Genting Cruise Lines ship ‘cruising to nowhere’ returned to Singapore after a passenger was suspected of having contracted Covid-19 and the nearly 3,000 passengers and crew on board were confined in their cabins.
A 40-year-old passenger tested positive for a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on board and was taken to hospital for further testing after the ship docked early Wednesday, the Office of the Singapore tourism.
“The passenger was identified as a close contact of a confirmed case ashore and was immediately isolated as part of onboard health protocols,” the board said in a statement.
The global cruise industry has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, with some of the first major epidemics on cruise ships in Asian waters.
Singapore, which has seen relatively few domestic cases of Covid-19, launched “round trips” on luxury liners in November, non-stop for a few days of navigation.
Dream Cruises’ World Dream had 1,646 passengers and 1,249 crew on board and all had to stay in their cabins with contactless meals sent to them, said Dream Cruises, a subsidiary of Genting Cruise Lines.
The guest suspected of having Covid-19 had tested negative in a mandatory rapid antigen test before departure before the ship left for a three-night cruise on Sunday.
The passenger’s three traveling companions tested negative and were isolated while contact tracing was ongoing, the tourist office said.
Only essential service crews with personal protective equipment were allowed limited movement inside the ship, Dream Cruises said.
Passengers said they discovered the suspected case in an announcement around 1:00 a.m.
“We were prepared for this possibility,” said passenger Suryana Ali in an online media session hosted by the operator.
Several guests aboard the moored ship could be seen chatting with each other on their private balconies, a Reuters witness said on the Singapore waterfront.
Cruises to Nowhere, reserved for residents of Singapore, have become popular during the pandemic with other travel options severely limited due to coronavirus restrictions.
Tan Choon Seng, 51, was on his third cruise this year with friends when the bad news arrived, but at least it was almost the end of the vacation, he said.
“We are grateful that this happened at 1 am, so we have completed all activities,” Tan said.
Tan said he was worried about quarantine but would be going on the cruise again.
Passengers said they were waiting to be told when they could disembark.
World Dream’s next crossing, a two-night trip departing Wednesday, has been canceled.
In December, passengers on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas were held in their cabins for more than 16 hours in Singapore after a suspected case of COVID-19 on board.
But that turned out to be a false alarm.