HK may lose spot as cruise hub as Royal Caribbean abandons ship for Singapore

The tourism industry has expressed concern that Hong Kong may gradually lose its status as an international port as Royal Caribbean International abandoned its cruise line in Hong Kong and turned to Singapore due to the epidemic.

It was learned on Sunday that the company was inclined not to send its ship - Spectrum of the Seas - from Singapore to Hong Kong for relaunching the “cruise-to-nowhere” itinerary since failing to get the government’s approval in time.

In a radio program, Gianna Hsu Wong Mui-lun, chairperson of the Travel Industry Council of Hong Kong, estimated the ship could not return to Hong Kong on time since it would take three months for the journey even though the government approved the restart.

“The slower the government is to relax the anti-disease arrangements, the longer it will take for resuming trips,” she said, noting the industry held a pessimistic expectation for Hong Kong to lose its opportunity to receive cruise ships in coming years.

Early this year, the scheduled itinerary of the cruise line was canceled by the government for disease prevention measures, with Spectrum of the Seas sent to Singapore in April as nine close contact cases were reported on the ship in January.

Authorities once showed a positive reaction in response to the tourism industry regarding relaunching the cruise plans in August, said Hsu.

However, no reply from the government was received to approve the “cruise-to-nowhere” until now, she claimed.

It is unreasonable that the current anti-disease measures applied for cruise ships have a different format, Hsu said, noting that a trip would be suspended if only one percent of passengers were confirmed infected with Covid.

Royal Caribbean International called on the government yesterday (September 19) to relax anti-epidemic arrangements for cruise ships.

“We have been in service for Hong Kong for a long period,” the company said, “we also need to redeploy the lineup to return to Hong Kong.”