In line with the measured resumption of economic activities in Singapore, cruise operations will be tested from next month with enhanced safety protocols.
These will be piloted on two cruise lines that are based on the island.
To provide assurance for safe cruising, the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) is developing a mandatory CruiseSafe certification programme, which sets out stringent hygiene and safety measures throughout the passenger journey – from before boarding to after disembarkation.
The cruises to be tested will undertake:
· Round-trips with no ports of call;
· Sailing at a reduced capacity of up to 50%; and
· Only valid to Singapore residents.
The test cruises will start from 6th November with Genting Cruise Lines’ ‘World Dream’ (pictured), while Royal Caribbean International’s ‘Quantum of the Seas’ will begin sailings in December.
Singapore’s Government will monitor the outcome of the tests in the coming months before deciding on the next steps to be taken for cruise ship operations.
STB’s CruiseSafe was designed in consultation with the industry and is benchmarked against global health and safety standards.
Prior to sailing, all cruise lines sailing out of Singapore must obtain the CruiseSafe certification, which requires independent assessment by a third-party certification company.
Both Genting and Royal Caribbean are in the process of attaining the certification. They were approved for the pilot operation, as they have demonstrated the ability to put in place stringent protocols and precautionary measures as part of their CruiseSafe certification, the STB explained.
The CruiseSafe standards include:
1. Infection control measures at every stage of a passenger’s journey, including a mandatory COVID-19 test prior to boarding.
2. Strict and frequent cleaning and sanitisation protocols on board.
3. Safe management measures aligned with prevailing national policy at the time of sailing.
4. Ensuring 100% fresh air throughout the ship.
5. Reducing ship capacity to enable sufficient safe distancing.
6. Setting up on board measures to discourage close contact and inter-mingling between groups.
7. Emergency response plans for incidents relating to COVID-19.
As part of CruiseSafe, the pilot cruises will have to comply with prevailing safe management measures, such as mask-wearing and 1 m safe distancing. To ensure compliance, regular inspections will be conducted on board during the test cruises.
Cruise lines that are found to be non-compliant will be subjected to penalties, including fines, suspension of sailings and revoking the CruiseSafe certification.
The crew on board the pilot cruises will be subjected to stringent measures beyond Singapore’s prevailing requirements for cross-border travel. For example, any crew member who needs to enter Singapore to serve on board the pilot cruises must first undergo 14 days isolation in their home country and must test negative for COVID-19 before departure for Singapore.
Each crew member will be tested on arrival in Singapore, serve a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) in Singapore, and will undergo another test at the end of their SHN. Once sailings begin, all crew members will also be routinely tested.
As the lead co-ordinator for cruising in ASEAN, Singapore said that it aimed to set a benchmark for cruising’s future in the region with the development of the CruiseSafe standards.
“This cruise pilot is a valuable opportunity for cruise operators to reinvent the entire cruise experience in order to regain the confidence of passengers. As ASEAN’s lead co-ordinator for cruise development, Singapore remains committed to supporting and growing cruise tourism in the region. We will continue to work with cruise lines and our industry stakeholders to chart a new course for safe cruising,” said Keith Tan, Singapore Tourism Board CEO.
To prepare for the eventual cruise industry’s recovery, STB has partnered Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and Travel Weekly Asia to hold a series of training webinars for regional travel agents under the ambit of CruiseWorld Asia 2020.
Training sessions are due to take place this month and will focus on strengthening consumers’ confidence to cruise again by raising awareness of cruise lines’ enhanced sanitisation measures on board and rebuilding the demand for cruise.
The certification programme has been jointly developed by STB and class society DNV GL. It takes into consideration global standards and protocols from various cruise lines, airlines and global institutes, such as the World Tourism Organisation, World Health Organisation, CLIA, as well as Singapore’s national safe management measures and certification programmes, such as SG Clean.