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Hong Kong gears up for cruise restart

The Hong Kong government is targeting end-July to restart its cruise sector, giving the green light to two cruise lines to resume short sailings from the city.

Genting Cruise Lines will be offering 2- and 3-night Super Summer Seacations on the Genting Dream, the flagship of Dream Cruises fleet that features accommodation in the Balcony Staterooms and the "all-inclusive, all-suite" The Palace.

"The crucial experience gained as the first cruise line to resume in Asia with Explorer Dream and World Dream in Taiwan and Singapore, respectively, provides invaluable first-hand knowledge on how to operate cruises in the safest possible environment and it is our goal to also be the first to resume in Hong Kong," said Kent Zhu, president of Genting Cruise Lines.

Similar to sister ships Explorer Dream and World Dream, Genting Dream will be bringing international experiences and themed festivities for its Hong Kong sailings, lining up the Japanese Festival, Oktoberfest, Night Market, Halloween, and a Nordic Christmas up to the month of December.

Also planning an end-July restart is Royal Caribbean, which will be operating 2- to 4-night Summer Ocean Getaways from Hong Kong on the Spectrum of the Seas.

On board "Asia's largest, newest and most innovative ship, Hong Kong residents will be able to get away and enjoy the travel experiences they are missing dearly", said Crystal Campbell, managing director of Royal Caribbean Cruises Hong Kong.

This include the Bionic Bar, where robotic bartenders serve up bespoke cocktails; the North Star, a jewel-shaped capsule ascending 300 feet above the deck to offer 360-degree ocean views; the FlowRider surf simulator; and RipCord by iFLY, the first skydiving experience at sea.

These Hong Kong sailings will be required to comply with a new set of safety and healthy protocols. Ships will sail at a reduced capacity of 50%, and passengers are also required to use the government's LeaveHomeSafe contact tracing app while on board.

All passengers -- excluding those with medical conditions and under 16 -- must be fully vaccinated and received a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test 48 hours prior to boarding, while crew on board ships must be fully vaccinated and undergo PCR testing every 14 days.

Also gearing up for the cruise restart is Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, which is equipped with anti-epidemic measures in place.

Jeff Bent, managing director at Worldwide Cruise Terminals, operator of Kai Tak Cruise Terminal, said the venue boasts purpose-built HVAC and mobile UV-C sterilization units, advanced temperature and air quality monitoring systems, and touchless restroom facilities among other safety features.

"We anticipate low capacity at this stage and Kai Tak is the single largest freestanding cruise passenger terminal in the world, so we're already at an industry best for space per passenger," said Bent.

The Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB) has stepped up efforts to promote the sailings on its Holiday at Home platform.

"Cruise tourism is an integral part of Hong Kong's tourism and the resumption of high sea cruises is the first step to the recovery of the cruise sector," said HKTB chair YK Pang.

"When cross-border travel resumes, the HKTB will then gradually market our cruise experience to Mainland and international visitor sources."

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