Singapore halts cruise ship sailings indefinately

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Singapore has halted cruise calls as part of a package to stem the spread of coronavirus. The new measures were announced by the Ministry of Health (MOH) on March 13, and don’t have an end date.

Singapore isn’t the only nation in Asia to ban the arrival of cruise vessels. Malaysia announced on March 8 that it has issued a blanket ban on entry for all cruises. Hong Kong and Cambodia have also closed their ports to all vessels.

Earlier this week, Cambodian Health Minister Mam Bunheng said that a British tourist on a river cruise from Vietnam had tested positive for the virus. Additionally, countries like Thailand and Vietnam have turned away ships due to Covid-19 concerns.

Singapore’s decision (to ban cruises) was made after the government studied the risks, data and evidence as well as out of concern that imported cases can come through cruises, said Minister Lawrence Wong, Co-chair of the Multi-Ministry Taskforce on Covid-19.

“We do know that the nature of a cruise is such that there will be a lot of mingling. And while we would like to have social distancing on cruises, I don’t know whether cruise operators are able to apply all of these measures. And if they are unable to, and an infected person were on board the cruise and infects more people on the ship, then it will be potentially very difficult,” he said.

In view of the evolving COVID-19 situation globally, Singapore has also banned all new visitors with recent travel history to France, Germany, Italy and Spain within the last 14 days.

“All of the border measures that we have put in place are temporary measures, and they are dynamic,” said Wong. “There may well be changes over time, because we are constantly looking at how we can minimise the number of imported cases coming into Singapore, and we will see if there are better ways of doing this.”

Wong noted that cruise operators themselves recognised the risk and have suspended cruises of their own accord.

In addition to cancelling all of its March Quantum of the Seas sailings, Royal Caribbean will be suspending the vessel’s April itineraries.

“We understand Singapore is managing a difficult situation and support the government’s decision,” said the brand in a statement. “We remain committed to the Singapore market and look forward to our return to this beautiful region at the earliest opportunity.”

As for Dream Cruises, Explorer Dream will “remain Off Port Limit of Singapore until further notice”, said Genting Hong Kong. The vessel was just one day out from calling at Singapore when the ban was announced, according to the city’s Marine Traffic.

Dream Cruises initially planned to resume Genting Dream’s Southeast Asia sailings in April and May. In light of the ban, these sailings will be suspended until further notice.

Princess Cruises’ Asia season was cancelled as well, along with the suspension of voyages on all its 18 ships for two months.

For a full rundown on cruise line cancellations, see cruisepassenger.com.au