Go from ship to kerb in 15 minutes

A fourth passenger boarding bridge has been added to speed up boarding and disembarking at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre.

Long lines and traffic jams should no longer plague holidaymakers at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre after a $7 million upgrade of its facilities and services.

The aim is to get passengers from ship to kerbside in about 15 minutes, down from as long as 45 minutes, said the terminal operator yesterday.

"We hope to maintain this standard," said Sats-Creuers' chief executive officer, Mr Bob Chi.

The changes include a fourth passenger bridge to expedite boarding and disembarking.

Enhancements to the baggage handling system at the departure area have also been made. More bags can now be processed faster - 1,200 per hour instead of 400 before.

Two more X-ray machines have been added to the existing six at the arrival screening area, and 20 more check-in counters built, to add to the previous 80.

The taxi area has also been redesigned to allow up to nine taxis to be boarded at the same time, instead of just one or two as was the case before.

The terminal operator has also worked with the Land Transport Authority and other agencies to reduce congestion along the three-lane road leading to the terminal, Mr Chi said.

Illegal parking is no longer an issue, thanks to stricter enforcement, and a new holding area for taxis prevents them from spilling into the other lanes meant for private vehicles.

The improvements were necessary after a massive congestion in April when two big ships called at the centre at the same time.

It led to long lines at immigration and other points, and a traffic jam outside which dragged on for almost an hour for some motorists.

The cruise centre's operator said it will continue to monitor the situation and, if necessary, make other adjustments.

"We think that the cruise business will grow and, for that reason, we want to make sure we can handle double ship calls efficiently," Mr Chi said.

According to recent studies, only 0.12 per cent of Asians cruise annually, compared to over 3 per cent of Europeans, for example.

With new and bigger ships starting to call at Asian ports, the demand for cruises is expected to grow strongly in the coming years.

To tap into the market, Singapore is leading an ASEAN initiative to establish the region - with its beautiful beaches and rich cultures - as the perfect destination for cruise liners.

For this to happen, the infrastructure must first be in place.

For the Marina Bay terminal, the big test will come on Nov 21, the next instance when the terminal will handle two big ships at the same time.

Said housewife Rita Lim, 39: "The worst thing after getting off a relaxing cruise is to be stuck in queues and jams. So I'm glad the improvements have been made to ensure a more pleasant experience for all."


This article was first published on Oct 25, 2014. Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.