* items include readers letters
1 MARCH 2021
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The cruise industry has some positive news for summer 2021.
The problem is we will not know officially until 12 April at the earliest what it is although all will be inundated with leaks and rumours. Operators and for the most part customers will have to wait until then although late summer, autumn, winter and 2022 cruises seem secure, subject to the rules!
Two things hold back any firm commitments by cruise lines for UK clients, whether for the rivers or the sea. Firstly the current ban on joining overseas cruises by the UK Government, and secondly the regulations at both the departure and arrival ports. Add to that any particular procedures by the operators themselves.
Another problem is taking the cruise ships out of hibernation and here again there are two aspects.
Deep sea ships can be divided into two operations. The technical management of the vessel and the hotel side. With both activities all shipping companies rely on contract recruitment for much of the staff, mainly from India and The Philippines with long-established staffing procedures. How quicky do you bring them over to the departure ports, with the UK mainly Southampton, Dover and Tilbury? Are the airlines going to offer flights and what restrictions will governments make? Are there alternative methods of staffing ships short-term until the industry is on a sure footing?
• Saga says that its first UK sailing will be the brand new Spirit of Adventure 10 June from Southampton, followed by Spirit of Discovery 25 June, also from Southampton.
• Fred Olsen is fairly confident that 21 July will see three ships leaving port: Balmoral (Rosyth), Borealis (Liverpool) and Bolette (Dover).
• P&O/Cunard are waiting for more clarity from the Government regarding domestic and international cruising. In a statement the Southampton-based Carnival division said: “To minimise any potential disappointment, we have temporarily stopped selling all cruises that are due to depart before June 21. These cruises have not been cancelled and there is no action required from any guests booked on these cruises. Should it be necessary to extend our pause and cancel any more cruise dates then we will advise our guests as soon as possible.”
CHECK WITH THE CRUISE LINES ON BTN’S UPDATE LIST. IT IS ALWAYS CORRECT (but dated for technical reasons the first Monday of the month).
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the trade association for the industry, is represented on the Travel Taskforce and has put out the following statement:
“The announcement of next steps leading to a restart of domestic and international travel is welcome. The cruise sector will be represented on the new Travel Taskforce and we are working with Government to plan for a safe restart of cruise this summer.
The health and safety of our passengers will remain our priority and the cruise industry has over the past year been working with government on a detailed set of protocols to allow cruising to resume in a safe way.
Measures implemented by cruise lines are continuously evaluated and will evolve as the pandemic and circumstances change over time, including updated health guidance, levels of community spread, development and availability of effective rapid testing, treatments, as well as vaccines.
Along with the rest of the world, we share in the excitement surrounding the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccines and are optimistic that they will help facilitate the global recovery from the pandemic. At the same time, we understand that the rollout of the vaccine will take time. As we continue to engage with and receive insights from leading experts in health and science, our members agree that no single measure is alone effective and that a multi-layered approach is the right one to continue to mitigate risk.
AND FOR THE FUTURE
Much like the rest of the world and other travel and tourism sectors in particular, the cruise community is facing a challenge that is unprecedented in scale. Still, people love to cruise, and that is part of what makes the cruise industry so resilient in the face of adversity. We are confident that people will return to the seas, just as they will return to restaurants, bars, movie theatres and the like. We are confident that we will emerge from current circumstances stronger, together.”
All comments are filtered to exclude any excesses but the Editor does not have to agree with what is being said. 100 words maximum
Elizabeth Guest, Southampton
What we want to hear is the likely rules on board? The ships have always focussed on hygiene but what we donít want is too restrictive a regime. Yes for safety but we want to enjoy ourselves. Otherwise count us out.