P&O Cruises welcomes back vaccinated Britons onboard its first sailing in 15 months

P&O boss outlines vaccination rules for travellers

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After being banned from sailing for over a year, P&O Cruises ship Britannia was able to welcome back guests. The ship set sail on its four-night summer UK ocean holiday, with the aim to journey to the places around the British Isles where “the sun shines brightest”.

As the ship departed the Port of Southampton at 6pm, P&O Cruises ships Ventura, Arcadia and Aurora anchored and those of sister brand Cunard, Queen Mary 2, Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, celebrated the occasion by sounding their horns in unison.

Britannia will sail a series of three, four and seven-night UK coastal cruises until September 25, 2021, when there are plans for the ship to commence a selection of western Mediterranean itineraries.

The ship is then due to move on to a winter Caribbean season.

Onboard, guests can expect a wide range of amenities to enjoy including gourmet dining options, shopping, live performances and a luxurious spa.

Guests will also find four swimming pools, four whirlpool spas, a steam room, a salon and a hydrotherapy pool.

Currently, the cruise line is only welcoming back guests who can prove they have been fully vaccinated within 14 days of departure.

Travel insurance is also mandatory for all guests.

For added peace of mind, P&O assures all guests and staff will be required to follow “enhanced” health and wellbeing measures.

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“These have been developed with guidance from our global medical and public health experts and scientists and in close coordination with UK government agencies,” the cruise line previously stated.

“These protocols include enhanced sanitation measures, appropriate social distancing and the wearing of masks in certain areas of the ship.”

All staff and crew will also undergo a strict testing and quarantine regime, as well as regular testing during their time onboard.

The cruise line had previously been forced to cut capacity on its initial departures, due to the Government’s decision to push back “freedom day”.

P&O Cruises previously confirmed it had approached “a number of guests” booked on several sailings before July 19.

Guests were offered the choice of a Future Cruise Credit or a full refund.

At the time, a spokesperson said: “We are so sorry for these guests and do hope they will be able to enjoy a holiday with us later in the summer.”

However, with the exception of the number of guests onboard, the sailing still went ahead as planned.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “We’ve been on the countdown to this moment and are elated to be welcoming guests back onboard. A huge thank you to our guests for their patience as we fully recognise that it’s been a period filled with anticipation and thwarted plans.

“We’ve spent this time working hard refining and enhancing our holidays so time onboard can be enjoyed to its very fullest.

“Our restart is a celebration for crew, guests, our staff, Southampton and also the industry as we return to playing our key role supporting the array of local growers, suppliers, hotels, B&Bs, restaurants and taxis drivers for whom the cruise industry is so vital.”

Britannia is due to be joined by sister ship Iona on August 7, 2021.

Iona will then sail weekly seven-night scenic coastal cruises, before beginning Atlantic coast holidays.

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