A Royal Caribbean ‘cruise to nowhere’ in Singapore has cut short its journey one day early today (Dec 9), after an 83-year-old man was tested positive for Covid-19 onboard the four-day trip. At press time, all passengers who have been deemed not to be close contacts of the man can disembark the ship and take an antigen test at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre terminal as originally planned. Close contacts of the man, including guests and crew, have been isolated.
Cruises to nowhere in Singapore resumed on Nov 6, with the Dream Cruises’ World Dream mega-ship being the first to set sail. Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas is the second ship to embark on these round-trip journeys without any ports of call, commencing operations just last week on Dec 1. Both are part of a pilot programme by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB).
Both ships have a CruiseSafe certification from STB, which means the vessels have to attain CruiseSafe standards, including mandatory Covid-19 tests prior to boarding, enforcing strict and frequent cleaning and sanitisation protocols onboard, and having emergency response plans should someone test positive for Covid-19 during the voyage. Both cruises are also operating at 50 per cent capacity to allow for safe distancing onboard.
Pre-boarding Covid-19 tests: Authorities require all ‘cruise to nowhere’ passengers to undergo mandatory Covid-19 tests before boarding. It’s done a little differently, depending on which cruise operator you’re (not) travelling with.
World Dream passengers are required to take an antigen rapid test at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre on the day of boarding and have to test negative before they’re allowed to board (read about our experience here).
Meanwhile, Quantum of the Seas guests have to take a mandatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) within 48 to 72 hours prior to boarding and obtain a negative test result, according to its website.
Passengers on both ships also have to undergo a rapid antigen test at the terminal after the cruise.
Crew members for both ships undergo weekly tests, as required by the Ministry of Health.
Boarding: Both World Dream and Quantum of the Seas passengers must adhere to staggered boarding timings to allow for safe distancing.
Medical facilities: While both vessels already have medical facilities manned by doctors and nurses, they’re now equipped to carry out Covid-19 tests onboard, and have isolation wards for Covid-19 positive cases. A medical staff on each ship is also appointed the Infectious Disease Control Officer who ensures enhanced medical and hygiene protocols are carried out on the vessels.
Ships are also required to have emergency response protocols should someone test positive for Covid-19 onboard.
Contact tracing: All passengers are required to use the TraceTogether token or app at all times onboard. Each cruise operator also hands out a Bluetooth wearable device to each guest which tracks movements and serves reminders for safe distancing at all times.
Sanitisation and disinfection: As expected, cleaning and disinfecting measures have been heightened across the board, whether in staterooms or public spaces. Both vessels also have to ensure that there are ventilation systems in place to supply fresh air to cabins and public spaces constantly.
Dining: Buffets are among the highlights of a cruise and are still happening on both ships, albeit a little differently — staff now serve guests on both vessels, and single-serve portions are also available on Royal Caribbean.
Photos: Kelvin Chia/8Days.sg, Royal Caribbean