'Not really that bad': World Dream passengers wait to disembark ship after suspected COVID-19 case detected on board
SINGAPORE: When Ms Janine Marie Tan booked a cruise with Dream Cruises, she and her friends did not expect their cruise to be "a part of any COVID-19 cluster".
The 22-year-old student and her friends were on a four-day "cruise to nowhere", which returned to Singapore on Wednesday (Jul 14) morning after a suspected COVID-19 case was detected on the ship.
"I think we were in a bit of a shock at first because we didn’t expect our cruise to be a part of like any COVID-19 cluster whatsoever, if let’s say it's going to grow into a cluster,” said Ms Tan.
This was the second cruise she and her friends had booked. They had postponed the first one as it was affected by COVID-19 restrictions in May, which did not allow people to be in groups of five.
Ms Tan and her friends had been on their way to the cruise's 24-hour buffet when the announcement of the COVID-19 case was made through the intercom.
Guests were told to return to their rooms and that someone had tested "presumptively positive".
At about 2.45am, another announcement was made informing guests that all close contacts of the suspected case had tested negative, said Ms Tan.
Passengers on the cruise told CNA that they were taking the wait in their stride, using the downtime to have breakfast in their cabin or chat with neighbours.
"It wasn't much of a disruption," said Ms Tan.
She said she and her friends chatted with their neighbours as many passengers had come out on their balconies.
"It’s not really that bad, it’s more of a bit of a disruption of plans, if we had any, for Wednesday or tomorrow if they had work," said Ms Tan.
CNA's Imelda Saad was also on the ship with her family in three separate cabins.
"It did look like it had a healthy number of passengers. I know that they are operating at a full capacity of 50 per cent ... It not being a school holiday period, I was actually quite surprised by the turnout, it was healthy," said Ms Imelda.
She was told that the suspected case left the ship at about 9.22am with the case's close contacts.
"As for the rest of us, (I) don't know exactly what the procedure is going to be like once we get to get off this ship, whether or not we'll be given PCR (tests) or whatever, we don't know.
"It's still a waiting game," she said.
Lunch would also be served to the passengers, said Ms Imelda, who said she thought it was "going to be quite a wait still".
SUSPECTED CASE IDENTIFIED AS CLOSE CONTACT OF COVID-19 INFECTION ON LAND
The World Dream ship arrived at Marina Bay Cruise Centre at about 6.30am on Wednesday, hours before it was scheduled to return at 9am on the same day.
The ship left Singapore last Sunday at 9pm for a four-day "cruise to nowhere".
The suspected COVID-19 case, a 40-year-old passenger, was identified on Tuesday as a close contact of another case on land. The case was then isolated and a polymerase chain reaction test (PCR) came back positive, said the Singapore Tourism Board.
The passenger had received both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine and had tested negative in an antigen rapid test on the day of departure, Dream Cruises said.
Neither STB nor Dream Cruises provided further information on the case.
In a notice to guests, the company said it has cancelled a three-day cruise that was scheduled to depart on Wednesday night.
The decision was made to "further safeguard the well-being of our guests and crew", it said.
Dream Cruises and Royal Caribbean started offering these cruises in November and December last year respectively as part of a pilot scheme that allows round-trips with no ports of call.