Cruise cancellations spill in as Singapore enforces new restrictions

Singapore’s month-long Phase 2 Heightened Alert restrictions, which kicked off on May 16, has resulted in cruise cancellations, according to two major travel agencies.

Under latest restrictions, cruises out of Singapore must reduce their on-board capacity to 25 per cent, suspend outdoor activities and dining-in services, as well as limit travelling groups to two guests per cabin.

World Dream sails out of Singapore with Japan themes from May 28 to August 31

Both Dream Cruises and Royal Caribbean International, which operate special cruises out of Singapore for local residents, will continue to do so but with new health and safety provisions.

Koh Chong Wee, general manager at Citystate Travel, told TTG Asia that nearly 20 per cent of customers have cancelled their bookings. However, the majority are still keen to cruise, so assistance has been rendered to help affected customers postpone their trips to preferred future dates.

Over at Dynasty Travel, as many as 80 per cent of cruise customers have opted for cancellation while the remaining 20 per cent have decided to postpone their trip to the next school holiday period in November and December this year.

Dynasty Travel’s director of public relations and communications, Alicia Seah, said: “The current social distancing measures of limiting travelling groups to two guests per cabin is a big challenge as most of our customers are (cruising) with family and friends (and are in) groups of more than three or four persons.”

With Phase 2 Heightened Alert restrictions expected to run until June 13, sailings in the first two weeks of the June school holidays are affected. Most of the bookings for that period are from families with school-going children.

Koh explained that this group of passengers might have difficulties postponing their trips to the third or fourth week of the June holidays due to high occupancy. “Their only choice is to postpone to year-end school holidays. This might result in some customers cancelling the trip totally and asking for full refund instead of postponing it,” he added.

Singapore’s cruise industry was able to restart in late-2020 amid the pandemic when the Singapore Tourism Board launched a pilot scheme for round-trips that are only open to local residents. At a time where cruises have not resumed in many parts of the world, the success of these cruises-to-nowhere programmes has resulted in Singapore accounting for one-third of global cruise travellers.

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