Imagine taking a dream cruise holiday only to end up in a prison-like quarantine with thousands of other people amid a worsening health scare. That is the situation the passengers and workers on board the World Dream and Diamond Princess – docked in Hong Kong and Japan respectively – faced and continue to face in regards to the latter. But the emergency measures were prudent and essential to protect against a wider regional outbreak of the deadly Covid-19. It is incumbent upon cruise companies and the authorities to introduce more stringent safeguards for vacations at sea, without which the city cannot accomplish its goal of becoming a hub for the industry. To the relief of the community as well as their friends and family, the passengers quarantined at the cruise terminal at Kai Tak were allowed to disembark after tests cleared everyone on board. But the situation in Yokohama is more worrying , with at least 11 out of the 300-plus Hong Kong passengers on board infected. Hygiene is of utmost importance to cruises. And most companies have rich experience in dealing with incidents such as food poisoning. But challenges arising from individual passengers with serious infectious diseases can swiftly escalate into a health crisis. Coronavirus cruise ship: stuck on board the quarantined Diamond Princess In the Hong Kong case, health officials and cruise companies tried their best to tackle the situation. This included speeding up passenger testing with extra manpower and addressing any special demands of those in need. Credit should also go to the staff and passengers for their patience and understanding. Cruise holidays have their appeal, even though the wider impact on the environment remains to be fully addressed. Communicable diseases add to the concerns. Whether travellers will stay away in the wake of the mayhem remains to be seen. But it would not be surprising if business falls as a result. After all, cruise ship vacations are essentially thousands of people travelling in a group tour. The risks cannot be ignored. The health scare underlines the need for better safeguards against an outbreak of infectious disease on board. With the city’s cruise industry still in its nascent stage of development, more needs to be done to enhance consumer confidence.