GEORGE TOWN: If you are looking to step aboard a luxury cruise, you probably won’t have to wait long.
Cruise tourism is set to make a comeback after a near two-year hiatus with Star Pisces by Genting Cruise Lines departing from the Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal to Langkawi on Dec 22.
This will mark the first international cruise line to homeport that is resuming commercial operations in the country.
Genting Cruise Lines vice-president (sales) Cynthia Lee said there would be five trips every week.
“We hope to call in on more domestic destinations and expand our itineraries with the inclusion of regional destinations such as Phuket in the near future to spur the cruise tourism industry.
“We are also actively engaging with various port authorities to create ‘harmonised cruising standards’ in the hope of gradually reopening international cruises in a controlled and safe manner,” she said during a press conference at the Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal yesterday.
Lee added that Star Pisces, which has a 1,700-capacity for passengers, would operate at a reduced rate of 50%, or only 850 passengers, as a preventive measure against the coronavirus.
“All passengers must be fully vaccinated for Covid-19 and present a negative test result after completing the mandatory pre-boarding Antigen Rapid Test (ART) at the cruise terminal on the day of departure,” she said.
Penang Port Commission (PPC) chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng said the reopening would enable the cruise tourism industry to be revitalised after it was halted in March 2020 because of the pandemic.
“The National Security Council has given the green light for the resumption of domestic cruise operations, thanks mainly to PPC, Genting Cruise Lines, Penang Port Sdn Bhd and the respective government agencies which have worked very closely to get this nod.
“There were about 20 cruise companies before the pandemic in 2019. We will continue to do promotions to support the industry and hope that these companies can return soon,” he said.
Also present was Genting Cruise Lines senior vice-president (marine operations and safety) Capt Harvard Ramsoy.
Bookings for Star Pisces will be opened by mid-December to all Malaysians, foreigners with valid Malaysian long-term visit passes as well as international tourists who have completed and passed the quarantine and home surveillance order by the authorities.