Asia Minute: Cruise Ships Look for Business in Singapore

Dec 11, 2020

Hawaii’s “safe travels” program is understandably focused on air travel. But the cruise industry also has plans to eventually return to the islands. For now, there’s more activity in that area elsewhere in the Pacific.

The Disney Cruise Line has plans for two ten-night cruises from Vancouver to Honolulu, but they won’t be getting underway until April, 2022.

Others in the cruise industry are likely to make a much earlier return to the islands, but in the meantime a cruise experiment of sorts is underway in Singapore.

This week, the Royal Caribbean International’s “Quantum of the Seas” set off on a four-day “cruise to nowhere” — but plans were disrupted on day three, when a passenger became ill and tested positive for COVID-19. The ship immediately returned to Singapore, and the 83-year old man was taken to the hospital.

Singapore’s Ministry of Health says the man subsequently tested negative for the virus three times — indicating his first test was a false positive. 

Two cruise companies are now taking part in a pilot program by the Singapore Tourism Board to help boost the cruise industry with short trips that don’t dock at any other port. The ships operate at reduced capacity and with physical distancing.

While some cruise ships are in operation in Southeast Asia and parts of Europe, U.S. health officials continue to warn against them.

Less than three weeks ago, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended “all people avoid travel on cruise ships, because the risk of COVID-19 on cruise ships is very high.”