Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas yesterday became the second ship to start cruises to nowhere from Singapore, with stepped-up safety protocols to keep Covid-19 at bay.
It follows Genting Cruise Line’s World Dream, which launched Singapore’s first cruises to nowhere on Nov 6 amid the pandemic.
These round-trip cruises without ports of call are taking place under a pilot programme announced in October.
Royal Caribbean will have up to two cruises a week, departing on Mondays and Thursdays, with tickets starting at $374 per person for a three-night cruise.
The first voyage, a four-night cruise carrying more than 1,300 people, left yesterday at 9pm. Its second, a three-night cruise leaving at 9pm on Monday, will carry more than 1,700 passengers.
The Quantum of the Seas can serve up to 2,000 guests at full capacity during the pandemic, half of its usual of over 4,000 passengers.
“We want to trial our product, and the demand is there, as we are already 99 per cent sold out for most of December,” said Ms Angie Stephen, managing director for Asia-Pacific at Royal Caribbean International.
Tickets for next month are already 50 per cent sold out, she said, adding that demand has “exceeded expectations”.
She expects the company will see a surge in bookings for the Chinese New Year period in Feb-ruary, as well as the March school holidays.
Boarding began at 2pm yesterday in staggered time periods.
As part of health and safety measures, passengers were required to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) Covid-19 test before arriving at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre.
This procedure differs from that for Genting’s World Dream cruise, which involved passengers taking an antigen rapid test for Covid-19 at the cruise centre.
Those boarding the Royal Caribbean cruise had their boarding passes scanned. Their suitcases underwent a disinfection process called electrostatic fogging.
Apart from deep sanitation between sailings, the ship’s corri-dors and public areas are disinfected daily.
Frequently touched areas in lifts, escalators, stairways and promenades are cleaned every two hours.
Passengers must follow safe distancing measures at all entertainment and dining venues, with limits on capacity.
Mask wearing is mandatory, and passengers must use the TraceTogether mobile application or carry their token with them.
Passengers will be given a full run of the ship’s amenities, but bookings must be made in advance for key attractions such as the RipCord by iFly, a sky-diving simulator in a glass chamber, and the FlowRider, a surf simulator.
Reservations are also needed for the North Star, which offers a 15-minute spin in a glass capsule that rises almost 100m above the sea to provide a 360-degree view.
If a positive Covid-19 case is detected during the cruise, the Quantum of the Seas has a hospital on board with a PCR-testing laboratory and intensive care units equipped with ventilators, where cases can be treated.
“With all of these protocols on board, our guests can cruise with confidence knowing that safety is the priority for Royal Caribbean,” Ms Stephen said, adding that the likelihood of a case on board is expected to be “very minimal”, with the various measures in place.