UK domestic cruises given May re-start date

Saga cruise ship in the sea

Cruise itineraries around Britain look set to be able to resume alongside domestic tourism and indoor hospitality from May 17th.

The government’s roadmap out of lockdown had been unclear about cruising, but maritime minister Robert Courts gave the positive news when he addressed the All-Party Parliamentary Maritime and Ports Group (APPMPG) on Monday 8th March, and this was subsequently confirmed by the Department for Transport.

A number of the major cruise lines have been preparing for British-based cruises in anticipation of a staged easing of lockdown regulations. With the disappearance of round-UK specialist Cruise and Maritime Voyages, which went out of business last Autumn, several other firms are jockeying for business for the same kind of journeys.

Lines that have recently unveiled domestic sailings include P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises and Hurtigruten.

UK and Ireland director of cruise industry marketing body CLIA Andy Harmer said:

“The industry has been working with the government over the last year on health protocols which put the safety of our passengers and crew first. Many of these arrangements have been tested successfully where cruise has been able to operate elsewhere in Europe.

“The industry has long planned a phased restart for cruise, with domestic cruises representing the first stage of this plan.

“We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the government, including through the Global Travel Taskforce, in order to ensure the safe restart of international cruise in time for the summer season.”

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said:

“Whilst it will take some weeks for us to restart our operations, we are very much looking forward to welcoming guests on board this summer for our series of ‘Ultimate Escape’ staycations – UK coastal cruises. Details of these, with ships, dates and itineraries, will be announced later this month.”

Anthony Daniels, general manager UK and EMEA, Hurtigruten, said:

“We’re offering a series of exciting expedition cruises in British waters in summer 2021. We are currently finalising operational details.”

Tony Roberts, vice-president of Princess Cruises UK & Europe, said:

“We look forward to the restart of our UK cruises aboard Sky Princess and Regal Princess from late summer.”

Nick Stace, chief executive of Saga Travel, said:

“We are working around the clock to get ready for resumption and to fulfil the pent-up demand we know is there for cruising.”

Peter Deer, managing director, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said:

“We are working hard on what a return to cruising will look like for us at Fred. Olsen, and we will share this with our guests as soon as we can.”

Fred. Olsen has departures from 8 UK ports – Portsmouth, Southampton, Dover, Liverpool, Newcastle, Edinburgh (Rosyth), and new departures for 2022/23 itineraries from Belfast and London Tilbury.

The recent news has seen a boost in the industry for high street travel agencies, after a surge in bookings was reported when the Government’s lockdown exit plans were released. Customers now have the confidence to book 2021/22 holidays with the reassurance that their holiday will be able to go ahead or will be protected if any cancellations occur.

CLIA Cruise Master and Branch Manager at Baldwins Travel, Trevor Ridler said:

“It gives clients a chance to plan and it gives the cruise lines a chance to plan – now everybody has a date to work towards with plenty of time to prepare… Clients have the confidence that they can book a cruise for later on in the year, and maybe even as early as June.

“It takes about two months notice to get a cruise ship ready to sail again – it can’t be done overnight. As soon as a restart date is secured, as long as there is two months notice, cruise lines will start sailing again. This will hopefully see the end of the suspensions and date changes, and customers can book with the confidence that they will travel this year.

“This is promising news for groups – we now have a date to work towards for cruise and with the guidelines on some cruise lines that you can only travel if you are fully vaccinated, [GTO’s] can finally start planning future cruises for smaller groups who want to get away as soon as possible.

“We’ve already seen a few domestic cruises released for cruise lines such as Riviera and Fred. Olsen, with many more on the way. Saga’s inaugural cruise for Spirit of Adventure is now a ’round the UK’ itinerary and more changes are happening all the time to fit restrictions.

“If this rollout is successful we’ll start to see cruises going further afield as the year goes on.”

If you’re looking to start booking a future cruise for your group, you can contact Trevor Ridler at trevor@baldwins-travel.co.uk.

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