Royal Caribbean now requires guests to take only pre-departure ART

The new testing requirement forRoyal Caribbean will last till the end of November, according to a post on the cruise operator's website. PHOTO: LIANHE ZAOBAO

SINGAPORE - Guests going aboard Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas cruise ship from Nov 8 will have to take only an antigen rapid test (ART) at the cruise terminal on the day of departure.

Currently, they are required to take a pre-departure polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

The ART requirement is similar to what Dream Cruises' World Dream has been doing since cruise operators were allowed to resume sailings.

Currently only two cruise liners - Royal Caribbean's Quantum of the Seas and Dream Cruises' World Dream - are offering sailings from Singapore.

The new testing requirement for Royal Caribbean will last till the end of November, according to a post on the cruise operator's website.

Guests who have upcoming trips on the cruise liner also received an e-mail on Friday (Oct 22) about the new requirements.

The e-mail said that the test will be taken in the terminal on boarding day during their selected arrival window, which they would have selected during their online check-in process.

"This testing cost continues to be included in your cruise fare," the e-mail said.

However, those departing on sailings from Dec 2 will have to take an ART on the day of sailing at Raffles City Convention Centre before heading to the terminal for the cruise.

According to Royal Caribbean's website, guests will have to register for a test appointment that should take place at least one hour prior to their arrival time at the terminal.

"In the event the guest does not successfully complete the Antigen test before arrival at the terminal, the guest will be ineligible to board the ship," said Royal Caribbean on its website.

In response to queries from The Straits Times, a spokesman for Royal Caribbean said the switch to antigen rapid testing aligns with the Ministry of Health's guidelines to reserve PCR testing for symptomatic individuals, and to use ART as the primary method for event testing, including cruises.

On the other hand, the decision to move the venue for antigen testing to Raffles City "was to improve the overall guest experience, as waiting times at Marina Bay Cruise Centre can vary, particularly when sailings are busy".

"At Raffles City, guests will have a choice of timings for the ART, and may head there earlier in the day, and then return home to relax or finish packing. In addition, guests need not wait around for the result, as they will receive this via SMS, usually within 45 minutes," said the spokesman.

"When they get to the cruise centre at their selected arrival times, they will be able to breeze through check-in and board quickly."

Dream Cruise guests currently have to do a pre-departure ART at the terminal, administered by Genting Cruise Lines' appointed medical team. Any Covid-19 test that is not taken at the cruise terminal on the day of departure is not recognised. The cost of the test is also waived by the cruise operator.

Customers such as Ms Tina Lew, 38, who works in banking, said Royal Caribbean's switch to ART is a "big relief" as she has two young children, aged six and four.

Her family will be taking the Quantum of the Seas cruise on Nov 11.

"The kids had to take an ART for the first time this morning because there was a positive Covid-19 case detected in school," said Ms Lew. "It was not a great experience, but I think the excitement for the cruise will make them agree to it."

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Last month, Royal Caribbean announced that all Singapore passengers aged 12 years and above who book a cruise from this month will need to be fully vaccinated when they set sail.

It is not mandatory for Dream Cruises' passengers to be fully vaccinated, according to its website.

Both cruise operators were given the green light to offer cruises-to-nowhere from Singapore under a pilot scheme that kicked off in November last year.

Under the scheme, the round-trip cruises have no ports of call, and passengers have to take a mandatory Covid-19 test prior to boarding.

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