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Singapore Tourism Board eyes 'cruises to nowhere' restart, new safety guidelines

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Chan Brothers Travel will be partnering Dream Cruises to market and sell "cruises to nowhere" from Singapore, though sales have not been launched.

A NEW cruise certification benchmarked against global health safety and hygiene standards is in the works, as "cruise to nowhere" sailings out of Singapore are set to resume.

According to tender documents seen by The Business Times (BT), the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) last week awarded a tender to DNV GL Singapore, a classification society and adviser for the maritime industry, to create a cruise compliance audit and certification programme for cruise lines keen to restart sailing from the city-state.

The award value for the tender was S$145,000.

Singapore had ceased port calls for all cruise vessels since March 13.

In the tender documents, STB said it would like to resume "cruise to nowhere" sailings out of Singapore, though each ship's sailing capacity is intended to be capped at 50 per cent for the estimated first three months when they resume. The exact date for this resumption was not disclosed. 

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The duration of a "cruise to nowhere" sailing ranges from two to four nights, according to STB.

It further noted that the global cruise industry has been severely affected by Covid-19, and that studies have shown consumers seek assurance through more stringent health regulations and higher hygiene standards. 

Therefore, to aid recovery efforts, STB plans to establish the certification, which is important to "restore consumer confidence".

Earlier this year, ports across the world were closed to cruise vessels after coronavirus cases rapidly multiplied aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which was quarantined in the port of Yokohama. 

According to the STB tender documents, DNV GL Singapore will, among other things, review and enhance STB's preliminary list of cruise safety management measures.

The company will also recommend an approach to audit the cruise lines, including developing a non-compliance framework.

It will conduct the audits and onboard inspections for cruise ships planning to restart sailings out of Singapore as well, and issue the cruise certification to eligible cruise lines.

All cruise ships that sail out of Singapore must be audited and certified, STB noted in the documents. For the first three months after sailing resumes, inspectors will also conduct onboard checks.

In a statement sent in response to BT’s queries, STB's cruise director Annie Chang noted that the tender was to appoint an audit and certification company with maritime expertise to audit cruise lines' adherence to safety and hygiene measures.

Cruise lines which pass the compliance audit will be given a certification, which serves as a quality mark to assure consumers that the cruise has met these required standards, Ms Chang said.

She added that "Singapore is monitoring the Covid-19 situation and in discussions with cruise lines on putting in place appropriate measures that will enable cruises to resume in a safe manner". 

More details on the cruise certification will be released at a later date, Ms Chang said.

Separately, Chan Brothers Travel told The Straits Times that it will be partnering Dream Cruises to market and sell "cruises to nowhere" from Singapore, though sales have not been launched.

Meanwhile, flag carrier Singapore Airlines this week announced it was ditching the idea for a "flight to nowhere", after reviewing factors such as concerns raised by environmental groups because such flights do not provide transport yet increase carbon emissions.

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