As the world’s cruise ships begin to start operations again, problems still exist in certain countries with new COVID-19 variants and a resurgence of the virus, especially in Asia.
For example, on 22nd July, Singapore reintroduced strict restrictions in an effort to contain the latest wave of the virus with other countries in the region following suit.
Local residents have been told that social gatherings of no more than two people will be allowed, while events were cancelled or limited in size.
These restrictions also apply to the two cruise ships operating out of Singapore: Dream Cruises’ ‘World Dream’ and Royal Caribbean International’s (RCI) ’Quantum of the Seas’.
In mid-June, both cruise ships had been allowed to increase their capacities to 50%, but the limit was lowered to a maximum of 25% capacity in the latest round of restrictions. Similar to the onshore rules, food and beverage is now restricted to cabin service or take away from the restaurants only with additional limits put on the capacity in the entertainment and activity centres.
In Malaysia, Port Klang Authority General Manager, Capt K Subramaniam, told The Malaysian Reserve newspaper that it was not possible to proceed with the plan to operate cruises in the Malacca Strait, due to the resurgence of the virus. Penang and Selangor were struggling to keep their Covid-19 case numbers down and he said that it was uncertain when cruises can restart.
Genting’s Dream Cruises is also preparing to resume cruising from Hong Kong on 30th July. ‘Genting Dream’ arrived in Hong Kong at the beginning of June for a quarantine period and recently the company claimed that its crew had been vaccinated. RCl is also scheduled to begin cruises from Hong Kong this Autumn.
In Singapore, nearly 3,000 passengers and crew were taken off a Dream Cruises ‘World Dream’ on 14th July after being confined in their cabins when a passenger tested positive for Covid-19.
All passengers and crew on board the three-night ‘cruise to nowhere’ were required to isolate in their cabins, with only essential crew members being allowed to move around the ship.
The guest had taken a rapid antigen test prior to boarding that came back negative, but contact tracing revealed the guest was a close contact of a confirmed Covid-19 case. The guest was then immediately isolated and tested positive for the virus the day before, Genting’s Dream Cruises said in a statement.
According to a Reuters report, other guests on the ship were confined to their cabins at 1 am local time. The guests began to leave the ship about 8.30 pm on 14th July.
The passenger who tested positive disembarked hours before other guests and crew.
Genting said that contact tracing was conducted by tracking guests’ wearable devices, key cards and CCTV footage.
All the other guests were required to fill out contactless self check-out forms before leaving their cabins and had to take a rapid antigen test at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore, as they disembarked, the company said.
There were 1,646 passengers and 1,249 crew members on board the ship, Dream Cruises said.
In the US, on 9th July, the small cruise ship ‘American Constellation’ also reported a COVID-19 positive test, while in Alaskan waters. One passenger tested positive and was sent ashore to a medical facility in Petersburg, Alaska. Another guest, who was also vaccinated, as well as one unvaccinated crew member, also tested positive.
‘American Constellation’ had 162 passengers and 52 crew members on board, according to a statement issued by the City and Borough of Juneau, Alaska.
“American Cruise Lines has implemented its COVID-19 Response Plan and is co-ordinating with state and local health officials following the detection of COVID-19 on board,” the cruise line said in its statement at the time of the incident. “Out of an abundance of caution, the line’s small ship returned to port in Juneau on Saturday and the next cruise, scheduled to depart on 14th July, will be cancelled.”
In another case, RCI had to remove two passengers from the ’Freedom of the Seas’ after one of the passengers, a 57-year-old woman who was unvaccinated but claimed that she had the virus months ago, tested positive on the second day of the cruise. RCI flew the passengers back to the US, but they claimed that they were wrongly put off the ship by a false test.
In the UK, Cunard has had to cancel the ‘Queen Elizabeth’s’ first five cruises after an unspecified number of crew tested positive for COVID-19. She was scheduled to run short cruises for UK. Residents.
In June, RCI also delayed the re-entry of the ’Odyssey of the Seas’ into service from Florida after several members of the crew tested positive for the virus shortly after being vaccinated.
This news roundup was taken from various sources, including local media and company statements.