Royal Caribbean’s Managing Director Asia Pacific, Angie Stephen, has told Cruise Passenger she will be working with the Singapore government to welcome Aussie sailors once a bubble is agreed between the countries.
In an exclusive interview with Cruise Passenger Ms Stephen, who has led the highly successful sailings of Quantum of the Seas since November, added the line would be working with Singapore on implementing vaccine-only cruises once the game-changing jabs were available.
“The extended Singapore season for Quantum of the Seas is presently only for Singapore residents. However, the news of the travel bubble with Australia is naturally very exciting. We look forward to working with the Singapore government to determine how we can welcome fly-cruisers from Australia once the arrangement is finalised,” she said.
“The arrival of highly efficacious vaccines will be a game changer. Now, we have vaccines to lead the battle against COVID-19 and enable society and the cruising industry to open back up.
“In fact, in May, we will be offering fully vaccinated sailings from Israel on our highly anticipated, brand-new ship, Odyssey of the Seas – all the crew as well as passengers over 16 will be vaccinated.
“A vaccine passport would serve as a proof of protection against COVID-19 on top of preexisting safety protocols, potentially enabling cruisers and travellers alike to return to fuss-free global movement. We look forward to working with the Singapore government on how we might implement this for sailings from Singapore.”
The sailings from Singapore of both Quantum and Dream Cruises World Dream have seen keen interest from Singaporeans. Dream announced its 100,000th passenger recently.
“Customer demand has exceeded our expectations,” said Ms Stephen. “Feedback has also been very favourable and we are seeing a lot of interest from new-to-cruise consumers as well as repeat cruisers. Bookings have been brisk since we announced our return to sail late last year, and even more so with the extension until June that we recently announced.
“Sailings during the Easter long weekend and June school holidays are filling up fast.
“We had to evolve the way we cruise– we implemented protocols to ensure the health and safety of guests and crew, in line with Royal Caribbean Group’s global protocols. We also worked closely with the Singapore government to put in place protocols including the same Safe Management Measures that apply on land at shopping malls and hotels, to makes cruises a viable option for Singapore residents.
“I believe the cruise industry will recover faster than people think. Seeing is believing – our bookings have shown that there is still a strong demand for cruising. The pilot cruises gave us a valuable opportunity to reinvent the cruise experience in the COVID-19 environment as we prepare for the eventual recovery of the cruise industry, while also allowing to sustain employment opportunities for our crew members.“
Only one incident caused a heart-stopping moment since November – when an elderly passenger tested positive – but then tested negative. In the end, it was a false alarm.
“The health and safety of guests and crew are of utmost importance to us. Under the guidance of the Singapore government, we created a thorough set of protocols designed to mitigate risk. To date, we have not seen a single COVID-positive case on board the ship.”
How long does she think cruises to nowhere can continue to bring Singaporean families on board without port stops?
“Our guest surveys show us that many people feel there’s so much to do onboard Quantum of the Seas –that even a three or four night cruise isn’t enough. There are groundbreaking onboard attractions such as RipCord by iFLY, the first skydiving experience at sea, and the North Star, an engineering marvel that transports guests more than 300 feet above the ocean.
“Also, activities in the SeaPlex – the largest indoor sports and entertainment complex at sea. Shows on board Quantum are top notch too. They are housed in venues such as the Two70 multimedia theatre, where cutting-edge technology turns two-storey high windows into beautiful scenes and aerialists and robots make the space come alive.
“Quantum also features a vast and varied range of dining options– from rustic Italian fare at Jamie’s Italian to quality steaks at Chops Grille – so guests never have a shortage of new meals to enjoy. There will always be something new for guests to experience for the first time on their next cruise.”