Covid Case on Board Cuts Short Singapore Cruise to Nowhere

A Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. ship is back in Singapore on what was meant to be day three of a four-day cruise to nowhere after a positive Covid-19 case was identified on board early Wednesday.

About 2,000 passengers aboard the Quantum of the Seas vessel were informed of the development by the ship’s captain over the public announcement system at about 2:45 a.m. local time. The passenger who tested positive was isolated while officials traced their contacts.

Around 8 a.m., the captain told passengers that one passenger felt ill and tested positive for Covid. All those found to have contact with the person have been tested and quarantined. All other passengers have been put under quarantine as a precautionary measure.

“All guests onboard must remain in their staterooms for the remainder of the sailing,” a note sent to passengers on Wednesday read. “We know this isn’t exactly how you planned to spend your cruise, and we are terribly sorry. Again, this is for your benefit and to ensure all guests remain healthy and well.”

The news is another blow to Singapore, a tiny island nation whose economy relies heavily on the tourist dollar. Just last month a highly anticipated air travel bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong that would have replaced quarantine with Covid testing was scrapped due to rising case numbers in Hong Kong.

Royal Caribbean International and Genting Cruise Lines said in October that two of their ships would start sailing from Singapore on so-called cruises to nowhere as the city state aims to revive its tourism sector and give residents an outlet for their wanderlust. Both Singapore and Hong Kong have very limited domestic travel options.

Refunds, Free Phone Calls

Stringent protocols for cruise operators and passengers to permit the pilot voyages were established. These included testing of crew and passengers, increased sanitization and fresh air circulation measures. Cruises were also required to sail at a reduced passenger capacity of 50%.

Ultimately, those proved insufficient to combat a virus that’s now infected 68 million people globally and taken the lives of almost 1.6 million.

Royal Caribbean in its note to passengers said that breakfast would be delivered directly to staterooms and free phone service would be provided in order to help people adjust their travel plans. The cruise is hosting a number of media representatives, plus has a large number of families on board with small children.

“All impacted guests will receive a refund in the form of an onboard credit for the day missed,” Royal Caribbean said. “Additionally, we will provide you with a future cruise credit for the value of one day’s worth of cruise fare paid to be used on a future sailing.”

Those who had booked on a later cruise that was to depart Thursday can cancel and will receive a refund credit.

— With assistance by Melissa Cheok

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