After flights to nowhere the next big thing in COVID-safe travel could be cruises to nowhere.
Singapore has announced that in November 2020 it will begin pleasure cruises that don’t actually visit any ports.
For the initial journeys, Singapore’s national tourism board has partnered with two cruise lines and will have the World Dream of Genting Cruise Lines and the Quantum of the Seas of Royal Caribbean International take passengers on their trips to nowhere.
A very different cruise
However, this cruise will look very different from your usual experience of seafaring.
The ships will depart from and return to the same location to ensure hygiene procedures, with no port calls in between. It will run at no more than 50 percent capacity and are for residents of Singapore only.
“This cruise pilot is a valuable opportunity for cruise operators to reinvent the entire cruise experience in order to regain the confidence of passengers,” Singapore Tourism Board said in a statement.
In addition to the decreased passenger load and non-existent excursions, cruise ships must comply with stringent sanitation rules, requiring passengers to show a negative COVID-19 test prior to boarding. Fresh air will be cycled continuously through the ship and once outside their staterooms, passengers will have to wear masks and are discouraged to mingle with other passengers. In order to discourage crowds, both boarding and disembarking will be phased.
These strict rules also apply to the people on board who will be working. All crew members have to isolate themselves in their home countries, go through a 14-day quarantine upon arrival in Singapore and undergo routine testing.
The first “cruise to nowhere” of the World Dream will begin on November 6, while in December, Quantum of the Seas will set sail.
Prices and onboard services have not yet been announced for Singapore’s two cruises. Nevertheless, if recent “flights to nowhere” launched elsewhere across the globe are anything to go by, they might easily sell out. Australian airline Qantas’ seven-hour destinationless flight tickets sold out in just ten minutes last month even though it attracted criticism from environmental groups as they say that being heavy users of fuel, ships can be a significant pollutant.
Singapore’s plans for cruises to nowhere has also worried environmentalists as “it can have a higher footprint than flying a jumbo jet,” they say.
After outbreaks on multiple ships among employees and passengers sharing enclosed spaces for days, the cruise industry was among the hardest hit during the pandemic.