A Royal Caribbean International ship has had to return to Singapore early after a passenger tested positive for Covid-19.

The case was detected on the penultimate day of a four-day ‘cruise to nowhere’ from the Asian city state.

The ship Quantum of the Seas started the pilot programme of ‘safe cruising’ at half capacity for Singapore residents this month in co-operation with the Singapore government.

The 83-year-old passenger had taken a mandatory PCR test before boarding which showed negative.

However, the traveller then tested positive for the virus after reporting to the on board medical centre.

Royal Caribbean said in a statement: “One guest aboard Quantum of the Seas tested positive for coronavirus after checking in with our medical team.

“We identified and isolated all guests and crew who had close contact with this guest, and each of those individuals have subsequently tested negative for the virus.

“The ship is returning to port today in accordance with government protocols, and will debark guests after a review of contact tracing is completed.

“We are in communication with the Singapore government, and appreciate their guidance as we work together to protect the health and safety of our guests and crew.

“We worked closely with the government to develop a thorough system that tests and monitors all guests and crew and follows public health best practices.

“That we were able to quickly identify this single case and take immediate action is a sign that the system is working as it was designed to do.”

Singapore Tourism Board cruise development director Annie Chang told local media: “All on-board leisure activities also ceased immediately and passengers were asked to stay in their cabins.

“The remaining passengers and crew will remain on board in their rooms until contact tracing is complete. They will all undergo mandatory Covid-19 testing before leaving the terminal, as per the regular post-arrival protocols.”

Trade and industry minister Chan Chun Sing said that the Singapore government was prepared for this and had protocols in place to deal with Covid-19 cases on cruise ships.

“That’s why it’s important for us to have a protocol to make sure that if something like that happens, we are able to contact trace quickly, isolate the cases necessary, and for the rest of the activities to continue,” he added.

The line started piloting the short cruises from December 1, following Genting Cruise Lines’s World Dream on November 6.