Cruise to Nowhere: Pre-departure COVID-19 PCR testing experience

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Booked a cruise to nowhere? You'll need to clear a COVID-19 test prior to boarding. Here's what you can expect.

While community spread of COVID-19 is largely under control within Singapore, the STB is taking no chances with cruises. As one of the preconditions for boarding a cruise to nowhere, every single passenger must submit to a COVID-19 test. That’s sensible; no one wants another Diamond Princess.

I understand the idea of a COVID-19 test may be disconcerting to some, but face it- if you want to step foot on a plane or cruise ship in the near future, that’s simply the cost of entry. I promise you, it’s really not that bad. I mean, it could be much worse. 

🚢 Cruise to Nowhere: Royal Caribbean

What kind of COVID-19 test do I need to do?

Testing is required for both children and adults. Dream Cruises and Royal Caribbean use two different types of tests. 

  Dream Cruises Royal Caribbean
Test Type ART PCR
Test Window Day of departure 48-72 hours before departure
Results Available Within 1 hour Within 24-48 hours
Included in fare? Yes* Yes^
*Applies to any new bookings on World Dream from 18 Jan- 28 Feb 21, for cruises departing 20 Jan- 28 Mar 21
^For cruises departing on/before 18 March 21

Dream Cruises uses the less invasive (and less accurate) COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test (ART), which is carried out on the day of departure. Passengers will need to arrive early at the cruise terminal to do their test, wait about an hour for the results, and board after they test negative. 

Royal Caribbean uses the more invasive (and more accurate) COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test, which is carried out between 48-72 hours before departure. Results will be available between 24-48 hours of the test, and passengers with negative results can proceed straight to boarding once they arrive at the cruise terminal. 

Upon returning from your cruise, both Dream Cruise and Royal Caribbean passengers will be required to do a COVID-19 ART test in the cruise terminal. You do not need to wait for the test results, and can return home immediately after the test is done. 

⚠️ Important Note for Royal Caribbean Cruises

If you have tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in the 180 days before your cruise or hold a positive serology certificate dated during this timeframe; have had nasal surgery within 2 weeks of your test; or an active nosebleed within 24 hours of your test, you will be unable to take the rtPCR test and therefore cannot cruise.

I don’t see a similar policy for Dream Cruises so I assume it doesn’t apply.

Booking your COVID-19 test

10 days before my departure date, I received an email from Royal Caribbean inviting me to schedule a COVID-19 PCR test. Check your spam folder if you don’t see it; the sending address is [email protected]

This email contains a unique reference ID that you’ll need to register with Eurofins, Royal Caribbean’s test provider. Each individual will receive an email of their own; if there are two passengers on your booking, you will receive two separate emails (with two unique reference IDs). 

Once registered, you’ll receive a set of TrustOne login credentials, which you’ll use with the TrustOne app (available on both Android and iOS). Download the app, login with the provided credentials, and you can schedule your test slot. 

My departure date is 28 January, so I was able to select slots on either 25 or 26 January. Hourly slots are available from 11 a.m to 6 p.m. 

Random thought: If someone does the 11 a.m swab on 25 Jan and sails on 28 Jan, won’t his/her swab result be over 72 hours old?

Once you’ve made your reservation, you’ll receive a confirmation email. It’s still possible to make further changes via the TrustOne app should you need to, 

COVID-19 Test Experience

Royal Caribbean conducts all its testing at Raffles City. Although the initial email lists the venue as the Raffles City Convention Centre, the confirmation email revises it to Swissotel the Stamford, Level 2- Kopi Tiam. 

Signs have been put up around the second floor area to guide people. If in doubt, look for GINLEE Studio (#02-35); Kopi Tiam is just around the corner from there. 

Signage for Royal Caribbean COVID-19 testing
Signage for Royal Caribbean COVID-19 testing

There was a long queue when I arrived, but that’s probably because I chose the first slot for the day. Once registration opened, it moved very quickly. 

Royal Caribbean COVID-19 testing centre
Royal Caribbean COVID-19 testing centre

You’ll need to present a photo ID (NRIC, birth certificate, driver’s license, FIN card), after which you’ll receive a set of stickers to pass to the swabber. There’s a small waiting area, but you’ll be in and out in a flash. 

Waiting area
Waiting area

I saw at least six swabbing booths, with curtains for privacy. You’ll spend no more than a minute inside. 

Swabbing area
Swabbing area

As for the swab, well, you know what to expect. Sit back and think of England. It’ll be over before you know it. I will say the swabber here definitely did a lot more twirls than the one I had for the Hong Kong ATB, but I’d rather they be thorough. 

Getting Your Test Results

Swabs are processed remarkably quickly. I received the results the following morning at 7.40 a.m, via a push notification on the TrustOne app.

You’ll need to show this screen to the cruise terminal staff at the time of boarding. There’s also the option to download a test result certificate (I wonder if you could use this to board a flight). 

😷 What if you test positive? 

In the event that your COVID-19 test returns positive, here’s what happens.

Dream Cruises: Guest will be entitled to a Cruise Credit (presumably 100%) for future sailings. However, you’ll need to make a separate payment for another COVID-19 ART test for the future sailing, as it’s counted as if you’ve used your entitlement already

Royal Caribbean: Guests will be entitled to a 100% future Cruise Credit for a future sailing

Conclusion

While Royal Caribbean’s testing process is less convenient than Dream’s, that’s the price you pay for a higher degree of accuracy. To their credit, they’ve made the process as seamless as possible- you can schedule it during your lunch hour and still have time to eat. 

Now all that’s left is to set sail!

Anything else people should know about the COVID-19 tests for cruises?

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Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion with the intention of helping people travel better for less and impressing chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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ZYX

I’m also booked on the 31st Jan World Dream sailing. For me I’d prefer ART at the port which I don’t need to make time for.

Max

I am in the same cruise. I saw u play pickle ball just now.

Max

Yes, haha, enjoy your trip!

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