Genting Cruise Lines, operator of three distinct ship-based holiday brands – Star Cruises, Dream Cruises and Crystal Cruises – says Dream Cruises is ready to restart its cruise services to Taiwan. The company added in a press release on Sunday that its cruise vessel Explorer Dream (pictured) would be offering new “island hopping” itineraries specifically for the Taiwan market.
Dream Cruises will offer new cruises calling into the ports and islands of Peng Hu, Matsu and Kinmen, as well as Hualien, according to the release.
Genting Cruise Lines is a division of Genting Hong Kong Ltd, an operator of casino cruise ships and an investor in Asian land-based casinos.
Kent Zhu, president of Genting Cruise Lines, was quoted in the release as saying: “It is a great honour for Genting Cruise Lines to continue its long and fruitful partnership with Taiwan … as we begin on the road to recovery together due to the Covid-19 pandemic and which will bring hope to the global cruise industry as well.”
Genting Cruise Lines had confirmed to GGRAsia earlier this year it was cutting salaries for its senior staff because of the negative impact on business wrought by the novel coronavirus.
The Covid-19 pandemic is likely to have a long-lasting negative effect on the cruise industry, say observers, as the existence of the infection has already forced a number of cruise lines to cancel trips and halt operations.
Genting Cruise Lines said that – in preparation for welcoming its first passengers on board the resumed services – it had “completely re-examined and enhanced” all of its health, hygiene and operating protocols, in order “to ensure the safest environment for everyone on board.”
The company said it would also implement social-distancing procedures in dining, entertainment and public areas; as well as measures to ensure circulation of fresh air in staterooms and public areas. The returning Explorer Dream will carry only one-third of its normal maximum passenger load, according to media reports. Several venues onboard, including the casino and spa, will also remain shut.
Prior to resuming sailing, Explorer Dream and its crew had to observe a 21-day period of quarantine. Members of the crew had also to do nucleic acid tests to prove they were free from Covid-19 infection, as required by the authorities in Taiwan.
“The restarting of the cruise industry is a remarkable achievement which was made possible by the Taiwan authorities’ swift and effective handling of the Covid-19 crisis and their foresight in resuming the tourism industry to benefit all the ports, the economy and the lifestyle of the people” in Taiwan, added Mr Zhu, according to the release.
He further noted: “We believe the development of cruise bubbles between Taiwan and neighbouring regions that also have their pandemic situation under control, such as the outlying islands of Japan, can further initiate the next phase in the re-establishment of international tourism, and spur economic recovery for a post Covid-19 world.”
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Akash Gupta, Shiv Kapoor and Hasira De Silva
Analysts at Fitch Ratings