15 MARCH 2021
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There is a wave of optimism as cruisers could be boarding ships again at UK ports from 17 May. These would be domestic cruises with deep-sea voyages still currently banned.
The news was announced by transport minister Robert Courts at a virtual meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Maritime and Ports Group (APPMPG).
The Government is working with the home nations to make it a UK-wide policy but it seems likely it will go ahead for England at least.
A statement from the Department for Transport confirmed that restarting domestic cruising “will be aligned with the wider resumption of the domestic tourism and indoor hospitality sectors.”
According to Boris Johnson’s roadmap for lifting restrictions, 17 May is the earliest that indoor dining, hostels, hotels and B&Bs will reopen again.
P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow welcomed the news, saying: “We are delighted that the Government has acknowledged that UK domestic cruise holidays can begin from May 17.
“Whilst it will take some weeks after this date 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.”
There are complications with the devolved countries setting their own health rules, and also Guernsey, a popular port of call. Itineraries from Southampton, three-night English ports only, should prove no difficulty.
Crewing, both ship and hotel staff is more difficult as they would be expected to board the ships two weeks prior to sailing, and in many cases brought in from overseas, with vaccination, travel and quarantine complications. Short-term ex-UK staff has been suggested as a way around this problem, perhaps laid off public-contact airline crew. The Government is expected to announce its plan not before 12 April and BTN will delay its next cruise issue until 19 April when things will be clearer.
See BTN MARCH CRUISE NEWS for an update on Fred Olsen and SAGA. We also wait to hear from MSC, NCL & RCCL, amongst the many overseas cruise lines that have significant UK port visits.
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