Royal Caribbean tests the waters with “Cruises to Nowhere” from Singapore’s Marina Bay Harbor, hoping to give pandemic-weary, travel-starved customers an escape onboard.
Trips range in duration from two to four nights, making no stops in any ports of call. The cost of a three-night ticket begins at $374 per person.
Capacity is strictly limited, many safety and cleaning protocols are in place, and COVID testing is required before passengers set foot onboard.
Demand was higher than expected when the ship departed in December 2020. A false positive COVID test result derailed one cruise, but after this false start, the Quantum of the Seas has continued plying the waters.
- Singapore’s first cruise to nowhere amid Covid-19 (Nov 12, 2020, The Straits Times)
- Singapore’s first ‘cruise to nowhere’ sets sail (Nov 6, 2020, CNA)
This post is based on the Straits Times article, Cruises to nowhere: Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas is 2nd ship to sail from S’pore, by Cheryl Teh, December 4, 2020; the CNN article, Passenger aboard cruise cut short by Covid scare doesn’t have virus, officials say, by Lilit Marcus, December 10, 2020; the Cruise Industry News article, Royal Caribbean Extends Singapore Season for Quantum of the Seas , no author, February 10, 2021; and the YouTube videos in the Spotlight. Image source: Todd Gipstein/Getty Images
1. How has the service design of the “Cruise to Nowhere” changed from pre-pandemic experiences?
Guidance: Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas ship is the second to offer cruises from Singapore to “nowhere.” (The move follows a similar new cruise designed by Genting Cruise Line.)
These cruises focus on serving passengers from the Singapore area. All passengers take a rapid COVID test prior to boarding, and the tests are provided at Royal Caribbean’s expense. Luggage is disinfected using electrostatic fogging, and public areas of the ship are cleaned every day. High touch areas, like elevators and stairways, are disinfected every two hours.
During the cruise, passengers must social distance, wear masks, and carry a special monitoring/contact tracing device. All entertainment and dining areas operate with limited capacity. Self-serve buffets have been replaced by food lines where passengers may request which foods they want. These are then dished up by restaurant staff.
Reservations are required to maintain capacity limits in some areas such as pools and water attractions. A hospital and ICU area, complete with isolation rooms and ventilators, are available if needed, and the ship is never more than a six-hour journey back to Singapore.
2. How does current capacity now compare to a pre-pandemic, full-capacity cruise?
Guidance: Capacity can be measured in various ways. One measure is output, in this case, number of passengers served. Normally the Quantum of the Seas can accommodate 4,000 passengers. The first cruise out took 1,300, while the next carried 1,700.
As the cruise ship gradually confirmed safety protocols and increased its passenger load, it worked up to a 50% capacity of 2,000.
Another way to describe the ship’s current capacity is that about 70 percent of the normal crew is working. (Those 1,200 employees must be tested for COVID on a weekly basis.) In addition, once passengers are onboard, seating in restaurants, theaters, and other public areas are significantly reduced to avoid having too many guests congregating in close quarters.
3. How has demand for the cruise compared with expectations or forecasts?
Guidance: For the month of December 2020, Quantum of the Seas was about 99 percent booked. For January 2021, about half of the available tickets had been purchased as of our information in December.
Bookings have been even stronger than Royal Caribbean anticipated. It further forecasted that February and March 2021 would be very popular travel times and expected bookings to increase with the Chinese New Year and children having school holidays.