Now that the Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble is in limbo, our dreams of finally being able to go on holiday have been dashed. Cruises to nowhere seem like the only way travel-starved Singaporeans can get out off the island.
But with just two operators allowed to offering cruises to nowhere under the Singapore Tourism Board’s “safe cruises” pilot scheme — Dream Cruises (a.k.a. Genting Dream) and Royal Caribbean — prices aren’t exactly competitive.
So, are cruises to nowhere worth the price you pay?
Singapore’s cruises to nowhere: 2021 price list
At time of writing, these were the starting prices for the two cruises to nowhere.
|Cruise line||Dream Cruises||Royal Caribbean|
|2 nights||From $319||—|
|3 nights||From $469||From $339|
|4 nights||—||From $389|
*Prices include taxes, fees and port expenses.
Dream Cruises to nowhere (Genting Dream)
Singaporeans can no longer head to Genting Highlands in Malaysia to gamble at the casino, but setting sail on a Genting Dream cruise to nowhere is still possible.
The cost of a 2-night package starts at $319, while 3-night cruises start from $419, assuming you pick the cheapest interior rooms without balconies. There are departures every 2 to 5 days for 2-day cruises and every 7 days for 3-day cruises.
The 18-deck Genting Dream is huge and has a mind-boggling array of sporting and entertainment amenities, including ziplines over the ocean, a rock climbing wall, a waterslide park, an on-deck swimming pool, a mini golf course and a sports centre.
For those who aren’t going on a cruise to exercise, there lots of restaurants, bars and other entertainment facilities, including a hot pot restaurant, prime steakhouse, seafood grill, gelateria, you get the drift. And for those who are missing Singapore’s nightlife, there’s a Zouk Beach Club and karaoke lounge, amongst other bars and clubs.
Now, the question on everybody’s lips is, what are the COVID-19 measures? Well, there’ll be a COVID-19 testing machine on board that yields results in 60 minutes, and all passengers must be tested at the cruise centre before boarding. The COVID-19 test fee is $60 for all guests aged 13 and over.
Once on board, every passenger must wear a mask, use TraceTogether and carry around a MICE pod tracking device They’ve also reduced the passenger count to 1,400, which is less than half the pre-COVID capacity.
If (choy!) a COVID-19 outbreak happens on board, the ship will be turned around and can get back to Singapore within 6 hours. They’ve also set aside seven isolation cabins for suspected COVID-19 cases and 34 quarantine rooms for their close contacts, and in case of emergency, there’s an intensive care unit ward with a ventilator.
Royal Caribbean cruises to nowhere (Quantum of the Seas)
If you had never heard of Royal Caribbean prior to COVID-19, you probably do now, as this company’s cruise ship was the one that experienced a scare earlier this month when a passenger was suspected of having COVID-19 (turned out to be a false positive).
Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas cruises run for 3 or 4 nights, with 3-night cruises starting from $339 and 4-night cruises starting from $389. For each package, there are departures more or less on a weekly basis.
All passengers will take a COVID-19 test prior to arriving at the cruise centre, the costs of which will be absorbed by Royal Caribbean.
The cruise will be operated at half its usual capacity with about 2,000 guests on board. Passengers must wear masks on board and are required to use the Trace Together token, and safe distancing must be observed, with bookings necessary for some of the key attractions.
So, what exactly are the attractions on board? If you were impressed by Genting Dream’s amenities, Quantum of the Seas’ will blow your mind. Novel amenities include the RipCord iFly skydiving simulator, the FlowRider surf simulator and an elevation pod offering 360 degree views from 90 metres over the sea.
They’ve also an archery range, a sports complex, bumper cars, pool tables, ping pong tables, an on-deck swimming pool, an arcade, a casino, a rock climbing wall, an escape room and augmented-reality games.
And for those who just want to eat, party and socialise, there are countless bars and restaurants including hotpot, sushi and Jamie’s Italian, as well as a nightly pool party.
So, are cruises to nowhere worth the money?
Cruises to nowhere certainly cost more per day than a backpacking trip on a shoestring budget, so they’re not for cash-strapped travellers.
As you don’t exactly go anywhere or discover new cultures, these cruises are more a form of entertainment than travel per se. So, whether they’re worth the money really depends on the value you attach to having 24/7 access to a huge dining and entertainment complex.
In more normal times, we’d say that you could probably recreate the cruise to nowhere experience for less. But right now, these cruises are the only way you can party all night, socialise freely with people outside your bubble or even leave the island.
On the other hand, if what you want is to pretend COVID-19 never existed, you might not be able get quite as big a dose of escapism as you might have hoped. You’ll still have to get tested for the virus before you board, and passengers are required to wear masks and observe safe distancing measures. And of course, the risk of catching COVID-19 is never zero.
Other than cruise promotions, how else can you save money?
Due to demand for cruises to nowhere far exceeding supply, we found that you can get the cheapest cruise fares if you:
- Book well in advance: We’re talking about departure dates well into 2021
- Be flexible with dates: Not all dates are equal. Even during the holidays, prices can vary tremendously. If you can, avoid the school holidays or you’ll end up paying through the nose.
- Check out the competition: As there are only 2 cruise operators, it doesn’t hurt to check the competitor for packages for the dates you want.
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Which cruise insurance should you buy?
Though you’re only travelling to “nowhere”, travel insurance is still a good idea, as you’ll want to make sure you can get emergency evacuation if you need it and compensation for trip cancellation.
However, make sure to check with the insurer whether the policy specifically covers you for cruises to nowhere.
Most insurers are tight-lipped on their policies regarding cruises, but we found that Allianz travel insurance explicitly cover cruises.
Your cruise package may also have insurance bundled in too, but you may want to get it a la carte for more customisability and value-for-money.
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