Singapore launches its first 'cruise to nowhere'

PHOTO: The Straits Times

SINGAPORE - Hit by cabin fever, hundreds of Singapore residents itching to get out of the tiny country boarded a “cruise to nowhere” on Friday, a rare chance to sail the seas after the coronavirus pandemic shut down much of the cruise industry.

Before starting their short “seacation” on the 335-metre (1,100 ft) World Dream, passengers underwent coronavirus swab tests before boarding the vessel, which was operating at half capacity to prevent crowding.

Retiree Ang Sen Hock, 73, said he had no fear about getting infected and had booked several more trips later in the month.

“Not worried. Because earlier this year I was also a passenger on this cruise ship and, coincidentally, there were two suspected cases,” Ang said, while waiting for his test.

“But we still boarded and they had special measures.”

The global cruise industry has taken a major hit from the coronavirus pandemic, with some of the earliest big outbreaks found on cruises.

Singapore’s special cruises, classed as “round trips”, are open only to its residents and sail for a few days in waters just off the city-state.

A staff member cleaning at a restaurant onboard the World Dream cruise ship on Nov 6, 2020.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

They follow “flights to nowhere” in some parts of Asia that take off and land at the same airport.

The 1,400 guests are required to carry an electronic contact tracing device and to social distance at all times.

Self-serve buffets have been suspended and Dream Cruises has upgraded medical facilities to include testing and isolation units.

“The idea of just getting out of Singapore, even just for a little bit, a few days, it’s really an attractive thing,” said passenger Robert Gaxiola.

The president of Dream Cruises, Michael Goh, said the crew would respond decisively to any sign of infections.

“Passengers will be back into the cabin and the ship will do a deep cleaning and sanitisation,” he said. “Within less than six hours we can be back at Singapore.”

As part of Covid-19 measures, only 26 people will be allowed into the cruise ship's swimming pool at any one time.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

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