Backed by the successful launch of short cruises from Singapore by Genting Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International, confidence among the public for sailing continues to grow.
The strict safety protocols for embarking and disembarking passengers at Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore (MBCCS), aligned to the rigorous health protection regime on board the ships, have reassured passengers that when they step onto Genting Cruise Lines' World Dream and Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas, their health is the topmost priority.
“The sentiment about cruising from our regulars is very positive and we are seeing a very high number of enquiries from new customers,” said Koh Chong Wee, general manager of Singapore’s Citystate Cruises, speaking at the CruiseWorld Asia Regional Conference, 'Forging Ahead’.
And for those waverers who still hold concerns about their cruise being cut short by a medical issue, both Genting Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean have added an extra layer of reassurance for passengers booked or contemplating a cruise.
RCI is offering Covid-19 insurance included in the cruise price at no extra cost. Angie Stephen, managing director, Asia Pacific, Royal Caribbean, said if a passenger is sick three weeks before a cruise, during embarkation or on board the ship, “they are covered by our insurance”.
”And when international borders reopen, we will cover the cost of getting people home wherever that might be, even if they need to take a private jet when they’re not permitted onboard a regular passenger plane.”
Stephen said the only people who had been turned back from a Singapore sailing were a few who reported feeling unwell. “We won’t take any chances with passengers’ health while those who are turned away get a full refund.
When panel moderator, WebinTravel founder Yeoh Siew Hoon, asked if these extra measures also meant a deeper hole in Royal Caribbean's pockets, Stephen simply replied, “There is an increased cost of safety, but you can’t put a price on safety.
“And we’ve proved to the world [in Singapore] that we can manage these cruises safely," Stephen added. “Our guest satisfaction surveys are even higher than they were before. People are so excited to get back into travel."
Genting Cruise Lines is also reassuring passengers worried about Covid-related issues that they can cancel their bookings at least 48 hours prior to sailing to receive a 100% future cruise refund valid through 30 September 2021. The offer is applicable for Singapore cruises until 9 April 2021.
“This gives a consumer confidence in making their cruise arrangements,” said Michael Goh, president of Dream Cruises and head of international sales for Genting Cruise Lines.
“Also, we have so many safety measures in place, cruising is now one of the safest vacations possible.”
Lionel Wong, CEO of SATS-Creuers Cruise Services, operator of MBCCS, said the guarantees offered by the cruise lines were important because insurance underwriters had yet to write Covid protection into their policies. “Hopefully this will come soon,” he added.
Wong said the incident in which a passenger on Quantum of the Seas recorded a false positive test after the ship returned to MBCCS from sea one day earlier than planned was “not such a drama” because of the good communication which kept passengers informed of the situation.
“We knew what to do and how to do it. The passengers were happy coming off the ship. They knew what was going on. That was critical,” he said.