Two years into the pandemic, leaders of the Southeast Asia cruise
industry are optimistic about resuming cruises even as Omicron and other
new variants continue to disrupt plans and throw up unexpected
Ensuring consistent safety protocols are essential, concurred the
leaders who were speaking at CruiseWorld Asia 2021, held 14 December.
“It’s fairly clear that cruises are not about zero risk. It’s not
about risk elimination, it’s about risk mitigation,” opined Annie Chang,
director of cruise policy & planning group at Singapore Tourism
Board (STB), which created the world’s first Cruise Safe certification.
This approach has worked well so far for the island city-state, which
has seen close to 270 sailings since 2 November serving over 380,000
passengers and is considered to be a role model in the region for
to Chang, what’s most important is continually reviewing requirements
to ensure that we are not “living with 2020 standards as we go into
Echoing her sentiments, Ministry of Transport Malaysia’s
undersecretary of Maritime Division Mohamad Halim bin Ahmed believes it
is important to learn from past mistakes as Malaysia readies itself to
resume domestic cruising on 22 December at 50% capacity.
Living with the pandemic
Citing the example of
how it was previously thought necessary to quarantine the whole ship
when one positive case was discovered, he explained that such extreme
measures are no longer realistic due to the ever-changing nature of the
virus and the need to balance public health with economic priorities.
Instead, Malaysia’s cruise authorities now implement safeguards such
as having sick bays and isolation wards onboard ships, segregated
boarding times and pre-departure saliva tests.
“We don’t want to reinvent the wheel since it’s worked successfully
in Singapore,” said Dato’ Sasedharan Vasudevan, CEO of Penang Port.
In the same vein, PT Pelabuhan Indonesia (Persero)’s department head
of passenger & RoRo service Rahardian Zebedianto emphasised the need
for aligning health protocols across the region so that cruising can
restart safely and sustainably.
He said, “Before, we had discussed with STB to implement their
protocol in Benoa Port. For a start, Pelindo will be recommending Benoa
for pilot cruise resumption in Indonesia, hopefully in 2022.”