Malaysia and Taiwan Permit Domestic Cruises to Resume
Cruising is resuming in both Malaysia and Taiwan using strict health and safety restrictions. Genting Cruise Lines through its Star and Dream Cruises brands had been working with local authorities to begin cruises in both markets following a similar model to what the company is using for its cruises from Singapore and Hong Kong.
Genting working with the Penang Port Commission and Penang Port Sdn Bhd port operator was able to win approval from the Malaysian government for the cruises after several previous attempts. Penang had been anxious to resume some tourist activities seeking government permission for most of 2021 for the cruise program.
Star Cruises is deploying its 40,000 gross ton Star Pisces for the cruises roundtripping from Penang. The cruise ship sailed on its first trip on December 22 and will be operating five trips per week. The one-night cruises are sailing in the Malacca Strait but unlike the other cruise programs from Singapore and Hong Kong, a two-night cruise includes a 10-hour port call at the tourist and resort area of Langkawi.
“We’re off to a positive and exciting start as we kick off today’s first sailing with Star Pisces from Penang, introducing new holiday options and experiences for Malaysians, including the 1-Night Straits of Malacca cruise and the 2-Night Langkawi Escape cruise,” said Madam Cynthia Lee, Vice President of Sales, Genting Cruise Lines. “We are taking the necessary steps to educate consumers on how cruising has evolved to operate in a new norm with layers of safety measures and the application of new safety equipment.”
Star Cruises agreed to restrictions for the cruises including all passengers and crew must be fully vaccinated for COVID-19 with the passengers also undergoing a health screening and being tested for the virus at the terminal before embarkation. The ship, which normally accommodates over 1,000 passengers, is being limited to 50 percent of capacity. Malaysian citizens, foreign residents of Malaysia, and international tourists who cleared the quarantine requirements are being permitted to sail on the cruises.
In Taiwan, Genting’s Dream Cruises is being permitted to resume cruises for Taiwanese citizens after a seven-month pause. Genting’s 75,300 gross ton Explorer Dream cruise ship initially started cruises around Taiwan in July 2020 and carried over 90,000 passengers before the government ceased the cruises in May 2021. The cruises will restart on December 31 offering two- and three-night trips from Keelung with stops at other ports including Hualien, Anping, and Kaoshiung.
Taiwan authorities have placed new restrictions on the cruise operation. All passengers and crew must be fully vaccinated with the passengers testing negative for COVID-19 within 48 hours prior to departure. Capacity on the ship will also be reduced and all passengers must use a social distancing app that alerts users if they are exposed to confirmed COVID-19 cases.
Japan and Singapore became the first destinations in Asia to resume cruising for their domestic markets in November 2020, while Hong Kong followed nearly a year later. China has also reportedly permitted limited domestic cruises but the international market, which had been the fastest-growing segment of the cruise industry, remains closed.