Safe pilot cruises conducted by Genting and Royal Caribbean in co-operation with DNV and the tourism board provide a blueprint for the return of cruising from Singapore
The pioneering CruiseSafe certification standard that saw the successful resumption of cruises from Singapore has set a positive blueprint for the future, says Dream Cruises president and head of international sales Genting Cruise Lines, Michael Goh.
Jointly developed by DNV and the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), the heightened health and Covid-protection protocols allowed Genting Cruise Lines’ World Dream and Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas to respectively set sail in November and December 2020 on pilot round-trip cruises with no ports of call.
Mr Goh says “There was a certain amount of excitement and buzz among consumers, travel partners and the industry, upon hearing that bookings were available for World Dream’s safe pilot cruises. To minimise concerns that consumers had about cruising, we actively educated the public before the launch on enhanced safety and preventive measures to build-up confidence among consumers, which was crucial. We were pleased the response was encouraging, having received more than 6,000 bookings within five days with the first sailing almost sold out.”
The CruiseSafe compliance audit and certification collaboration drew on Singapore’s safe management procedures and DNV’s Certification in Infection Prevention-Maritime (CIP-M) programme which helps companies improve their management of infection risk in the maritime setting. CIP-M builds on the existing Certification in Infection Prevention (CIP) programme requirements released for hospitals at the start of 2019 by DNV Healthcare USA, Inc. The trial cruises were exclusively available to Singapore residents and CruiseSafe procedures included 3,376-passenger World Dream and 4,905-passenger Quantum of the Seas sailing from their homeport at a reduced capacity of up to 50% to allow for social distancing. This was coupled with stringent sanitisation and safety measures throughout the passenger journey – including a mandatory Covid-19 test prior to boarding – plus additional management measures and swift medical emergency response plans.
Mr Goh continues “We were extremely excited to pioneer and take the lead in commencing the safe pilot cruises in Singapore with Dream Cruises under Genting Cruise Lines. The start of cruises was indeed a positive step in reigniting the cruise sector, along with the overall tourism sector. It paved the way for effective protocols and processes to be established with regards to safety and preventive measures under a new norm for cruises.
“The resumption of cruises in Singapore was timely, as it introduced and expanded holiday options that are safe for Singapore residents. Prior to this, Singapore residents had limited holiday options within Singapore and were bound by travel restrictions in the region. So understandably there was pent-up demand for travelling.”
Genting Cruise Lines cites its association with DNV – including Explorer Dream spearheading CIP-M certification – coupled with early practical experience of dealing with the effects of the pandemic as key factors in the lead up to restarting cruises for the domestic market.
Mr Goh explains “At Genting Cruise Lines, the safety and well-being of our guests and crew are of paramount importance to us. From the onset of the pandemic, and during the hiatus period, we had taken positive action to be at the forefront in enhancing our preventive and safety measures with the Covid-19 pandemic in mind. We were the first in the industry to introduce our enhanced measures, which we have adopted as the new safety norm for our entire fleet and we hope for the industry too. Dream Cruises was the first cruise line in the world to resume safe cruises with Explorer Dream in Taiwan and was the first cruise ship in the industry to receive the CIP-M certification from DNV. With our past experiences with DNV, we welcomed the CruiseSafe certification programme as we clearly understood the processes and importance of such a programme for the resumption of safe pilot cruises in Singapore.
“Besides that, prior to the cruise resumption in Singapore we were also the only cruise line to have taken part in repurposing our Star Cruises ships to house recovered Covid-19 migrant workers in Singapore. With these collective and valuable experiences, it has been a very good learning process for us in the company, including for our crew, as we further refined our standard operating procedures within a real-world context to ensure all our ships will be the safest cruise ships for guests and crew in the Covid-19 era. Furthermore, we have created a positive opportunity from this learning experience to implement comprehensive prevention and response plans in preparation for our deployments.”
Looking to the future, he says demand remains encouraging as the line continues to expand its offerings to appeal to new growing markets in Singapore. For example, World Dream has become the first cruise ship in Asia Pacific to receive certifications from both the United World Halal Development (UNWHD) and the Global Vegetarian Certification Services (GVCS) to further cater to the Muslim and vegetarian market. Other innovations include themed cruises on World Dream showcasing cuisine and cultural activities from countries including South Korea and Thailand.
Mr Goh concludes, “With the resumption of safe pilot cruises in Singapore, and with the effective protocols in place, it will set the blueprint for us to continue to work with various local authorities in the region to explore viable opportunities to resume safe pilot cruises with tailor-made requirements suited to each country.”
Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean International has since announced it will be extending its Singapore season with two- to four-night sailings on Quantum of the Seas until June 2021.
Royal Caribbean managing director for Asia-Pacific Angie Stephen says “We are thrilled to announce the extension of the sailing season and look forward to having guests experience first-hand our signature cruise vacation that has wowed local cruisers already, with many booking repeat visits.
“Our close partnership with the Singapore Government has played an instrumental role in the success of these pilot cruises, and we remain committed to safeguarding the health and safety of our guests and crew during these additional sailings.”
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