Bid to reopen Southeast Asian cruises

SINGAPORE, 28 March 2022: Cruise holidays in Southeast Asia will make a comeback, starting with sailings from Singapore to Phuket in Thailand, possibly by November if talks between health officials from the two countries succeed.

According to the Strait Times, talks are ongoing between the Singapore embassy in Thailand’s first secretary Alexander Lim and Thai authorities to reach an agreement on resuming cruises between Singapore and Phuket.

A Bangkok Post report last week suggested cruise passengers would need to show only an antigen rapid test (ART) result taken within 24 hours of departure. All cruise passengers would have to be fully vaccinated or have other certifications to show why they did not need to be vaccinated.

Thai health officials fear the infection risk could be higher for cruise passengers, but cruise lines have adopted robust health protocols to ensure potential risks are equivalent to airline travel.

However, it is likely that passenger numbers will be capped, although plans have yet to be approved by Thailand’s Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration.

In pre-pandemic 2019, cruise lines from Singapore ferried more than 250,000 international passengers to Thailand in 110 sailings, roughly a fifth of cruise ship calls to Thailand that year.

The close links between the two ports make the lane particularly important as Singapore seeks to resume port calls for cruise vessels to re-anchor its regional cruise hub status.

STB reiterated that it is working with several other ASEAN countries to resume port calls, aimed at restarting later this year cruises from Singapore to popular ports in Southeast Asia and ultimately Hong Kong.

In 2020, Singapore had just 410,000 cruise ship passengers, compared with 1.8 million in 2019. All port stops are still not allowed. It forced cruise lines to settle for cruises to nowhere last year. However, that is no longer a solution as borders reopen in Southeast Asia and airlines resume flights to popular destinations.

(Source: The Straits Times, Bangkok Post)

Original Straits Times report: