Ban on river cruising lifted by Foreign Office

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has changed its warning against all cruise ship travel to permit river cruises.

On 9 July, the following advice was issued: “The Foreign and Commonwealth 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.

“The government will continue to review its cruise ship travel advice based on the latest medical advice.”

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However, as of 16 July, the wording has been altered to indicate that only ocean cruises are off-limits.

“Cruise ship travel means staying overnight for at least one night on a sea-going cruise ship with people from multiple households,” the advisory now reads.

The key term is “sea-going”, implying that river-only vessels are not included in the warning.

James Cole, founder and managing director of Panache Cruises, said of the move: “It’s so pleasing to see that the FCO has changed its advice and river cruising has been given the green light.

“When you combine this with the industry leading protocols that are being implemented by each of the cruise lines, the low deposit schemes and flexible booking conditions, together with the exceptional deals available to consumers, now is certainly the best time in the history of cruising to book a cruise.”

While some welcomed the change, others criticised the FCO for advising against all other cruising indefinitely.

Kelly Cookes, leisure director at Advantage Travel Partnership, said: “The latest announcement by the UK Government today regarding the FCO advice against international travel on a ‘sea-going’ cruise ship will be welcomed by the industry, particularly river cruising operators.

“However, the indefinite FCO advice against sea-going cruises appears to be somewhat illogical given all cruises with imminent departures had all either been postponed or cancelled by the cruise lines.

“This advice is therefore creating even further confusion for customers and agents.”

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