Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas became the second ship to start cruises to nowhere from Singapore, complete with stepped-up safety protocols to keep Covid-19 at bay.
It follows Genting Cruise Line’s World Dream, which launched Singapore’s first pandemic cruises to nowhere on Nov 6.
These round-trip cruises without ports of call are taking place under a pilot programme announced by the Singapore Tourism Board in October.
Royal Caribbean will have up to two sailings a week, departing on Mondays and Thursdays, with tickets starting at S$374 (RM1,140) per person for a three-night cruise, offers three- and four-night Ocean Getaway cruises on the ship at a reduced 50% capacity.
The first voyage, a four-night cruise carrying over 1,300 people, leaves on Thursday at 9pm.
Its second, a three-night cruise leaving at 9pm on Monday, will carry over 1,700 passengers.
At full capacity during the pandemic, the Quantum of the Seas can serve up to 2,000 guests – half of its usual of over 4,000 passengers.
“We want to trial our the product, and the demand is there, as we are already 99% sold out for most of December, ” said Angie Stephen, managing director for Asia Pacific at Royal Caribbean International.
“We’d like to start slow, and ramp up in a safe manner, ” Stephen said, adding that tickets for January are already 50% sold out.
She added that the demand has “exceeded expectations”, and that the company will likely see a surge in bookings for the Chinese New Year period in February and the March school holidays.
Boarding began at 2pm yesterday in staggered time periods.
As part of strict health and safety measures in place, the process involved having passengers check in online in advance.
Passengers were also required to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) Covid-19 test prior to arriving at the cruise centre, the costs of which were absorbed by Royal Caribbean International.
This procedure differs from the World Dream cruise, which involved passengers taking an antigen rapid test for Covid-19 at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre.
Those boarding the Royal Caribbean cruise had their boarding passes scanned and suitcases underwent a disinfection process called electrostatic fogging.
Apart from sanitation between sailings, the ship’s corridors and public areas are disinfected daily, and frequently touched areas in lifts, escalators and stairway sare cleaned every two hours.
Passengers must abide by safe distancing measures on board at all the entertainment and dining venues, and capacity limits apply. — The Straits Times/ANN