Cruise lines hopeful for restart update

Cruise industry leaders are hopeful that a relaxation of advice against international cruising is imminent.

Sources said they were hopeful that meetings held this week would lead to a relaxation of the rules, with Clia UK and Ireland director Andy Harmer adding: “We are still working closely with government and expect an announcement in the next seven days, and hopefully this week.”

Speaking at the launch of Saga Cruises’ Spirit of Adventure last week, Saga Travel chief executive Nick Stace told Travel Weekly he believed the sector had met criteria to resume international operations and was confident the restrictions would be eased by the end of July.

The government has advised against international cruising for many passengers since March 2020 and for all customers since July last year, but Stace said the industry had overcome important milestones by providing assurances over the costs of repatriations and presenting data from the resumption of domestic cruises.

He said he was confident that restrictions would ease from the end of July, but said his own line was targeting a September restart for international sailings to allow “flex in the timeline”.

A number of UK lines have revealed plans to resume international sailings from the autumn, with Marella Cruises announcing a restart from September 3 and P&O Cruises and Cunard targeting September and November respectively.

Several lines have also joined those returning to service this week, with NCL sailing for the first time in 500 days, from Greece, and Princess Cruises and Holland America Line resuming Alaska sailings from Seattle.

More companies are due to start domestic cruises in the coming weeks. Princess Cruises will begin its UK programme on Regal Princess from Saturday, while Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady will make its debut on August 6.

Cunard is due to resume sailings on Queen Elizabeth on August 13, after plans to restart from July 19 were postponed due to a small number of Covid cases among its crew.

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