Royal Caribbean returns to service for first time since pandemic began

While German and Italian cruise lines have leveraged their home markets in Europe to stage a limited return to service with a handful of ships, Royal Caribbean has now commenced cruises once more from Singapore with Quantum of the Seas.

The first departure of Quantum of the Seas from Singapore since the COVID-19 pandemic brought the industry to a standstill is also the first cruise of any Royal Caribbean ship since March, when it announced it was suspending all voyages.

Quantum of the Seas alongside at the Marina Bay terminal in Singapore.

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Quantum of the Seas departed Singapore’s Marina Bay on Tuesday on a cruise to nowhere, with a limit of 50% capacity and only Singaporean residents onboard – the Singaporean government has not yet indicated when it will allow foreign fly-cruise tourists to book the voyages as well.

The strict anti-COVID regulations onboard have been developed by Royal Caribbean in partnership with Singaporean authorities. The ship will make no port calls, social distancing will be enforced in all public spaces and all passengers and crew will have to wear contract-tracing technology.

The contact-tracing via Bluetooth is done via a wristwatch provided to all passengers and crew, while they also have to carry a token connected to a mobile application, which is part of the Singaporean government’s TraceTogether system.

Passengers and crew also had to undergo COVID-19 testing prior to the cruise. For all cruises before January, Royal Caribbean is including the cost of a COVID-19 test in the cruise fare, and the test must be taken three days prior to the departure date.

Quantum of the Seas is one of the largest and most complex cruise ships to return to service anywhere in the world.

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At the end of each cruise, the passengers will have to do a COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test before they disembark.

Those who test negative won’t need to take any further action, while those who test positive will be instructed to visit a “specific clinic for a confirmatory PCR test”, according to the line.

Anyone who tested positive for the coronavirus within 180 days before the voyage cannot receive a PCR test and, therefore, is not able to cruise.

Check-ins are done online. After checking in, guests get access to their online cruise planners, where they can book specialty restaurants and internet packages.

Before embarking, guests need to complete a health questionnaire and undergo a temperature check.

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