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article imageSingapore 'cruise to nowhere' cut short after virus case

By AFP     Dec 9, 2020 in Travel

A "cruise to nowhere" off Singapore was cut short Wednesday after a passenger tested positive for the coronavirus, officials said, a blow to efforts to revive the hard-hit industry.

The voyages -- starting and ending at the city-state with no stops -- began last month, marking the resumption of cruises after a months-long hiatus due to travel restrictions.

But early Wednesday morning the holiday calm was shattered by an announcement the cruise was being cut short after an 83-year-old passenger had tested positive.

"One guest aboard Quantum of the Seas tested positive for coronavirus after checking in with our medical team," operator Royal Caribbean said in a statement.

"We identified and isolated all guests and crew who had close contact with this guest, and each of those individuals have subsequently tested negative for the virus."

The vessel had 1,680 guests and 1,148 crew on board, and arrived early morning in the city-state after turning back on day three of a four-day cruise, the Straits Times newspaper reported.

The Singapore tourism board added that all on-board leisure activities were halted and passengers were asked to stay in their cabins.

Passengers and crew will remain onboard until contact tracing is complete, and will undergo mandatory virus tests before leaving the cruise terminal, the board said in a statement.

Passenger Ronald Tam, 43, who is on the cruise with his wife and three children, confirmed to the Straits Times they had been told to remain in their rooms until further instructions.

The "cruises to nowhere" have proved a hit in tiny Singapore after people were unable to go on holiday for months due to travel restrictions.

A raft of safety measures had been rolled out to prevent virus outbreaks, such as disinfecting public areas and reducing the number of passengers on board.

But some had warned of the potential for the virus to spread on the liner after several vessels were hit with outbreaks earlier this year.

The cancellation is the latest blow to the finance hub's travel industry, after a "bubble" allowing travel between Singapore and Hong Kong without quarantine was delayed indefinitely after the Chinese city reported a spike in coronavirus cases.

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