Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas is ready to welcome Australian cruisers for its Singapore homeporting season.
Aussies looking to cruise overseas can head to Singapore to enjoy Asia’s largest and most technologically advanced cruise ship.
Royal Caribbean’s Spectrum of the Seas has arrived in Singapore, and will be commencing voyages on 11 April 2022 with three and four-night cruises-to-nowhere.
Built in 2019, the Quantum Ultra Class ship features groundbreaking amenities such as Asia’s first virtual reality bungee trampoline, custom cocktails crafted by robots at the Bionic Bar as well as a revolutionary Suite Enclave with private dining rooms, dedicated lounges and the Ultimate Family Suite which houses up to 11 guests.
“The arrival of Spectrum of the Seas couldn’t have come at a better time, just as Singapore shifts towards general vaccinated travel and readies for a strong recovery. We will continue to work with Royal Caribbean and other industry partners to steer cruising in the region towards greater heights,” said Annie Chang, Director of Cruise, Singapore Tourism Board (STB).
“Almost half a million people have sailed since Singapore restarted cruises in November 2020, including many first-time cruisers. We strongly believe that the popularity of cruising and our strong fundamentals will enable Southeast Asia to become the world’s next cruising playground.”
With Singapore’s newly- implemented Vaccinated Travel Framework (VTF), fully vaccinated travellers from all regions can take any flight to Singapore. The easing of Singapore’s border restrictions has led to the slow and steady recovery of the fly-cruise market.
“We opened bookings for Spectrum a couple of months ago and started seeing some international demand even before the VTF was implemented,” said Angie Stephen, Vice President and Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Royal Caribbean International. “Now that there’s really no restrictions to enter, we are confident that international business will continue to grow.”
She added that Royal Caribbean is working with travel partners in countries like Australia to ensure they understand the process of coming into Singapore, and what to expect when taking a cruise there.
“Australians love to cruise and I think the highest percent of cruisers live in Australia, with Singapore just a quick trip away,” said Ms Stephen. “Now that both Australia and Singapore have opened up, we are starting to see an increase in demand from Australia too.”
In terms of percentages, bookings for Spectrum by Australian passenger are still in the single digits. However, Royal Caribbean is confident that as international bookings pick up, more travellers from Down Under will be cruising in Singapore.
STB’s Ms Chang added that Australia is an important market for Singapore, and hopes to work closely with trade partners to attract Aussie cruisers.
“We have been actively engaging our Australasia trade partners, and will definitely support them in stringing together pre and post-cruise packages to restart fly-cruising into Singapore,” she said. “Agents can also tap on STB’s Cruise Development Fund to promote cruise packages in Singapore.”
Of course, many Australian cruisers are also looking forward to port-of-call sailings around Southeast Asia. At present, Royal Caribbean has published Southeast Asia itineraries on Spectrum starting October 2022. These three and four-night round-trip sailings from Singapore would visit ports like Penang, Port Klang and Phuket.
As Ms Stephen revealed to Cruise Passenger, the line is working closely with STB to push up the timeline for resuming port-of-call cruises.
“Currently, Southeast Asian countries either require an on-arrival Covid test or pre-departure test,” she said. “Ideally, we would like the cruise pre-departure test to qualify as the testing requirement for every port we visit, rather than make passengers test each time they disembark. The key is to come up with one set of protocols for cruise,” Ms Stephen added.
Chang added that since last year, STB has started the process of engaging with regional counterparts in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia on resuming port-of-call sailings. She remained optimistic that ports in Southeast Asia will open up by the latter part of this year.
“We know that passengers cannot be going on cruises-to- nowhere forever,” said Chang. “I truly believe we’ll see restrictions easing further in a couple of months time, which will help us harmonise the requirements for port-of-call cruises.”
When cruising to ports finally resumes, Ms Stephen said Royal Caribbean may initially offer “bubble shore excursions” rather than a free-and-easy itinerary. Guests who debark the ship will take up shore excursions validated by the line. Excursions will follow Royal Caribbean’s mandated health & safety protocols.
“We want to put safety first and do a measured, slow rollout,” she explained. “Once such excursions have proven to run safely and successful, we’ll continue to ease measures and allow guests to explore ports on a free-and-easy basis.”
When it comes to health & safety, the line has also gone above and beyond. It still mandates that all passengers take a pre-departing ART in Singapore before cruising on Spectrum. Guests can coordinate the testing at a clinic of their choice, use Royal Caribbean’s testing provider or do an online supervised test. Onboard crew have to undergo testing every week as well.
“In an enclosed environment like a cruise ship, pre-departure testing provide assurance to guests and creates a safe bubble where you know everyone you meet at the theatre or restaurant has tested negative for Covid,” said Ms Stephen.
Even though ART testing is still in place, other restrictions have been eased on board Spectrum. Ship occupancy has been increased from 50% to 75%, allowing for more bookings. Guests can now roam the outdoor decks unmasked, although masks still have to be worn indoors.
“We’re very excited about unmasking outdoors because it was a bit uncomfortable lounging by the pools with one’s mask on,” she said. “Across our fleet in other markets, masks are optional both indoors and outdoors. We’re hoping to get to that point for Singapore, because all our guests and crew are vaccinated and everyone is pre-tested before they can board.”
In adherence to Covid regulations, live music and alcohol were previously banned after 10:30pm on Singapore cruises. Now that this restriction has been lifted, passengers can once again eat and drink while watching lounge shows.
“We are looking forward to seeing that come to life on Spectrum, because the ship has great energy even into the late hours and it would be a waste to shut down at 10pm,” said Stephen.
And even though Spectrum was designed for the Asian market, Stephen believes the ship’s features will appeal to Australians and other international guests. Sampling Asian-inspired cuisine like teppanyaki and hibachi-style grill hotpot will be a new adventure for them.
As for the entertainment line-up, it will include new shows that are bound to thrill guests, such as “Showgirls” and “The Silk Road”. There’s also Two70° – an entertainment venue with 270-degree panoramic sea views and high-technology surprises.