Trade Talk: Michael Goh of Genting Cruise Lines

The Singapore-based President of Dream Cruises and Head of International Sales for Genting Cruise Lines, its umbrella brand, tells us more about the company’s pilot voyages from Taiwan and the Lion City.

All photos courtesy of Genting Cruise Lines

In Singapore, Genting Cruise Lines took an active role in housing migrant workers who had recovered from Covid-19 on SuperStar Gemini and SuperStar Aquarius. What lessons were learned during that period of time?

As the only cruise line to have taken part in such an initiative, it has been a very good learning process for us in the company, including for our crew, as we were able to further refine our standard operating procedures within a real-world context to ensure that all our ships will be the safest cruise vessels for both guests and crew in the Covid-19 era.

Furthermore, we have created a positive opportunity from this learning experience to implement comprehensive crew training to reinforce effective cleaning procedures, health and hygiene protocols, and efficient guest interaction. Besides that, we have also reviewed and bolstered our overall prevention and response plan in preparation for our deployments, such as in Taiwan since July and recently in Singapore from November onwards.

 

Back in July, the company began island-hopping itineraries in Taiwan aboard Explorer Dream. How did that help Dream Cruises to resume operations elsewhere?

The success of Explorer Dream’s deployment had enabled us to pave the way in discussions with various authorities in the region to start safe pilot cruises, including for Singapore. We were able to implement and adapt our preventive and safety measures, training, and response protocols across different ships and in accordance with the local authorities’ specific conditions. It served as a valuable blueprint for us to further fine-tune measures based on Singapore’s requirements in order to commence safe pilot cruises.

Explorer Dream at sea.

Genting Cruise Lines recently launched its multi-day “Super Seacation” voyages from Singapore on World Dream. What has the response been like so far?

Since the launch on November 6, the response has been overwhelming. More Singapore residents are increasingly becoming aware of the restart of the safe pilot cruises with World Dream, as well as the preventive and safe measures that are readily in place. As such, the responses and enquiries continue to be very positive and we remain highly optimistic of the growing demand during the school and festive year-end holidays.

High-sea cruises are something we are very familiar with at Genting Cruise Lines as we have been operating such cruises across the fleet for many years, even prior to the Covid-19 global situation. We have gained valuable experience in making such cruises appealing to travelers, as World Dream itself is a destination filled with myriad activities and offerings, ranging from its popular Palace Suites—a private enclaved designed as “a ship-within-a-ship”—and enrichment programs to various recreational facilities and dining experiences, as well as Asia’s only laser show at sea.

Buffets are still offered on board, but with new health and safety measures.

What new safety protocols can passengers expect in terms of dining and entertainment aboard Explorer Dream and World Dream?

As mentioned, while safety protocols may be applied across the fleet, many will also vary and be tailored according to the local authorities’ requirements. For instance, across the fleet, self-service buffet will no longer be practiced and instead food will be served to guests by crew wearing face masks and gloves. Cleaning and disinfection for dining, galleys, and entertainment venues will be conducted at more frequent intervals.

However, in our Singapore deployment, additional new safety protocols have been rolled out as required by the local authorities. World Dream has been operating at 50 percent capacity with the implementation of safe and social distancing practices, as well as enhanced preventive measures in accordance with Singapore’s mandatory CruiseSafe certification, which is benchmarked against the latest global health and safety standards. In addition, all activities on board will be organized in accordance with permitted group sizes—specific to each activity—in line with the prevailing national policy, and measures will be in place to discourage close contact between groups.

The main pool deck on World Dream.

Will World Dream’s attractions like the waterpark, Crystal Life Spa, and VR-based Esc Experience Lab operate as usual? What differences will there be compared to pre-Covid times?

Yes, such attractions will continue to operate on World Dream with new protocols, as well as more frequent cleaning and disinfection. In line with the prevailing policy in Singapore, guests who wish to use the swimming pools and Jacuzzis will have to make reservations based on given time slots and adhere to the safe distancing measures and the limits of the number of guests for each slot. Guests will need to leave the pool at the end of their designated time slots.

 

After Taiwan and Singapore, is Genting Cruise Lines planning to tap into other domestic markets around the Asia-Pacific region?

At present, we are focused on the safe pilot cruises in both Taiwan and Singapore. We remain highly optimistic on resuming cruises in other domestic markets in the near future as we continue to monitor the situation closely and have regular dialogues with different governments in the region.

Inside a 37–40 square meter Palace Suite aboard World Dream.

How optimistic are you about the prospect of travel bubbles between low-risk countries within Southeast Asia? Will that allow for sailings between Singapore and Phuket or Songkhla?

The pandemic situation is constantly evolving and travel bubbles are a good start within the region to boost tourism. At present, World Dream operates two- and three-night Super Seacation cruises on the high seas. As our number one priority is the safety and well-being of our guests and crew, we will continue to work very closely with the Singapore authorities to identify suitable and timely opportunities to expand itineraries in the near future depending on the evolving situation across the region.

 

Where do you hope to see the Asian cruise industry a year from now?

As we approach the end of this year, we can look forward to the light at the end of the tunnel with the high prospect of a vaccine; it is also encouraging to see that cruise lines are adapting and will continue to evolve with the changing landscape. The Asian cruise industry is indeed resilient and I am optimistic that the industry will continue to thrive in the years ahead. Rebuilding confidence among travelers to take a cruise vacation will be key as we gradually restart the industry in a safe manner, while highlighting the enhanced safety and preventative measures as the new norm.

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