After months of turmoil, cruise ships are back on track once again. The new normal added new protocols and features including onboard testing centres in cruise ships. However, despite following all possible safety guidelines cruises are facing the burnt, as witnessed by a Royal Caribbean Ship which had to return to Singapore following a passenger testing COVID positive.
“Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas arrived at Marina Bay Cruise Centre Singapore at 8 a.m. today after an 83-year-old passenger tested positive for COVID-19,” said Annie Chang, cruise director at the Singapore Tourism Board.
This ship was headed to no particular destination. It had sailed from Singapore earlier this month and would have returned to the port on December 10. Instead, it came back to Singapore on December 9 as a passenger tested positive.
- The ship named Quantum of the Seas started sailing on a planned pilot scheme involving a round trip without any port call.
- The 83-year-old passenger had some diarrhoeal problems which is a suspected COVID symptom.
As a result, PCR tests were done following onboard protocols. Ms Annie Chang, Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) director for cruise development informed that the ship’s medical center had performed the required testing.
Earlier before commencing on the journey they had tested all the 1680 passengers and 1148 crew, said Miss Chang.
Passengers Isolated & Tested
Following the COVID positive test results, the passenger was isolated and all his close contacts were put under quarantine. All close contacts have been put on isolation and tests have been performed. None of them have tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Further contact tracing is being performed. Meanwhile, all onboard leisure activities have been suspended and the passenger have been restricted to their cabins, said Miss Chang
According to a statement issued by the Royal Caribbean, all close contact crew members were isolated and tested. None of the crew has tested positive so far.
“The remaining passengers and crew will remain on board in their rooms until contact tracing is complete. They will all undergo mandatory COVID-19 testing before leaving the terminal, as per the regular post-arrival protocols.”
Passengers are getting meals in their rooms and are being updated regularly.
Royal Caribbean Hails COVID Protocol.
After this incident, Royal Caribbean has reiterated their commitment to safety protocols and standards have said that protocol is working as per plan.
The cruise company said that they have developed a thorough testing and monitoring system following global health directives. The system has been developed under close vigilance of the Government.
The company stressed on the effectiveness of the system stating that “they were able to quickly identify this single case and take immediate action” because of a well-designed protocol.
Government Prepared To Tackle This
Meanwhile, Singapore’s Trade and Industry Minister Chan Chun Sing said that the government is prepared to tackle this as all protocols for covid19 cases in ships are in place.
The Minister reiterated the importance of having a covid protocol that can quickly contract trace and isolate people.
Singapore’s Health Ministry has further issued an advisory to the other passengers of the ship asking them to monitor health conditions for the next 14 days. The passengers can continue with their regular activities but they will be further tested for the virus after the quarantine period gets over.
The Ministry of Health said that 1 week after the disembarkation the passengers will be contacted by the cruise company for a swab test appointment at a government site. The Health Ministry is bearing the cost of these tests.
Passengers Waiting To Disembark
With regard to the disembarkation, the passengers were asked to wait till 11 am for an announcement which was then delayed to the afternoon.
At 3 pm, the announcement was further delayed to 7 pm, said Adeline Tan, a 56year old passenger of the ship. Tan added that there’s no clarity on disembarkation so far and probably they will be stuck for the whole day.
COVID19 Cruise Sailing Protocol
- Earlier in Oçtober, STB authorized Venting and Royal Caribbean to resume cruises at 50% capacity.
- Cruises need to comply to covid19 protocols like social distancing and mask wearing.
- Regular inspections are being conducted on cruises and any non-compliance is subjected to penalty fines and suspension of sailings.
- In certain cases, Cruise Safe certificates required to operate in Singapore are also revoked.
Safety Measures Taken By Royal Caribbean
The Royal Caribbean Ship started sailing from December 1 after passing all covid protocols.
They had upgraded onboard heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, thereby enabling 100% fresh filtered outdoor air supply to replenish the used air.
Cruising Safe With Proper Safety Protocol
The STB COVID sailing protocol also required onboard testing and isolation of the affected. It further outlines onboard deep cleaning after leisure activities following global health and hygiene guidelines.
The STB outlined that the short itineraries without any port calls and mandatory testing eliminated outbreak risks.
“With the appropriate … measures in place, such cruises are no less safe compared to other activities and settings that have since resumed,” Ms Chang had said.
The STB further underlined that in case of an outbreak a contingency plan was in place to return the ship to its starting point in Singapore. Adequate medical support and disembarkation protocol would be followed.
COVID-19 Refunds & Credits by Cruises
The cruise company is taking care of your expenses in case of such suspended sailings with a COVID-19 protection plan that gives you 100% credit for your future cruises.
Passengers will also get a full refund if a passenger of their ongoing cruise tests positive during the cruise.
The incident is likely to dent the travel and tourism industry of Singapore which is a major tourism hub of Asia.