Royal Caribbean “cruise to nowhere” again to Singapore after passenger exams optimistic for COVID-19

A Royal Caribbean “nowhere cruise” was canceled and the ship returned to Singapore Wednesday after diagnosing an elderly passenger Coronavirus, but the Ministry of Health later said new tests on the man were negative.

The 83-year-old passenger on the Quantum of the Seas tested positive for COVID-19 after reporting to the ship’s medical center with diarrhea and was immediately isolated, Royal Caribbean and the Singapore Tourism Board said.

But the Singapore Ministry of Health said later Wednesday that it retested the man’s original sample and a new sample and found it negative. It said it would do another test on Thursday to confirm its status.

Singapore recently launched a “Safe Cruising” pilot program that allows cruise lines to make round-trip flights from Singapore without a stopover. Security measures have been put in place, including reducing capacity by half and testing passengers before boarding. Royal Caribbean is one of two operators approved for such trips.

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Annie Chang, director of cruise at the Singapore Tourism Authority, previously said the man took a negative test before boarding. She said his close contacts had been isolated and tested negative.

Mandatory examination of passengers and crew

Chang said that all recreational activities aboard the Quantum of the Seas had ceased immediately, and passengers and crew were asked to remain in their cabins until the contact tracing was completed. She said everyone on board would undergo mandatory COVID-19 tests before leaving the terminal.

“They’re updated regularly and meals are delivered straight to their rooms,” said Chang. “The well-being and safety of our local community, passengers and crew remain a top priority.”

The Singapore Straits Times reported that the ship returned with 1,680 guests and 1,148 crew members on the third day of a four-day voyage.

Royal Caribbean said in a statement it had worked with the Singapore government to develop a thorough testing and monitoring system.

“The fact that we were able to quickly identify this individual case and take immediate action is a sign that the system is working as it was designed,” it added.

Singapore, a small but affluent city-state in Southeast Asia with a population of around 5.8 million, has reported 58,291 coronavirus cases, including 29 deaths.