Vacations are precious, especially after the outbreak of the pandemic. Travellers are trying to maximise each and every experience in a carefully crafted manner – keeping ‘safe’ modes of travel on priority.
Travellers also want to experience new places, in the luxury of their own exclusive, controlled environment without the hassle of transiting. There is virtually no other curated offering in the travel industry like a cruise to satisfy this current requirement. One thing is given – cruises are an entertainment hub and there are no dull moments once you are onboard a luxury cruise ship.
From enjoying the refreshing, cool sea breeze and an endless horizon on deck to a wide range of entertainment activities on board, most of us would give anything right now to escape on a ship and sail away, with all the best-in-class safety and social distancing norms in place.
“Cruising is less stressful in the times of COVID-19 because the immigration is much more simplified as compared to flights – you just got to check in and check out once and then we go to different places. It also allows you to go from where you are to any remote island destination without having to change across multiple modes of transport. It just means less exposure,” said Michael Goh, President of Dream Cruises & Head of International Sales, Genting Cruise Lines.
With the news of Dream Cruises resuming operations, it has become imperative for cruise companies to devise more exciting experiences ever for their guests keeping social distancing and safety as paramount perimeters.
The Big Announcement: Dream Cruises, the first cruise to resume sailing in Taiwan
Dream Cruises, Asia’s premier cruise fleet does all of this impeccably. With its grand restart, Dream Cruises becomes the first cruise line to resume operations with Explorer Dream operating two and three-night “Taiwan Island-Hopping” itineraries. Beginning 26 July 2020, Dream Cruises is rolling out safety initiatives across its entire fleet to bring its world-class cruise to a whole new level.
These enhanced measures include, perfectly ventilated accommodations, transformed dining venues with safe distancing in place, reinvented spaces across the fleet apart from exceptional service as a prerequisite for travelling in style and the lap of luxury.
“All our cruise ships have a robust air ventilation system to provide our guests with utmost levels of safety and hygiene. 100% external fresh air is filtered and supplied to each guest, crew cabin and onboard public areas. No re-circulation of air is done between cabins or within the ship. Air filters and cooling coils are thoroughly checked, cleaned and replaced to ensure healthy air quality,” explained Michael.
Genting Cruise Lines announced the restart of cruise operations for Dream Cruises with Explorer Dream earlier this month. The cruise will depart from Keelung to Penghu, Matzu and Kinmen islands. “After months of detailed planning with the authorities to ensure the safety and health of guests and crew, we appreciate the approval of Explorer Dream resuming cruise operations in Taiwan,” added Michael.
Singapore Tourism Board has been very engaging. It has been working on a lot of schemes to support the tourism industry ahead of the pandemic. In Singapore, Dream Cruises looks forward to resume operations by the last quarter of 2020.
“Taiwan became an ideal destination for Genting Cruise Lines to resume Dream Cruises’ operations. Taiwan’s low numbers of COVID-19 cases compared to global figures apart from the country being extremely popular among travellers made it an obvious choice,” said Michael.
To celebrate Taiwan’s success in controlling the pandemic, the local authorities took steps to reinvigorate their economy and open it up for tourism. To support this endeavour and welcome its friendly locals, Dream Cruises is offering select island-hopping cruises calling on the popular ports and islands of Peng Hu, Matsu Island and Kinmen where Taiwanese guests will again be able to enjoy refreshing short getaways on carefree ocean voyages.
The coronavirus outbreak has also brought with it a whole set of challenges. For cruising enthusiasts and first-time travellers, it is without a doubt imperative to be assured that the cruise ship they plan to travel on is safe and well equipped to enhance the overall experience.
To welcome guests and reassure them of the safety, “Explorer Dream has undergone a thorough deep cleaning and observation of strict quarantine procedures for her crew, in accordance with Taiwan’s regulations prior to resuming sailing,” said Michael.
The cruise has taken significant steps to safeguard the well-being of guests with stringent health screening processes and guidelines before embarkation, disembarkation and social distancing measures on board. With stringent safety precautions in place, going on Explorer Dream feels far safer as compared to going to your local supermarket.
The cruise line will also work with local authorities for quick results in dealing with any medical emergencies that may arise. “Isolated wards are available in the Medical Centre and cabins can be converted into quarantine rooms if required. Contaminated items and medical waste are properly sealed and disposed of according to health and safety guidelines. Also, medical equipment and waste bins are cleaned, disinfected and washed twice daily with hospital grade disinfectant,” informed Michael.
On safe distancing on board and when heading to shore excursions, Michael elaborated “The current occupancy level has been maintained at 50-70% and people are divided into small groups while going on excursions. This has been done to avoid excessive crowding on islands and maintain safe distancing at the same time.
Food handling and Buffets
As a preventive measure guest seating will ensure ample spacing and disposable cutlery will be provided upon request.
“All the cruise ships will have the facility of take-aways that the guests can enjoy on the deck. We have introduced self-service at all F&B restaurants for safety purposes. Breakfast buffets and beverages will be served to guests by crew members wearing face masks and disposable gloves only,” said Michael.
Entertainment and Recreational Activities
To enjoy the various entertainment activities onboard, guests onboard are advised to pre-book for smooth functioning. “Guests capacity will be limited to half the venue capacity to provide ample space between guests. In theatres, social distancing will be practised. We will take in limited number of guests and more shows will be organised to manage spacing. Family units can, however, be seated together,” he added.
The new safety measures at Explorer Dream are progressive and takes modern luxury cruising into the post-COVID normal.
The Palace, a ship-within-a-ship
Inspired by its international, luxury sister brand Crystal Cruises, Dream Cruises had, in 2016, implemented a collection of new benefits and services to enhance the travelling experience of guests in its exclusive enclave, ‘The Palace’.
“We received an overwhelming response from Asian consumers when we launched ‘The Palace’. From there we noticed how people enjoy “experiential luxury”, of enjoying the experience at the comfort of their own space – be it dining or outdoor jacuzzi,” Michael emphasised.
“The Palace is a ship-within-a-ship with nearly 10,000 square metres of suited, private restaurant, gym, sundeck, pools and other facilities featuring exclusive dining, dedicated butlers and a lot more. True to today’s scenario, we are foreseeing a huge demand for The Palace,” Michael added.
Spotting a shining opportunity in this crisis
Michael Goh sees every crisis as an opportunity. He is optimistic and considers the current situation as an opportunity to implement stringent preventive measures across the fleet while delivering an experience worth a lifetime for the guests in a cost-effective manner.
If you are considering booking an escape to refresh, think about taking a cruise to Taiwan in Explorer Dream’s ‘The Palace’. Be among a select few who get to experience a vacation in 2020, and in the process get fascinated about cruising to destinations even further away in 2021 and beyond. ◼
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© This article was first published online in July 2020 – World Travel Magazine.