This review was revised 18 October
* items include readers letters
3 MAY 2021
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BTN offers here a short synopsis of what is likely to be available from May onwards but things can change. In this issue BTN reports certain countries are now on the ‘red list’. This may affect staff recruitment. Passengers and crew will need to be Covid-free and vaccinated twice.
For many people just to get away will be a holiday and with the 3-night cruises will see the trips as a chance to enjoy a floating hotel “all found”. Some will view Britain offshore for the first time, whilst with the 7-night trips there is the bonus of visiting unlikely locations such as the Scottish lochs, Isles of Scilly, Falmouth, Poole plus Liverpool and Belfast.
With the pandemic in mind none of the itineraries are firm and are dependent on local restrictions.
Sunday 16 May will see Dame Irene Hays name the new P&O liner Iona. The ceremony, which will be broadcast to a virtual audience, will include a short performance from Gary Barlow, music director of the ship’s 710 Club. www.pocruises.com
Monday 17 May Anne Diamond will be naming the brand new Viking Venus at Portsmouth prior to its first sailing.
20 May: MSC Virtuosa will start the season off with a fanfare from Southampton and a 4-night cruise via Portland. Since August MSC has been operating a series of cruises from Genoa and has post-Covid carried over 50,000 passengers. In days gone by Sophia Loren always named the ships but she is 86 now and perhaps a trip to Southampton Airport, which she has done in the past, is a little too much for her.
22 May: Viking Venus departs Portsmouth for a 7-night trip which includes Liverpool, the Scilly Isles, Falmouth and Portland. A whole series of cruises follow with Tilbury as a home port for the summer. www.vikingcruises.co.uk
3 June: Long-established small ship operator Noble Caledonia opens up its season from Plymouth, sadly little used as a cruise port, with Hebridean Sky on its way to Oban, 8-night trip via Alderney, Guernsey, Isles of Scilly, Lundy Island, Isle of Man and Hebrides. The purpose-built ‘Sky’ has a maximum of 112 passengers and is best described as “intimate” with on board specialist lecturers for what will be a memorable trip.
3 June: Also the first trip for Noble Caledonia’s Serenissima, with 95 passengers slightly smaller than its two sister ships, across the top of Scotland from Aberdeen to Oban taking 12 nights. Whether the Queen Mother’s Castle of Mey is open remains to be seen but weather permitting the ship’s Zodiacs will be able to land on remote beaches and cruise close to shorelines and cliffs crowded with birdlife.
4 June: Noble Caledonia’s 12-night cruise from Portsmouth with Island Sky, its joint flagship, taking in Guernsey, Herm, Tresco, Garnish Island, Bantry, Skellig Islands, Valentia Island, Tory Island, Staffa, Iona, Lunga, Canna, Loch Scavaig, St Kilda, Stac Lee, Isle of Lewis, Lerwick, Fair Isle and finishing up at Aberdeen.
10 June: Silversea’s Silver Spirit (608 guests) back into service from Tilbury with an 11-night cruise from Southampton to Copenhagen. The trip takes in the wonderful Norwegian fiords including Flam and also visits Oslo. Just four days later (14 June) Silver Cloud (254 guests), one of the lines first offerings and now called an Expedition Ship, departs London for Tromso via a whole series of small ports and anchorages including Lindisfarne Lerwick and Narwick.
21 June - The planned date for hospitality rules to be relaxed. Will ships be allowed full passenger capacity? In the meantime lines are being cautious with only trips in British waters scheduled until September.
27 June: SAGA’s Spirit of Discovery returns into service from Tilbury with a 6-night trip up the east coast to Lerwick. Invergordon is on the itinerary. Named by the Duchess of Cornwall in July 2019 the ship was a subject of a BTN review 3 August 2020 www.btnews.co.uk/article/16433
1 July: P&O with Britannia departing Southampton the first of 3- and 4-night cruises through to September. The brand-new Iona leaves the port on 7 August bound for the Scottish islands after which she is named, with the promise of a special party into the sunset.
3 July: Celebrity’s remodelled Silhouette will embark on a series of six-to eight-night itineraries around Britain’s coastline from Southampton. Guests will have the chance to explore the Jurassic Coastline from Portland, and learn about the Highlands and Lowlands. Inverness, Kirwall, Glasgow and Belfast plus the spiritual home of the Atlantic liners Liverpool.
5 July: Fred Olsen’s Borealis takes a 3-night maiden voyage from Liverpool. Borealis, the former Holland America Rotterdam is a quantum leap forward for the Ipswich-based cruise line that is taking a cautious programme of ship reintroductions, the popular Balmoral starting from Royseth (Edinburgh) 10 August with an overnight to Newcastle and Bolette (Amsterdam) out of Dover 16 August.
7 July: Royal Caribbean International will bring Anthem of the Seas to Southampton offering UK families a choice of 4-night Ocean Getaways in early July and 5- to 8-night British Isles cruises, starting 15 July featuring visits to Liverpool, Kirkwall and Belfast. In recognition of the tremendous efforts over the last year of the emergency services – National Health Service (NHS), social care sector and armed forces – Royal Caribbean will offer 999 free staterooms on its first Ocean Getaways to those UK residents in these professions. www.royalcaribbean.com
10 July: Marella Cruises (TUI) introduces a whole series of cruises from Newcastle. www.tui.co.uk/cruise
15 July: Disney Magic from Liverpool on a three-night trip and a great opportunity to find out what Disney Cruise Line is all about.
26 July: Marking the maiden voyage of the brand-new SAGA Spirit of Adventure, again from Tilbury, for 15 nights completely around the UK as far as St Kilda and taking in Newcastle, Edinburgh and Belfast. Who names the ship remains to be seen.
31 July: Regal Princess leaves Southampton for a 3-night cruise.
6 August: No news yet on Britain’s flagship Queen Mary but its smaller sister Queen Elizabeth departs Southampton on what will be a no-port mystery cruise, with 24/7 entertainment and food, plus plenty of deck space to sit outside. Who is on board to keep you entertained is also a secret at this time but if past voyages are anything to go by if you want to be kept busy the QE crew will keep you occupied.
6 August: Virgin Voyages maiden voyage of Scarlett Lady, the ship based at Portsmouth and offering three-and four-day trips. Unveiled to the travel trade (and media) at Dover 21 February 2020 the ship left the following morning for Liverpool and thence on to New York, the crossing and high-profile arrival aborted mid-ocean due to the pandemic.
15 August: Hurtigruten embarks on a 13-day tour of Britain from and to Dover. Your home for the fortnight is MS Maud. Upgraded for 2021 this 16,000ton expedition-style ship carries 530 passengers.
Norwegian Cruise Lines: Always a popular summer user of Southampton NCL is for this year concentrating on "Fly-Cruise" holidays in the Eastern Mediterranean based in Athens.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA)
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