Regional Director, Alvin Materi, is Optimistic for a Return to International Cruising in Asia

It has been heartening to see the restart of international cruising in so many parts of the world. With strict travel-industry leading health and safety protocols in place, many of our friends and colleagues have returned to work throughout Europe, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, and the United States. In Asia, we’ve also seen a safe return to cruising, albeit on a much smaller scale with more restrictions in place. Singapore and Hong Kong are sailing domestic ‘cruises to nowhere’ while Taiwan (currently suspended), Japan, and most recently mainland China all operating domestic itineraries for local residents. Malaysia had also previously announced, but ultimately suspended, a restart due to a surge in COVID-19 cases of their own mid-year.

We are already in the first months of what should have been the start of the 2021-22 Asia cruise season, but nearly all international port calls have already been cancelled with ships bypassing the region for ports and destinations which have reopened and are offering some certainty to allowing them to operate. But we do have reason to be optimistic. Thailand has started allowing fully vaccinated travellers from low-risk countries to enter the Kingdom by air without quarantine, Singapore continues to open its borders to more countries for quarantine-free travel as they prepare to live with COVID-19 as endemic, and Vietnam has recently opened Phu Quoc, the country’s largest island to vaccinated tourists this month.

While the exact timing of a return to international cruises within Asia is still unknown, we do know there is ample conversation between ASEAN nations when it comes to a restart. Using the CruiseSafe certification program developed by the Singapore Tourist Board, the region has an excellent framework to use as the basis for their own return to cruising. Quarantine-free flights between Singapore and Malaysia restarted on 29 November for the first time since the pandemic prompted border closures, with the overland travel lane for vaccinated travellers between the two nations also getting the green light.

Nearly all Cruise Asia by Destination Asia country teams are still working from home, but we haven’t been sitting idle. Last year we launched a centralized site where you can view the latest port and country restrictions affecting Cruise in Asia from Covid-19. I encourage you to check back often as our site is updated regularly whenever new articles are published.

Destination Asia also has an excellent COVID-19 recovery site that tracks the opening of international borders, with links to each of our destinations where you can click on any country to view updates relating to vaccinations; quarantine times; key dates to reopening and international flight status. Click here to open the Destination Asia COVID-19 report site.

While it is a rapidly changing environment, endeavour to update regularly. For any country-specific information not found here, I encourage you to reach out to our in-country cruise managers and myself for the latest information available. Be well, stay safe, and we look forward to getting back to work again in the near future.

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