The UK has become the most recent nation to declare that it will permit domestic cruises’ resumption. The global cruise industry was swift to acknowledge the government’s decision, saying it was an essential step toward returning to normalcy after the global pandemic and many cruise lines confirmed plans to begin offering trips.
In a parliamentary committee meeting on March 8, Mr Robert Courts, Minister for Aviation and Maritime, affirmed that the UK domestic cruise industry would be incorporated as part of the resumption of domestic tourism and indoor hospitality. The minister said the earliest date would be as early as May 17 for the resumption, and it is assumed that there will continue to be restrictions and health protocols. However, there was no specific date set for the resumption of international travel.
The announcement followed after Prime Minister Boris Johnson addressed the UK’s vaccination program’s success and attempts to contain the virus. The PM spoke of a roadmap for reopening but said that all of the data’s efforts would remain managed.
Domestic cruises are supposed to first commence between the English ports. The minister said they were working with the home nations, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, to maintain cruising and tourism. The intention is to have cruising and tourism restored across the UK, likely by the summer of 2021.
The UK will follow a comparable model to other countries, including Italy, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore. These have permitted large cruise ships to resume service allowing domestic cruises for citizens or limited international sections. The government said that the UK domestic cruises would allow the industry to display its health and safety protocols and re-establish the industry.
The cruise industry trade group Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the Chamber of Shipping issued a collective statement saying they strongly welcome the decision that cruise will be incorporated alongside the restart of other domestic tourism in the UK. The industry has long planned to restart phase by phase for cruises, with domestic cruises outlining the first stage of this program. They look forward to working in collaboration with the government, including the Global Travel Taskforce, to secure protected resumption of the UK domestic cruise in time for the summer.
Carnival Corporation’s P&O Cruises had announced earlier that it was planning to commence a short cruise holiday program from Southampton. It was also mentioned that it would offer short sea cruise holidays to give travel experiences for UK travellers. Following last night’s announcement by the government, Tweeting, “We are delighted that the Government has acknowledged that UK domestic cruise holidays can begin from May 17.” P&O reconfirmed its plans to offer short cruises and said details would be provided later in the month.
The US-based brand, Princess Cruises, also a member of Carnival Corporation, also stated that it would launch a limited program of short cruises from Southampton on two of its cruise ships this summer. Also highlighting the government statement, it was established that it would begin domestic cruisers later in the summer, offered to UK residents. However, Princess Cruises in the US announced that it would be prolonging its suspension of cruise holidays sailing the Caribbean, California Coast, Mexico, and the Mediterranean through June 30, 2021.
Other international and UK domestic cruise lines are also required to announce programs for the UK market. Among them is Royal Caribbean International, which is sailing from Singapore. Earlier today, the government announced they were continuing to delay their cancellations until the end of May, except for Singapore’s cruises, a planned new agenda sailing from Israel, and cruises from China hoping to begin sailing in April.
The UK’s decision is being called a significant move for the cruise industry as UK travellers were among the top five source markets for the cruise industry.