Cruise centre plans to make it a breeze for passengers

The improvements to the Marina Bay Cruise Centre, in response to problems like immigration bottlenecks and a lack of cabs previously, will be completed in time for the November high season, terminal operator Sats-Creuers said.  -- ST PHOTO: CHEW
The improvements to the Marina Bay Cruise Centre, in response to problems like immigration bottlenecks and a lack of cabs previously, will be completed in time for the November high season, terminal operator Sats-Creuers said.  -- ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

Shorter wait at terminal's counters and quicker access to cabs by Nov

Holidaymakers who use the Marina Bay Cruise Centre can expect a shorter wait to get their passports checked or collect baggage, under plans to improve facilities and procedures at the centre.

The improvements, in response to problems like immigration bottlenecks and a lack of cabs previously, will be completed in time for the November high season, terminal operator Sats-Creuers said.

Among the plans: a fourth passenger bridge to expedite boarding and disembarking, and enhancements to the baggage handling system at the departure area so that more bags can be processed and faster.

Two more X-ray machines will also be added to the existing six at the arrival screening area.

To better manage traffic flow, Sats-Creuers has also established guidelines to coordinate and better regulate passenger disembarkation. Trials on this have been conducted since April.

The Straits Times understands that this will include getting passengers to leave the ship in batches and, if necessary, holding people back if congestion builds up within the terminal.

To get people out faster, a wider taxi stand will be built and a similar system to that at Changi Airport will be put in place. This will allow several taxis to be boarded at the same time, instead of one at a time, as is the case now.

Sats-Creuers chief executive officer Bob Chi said the firm has been working closely with the Singapore Tourism Board and agencies including the Land Transport Authority and Immigration and Checkpoints Authority to address congestion when two ships call at the cruise centre.

This happened in April when two large cruise ships that can together accommodate about 5,000 passengers docked at the seaport on the same morning. This not only created congestion within the terminal, but also caused traffic jams and delays for people trying to get to and from the centre.

The traffic situation was made worse by illegal parking by lorries, service vehicles and containers for construction work nearby.

The proposed enhancements will be completed by November when the high season for cruises start, Mr Chi said.

Close to 50 ships are expected to call at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre between late October and the end of the year, a check of the cruise centre's website showed.

Mr Paul Chong, spokesman for Cruise Lines International Association, South-east Asia, is assured from discussions with the terminal operator and relevant agencies that passengers and visitors will have a better experience this time.

He said: "I am confident that this peak season will go much more smoothly than last year's."

Ms Anita Tan, chief operating officer of the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore, said cruise centres here must be able to deal with human and vehicle traffic efficiently and cope with "higher turnover rates" in order for the cruise market to develop. Centres must also "leave a good impression on cruise travellers" to entice them to return, she said.

Housewife Kashminder Kaur, 53, said: "There are so many more itineraries to choose from these days, which is good. But it's really important to have a good ground experience as well, otherwise it spoils the whole holiday."

karam@sph.com.sg

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