Cruise ships return to Phuket post-pandemic

PHOTO: Royal Caribbean's Spectrum of the Seas becomes the first cruise ship since Covid has arrived in Phuket. (via Royal Caribbean))

After a long drawn-out pandemic absence, Phuket was thrilled at the sight of the first cruise ship returning to the Thai port. The massive Royal Caribbean ship, christened the Spectrum of the Seas, anchored at around 7am yesterday for a quick one-day stopover on the island.

The cruise ship dropped anchor just off Patong Beach for the day before heading back yesterday evening for an overnight journey to Singapore, according to the Bangkok Post. It was a welcomed sight for Phuket and its tourism industry.

Cruises and their large passenger capacity bring big business to all of their ports of call. This giant 18-story boat sailed to Phuket carrying nearly 4,600 passengers aboard. Of those cruisers, 800 of them had pre-booked special day trip programmes onto the island. Countless more sailed to shore outside of the organized tours, to freely explore the beaches and local businesses.

These passengers are often considered a very valuable demographic. People arriving by boat – private sailboats, luxury yachts, and giant cruise ships – are often big spenders, the director of the Tourism Authority in Phuket explained. Even though cruise ship passengers wade to shore for just one day, they spend that time pumping money into local restaurants, attractions, and souvenir shops.

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Cruise ships may have been one of the first high-profile casualties of the Covid-19 pandemic. An airborne virus that thrives in enclosed spaces with large crowds and poor air circulation is a death sentence for the popular holiday option of packing people into tiny staterooms and busy restaurants on a floating self-contained vessel.

Before being kneecapped by Covid, the cruise industry brought nearly half a million travellers to Phuket annually. In 2019, a fleet of 154 cruise ships pulled 485,000 seafaring passengers into the island’s port.

The Spectrum of The Seas relaunched in Singapore on Friday on a brief journey and stopped at two ports in Malaysia before touching Thailand briefly. It sailed up to Klang and then Penang before making its final stop for the day yesterday in Phuket. After departing Thailand yesterday evening, it will spend one day at sea before arriving back in Singapore tomorrow.

Phuket News

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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