Singapore’s ‘sailcations’ make their debut allowing agents to sell cruise again


World Dream became the first cruise ship to restart sailings in Singapore this month, with 1, 400 guests taking part in the historic November 6 voyage.

But it won’t be long before Royal Caribbean also kicks off with Quantum of the Seas joining World Dream.

“Since we announced last month that we were open for pilot cruises, bookings have been six times higher compared to a normal week in the same month last year,” says Angie Stephen, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Royal Caribbean International.

Dream Cruises’ President and Head of International Sales Michael Goh maintained the responses have been overwhelmingly positive.

“Agents are finally able to market tourism products again, with Dream Cruises’ sailings being the first,” he says. “This has restarted the industry and allowed travel agents to get back on their feet.”

Close to 6,000 bookings were made once the pilot cruises were announced in October. And after World Dream’s successful debut cruise, the line saw a second wave of responses. According to Goh, bookings further increased by 400%.

As for passenger feedback on Dream’s first sailings, Goh shares that cruisers are elated to be back at sea.

“After being stuck in Singapore for close to 8 months, they are really glad to be on board our ship, enjoy good food and watch the shows,” he says.

He observes that passengers have been adjusting well to the new measures. After all, most health & safety protocols are already implemented on shore, such as wearing masks in public places, social distancing requirements and checking in digitally before entering restaurants.

Mr Goh adds, “Guests are fine with taking the antigen test for Covid-19 too, as it makes them feel safer and more reassured about cruising.”

He also stresses how lots of behind-the scenes work has gone into making theses pilot cruises a success.  Aside from World Dream’s CruiseSafe certification by the Singapore Tourism Board, the line has engaged international classification society DNV GL to conduct a separate certification for its operations.

Other health measures include assigning staggered embarkation times and a stringent ship sanitisation process utilising hospital-grade disinfectants.

Fellow cruise line Royal Caribbean has also received approval from the Singapore government to pilot safe cruises. The new sailings onboard Quantum of the Seas will begin on December 1.

Quantum is already docked at Marina Bay Cruise Centre, and is undergoing preparations for her December voyages. The entire ship will be given a thorough deep clean before the first sailing, as well as before each new sailing.

Like Dream’s sailings, cruises are only open to Singapore residents, with all passengers required to undergo a mandatory antigen test for Covid-19. Guest capacities are reduced to 50 percent, with limits on the numbers allowed in communal spaces like restaurants, theatres, and activity areas.

Despite the restrictions, sailings have been in high demand.

The first 2-night sailing is already sold out. Demand has also been strong for December and quarter 1 2021 sailings, especially those during Chinese New Year and the March school holidays.

Now that port visits are temporarily axed, Stephen shares that many passengers have enquired about the activities and entertainment they can experience onboard.

“On Quantum, guests can immerse themselves in a wide range of activities that will suit everyone from the thrill-seeker to the sedate,” reassures Ms Stephen. “These include the North Star glass observation capsule that rises 300 feet above sea level and even skydiving and surfing experiences.”

As both cruise bosses share, these pilot sailings are a milestone for the cruise industry as well − which has no doubt suffered greatly this year.

“The pilot cruises give us a valuable opportunity to reinvent the cruise experience in the new Covid-19 environment as we prepare for the eventual recovery of the cruise industry, while also allowing us to sustain employment opportunities for crew members during this time,” says Stephen.

Mr Goh describes the new sailings as a “light at the end of the tunnel” for the travel industry.