Maritime minister told MPs that UK cruise lines will be able to restart domestic sailings from May 17
A number of cruise lines have announced coastal UK sailings this summer, after domestic cruises were given the go ahead.
Viking has announced that it will restart limited operations in May 2021 with three sailings along the coast of England.
The new eight-day itinerary, called England’s Scenic Shores, will sail roundtrips from Portsmouth and be availability exclusively for UK residents. The sailings, on May 22, 29 and June 5 will be on Viking’s newest ocean ship, Viking Venus, which will be delivered in April. Meanwhile, P&O Cruises has revealed it will offer a series of short breaks on Britannia this summer and week-long cruises on new ship Iona. These cruises will depart from Southampton between June and September, sailing around the UK coast. They include Iona’s maiden cruise to its namesake island.
Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has unveiled a Welcome Back programme of British Isles cruises that include both scenic voyages and those calling at ports. The programme is made up of 11 cruises, including regional departures from Dover and Liverpool. New ship Borealis will be the first of the fleet to set sail, with a three-night scenic Maiden Voyage from Liverpool on July 5, with Bolette to depart on a three-night ‘Maiden Voyage’ from Dover on August 1.
Last week, the maritime minister told a group of MPs that UK cruise lines will be able to restart domestic sailings from May 17. Robert Courts was appearing at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Maritime and Ports Group (APPMPG).
On Twitter, the group said he had announced “the reopening of the domestic cruise market in England.”
It added: “From repatriation procedures and risk mitigations to Covid-19 protocols and the domestic vaccination programme, a great APPMPG session [with] Robert Courts who delivered some much appreciated news.”
A Department of Transport spokesperson said that the return of domestic cruises would be aligned to the reopening of domestic tourism and indoor hospitality.
Last month, it was confirmed that holidays will resume no earlier than May 17, as the government laid out its roadmap for exiting lockdown. A Department for Transport review into how to allow inbound and outbound travel to restart will report on April 12. Domestic cruises were outlined as the first step in the sector’s reopening by the Global Travel Taskforce in autumn.
According to The Independent, Courts told MPs that the government is working with the home nations to ensure the return of UK-wide domestic cruise.
A DfT spokesperson said: “We are committed to restarting cruise travel when it is safe to do so, and we are working closely with the sector to prepare for a safe and successful restart.
“The restart of domestic cruises in England will be aligned with the wider resumption of the domestic tourism and indoor hospitality sectors.
“As set out in the prime minister’s roadmap, the earliest possible date for this step is May 17.”
Andy Harmer, director, CLIA UK & Ireland said: “We strongly welcome the announcement that cruise will be included alongside the restart of other domestic tourism in the UK. 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 protocols have already 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.”