How Singapore plans to encourage Australians to take a cruise from its port
The last weeks Cruise passenger The story citing expert predictions that we would sail in foreign waters before ours sparked a major debate, with the Cruise Lines International Association Australasia condemning the government for its inactivity.
But a cruise hub is already preparing to welcome Australians as soon as it can: Singapore intends to encourage Australian travel agents to send Australians once its own government opens up to international cruisers. There are even grants to help them do this.
Singapore was one of the first countries to resume cruising last year, with cruises to nowhere on Dream of the world and Quantum of the Seas. The largest ship in Asia – Sea specter – the home ports there next October. Itineraries including stopovers to Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
Australia has always been a popular air cruise market for Singapore as the regional hub for cruising, building infrastructure and hosting all cruise lines.
According to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), 70% of passengers were airline cruise customers before COVID, with Australia being one of the main source markets.
As Ms. Annie Chang, STB’s cruise director, told Cruise Passenger, only local residents of Singapore – including Australians who live here – are allowed to embark on cruises under the Cruise Pilot Program which started in November 2020.
But this will be revisited as soon as the number of cases reaches their targets.
âAs our economy and borders gradually reopen, we will review the requirements to allow non-residents, including those on vaccinated travel routes, to leave Singapore,â Ms. Chang said. âFlying cruises remain at the heart of Singapore’s status as a cruise hub and gateway to discovering Southeast Asia. The ability to revive this will depend on border measures. “
It can’t come soon enough for Mr. Michael Goh, President of Dream Cruises, who told us the company remains very optimistic about the continued growth of the international air cruise market, including Australian passengers.
“We look forward to welcoming Australians again in the future when safe and viable opportunities become available to develop the air cruise segment,” he said.
When air cruises open, Singapore hopes to actively work with its Australian travel partners to attract Australians.
Prior to COVID, STB worked with cruise agents in Australia on their cruise campaigns promoting departures from Singapore. As the borders gradually reopen, she hopes to engage in similar partnerships.
âEligible cruise operators can also apply for a grant from the Singapore Cruise Development Fund, a program that supports the development and marketing of cruise packages,â Ms. Chang said. “Through these partnerships and the actual cruising experience, we hope to attract Australian visitors and have more converts to cruise aboard with us.”
Dream Cruises also hopes to appeal to Australian cruisers with its exclusive themed cruises. In light of the current pandemic, it has brought the world aboard its ships through themed cruises based on popular destinations. For example, Rhythm of Korea, Amazing Thailand, Wonders of Japan and Oktoberfest at Sea.
So, will Australians be able to cruise safely without quarantine or danger to their health?
Singapore was one of the first countries in the world to develop a mandatory audit and certification program for cruise lines before they can start sailing.
Called the CruiseSafe certification, it is compared to global standards and protocols as well as national measures such as SG Clean.
“The certification serves as a quality mark for increased assurance that cruise ships have rigorous safety and hygiene measures in place on board, thereby enhancing confidence in cruising as a safe travel option,” Ms. Chang said.
She adds that to resume stopovers, Singapore must take into account the public health situation in each country or region. These include COVID-19 incidence rates, vaccination rates, and testing regimens.
Regarding the future of airline cruising, Ms. Chang highlights existing security measures, including:
- Infection control measures at every stage of a passenger’s journey, including a mandatory COVID-19 test before boarding
- Strict and frequent cleaning and disinfection protocols on board
- Safe management measures aligned with current national policy
- Ensure that 100% fresh air circulates throughout the vessel
- Reduce vessel capacity to allow sufficient safety distance
- Measures on board to discourage close contact and intermixing between groups
- Medical response plans for COVID-19 incidents
Air cruise passengers can also expect ships in the future to only allow sailing with fully vaccinated passengers. Royal Caribbean Singapore now requires all customers 12 years and older to be fully immunized, for all new bookings made from October of this year.
Going forward, Chang adds that airlines and cruise lines will need to review how they can optimize the travel experience for passengers and make it more transparent through the use of innovative technologies and solutions.
“For an airline cruise itinerary, airlines and cruise lines will need to explore ways to minimize the friction associated with the multiplicity of documents and requirements, in order to ensure that the passenger experience in ports is as straightforward as possible.” , she said.