Companies are gearing up to start the “cruise to nowhere” this summer by making bookings to berth at the Kai Tak terminal.
Jeff Bent, managing director of Worldwide Cruise Terminals, management company for Kai Tak, said it has received five berthing bookings per week for mid August.
Speaking on radio yesterday, Bent said similar tours are allowed in more than 40 countries and regions, including Europe, Caribbean Sea, Japan, Taiwan and Singapore.
Bent said as long as there are sufficient safety measures on board, a positive case – if found – would not cause an outbreak.
“Among 600,000 passengers received so far worldwide, there were 60 Covid-19 cases but no outbreaks,” he said.
“Moreover, we’ve had vaccines for the past few months, and it should be even safer as there’s one more protection now.”
Bent said cruise companies will follow measures suggested by the Cruise Lines International Association, including those involving air ventilation and dining arrangements.
“If people are visiting restaurants providing buffet, there will be staff to serve them and they don’t need to get the food themselves, in order to reduce contact with other people,” he said.
Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang-wah said the government is set to discuss with cruise firms the launching of the “cruise to nowhere” this summer.
Passengers will likely need to be vaccinated, while crew members, apart from getting jabbed, will also need to undergo quarantine and regular testing.
But Bent said for children and those who are unfit for vaccination should be exempted from such requirements if they could provide medical proof or take a virus test.
Tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing said he hopes vaccinated passengers will only need to take a rapid virus test because it would be a bit complicated to ask them to go to community testing centers.
Yiu said he believes most of the crew members will get inoculated after arriving in Hong Kong as some countries do not have enough vaccines.
Yiu said it would not be a problem for cruise companies to recruit crew members from medium-risk areas as long as they undergo quarantine and are vaccinated or would get vaccinated.
“It will take at least one and a half months or even two months for cruise companies to recruit, train, and arrange the crew members to take the jabs and undergo quarantine in Hong Kong,” Yiu said.
“We have to ensure all crew members are vaccinated. Of course, if they have taken the jab in other countries, we can’t make them get it again.”
Courtesy: The Standard!