Singapore’s first cruise to nowhere set sail today. The cruises, classed as round trips, are open only to its residents and sail for a few days in waters just off the city-state.
They follow flights to nowhere in some parts of Asia that take off and land at the same airport.
Environmental campaigners have criticised such initiatives. Cruise ships generally use heavy fuel oil, meaning they can be significant polluters.
A 2019 study by Transport & Environment, a campaign group, found that in 2017 Royal Caribbean alone emitted four times more sulphur oxides than all of Europe’s cars combined. Sulphur oxides can cause health problems and acid rain, while harmful nitrogen oxides can also be a byproduct from the industry.
Before boarding the 335-metre (1,100ft) World Dream on Friday, which was operating at half capacity to prevent crowding, passengers underwent coronavirus swab tests before boarding the vessel.
Retiree Ang Sen Hock, 73, said he had no fear about getting infected and had booked several more trips later in the month.
“Not worried. Because earlier this year I was also a passenger on this cruise ship and, coincidentally, there were two suspected cases,” Ang said, while waiting for his test. “But we still boarded and they had special measures.”
The global cruise industry has taken a major hit from the coronavirus pandemic, with some of the earliest big outbreaks found on cruises.
The 1,400 guests are required to carry an electronic contact tracing device and to social distance at all times.
Self-serve buffets have been suspended and Dream Cruises has upgraded medical facilities to include testing and isolation units.
“The idea of just getting out of Singapore, even just for a little bit, a few days, it’s really an attractive thing,” said passenger Robert Gaxiola.
The president of Dream Cruises, Michael Goh, said the crew would respond decisively to any sign of infections. “Passengers will be back into the cabin and the ship will do a deep cleaning and sanitisation,” he said. “Within less than six hours we can be back at Singapore.”