December 9, 2020: Unlike airlines and hotels, cruise ships have a hard time getting business restarted this year.
Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas passenger cruise ship cut short its four-day itinerary on Wednesday, returning to Singapore a day early after an 83-year-old male passenger tested positive for Covid-19.
The cruise is part of a pilot scheme launched in November that allowed two cruise lines, Royal Caribbean and Genting Cruise Lines, to operate short, round-trip cruises with no ports of call and mandatory Covid-19 testing for all on board.
Passengers required to take a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test 48 to 72 hours before embarking, said Heidi Sarna, a cruise expert and co-founder of travel site Quirky Cruise, who is currently on board the diverted cruise ship.
Ship captain Sindre Borsheim announced the ship was going into quarantine mode and returning to Singapore, said Sarna.
Passengers must tap cabin keycards throughout the ship, wear Royal Caribbean’s “Tracelet” tracing wristband and use Singapore’s Trace Together app, which works via Bluetooth.
The ship has returned to port today by government protocols and will debark guests after reviewing contact tracing.
Quantum of the Seas is carrying 1,688 passengers, said Fishman, less than half of the 4,000 passengers it can hold.
The passenger who tested positive had tested negative before boarding, said Annie Chang, director for a cruise at the Singapore Tourism Board.