4-day, 3-night cruise cut short after Covid-19 case found on board
World Dream returned ahead of schedule after man was identified as close contact of confirmed case
A ship on a four-day, three-night cruise to nowhere was forced to return to Singapore several hours ahead of schedule when a passenger on board was suspected to be a Covid-19 case.
Dream Cruises' World Dream, which was carrying 1,645 passengers and 1,249 crew members, departed on Sunday and was supposed to return to Singapore at 9am yesterday.
But it found itself back at the Marina Bay Cruise Centre at around 6.30am, where the passenger in question disembarked through a dedicated route and gangway, and was taken to National University Hospital.
The 40-year-old man, who had undergone a pre-boarding antigen rapid test on the day of departure and presented a negative result, was identified as a close contact of a confirmed Covid-19 case on Tuesday and immediately isolated on board the ship.
He later underwent polymerase chain reaction tests on board and provisionally tested positive for the coronavirus.
The Ministry of Health has since confirmed that the identified passenger tested positive and that he is tied to the growing cluster linked to KTV lounges and nightclubs here.
Three travelling companions who were isolated on board have tested negative for Covid-19, said a spokesman for Dream Cruises.
Passengers on board the cruise ship were first informed of the situation by the ship's captain over the public address system yesterday at 1am.
They were requested to return to their cabins and remain there. All on-board activities including dining in were halted.
Mrs Emelia Salman told The New Paper she was taken aback by the announcement.
The 41-year-old and her husband, who were on the trip as a belated birthday celebration for him, said: "We were quite shocked. Even though we are fully vaccinated, we were still worried by the news."
A Dream Cruises spokesman said that apart from ceasing on-board activities, only essential service crew donning personal protective equipment were allowed limited movement, including the delivery of meals to guests in their respective rooms.
He added that cleaning and disinfection was initiated for all areas.
Passengers were allowed to disembark from 8.30pm yesterday. Guests were required to remain in their rooms until called upon by the crew to disembark, said the spokesman.
As a precautionary measure, Dream Cruises cancelled a three-day, two-night cruise scheduled to depart at 9pm yesterday.
Passengers may choose to reschedule their cruise dates, opt for a future cruise credit or obtain a full refund. They should contact their original booking source for the necessary arrangements.
Mrs S.K. Sng, a 62-year-old clerk, said the incident will not deter her and her friends from their planned cruise trip on July 30.
She said: "We are all vaccinated, and while I am slightly worried, I think it is safe with all the measures in place."
Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang from the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health at the National University of Singapore cited the incident as an example of the new normal.
"As we transit to acceptance about the endemicity of Covid-19, this is something we will learn to live with, and which will become less disruptive in the future," said Prof Hsu.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING: SERENE HO