Covid case cuts short Singapore 'cruise to nowhere'

SINGAPORE (AFP) - An ocean liner on a "cruise to nowhere" was forced to make an earlier-than-scheduled return to Singapore Wednesday after a coronavirus case was detected on board, reports said.

The cruises -- starting and ending in Singapore, with no stops -- were launched last year as part of the travel industry’s attempt to bounce back from a pandemic-induced crunch.

They have proved popular among those seeking an escape from the tiny city-state, which has only had a mild outbreak but largely kept its borders closed.

The Dream Cruises ship returned to Singapore early Wednesday, several hours earlier than planned, after the case was found.

Passengers on board were informed in the early hours that a guest had tested positive and told to return to their rooms, broadcaster CNA said, quoting a passenger.

The individual, who returned a positive PCR test, was believed to have been in close contact with another case before boarding, the report added.

Local newspaper the Straits Times said the passenger was fully vaccinated and had tested negative before boarding.

The ship, owned and operated by Malaysian conglomerate Genting Group, left Singapore on Sunday evening for the four-day cruise.

Genting did not immediately respond to AFP’s request for a comment. The company has introduced a raft of safety measures on board, including regularly disinfecting public areas.

A "cruise to nowhere" was also cut short in December after an elderly man tested positive. However, that case proved to be a false alarm, with subsequent results coming back negative.

The cruise industry worldwide is struggling to get back on its feet after voyages were halted at the start of the pandemic, and several vessels were hit by outbreaks.