Taiwan cruise replaces casinos, spas and buffets with isolation wards
07/31/2020|5:00:04 PM|NZ Herald

Gambling, pampering and many of the other vices of cruise passengers have been taken off the itinerary, as Explorer Dream becomes the first ship to return to the South China Sea.

Taiwan welcomed back its first cruise passengers this week since the coronavirus pandemic brought the industry to an abrupt standstill.

900 guests were present to sail out of the port of Keelung on the Explorer Dream, according to Reuters. Social distancing measures mean this voyage a little over a third normal capacity – though there appears to be no shortage of demand. The company is offering travel-starved tourists their first 'overseas' trips in almost half a year, with itineraries to the islands of Penghu, Quemoy and Matsu.

"I don't worry about the epidemic too much, because I think it is pretty safe in Taiwan," one guest told Reuters reporters.

Crew is also reduced, at just 500-strong all workers have had to quarantine for three weeks prior to sailing. With on-board casinos and spas shut, and reduced capacity one might imagine the ship would feel empty. However, much of that space has either been cordoned off or reclaimed for isolation wards.

There are 22 Covid-19 wards separated from other passengers to isolate crew or passengers falling ill.

What Genting describes as "enhanced hygiene practices for guest cabins and crew member quarters" and a dining arrangements dubbed "Flexi-Feast" has meant passengers are spread out throughout the ship to avoid bottlenecks and crowding in certain areas.

The ship experience has been designed to give comfort of mind to passengers much like the new designation devised by risk management agency DNV GL, which helped oversee many of the changes.

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