Genting Dream – Hong Kong's first 'cruise to nowhere'
By Anne Cheng

China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) has launched its first ever "cruise to nowhere."

The Genting Dream will sail out to sea past the Lei Yue Mun and Tathong channels before entering international waters and returning along the same route. 

Each voyage will take 3 to 4 days, but unlike other typical cruise trips, this ship won't stop at any ports of call. That's just one of many health measures it's taken to keep any coronavirus outbreaks at bay.  

All passengers and crew must be fully vaccinated and tested for the virus before departure. 

Face masks are also required at all times on board the ship, aside from dining and water sports.  

The cruise has further implemented its own contact tracing system, requiring passengers to carry a tracking device wherever they go. Anyone within 1.5 meters of an infected person for over 15 minutes counts is a close contact, so the device encourages social distancing.  

And while cruises traditionally rely on mixing fresh air with recirculated air for indoor ventilation, rooms on the Genting Dream, including cabins, each have independent ventilation systems that provide 100 percent fresh air. 

For example, for cabins, incoming fresh air gets filtered into the room from one vent and gets redirected out of the ship, through another vent in the bathroom, to avoid air recirculation between cabins.  

This ship has always had this ventilation system, but other cruises have been working on improving theirs, following last year's spreader events on such ships as the Diamond Princess. 

And in keeping with government regulations, the Genting Dream is now operating at half passenger capacity.  

The Genting Dream's waterslide park offers six slides with different levels of "difficulty." /CGTN

The Genting Dream's waterslide park offers six slides with different levels of "difficulty." /CGTN

"We spent a lot of effort on hygiene and sanitization. Of course, that costs more labor," said Christine Li, senior vice president and head of marketing at Dream Cruises. "Now on this cruise, we have 1,100 crew, and we also have 1,500 passengers today, so it's almost 1 to 1. It used to be, I think, 1 to 2, so we increased the crew number." 

Meanwhile, isolated wards in the medical center and cabins can also be converted into quarantine rooms in case someone gets infected with the coronavirus. 

"I'm not scared of the virus. I've been vaccinated and tested. If I still get infected, I can only say I'm unlucky. But I believe the government has done quite a good job on this so I trust the government," said one passenger. 

With 19 decks and weighing over 150,000 tonnes, the Genting Dream has a wide range of outdoor attractions to offer, including a ropes course that has a 35-meter zipline. Other activities include rock climbing, outdoor yoga, and a waterslide park with six different slides.  

Otherwise, retail therapy is available for those looking to splurge, and there are 20 restaurants and bars for others to have their fill.  

People were generally excited to be on board. One female passenger said she was looking forward to relaxing with her family and friends, while another guest expressed happiness over being able to travel again. 

People swim in the outdoor pool of the Genting Dream. /CGTN

People swim in the outdoor pool of the Genting Dream. /CGTN

"Actually, for the summer holiday, [it] has been a robust month for us. The traditional low season is after school holiday[s] – it's September and October, but we see a very good pickup in the low season as well," said Li, the passenger. 

Li added that the cruise is looking forward to a wider variety of itineraries, especially involving south China's Greater Bay Area, when borders open up. 

Cruises in the HKSAR have been suspended since last February, and Genting Cruise Lines is currently the only operator of such a voyage. 

The SAR government says this "cruise to nowhere" is a good start for the city's struggling tourism sector and a step toward normalcy.  

(Cover image: The Genting Dream is Hong Kong's first "cruise to nowhere." /CGTN)

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