SINGAPORE - Singapore now has its first Muslim-friendly “seacation”.
World Dream, one of the services from Genting Cruise Lines’ Dream Cruises brand, follows the halal tourism guidelines set out by the Standards and Metrology Institute for the Islamic Countries (SMIIC). It is certified by Singapore-based United World Halal Development.
The cruise is also officially rated by halal travel authority Crescent Rating.
The Singapore-based Muslim-friendly travel authority told Salaam Gateway this is the first time it is rating a cruise service.
“Based on the services they (World Dream Cruise) offer (halal-certified food, prayer facilities etc), they are rated Crescent Rating 5,” Crescent Rating CEO Fazal Bahardeen told Salaam Gateway.
The company rates travel and hospitality services – such as hotels and restaurants – based on availability of halal food, prayer facilities, services during Ramadan, and level of non-halal activities, as well as level of Muslim-friendliness that rank from Helpful (Crescent Rating 1, 2, 3), Accommodates (4, 5) to Specialised (6,7). Seven is the highest rating, said Fazal.
World Dream made her Singapore homeport debut on November 6. It offers two and three-night trips. A spokesperson for Genting Cruise Lines told Salaam Gateway the ship has a halal-certified central kitchen with halal-certified ingredients for halal cuisine, prayer room with access to Quran, prayer mats, and compass to locate the qibla. It will also cater to Ramadan guests with suhoor and iftar menus.
There have already been cruises in the Asia Pacific region serving halal food but World Dream is the first to embrace a more holistic Muslim-friendly approach beyond just having a halal-certified kitchen, said Fazal.
“The “halal/Muslim-friendly cruises” concept has been talked about since a few years now. It has been getting more and more interest from Muslims pre-COVID. This growing interest from Muslims encouraged some cruises to have halal-certified kitchens,” said the Crescent Rating CEO.
“We are now seeing the start of the next phase of development of Muslim-friendly cruises, with companies like Dream Cruises taking more steps to make it more Muslim-friendly.”
Singaporeans have turned to seacations as international leisure travel remains out of reach.
However, just this week a passenger on the Royal Caribbean “cruise to nowhere” was reported to have tested positive for the COVID-19, forcing the ship to turn back to shore a day early for the 2,000 passengers. The affected COVID passenger went on to test negative three times for the novel coronavirus.
Dream Cruises pointed Salaam Gateway to its COVID-19 preventive measures to meet local authorities’ health and safety protocols. Mandatory COVID-19 antigen rapid tests costing 60 Singapore dollars each will be conducted on all guests before embarkation.
As the travel sector in Singapore continues to tread extra cautiously, Fazal says there’s “definitely” a growth market in the Muslim-friendly cruise niche. “How big is the market projections and how COVID-19 will impact that growth in the medium-term is something we are planning to look at as part of a future report on this segment,” he added.
Crescent Rating in July forecasted three recovery scenarios for the ASEAN travel sector. “The “Plausible scenario” is looking like a realistic scenario currently. In this scenario we projected the ASEAN travel market recovering to 71% of 2019 levels by mid-2022. Having said that, we also plotted a “Pessimistic scenario” where ASEAN travel will only recover to 31% of 2019 levels by the end of 2022. We are still not out of the woods for this “Pessimistic scenario”, said Fazal.
Image: Crescent Rating ASEAN travel sector recovery scenarios. Courtesy Crescent Rating
Globally, the International Air Transport Association believes things could look up in 2021, with a “vaccine bump” expected during the fourth quarter. Boston Consulting Group sees clearer skies may be ahead in 2021 but predicts travel overall won’t rebound to 2019 levels until 2023 or 2024.
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