A “cruise to nowhere” from Singapore has ended early — back where it started — after a coronavirus infection was discovered onboard.
When the cruise, on the ship Quantum of the Seas, left the city-state on Monday, all 1,680 passengers and 1,148 crew had tested negative for Covid-19, according to the Singapore Tourism Board. But the ship returned to port a day early on Wednesday after an 83-year-old passenger tested positive.
The tourism board said that the infected passenger took a mandatory Covid-19 test after reporting to a medical center with diarrhea. The Straits Times, a Singapore-based newspaper, reported that the ship’s captain informed guests around 2:45 a.m. on Wednesday to remain in their cabins.
The Quantum of the Seas, which is owned by Royal Caribbean, returned to the Marina Bay Cruise Center in Singapore at 8 a.m. The remaining passengers and crew were expected to disembark by 6 p.m., Annie Chang, the tourism board’s cruise director, said in a statement. Contact tracing is underway, and those who came into contact with the 83-year-old would be sent to a government quarantine facility, she said.
Cruises to nowhere have been a rare beacon of hope for an industry under mortal threat. In February, the world watched in horror as the coronavirus infected more than 200 people aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, trapping its 3,600 passengers and crew. Governments later banned cruises, crews were sent home and passengers canceled their bookings.
Singapore, along with Japan and several countries in Europe, has since extended the cruise business a lifeline by allowing voyages on a limited — and highly controlled — basis.
Singapore has reported 58,285 cases and 29 deaths during the pandemic, including an average of about eight new cases per day over the past week, according to a New York Times database.
The Quantum of the Seas is one of two cruise ships operating out of Singapore this month. A New York Times reporter recently took a trip on the other one, the World Dream.
Following Singapore’s guidelines, the ships’ operators have upgraded air filters, enforced social distancing and required passengers to carry contact-tracing devices that link to government monitoring systems, among other safety precautions.
Still, the World Dream’s operator has said that the cruise offered just about everything that was available before the coronavirus hit, minus a karaoke room that has been shuttered on government orders.
Zip line? Check. Casino, two pools and a male burlesque show in a Chinese restaurant? Check, check, check.
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