Hong Kong Exploring Permitting Cruises to Nowhere for Residents
Hong Kong officials are in negotiations with the cruise industry to restart limited cruise service for residents as part of their efforts to restart parts of the economy. Residents have largely been restricted to the city, which along with strict controls, permitted Hong Kong to nearly eliminate the COVID-19 virus.
Hong Kong media is reporting that officials said cruises could begin in months to provide residents an escape from the city. However, it is anticipated that Hong Kong would follow a similar approach to Singapore for the resumption of cruises. Local officials are expected to approve short sea cruises without ports of call and tight restrictions on how the ships operate.
The South China Morning Post however is reporting that officials are planning to require the cruise lines to vaccinate all crew members or that possibly Hong Kong would provide inoculations for the crew before starting the cruises. Also, it is being reported that all passengers would be required to also be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Singapore built a strict protocol in collaboration with DMV that focuses on social distancing and sanitation as well as limited the number of people on the ships and the size of groups. Passengers are also required to wear a tracking device or have an app on their phones to make it possible to know if they came in contact with the virus if tracing is required.
Recently, Singapore further tightened the restrictions on cruise ships, lowering the number of passengers permitted aboard. All the restaurants and bars on the chips are also only doing take-out or delivery to cabin food service, similar to restrictions in restaurants recently reinstated onshore. These actions came after Singapore reported a rise in the number of cases of the virus.
Hong Kong officials have made several previous attempts to provide opportunities for residents to travel during the pandemic. There was talk of opening corridors to other cities, including Singapore, that had also controlled their number of cases. Hong Kong had also permitted the airlines to offer flights to nowhere in which people boarded the planes that flew in circles inside Chinese airspace before returning to Hong Kong.
Both Royal Caribbean International and Genting’s Dream Cruises were rumored to be in the discussions with the Hong Kong authorities. Both companies have sailed from Hong Kong in the past, and they were the two cruise lines permitted to operate similar cruise programs from Singapore.
Chinese officials also permitted a limited resumption of domestic cruises within China. In December, one cruise line was permitted to begin a trial program of short cruises sailing from Hainan.