In a matter of days, cruising in Singapore will become easier and even closer to the pre-pandemic experience.
The full reopening of Singapore's borders from 1 April will mean that cruising in Singapore will now be open to all visitors, regardless of their country of origin.
"There's no need to take any special flights [from 1 April]. You can enter Singapore as long as you're fully vaccinated, and you can go free without quarantine," Lee Jian Xuan, STB's acting area director for Malaysia and Brunei said to a 140-strong audience at the inaugural CruiseWorld Malaysia organised by Travel Weekly Asia in Kuala Lumpur on 28 March.
Singapore's easing of border measures is also matched by the easing of community safe management measures (SMMs) in the country from 29 March, including making mask wearing outdoors optional, permitting social gatherings from five to 10 pax, and lifting restrictions on alcohol sales and drinking after 10.30pm.
All live performance can resume while the capacity limit of 50% for large events and settings of more than 1,000 pax will be increased to 75%.
In adherence to Singapore's Safe Cruising protocols, travellers embarking on Singapore cruises will still be required to undergo a professionally supervised rapid antigen test (ART) on boarding day, regardless of age or vaccination status.
Safe and easy travel between borders
Starting from 1 April, fully vaccinated travellers from Malaysia can more conveniently enjoy Singapore's cruise offerings via land travel. Photo Credit: Gettyimages/Kinsei-TGS
Along with Singapore fully reopening to all countries around the world comes test-free and quarantine-free land travel between Malaysia and Singapore, giving Malaysian residents an alternative beyond flying to enjoy Singapore's cruise offerings and other in-land attractions.
"When consumers were surveyed in Malaysia, many expressed that they would prefer to take a private vehicle out due to safety and comfort," Lee shared, further adding that the Singapore-Malaysia land borders would stay "open around the clock".
The preference for land travel could also stem from flexibility as it allows Malaysian residents to enter Singapore without the need for much advanced planning and logistical arrangements to be made as compared to booking a flight. Currently, Malaysian residents flying into Singapore would still be required to submit a negative pre-departure test taken within two days.
Residents in Malaysian states bordering Singapore, specifically those in Johor Bahru, have not had the chance to visit its neighbouring country for leisure activities these past two years. These Malaysian states' close proximity to Singapore in addition to the no test, no quarantine travel both ways may make Singapore a particularly attractive travel destination for these JB residents, and these consumers present a potentially lucrative market for agents to tap into.
From there, travelling from Malaysia's soil to Singapore's seas will also be made more seamless and hassle-free with Royal Caribbean's revision to its pre-cruise testing options. Cruisers who book sailings for the upcoming Spectrum of the Seas, arriving in Singapore on 11 April, have the option of taking their pre-cruise Covid-19 test via video consultation with an approved private healthcare provider (Tele-ART) or scheduling an appointment online to drop by a Singapore-based test centre.
More things to do, with more support
Travel agents can tap on STB’s Cruise Development Fund and Fly-Cruise Development Fund that supports the development and marketing of cruise packages.
This easing of rules will offer travel agents more opportunities to create more immersive and exciting travel packages in Singapore, said Lee, with an exciting array of attractions in the country awaiting post-pandemic visitors.
New attractions such as the Museum of Ice Cream and SkyHelix were launched in Singapore during the pandemic, while existing attractions including Marina Bay Sands and Haw Par Villa have refreshed their offerings in the past two years, Lee added.
Notably, STB continues to keep up its support for travel agents through grants, including the Cruise Development Fund (CDF), which also supports agents in developing fly-cruise packages.
"Basically we use the CDF to support travel agents in developing and marketing a cruise package that consists of minimum two nights stay in Singapore pre and post cruise. We currently support up to 70% of qualifying costs such as marketing and pre/post land experiences," said Lee.
Some adjustments in the CDF will soon take place, which will be revealed after 1 April, he added.