Singapore Looks to Restart Cruising

Singapore looks to restart cruise business
Royal Caribbean was one of the cruise lines operating from the Singapore Marina Bay Cruise Terminal - photo courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board

Published Oct 1, 2020 4:16 PM by The Maritime Executive

Singapore is the latest country seeking to restart its cruise and tourism industries. The government is reportedly looking to several initiatives to aid the travel sector, including recently dropping travel restrictions for tourists from New Zealand and Brunei plus adding Vietnam and most of Australia to the list of permitted travelers.

The Singapore Tourism Board is also reportedly working to restart the cruise and travel industries as it seeks to encourage residents to begin to travel again. As part of the initiative, Singapore Airlines had announced it would offer three-hour tourist flights round-trip from Singapore, but those were canceled due to strong protests from environmentalists. 

According to reports in Singapore’s Business Times, the tourism board also issued a tender for assistance in establishing protocols for the cruise industry to resume service. The newspaper is reporting that Singapore will retain DNV GL to assist in developing the cruise ship health protocols.

The reports say that the cruise industry will restart with short cruises to nowhere sailing round-trip from Singapore. Ships will be limited to 50 percent of capacity initially and they would be audited for adherence to the safety and health protocols. It is anticipated that it would be a three-month trial program, but no start date has been established.

Before the pandemic, Singapore was one of the most popular ports for cruise ships in Asia. In 2019, the Singapore Tourism Board reports that 1.8 million passengers passed through the port either on a cruise, embarking, or disembarking. CLIA reported that Singapore experienced a seven percent increase in port calls in 2019 to a total of 400, making it the busiest individual port for cruise ships in Asia. 

It is unclear if the current initiative would be focused on regional cruise lines, such as Dream Cruises, which had operated from Singapore, or involve the international cruise brands. Major firms, including Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises, and others have all based ships in Singapore. Several of the lines have cruise ships currently laid up outside Singapore as well.

Singapore’s decision to explore cruises to nowhere would follow a similar approach that Taiwan took to restarting the cruise industry during the summer. Dream Cruises’ ship the Explorer Dream started cruises to nowhere from Keelung on July 26 and as of late September had completed 22 cruises with more than 25,000 passengers. Similarly, in July, TUI also resumed cruises from Germany aboard its Mein Schiff vessels offering cruises to nowhere in the Baltic.