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Singapore’s Marina Bay Cruise Centre. Plans show that cruises to nowhere will be allowed with a maximum occupation of 50 per cent for the first three months, and must receive certification from authorities. Photo: Xinhua

Cruises to nowhere: Singapore looks to resume leisure travel amid coronavirus pandemic

  • Singapore’s tourism board is working on a health and safety framework for cruise lines, which have been banned from docking since March
  • Singapore Airlines this week scrapped plans for ‘flights to nowhere’ and will instead offer meals on its Airbus A380 superjumbo
Singapore is reportedly planning to allow so-called cruises to nowhere in what could be among the first of its measures to reopen leisure travel.

The country’s tourism board appointed Norway-based risk management company DNV GL AS to create a health and safety framework for cruise lines that want to resume trips from Singapore, The Straits Times reported, citing tender documents related to the plan.

The company will also develop a certification programme and a framework for non-compliance with safety measures, the paper said.

The move could give some relief to cruise operators as the city state has halted dock-ins since March following the global outbreak of Covid-19.
Earlier this week, Singapore Airlines scrapped a similar plan to operate short flights to nowhere following environmental concerns and instead will open one of its Airbus A380 superjumbos as a temporary restaurant.

Singapore Airlines ditches ‘flights to nowhere’, offers A380 restaurant

Cruises to nowhere will be allowed with a maximum occupation of 50 per cent of a ship’s original capacity for the first three months.

All cruise lines must be audited and receive Singapore’s certification to sail out of its ports.

The tourism board told the newspaper that the certification aims to assure passengers that a cruise has met safety and hygiene requirements and that more details will be announced later.

No date was given for when this programme might start, according to the report.

The Marina Bay Cruise Centre in Singapore. Photo: EPA-EFE

The cruise industry has been eager to restart operations, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday extended a no-sail ban in the US by a month, to October 31, saying further action is needed before cruises can safely resume.

The CDC said data from March through September showed more than 3,600 Covid-19 or Covid-like cases on cruise ships in US waters, and at least 41 reported deaths.

Covid-19 survivors: Hongkongers relive time trapped on Diamond Princess

The industry shut down in March after a series of Covid-19 outbreaks at sea, including one at cruise giant Carnival Corporation’s Diamond Princess off Yokohama, Japan, in February.

Even healthy passengers have suffered, as many ports turned ships away for fear of seeding new shore-side outbreaks. Tens of thousands of crew members were trapped on vessels for months.

Passengers look on on-board the Italian cruise ship Costa Fortuna as the ship docks at Marina Bay Cruise Centre in Singapore on March 10, 2020. Photo: Xinhua

Meanwhile, Singapore said on Thursday that it will allow entry to travellers from Vietnam and Australia, excluding its coronavirus hotspot Victoria state, beginning from October 8.

The city state last month welcomed visitors from Brunei and New Zealand, and is cautiously reopening its borders after a virus closure to help revive its airport, a key regional aviation hub.

The aviation authority has said there is a low risk of virus importation from the two countries. Travellers must undergo a virus swab test upon arrival, travel on direct flights without transit and download a mobile app for contact tracing.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: ‘Cruises to nowhere’ may help salvage travel trade