The long-awaited comeback of cruise ships sailing out of Hong Kong waters has finally arrived.
Beginning on 30 July, the Genting Dream will run two-night sailings departing Wednesdays and Fridays, and three-night trips departing on Sundays as Super Seacation packages.
Response from the Hong Kong market has been "very encouraging”, said Christine Li, Genting’s Senior Vice President and Head of Marketing & Communications during a 28 July preview.
"We’re fully booked to mid-August. Booking numbers during the typically low season in September and October is also picking up. I think vaccination rates are finally climbing, and so we’re confident in further sales down the road.”
With 18 decks, 30 dining concepts, and amenities for adults and children, Li believes the Genting Dream offers Hongkongers a more rewarding getaway for the whole family at a more competitive price — all-inclusive fares start at just under HK$1,500 (US$195) per night — than hotel staycations that have been the norm for over a year.
These short sailings offer a "fantastic" vacation option amid current times, said David Leung, owner of JJ Explorer Tours. “Hongkongers have been locked down too long, but [cruising offers a respite] during the traditional summer holiday season.
“Everyone gets a balcony room because of the 50% capacity restrictions; and there are tons of facilities. As the saying goes, in every crisis lies an opportunity.”
Besides lining up a series of thematic cruises tailored for the Hong Kong market, Li said Genting is also in talks to host satellite events as part of Hong Kong’s popular Wine & Dine Festival. The line is also actively exploring ways to relocate events disrupted by Covid onto its ships, including musicals, theatre and orchestral concerts.
Genting’s lightweight Tracey device, which is linked to cabin key cards and tracks passenger movement while on board.
Safety and enjoyment on board
A closer look will reveal the many changes and new safety protocols Genting Dream has rolled out for its Hong Kong restart this weekend.
Adhering to Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection regulations, the Genting Dream will be operating at the same standards as the Explorer Dream and World Dream, which have been sailing in Taiwan and Singapore since July and November 2020 respectively.
A comprehensive response policy (the fifth deck has been transformed into a sealed negative pressure isolation ward) is in place in the event a passenger presents signs of illness, starting with an onboard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing facility. A doctor, sanitisation officer and five nurses are on hand in its fully equipped medical centre.
For passengers, embarkation and contact tracing have been made as effortless and unobtrusive as possible. Prior to boarding all passengers must complete mandatory online check-in to minimise traffic at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal and ensure staggered boarding times.
With 50% capacity restrictions in place, passengers are expected to have more space on board Genting Dream.
At the terminal, a vaccination record, a negative PCR test from within 48 hours of embarkation, temperature check and government LeaveHomeSafe app scan must be presented before guests receive Genting’s lightweight Tracey device, which is linked to cabin key cards and tracks passenger movement while on board.
On the ship passengers are met with sanitiser dispensers at all entry and exit points of public amenities — restaurants, casino, spa — and new crowd control rules and registration at facilities such as the swimming pool and kids’ playrooms (Little Dreamers Club) have been implemented.
In the dining outlets, social distance must be maintained and buffet service has been suspended. Audience capacity at the Zodiac Theatre has been limited to HKSARG capacity for performance spaces (currently 75%).
Among the safety features passengers don’t see are the now-standard cleaning and disinfection procedures during the ship’s 12-hour turnaround, the upgraded fresh air ventilation systems, and Dream Cruises’ DNV GL certification for maritime industry infection prevention, awarded in July 2020.