SINGAPORE - Singapore waters can be choppy this time of the year, but more people still head to the sea for leisure and other purposes.
To ensure that everyone stays safe, the Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore (MPA) has stepped up its checks on cruise ships, ferries and other vessels.
Typically, the Port of Singapore sees as much as a 15 per cent increase in the number of passengers during the months of November to January, the authority said.
This period coincides with the north-east monsoon season, which may create unfavourable conditions at sea, it added.
"As everyone unwinds during this period, we urge the public and all port users to remain vigilant and safe at sea," MPA's port master, Captain Kevin Wong, told The Straits Times.
Passengers, for example, should continue to be mindful of basic safety practices while enjoying the festive mood, he added.
Those taking ferries or cruises are reminded to be vigilant at all times and exercise care when travelling. They should also familiarise themselves with the life-saving equipment and passenger safety instructions, he said.
On its part, the authority has taken additional measures to raise safety awareness and ensure that all port users stay vigilant and observe safety rules.
Besides scheduled inspections, MPA's port inspectors and marine surveyors have been carrying out spot checks more frequently on ferries and other types of vessels.
Officers also continue to conduct briefings on navigational safety for captains and crew of regional ferries, pleasure craft, as well as operators of sea sports centres, Capt Wong said.
Vessels are also reminded through MPA's Vessel Traffic Information Service broadcast to remain alert and observe safety best practices when crossing in narrow waters.
Mr Chua Choon Leng, general manager of BatamFast, which operates 80 to 100 ferry services a day between Singapore and Batam, said: "During the monsoons, the sea can get quite rough so we make announcements on board and our staff also do checks to make sure everyone is seated most of the time.
"It can be quite a challenge because people get very excited, taking photos during the journey and also getting off their seats before the ferry comes to a complete stop."
Capt Wong said: "Safety is everyone's responsibility. While we enjoy the festive season, let's not forget to stay safe at all times."
MPA's reminder comes in the wake of two serious accidents in recent months.
On Aug 21, 10 sailors died when United States destroyer USS John S. McCain collided with an oil tanker in Singapore waters.
Three weeks later, another five lives were lost when a Dominican-registered dredger and Indonesian-registered tanker collided about 1.7 nautical miles south-west of Sisters' Island.