In Focus
SHIPPING & MARINE | Staff Reporter, Singapore

‘Cruises to nowhere' continue despite COVID-19 red flag

The final confirmatory test conducted on the passenger was negative.

One of Royal Caribbean International's “Cruises to Nowhere” took an unexpected turn on December 9, following the reports of an 83-year-old man found to have tested positive to COVID-19 aboard its vessel Quantum of the Seas.

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has allowed Royal Caribbean and Genting Cruise Lines to offer "cruises to nowhere" products for locals looking to experience cruise holidays without crossing international borders. Cruise capacities have been halved and strict safety measures and infection protocols are in place.

According to the STB, the passenger initially tested positive for COVID-19 and was isolated, after reporting to the ship's medical centre with diarrhea. This prompted the cruise, which had 1,680 passengers and 1,148 crew on board, to return early to Singapore and disembark all guests.

The passenger's original samples were retested at the National Public Health Laboratory (NPHL) and came back negative. A second fresh sample tested by NPHL also came back negative, according to the Ministry of Health (MOH).

A final confirmatory test by the NPHL also showed a negative result, MOH said. It has since rescinded the quarantine orders given to the passenger’s close contacts.

Royal Caribbean said it has worked closely with the Singapore government to ensure the safety of its guests and crew.

“That we were able to quickly identify this single case and take immediate action is a sign that the system is working as it was designed to do,” the company said in a statement.

MOH said it will support the laboratory on board the Quantum of the Seas in its review of testing processes.

Meanwhile, Genting Cruise Lines’ Dream Cruises will continue its “cruise to nowhere” as planned. Its World Dream cruise departed earlier than expected to facilitate the disembarkation of passengers from the Quantum of the Seas.

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