Cruises in Singapore and Malaysia Restricted by New Wave of COVID-19
The spread of new variants of COVID-19 and the resurgence of the virus, especially in parts of Asia, is leading to a new round of restrictions that will impact crew changes and cruise ships. Starting today, July 22, Singapore reintroduced strict restrictions in an effort to contain the latest wave of the virus with other countries in the region following suit.
Singapore’s latest restrictions supersede rules issued only three days earlier and now expect to continue for at least a month. Residents are being limited with social gatherings of no more than two people and events are canceled or limited in size. Among the services that are being restricted, there is no dine-in food and beverage service or indoor exercise classes and other services which require removing masks. Work from home is strongly encouraged.
The restrictions are also being extended to the two cruise ships, the World Dream operated by Genting’s Dream Cruises and Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas. In mid-June, both cruise ships had been permitted to increase to a maximum of 50 percent capacity after the last restrictions were lifted, but the limit is now again being lowered to a maximum of 25 percent of capacity. Similar to onshore, food and beverage is restricted to cabin service or take away from the restaurants with additional limits on the capacity in the entertainment and activity centers.
While the two cruise ships expect to again continue to operate through the latest round of restrictions in Singapore, Port Klang Authority GM 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. The port official said that Penang and Selangor are struggling to keep their Covid-19 case numbers down. He said it is uncertain when the cruises can begin.
In March, Genting Cruise Lines announced that had been given permission to start one and two-night cruises from Penang for Malaysians. The plan was to follow a similar routine to that in Singapore limiting the cruise operations but providing the opportunity for citizens to travel. The cruise line positioned its cruise ship the Star Pisces at Port Klang in anticipation of starting these cruises.
Similarly, Genting’s Dream Cruises is preparing for a resumption of cruises from Hong Kong scheduled to begin on July 30. The cruise ship Genting Dream arrived in Hong Kong at the beginning of June for a quarantine period and recently the company highlighted that its crew has been vaccinated as part of the precautions before the two- and three-night cruises begin. Royal Caribbean International is also scheduled to begin cruises from Hong Kong in the fall.
Despite the latest restrictions, both Genting and Royal Caribbean highlighted the success of their protocols aboard ship. Both lines have been operating cruises from Singapore since late 2020 with only one passenger having a confirmed case of the virus, that being last week aboard the World Dream.