with others on the ship. — Reuters/The Straits Times/ANN

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