Singapore

Cruise operators optimistic with travellers eager to set sail

30,000 passengers have taken cruises to nowhere since early November

There has been a rush to hit the high seas with 13 cruises to nowhere setting sail over the past month or so.

The round-trip cruises without ports of call have taken 30,000 or so passengers since Genting Cruise Lines' World Dream got the ball rolling on Nov 6.

The trips, which are part of a pilot programme announced by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) in October, impose strict measures to keep Covid-19 at bay, including a reduced 50 per cent capacity and pre-boarding testing for passengers.

The two operators authorised to run such trips - Genting Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean International - told The Straits Times that tickets were selling well.

The World Dream, which has run 11 cruises since its first one on Nov 6, offers two- and three-night Super Seacation voyages. Operator Genting Cruise Lines has extended the itineraries to the end of March.

POSITIVE

Mr Michael Goh, president of Dream Cruises and head of international sales at Genting Cruise Lines, said: "The responses and inquiries continue to be very positive, and we remain highly optimistic of the growing demand during the school and festive year-end holidays."

Royal Caribbean International held a pilot cruise on the Quantum of the Seas last Monday and on Thursday launched its first consumer-oriented voyage since the pandemic began with a four-night getaway for 1,300 passengers.

The vessel sets sail again today on a three-night jaunt with 1,700 voyagers.

Ms Angie Stephen, managing director for Asia-Pacific at Royal Caribbean International, noted that demand for its cruises from January to March was already building up, with January more than 50 per cent booked.

She added that many customers were families and young professionals, with most passengers aged 45 and under while around 10 per cent are in their 60s and above.

The need to get tested for Covid-19 before boarding has not dampened the spirits of excited travellers.

"I much prefer cruising to staycations. Despite there not being ports of call, there's loads to do on the boat," said Mr Ricky Goh, 29, who has been on two World Dream cruises.

"Going for a jog on the deck of a ship and watching the sunrise from the sea - these are not things you can do from a hotel room."

Meanwhile, Singaporeans are also busy cashing in their $100 SingapoRediscovers tourism vouchers on hotel staycations and tickets to attractions since the scheme began on Dec 1.

Booking platforms said they are seeing a healthy uptake across the board, in particular for visitor magnets such as Gardens by the Bay and Universal Studios Singapore.

The STB said on Dec 1 that the appointed booking platforms - Changi Recommends, GlobalTix, Traveloka, Trip.com and Klook - had received more than 11,900 bookings totalling about $1.86 million in vouchers and payments as at 4.30pm that day, leaving some offerings sold out by midday.

Ms Carine Chew, head of outbound products at Changi Recommends, said the most-booked attractions included Gardens by the Bay, Universal Studios Singapore and the Singapore Zoo.

Mr Reza Amirul Juniarshah, head of corporate communications at Traveloka, said traffic on the platform has surged around 15-fold over normal periods since the vouchers were launched on Dec 1.

Klook has also seen quite an even spread of booking across hotels, attractions and tours, said South-east Asia marketing director Sarah Wan.

FOR MORE, READ THE STRAITS TIMES

TOURISM & TRAVEL