Calls mount for 'cruises to nowhere'

Top News | Wallis Wang and Maisy Mok 7 Apr 2021

Hong Kong should allow "cruises to nowhere" this summer, Dream Cruises said, citing similar cruises in Singapore and Taiwan have proven to be safe.

After the two places allowed cruising to resume, Dream Cruises has so far catered to 150,000 customers without seeing any Covid-19 cases, Headline Daily reported.

Christine Li Fengxia, senior vice president and head of marketing and communications of Genting Cruise, the liner behind Dream Cruises, said the company has stopped services in Hong Kong for over a year due to the pandemic, canceling over 500 trips and losing around 1.5 million passengers.

Li said the company is in talks with the SAR government to try resume tours before summer.

Once cruise trips resume in the city, three "cruise to nowhere" tours every week will allow visitors to enjoy "seacations" with start and end points in Hong Kong.

In July, the company sent the Explorer Dream cruise ship to Taiwan as the pandemic was well controlled there, Li said. She added that another World Dream cruise ship was also sent to Singapore in October to resume the cruise tours.

Li said the two cruise ships have had over 150,000 tourists so far and no one has been infected, which is a significant step for cruise companies in recovering from the pandemic.

"The cruise tours have been resumed for more than eight months, and it was safe and successful," Li said.

"We have established a new normal of cruise tours, which is safe and secure after fighting against the pandemic for months."

Li said the cruise's anti-epidemic measures will be strengthened to reduce the risk of transmission.

Measures include reducing the passenger capacity to half and converting some guest rooms on the cruise to negative pressure rooms.

But Li said the company will hire 70 to 80 percent of the staff required for normal cruise operations on each cruise ship to maintain high-quality service.

All public spaces on the cruise, guests and staffers' rooms have installed ventilation systems to filter air six to 15 times per hour.

The cruise also has also installed many automatic handwashing stations whereby passengers do not have to press any buttons to wash their hands.

Restaurants have also canceled buffets as staffers in protective gear will deliver meals to passengers.

The company will also comply with the local government's strict anti-epidemic measures. For example, Singapore requires passengers to conduct a rapid Covid-19 test and obtain a negative result before boarding.

Li hoped the Hong Kong government could come up with conditions to resume cruise tours based on the safe sailing experience in Taiwan and Singapore as soon as possible, to allow the company enough time to plan the routes and hire staff.

She believes the cruise tours will be popular among Hongkongers as many people are eager to travel.

Li added that Hong Kong was the second-fastest growing city in the cruise market in Asia before the pandemic and has excellent supporting facilities for cruise ships.

She suggested authorities should seize the opportunity when Hongkongers have a strong demand for local tours and develop cruise tourism in the city.



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