Quantum of the Seas
Quantum of the Seas

Is Singapore showing Australia – and Europe – how to restart cruising?

Following Quantum of the Seas successful return to service in Singapore, Royal Caribbean has announced that the ship will  remain in the Asia-Pacific region for the 2021 summer season.

Quantum was initially scheduled to move to Alaska, offering seven-day sailings from Seattle along with three other Royal Caribbean ships,  Ovation, Radiance and Serenade of the Seas, based in Seattle, Vancouver and Seward respectively.

In its email to passengers booked on Quantum’s cancelled Alaska sailings, Royal Caribbean cited the ship’s successful Asia season as the reason for its continued stay in the region.

“As you know, Quantum of the Seas resumed operations in Singapore last month and continues to offer short cruise getaways to local residents,” said the line. “Her success has prompted the decision to keep the ship in the Asia-Pacific region throughout the summer months.”

Royal also noted that the ship is still expected to return to Alaska in summer 2022.

Prior to the pandemic, Quantum had been Asia-based as well, sailing from Singapore and Tianjin, China. The ship resumed operations in Singapore in December 2020, after approval from the Singapore government to begin round-trip sailings with no ports-of-call.

The World Dream's inaugural voyage from Singapore
The World Dream’s inaugural voyage from Singapore

Along with Dream Cruises’ World Dream, it is currently homeported in Singapore and sailing two to four-night cruises-to-nowhere.

And with Singapore’s CruiseSafe policy and the success of these cruises-to-nowhere itineraries, the country’s approach to cruising could be a viable model for countries like Australia to emulate.

As Dream Cruises and Royal Caribbean bosses observe, demand for sailings on both lines has been strong. Dream Cruises’ President and Head of International Sales Michael Goh noted that close to 6,000 bookings were made once pilot cruises were announced in October 2020.

After World Dream’s successful debut sailing, bookings further increased by 400% as well, according to Mr Goh.

As for Royal Caribbean, its first 2-night sailing on December 1 last year was completely sold out. Demand was also strong for December and the first quarter of  2021 sailings, especially those during Chinese New Year and the March school holidays, observed Asia Pacific Managing Director Angie Stephen.

The stringent health and safety policies on both lines have also contributed to the success of cruising in Singapore. These included safe-distancing rules, the wearing of face masks in public areas, contact tracing and mandatory COVID-19 tests prior to embarkation and post-disembarkation.

Ships are also running at reduced capacities, with upgraded medical facilities and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems that enhance filtration.

With the exception of a false-positive COVID case on board Quantum’s December 7 sailing, no passengers have tested positive for COVID on both lines to date.

At present, World Dream and Quantum are offering bookings on their website until March 2021. With Quantum staying and international travel bans still in place for most Asian countries, cruises-to-nowhere are likely to continue for Singapore’s summer season.

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