Citizens who planned a joyful vacation on the Genting Dream were disappointed to see their trip canceled last minute as they arrived at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal.
The three-day trip was canceled after Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor announced the latest anti-pandemic measures Wednesday afternoon, banning all cruises departing from Hong Kong due to the Omicron outbreak.
A male passenger Yeung said he learned that another cruise ship Spectrum of the Seas was ordered to return to Hong Kong on Tuesday morning and expected for the worst. Still he was disappointed as he arrived at the terminal and found out the trip has been canceled in person.
He said he spent about HK$2,000 for the trip via a travel agency and believed he will be offered a refund.
A family of four also criticized the arrangements by the government and the ship company. Tang, who planned to join the trip with her parents, said they were only informed of the suspension by the government at 2.40pm, and they didn't receive any notification from Dream Cruise at all.
She added they have spent over HK$1,000 just on Covid
-19 testing. All the efforts have gone to waste and Dream Cruise has yet to contact them on refund, she said.
Dream Cruises said affected passengers can cancel the trip and receive a full refund. They can also change their trip to the sailings scheduled before April 27 except a few specific trips. They will be compensated with a spending limit of HK$300 per cabin as well.
On the other hand, 2,500 passengers on Spectrum of the Seas disembarked at Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in the morning after they tested negative in compulsory testing.
The ship was ordered to head back to the pier after nine people among some 2,500 passengers and 1,200 staff members onboard were found to be the close contacts of confirmed patients.
One of the passengers, Mrs Chan, said she finished the testing procedures in five to six minutes. She said the ship company Royal Caribbean International has made appropriate arrangements and she would cooperate.
However, some criticized Royal Caribbean for not making proper arrangements in time. A male passenger Ho said he heard a broadcast on Tuesday afternoon, saying two guests who lived on 12/F should contact the concierge.
Soon staffers fully covered in protective gear showed up on the 12/F and disinfected the area. Yet they refused to disclose any information to the passengers.
Some other passengers only learned that they have to return to Hong Kong after reading the news on their phones, Ho said, adding that no one has ever told them they would be heading back to the city. He continued that situation was a total mess back on the ship and he was greatly disappointed by how the ship company handled the issue.
According to Royal Caribbean, the Spectrum of the Seas set sail on Sunday (Jan 2).
“After receiving notification, these nine guests were immediately quarantined and PCR tested. They all tested negative,” the company said.
Passengers will receive a 25 percent refund on their cruise fare while those who booked tomorrow's (Jan 6) sailing will receive a full refund for their cruise fare and pre-cruise purchases.
The Department of Health also asked all crew members to undergo another compulsory testing on Friday (Jan 7).