Cruise holidays: UK cruises get green light for May 17 sailings in new getaway boost

Scenic Eclipse captain discusses safety protocols on cruise ship

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Cruise holidays in UK waters will be able to go ahead in a matter of months. Maritime minister Robert Courts told the All Party Parliamentary Maritime and Group (APPMPG) today that UK cruises can go ahead from May 17, in the latest cruise news. This is the date when international travel is set to open up as the UK emerges from lockdown.

Courts said getting domestic voyages back in business is being worked on by the Government.

Sailings from English ports can resume from May 17 in a much-needed boost fo the cruise industry.

The minister pointed out that cruise lines have gone to great lengths to ensure passengers and crew will be safe on board with stringent cleaning and Covid testing measures in place.

Some cruise lines are even demanding that holidaymakers must be vaccinated in order to sail.

However, the exact measures cruisers can expect to see are yet to be confirmed, said Courts.

A Department for Transport spokesman said after the announcement: “The restart of domestic cruises in England will be aligned with the wider resumption of the domestic tourism and indoor hospitality sectors.

“As set out in the Prime Minister’s roadmap, the earliest possible date for this step is May 17.

“We are committed to restarting cruise travel when it is safe to do so, and we are working closely with the sector to prepare for a safe and successful restart.”

Further details will be made clear next month with the Global Travel Taskforce set to report on April 12 with recommendations aimed at facilitating a return to international travel.

The Department for Transport said more information on the restart of international cruises will be included within that review.


Cruise lines have shared their relief that a start date has been set.

“We welcome the news today from the Department of Transport that domestic cruises are able to operate from May 17,” said Anthony Daniels, General Manager, UK and EMEA, at expedition cruise line Hurtigruten.

“It’s another positive step forward for the cruise industry and for travel agents.”

It will also likely be good news for both P&O Cruises and Princess Cruises who have ditched international summer sailings in favour of UK sailings.

P&O Cruises on ships Arcadia, Aurora, Azura and Ventura have been cancelled until the end of August while sailings on cruise ships Britannia and Iona are suspended until the end of September.

The cruise line is offering a series of short break and week-long UK cruises instead.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said in a statement: “These sailings will leave from our home port in Southampton and sail around UK coastal waters enjoying the summer sunshine.

“More details of dates, prices and the experience onboard will be announced later this month, but they will, of course, all have flexibility so guests can book with confidence.”

Similarly, Princess Cruises has cancelled sailings from Southampton on Sky Princess, Regal Princess and Island Princess through September 25, 2021, and will launch a series of short UK cruises departing in late summer.

The Government first banned cruises back in March 2020 following multiple outbreaks of Covid on cruise ships.

It had still yet to update its official advice online at the time of writing.

Foreign Office guidance still states: “The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advises against cruise ship travel at this time.

“This is due to the ongoing pandemic and is based on medical advice from Public Health England.”

However, the Department of transport explained that domestic cruises will not come under the remit of the Foreign Office.

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