A couple of weeks ago, at the tail end of August, I got dragged onto a cruise to nowhere with my wife and some other family members. I’ve never been on a cruise ship (all the ships I’ve been on were ferries or patrol boats) before. So what’s is it like to go on a cruise during a pandemic?
In a word? Exhausting.
That’s all because of the pandemic. Damn Covid-19 ruining everybody’s lives. Thanks again China! Really appreciate it.
I decided to write about my experience because…well, why not? It’d make good content and for those who are going for their cruises next will now know what to expect! Win win!
Being Muslim, the primary need has to be Halal food. After all, I can’t eat bread every day can I? Well I can…but my wife would probably kill me.
For our cruise, my wife picked out Dream Cruise (her mother went on one of their cruises before and enjoyed it), with World Dream being the ship that we took. It was a cruise with a reduced capacity, which meant that there were lesser people on board and everything was easygoing with no crowds.
Bags packed, date arrived and off we went for a cruise during a pandemic.
How It Begins
Cruises all depart from one place; the Marina Bay Cruise Center.
That means you’re going to have to make your way down from wherever you are, to the south tip of Singapore. The terminal is a distance away from the Bayfront MRT station so I really wouldn’t advise you walking.
Taking a cruise during a pandemic means there are a lot of extra hoops you have to jump through; mainly in the form of Covid-19 testing.
First off, I’m going to recommend you take a taxi or Grab or whatever form of motor transport you can get. There’s a bus (400) that services the center but I recommend avoiding it because of the distance you’ll need to walk to get to the main building.
If you’re in a cab or PHV, it’s fine and dandy. You’ll ride up to the second floor and be dropped off right in front of where you can check in your luggage.
Here’s a handy tip: Bring luggage (not hand carry bags) and check them in. If you don’t you’ll be forced to lug around whatever you don’t check in till you get to the room…which is hours away.
Trust me, you do NOT want to have to hand carry…which I had to do because my aunt just brought a duffle bag instead.
Once you check in, it’s a hop across the street to the parking structure. The management’s set up a testing site there, so you’ll need to get in line, and take the elevator up to the 3rd floor of the carpark. That’s where all the magic happens.
Before I go on though, apologies for the lack of images to show the locations. They don’t allow any photography at any point of the process.
You’re going to want to get a couple of things ready here; your passport and your ship boarding pass. The boarding pass can be physical or on your mobile phone but I suggest just printing it out.
Saves time and is easier for the workers there to verify.
We’re lucky in the sense that when we arrived, there weren’t a lot of people. There was a sitting area (with assigned seats so you can’t just cut queue) but we were there for only about 10 minutes before we were called up.
During that 10 minutes, you’ll be asked to fill out a declaration form stating that you’ve not been overseas and all that. It’s nothing new so it’s easy to breeze through.
Once we were called up, the people there verified our passports and ship pass before being directed to registration areas to take down personal particulars. They’re going to need your NRIC (which you should always have on your person anyways) so get that ready to go.
That done, it’s just a few steps away to the swabbing station. Guess what happens there.
The swabbing over with, it’s yet another few meters of walking to the waiting area.
Here’s where you’ll be waiting for up to 60 minutes for your results to come in.
Why download you ask?
Simple! It’ll allow you to cut down your waiting time.
Your swab results are automatically updated on HealthHub SG (as it requires a SingPass sign in) or sent to your mobile number via SMS. HealthHub SG gets it almost 10 – 15 mins earlier than the SMS, so it saves you a ton of needless waiting time.
Once the results are in, you’ll need to show it to the minders, who’ll then direct you BACK to the 2nd floor…where you first arrived. Then it’s another walk into the Marina Bay Cruise Center…quite a long one this time around.
There’s a row of counters right at the back of the main floor where you’ll need to verify your details again. Verification done, it’s time to walk (yes more walking) yet again, this time to an escalator up to the third floor. Here, you’ll need to (guess what) walk yet another distance, this time to queue up to pick up your boarding package.
The boarding package consists of the ship’s customized tracking token (you can use it onboard or your TraceTogether app) as well as your stateroom keycard, all packed together in a handy lanyard you can hang around your neck.
All that done, it’s time for another loooooong walk (surprise!) back to the escalator to go back down to the second floor. There, it’s another walk to the Immigration Checkpoint, where you’ll need your passports to pass.
While you’re not technically travelling to another country, you’re still leaving Singapore (as the ship’s going to be in International Waters), which is why you’ll need your passport.
Immigration Checkpoint passed, it’s time for the final test!
You get to walk nearly the whole length of the ship…seriously.
The Immigration Checkpoint exit is one end of the Marina Bay Cruise Center, while the boarding gateway is riiiiight at the other end, which is coincidentally (or maybe not) around the midpoint of the ship.
It’s about a 5 minutes walk, so take your time. There’s really no need to rush because it’s pretty much the home stretch.
All you need to do now is to walk to the gangway, board the ship, walk some more (distance depends on where your cabin is), take the elevator assigned and head right to your room!
I checked in at about 2pm and was in my room just shy of 5pm. Waiting, walking, queuing weirdly took a lot of time so I suggest you check in early (10am is the earliest you can board) so that you can enjoy more time on the boat.
Now you can rest up…because you’ll be walking the last few sections yet again when you disembark.
I’ll post more impressions in Part 2!