Hong Kong explores possibility of allowing nowhere cruises for residents
Hong Kong officials are in negotiations with the cruise industry to restart limited cruise service for residents as part of their efforts to restart parts of the economy. Residents have been largely confined to the city, which, with tight controls, has allowed Hong Kong to nearly wipe out the COVID-19 virus.
Hong Kong media reports that officials have said cruises could begin in months to allow residents to escape the city. However, it is expected that Hong Kong will follow a similar approach to Singapore for the resumption of cruises. Local authorities should approve short-distance cruises without stopovers and without strict restrictions on the operation of ships.
The South China Morning Post reports, however, that authorities plan to require cruise lines to vaccinate all crew members or that Hong Kong may provide crew vaccines before starting cruises. In addition, it is reported that all passengers should also be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Singapore has developed a strict protocol in collaboration with DMV that focuses on social distancing and sanitation, while limiting the number of people on ships and the size of groups. Passengers are also required to wear a tracking device or have an app on their phones to let them know if they have come in contact with the virus if tracing is needed.
Recently, Singapore further tightened restrictions on cruise ships, reducing the number of passengers allowed on board. All of the restaurants and bars on the fries also only do take-out or over-the-room food service deliveries, much like the restrictions at the recently re-established restaurants ashore. The actions came after Singapore reported an increase in the number of cases of the virus.
Hong Kong officials have already made several attempts to offer residents the option of travel during the pandemic. There was talk of opening corridors to other cities, including Singapore, which had also controlled their number of cases. Hong Kong had also allowed airlines to offer flights to nowhere in which people boarded planes that flew in circles within Chinese airspace before returning to Hong Kong.
Royal Caribbean International and Genting’s Dream Cruises are rumored to be participating in discussions with Hong Kong officials. Both companies have sailed from Hong Kong in the past, and they were the two cruise lines licensed to operate similar cruise programs from Singapore.
Chinese authorities have also authorized a limited resumption of domestic cruises in China. In December, a cruise line was cleared to start a trial program of short cruises from Hainan.