River and loch cruises restart, allowing guests to hit the waters.
Many cruises may be off limits for British holidaymakers due to Foreign Office advice, but there are a number of inland options in the UK for those looking to get back on the water.
English Holiday Cruises in Gloucestershire became the first river cruise company in the UK to set sail following the coronavirus pandemic, when it began sailing again in August with the Edward Elgar.
The largest hotel boat in England, it normally carries 22 guests in 11 twin-cabins but its capacity has been reduced to 18 for reopening.
Joint owner Richard Clements said: “We have just completed our first cruise of the season on the river Severn. As in previous years, our guests have been able to relax, enjoy the scenery, eat far more than they would at home and visit our world-class sights in the west of England – but now there’s a new dimension to their holidays.
“After spending months planning an escape from lockdown, they were delighted to take a river cruise holiday on a Covid-secure vessel without any travel restrictions or quarantine requirements.”
The line said it has introduced several layers of safety, including: virucidal fogging between cruises and UVmatic overnight air sterilisation; pre-boarding health checks and baggage sanitising; contactless check-in and hand-sanitisers everywhere; a one-way system around the vessel with distancing signage.
It has also introduced tours and local transportation adhering to safety measures; daily health checks for crew and guests and more, all accredited under the new Visit England ‘Good to Go’ scheme.
It added that as a cruise holiday business, it aligns itself with the hospitality sector, and remains free to provide cruise holidays and accommodate more than six guests, provided everybody continues to wash or sanitise their hands, wear facemasks when moving around indoors and maintains social distancing.
The line is joined by the likes of Scottish cruise company The Majestic Line, which is sailing with two of its four-vessel fleet and operating six-night cruises with a reduced number of guests onboard. The company will be running two of its most popular cruises: Mull and Her Inlets and Islands and Skye and the Inner Hebrides, plus one-off cruises Captain’s Choice and Isles of the Clyde and the Southern Hebrides itineraries.
British luxury hotel barge company European Waterways is also taking bookings for the remainder of the 2020 cruise season with holidays on the canals and waterways of England, Scotland and Ireland.
European Waterways’ four hotel barges cruising in England, Scotland and Ireland: Magna Carta (eight passengers) on the River Thames; Scottish Highlander (eight passengers) and Spirit of Scotland (12 passengers) on the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness; and Shannon Princess (10 passengers) on the River Shannon.
“These luxury barges accommodate just eight to 12 passengers, so our guests are travelling in the safety of small numbers. With these capacities, they are ideal for families and small groups of friends in search of a private escape on a whole barge charter, or those seeking a small-group experience with like-minded travellers when booking individual cabins,” said Derek Banks, managing director of European Waterways.
He added: “We cruise through peaceful countryside where our guests can savour clean, fresh air and unspoiled views. Our daily shore excursions are often exclusive and away from crowds and tourist hotspots, and in most cases, you can start your journey by car or train to our departure points and avoid air travel. Most importantly to ensure the health and safety of our guests and crew, we have enhanced our already strict hygiene routines, including temperature checks, complete deep cleaning and disinfecting of all cabins and public areas on the barges, as well as shared items such as bicycles. All of this will be conducted with minimal impact to guests and without spoiling the relaxed ambience of an intimate hotel barge cruise.”