‘Definitely I’ll go again’: Some Royal Caribbean passengers say no regrets going on cruise that was cut short by COVID-19 case
SINGAPORE: A Royal Caribbean cruise to nowhere was cut short on Wednesday (Dec 9) when it turned back ahead of schedule after a passenger tested positive for COVID-19.
Despite the disappointment at having their getaway cut short, some passengers told CNA that they do not regret going on the cruise and that the experience has not been them off future trips.
“This situation actually doesn’t hinder us because we were aware of the risks when we came on board,” said Mr Muhammad Rezal Ramli, who was on the cruise with his children.
He said the ship returned to Singapore on Wednesday morning after the passenger tested positive, leaving them “one day short” of the scheduled duration of the cruise.
Mr Rezal told CNA in a live television interview that there were “quite a lot” of safety measures on board the vessel, such as temperature checks at certain activities and reminders for passengers to wear their masks.
“I believe they have put in quite a lot of measures, so much so that it’s a bit annoying for me as a user but of course they wanted to keep us safe.
"For example, there were very strict numbers on how many people are supposed to be in the pool. They were always asking us to tap our SeaPass so that they know our location, which room we entered and at what time,” he added.
When asked if he thought the cruise COVID-19 protocols were effective, Mr Rezal said he took the swab test on Friday while he boarded the ship on Monday.
“I am not sure that that one weekend gap … makes any difference to our COVID-19 status or situation.
In a media interview arranged by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), he said: "I think if all the gaps are addressed, and looked into, I don’t see any concern for any future trips."
Mr Rezal, a student development officer at Singapore Polytechnic, said he is not worried about catching the coronavirus at the moment.
With more than 2,000 people on board, including crew members, chances of him and his family interacting with the COVID-19 case are “pretty low”, the 40-year-old father-of-two said.
Mr Rezal added that he will take precautions, “try to be extra careful” and “not dive myself into the crowd" when he disembarks.
Another passenger who only wanted to be known as Mr Quek said he was “quite alarmed” when he first heard about the case at about 2.45am, as he was not sure “how serious was the case” and whether it had already spread. He is on the ship with his wife and daughter.
But knowing that the case's close contacts have tested negative has given him some reassurance, he said in a media interview arranged by STB.
In October, STB announced that two cruise lines - Genting and Royal Caribbean - would be able to resume cruises under a pilot scheme, and at a maximum capacity of 50 per cent.
Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas vessel resumed sailing from Dec 1, offering three- and four-night cruises.
STB said in a statement on Wednesday that an 83-year-old man tested positive for COVID-19 after he reported to the on board medical centre with diarrhoea.
Prior to boarding, the passenger had also taken a mandatory polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, and tested negative.
Royal Caribbean said on Wednesday morning that its next sailing, scheduled for Thursday, is still set to go ahead after the vessel is deep-cleaned and sanitised. An update is expected by 6pm on Wednesday on whether there will be further changes, said Royal Caribbean.
Mdm Adeline Tan, who was on the cruise with her husband, told CNA that she does not regret going on the cruise nor does she feel upset about the news as she had enjoyed the trip.
However, the 56-year-old part time lighting equipment sales executive said she “feels so sorry” that she made her loved ones worry, especially since they had tried to dissuade her from going on the cruise.
She said she “never thought this would happen to me” and that the first two cruise batches prior to her trip had gone on without incident.
Mdm Tan said she was not worried about whether she would test positive or negative for COVID-19 as there was “no point worrying right now”.
She added that she was afraid of putting her colleagues and family members at risk and will isolate at home and not attend the wedding of a close relative this weekend as an added safety precaution “in case another group suffers”.
Mdm Tan said she also plans to stay away from work because she interacts with a lot of people as a sales executive.
Regarding the COVID-19 testing measures, Mdm Tan said that it was not “100 per cent foolproof” as everyone had tested negative before boarding the ship.
PLANS TO SELF-ISOLATE
Mdm Michelle Goh, who was on the vessel with her husband and young son, also said that she would choose to go on a cruise again.
“This is my fourth time on Royal Caribbean in three years and they have never failed me” she said.
The 40-year-old dating agency owner also said that she will be “socially responsible” and plans to self-isolate for a few days after she disembarks and returns home.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Wednesday issued an advisory to passengers, telling them to monitor their health for 14 days from the date of disembarkation as a precautionary measure.
All passengers will be required to undergo a swab test at the end of the monitoring period. During this period, they may continue with their usual activities including going to work or school.
Mdm Goh said her experience on the vessel so far has been “very good” despite the absence of usual activities such as the nightly song and dance.
“This is understandable given this situation, but the rest of the activities planned and facilities were sufficient to keep us well-entertained.”
Mdm Goh added that she was informed that all impacted guests will receive a refund for the day missed, in the form of on-board credit to their SeaPass account.
The credit is pro-rated based on the cruise fare paid. If the full amount of the credit is not used by the end of the sailing, any remaining credit will be refunded to the card on file, she said.
Additionally, Mdm Goh said passengers will be provided with a Future Cruise Credit for the value of one day’s worth of cruise fare paid to be used on a future sailing.