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Cruise holidays: Which cruises are cancelled after lockdown extended?

Author: Harriet Mallinson

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Cruise holidays were presented with yet another stumbling block this week after Prime Minister Boris Johnson extended lockdown once more.

Under the new rules, Covid restrictions - previously set to lift on June 21 - will now remain in place until July 19.

Domestic cruises have been permitted since last month but numbers onboard cruise ships have been capped.

These limitations will now continue until July 19, potentially impacting cruises sailing in the coming weeks.

Government advice states: "Domestic cruises can operate with up to 1,000 people or 50 percent capacity, whichever is lower. This capacity limit applies to passengers only.

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"COVID-secure guidance applies. Groups of more than six people or two households will not be allowed to mix indoors – whether or not they originally booked in the same group."

Regarding step four in the roadmap out of lockdown, the Government explains: "It is expected that England will move to Step Four on July 19, though the data will be reviewed after two weeks in case the risks have reduced.

"By step four, the government hopes to remove all legal limits on social contact. This includes lifting capacity limits for domestic cruises."

Celebrity Cruises, Marella Cruises, MSC Cruises and P&O Cruises are among major cruise lines sailing around the UK this summer.

Marella Cruises and TUI river cruises have been cancelled this summer. Credit: TUI

Marella Cruises

TUI's Marella Explorer was set to sail Southampton via Dover and Portland, departing June 28, 2021.

However, the popular holiday brand recently announced swathes of ocean and river cruises would be cancelled.

The axed voyages are as follows:

  • Marella Cruises sailings on Marella Discovery and Marella Discovery 2 due to depart on or before 31 July 2021.
  • Marella Cruises sailings from Palma on Marella Explorer due to depart on or before 25 September 2021.
  • Marella Cruises sailings from Dubrovnik on Marella Explorer 2 due to depart on or before 21 October 2021.
  • Marella Cruises sailings on Marella Discovery 2 due to depart between 1 November 2021 and 30th April 2022.
  • TUI River Cruises sailings on TUI Skyla due to depart on or before 1 August 2021.
  • TUI River Cruises sailings on TUI Maya due to depart on or before 14 August 2021.
  • TUI River Cruises sailings on TUI Isla due to depart on or before 31 October 2021.
Iconic ports

P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises were due to start again on June 27 with the launch of P&O's domestic cruises and Britannia to sail from Southampton on a three-night short break.

The vessel has a capacity of 3,647 passengers - of whom only 1,000 could now sail.

P&O has said it is now "reviewing" sailings set to take place in the coming weeks.

A spokeswoman told World of Cruising: "Following the extension to the cap on passenger capacity by UK Government we are reviewing all sailings departing before July 19. We will of course, contact guests as soon as possible should this affect their holiday."

Celebrity Cruises

Celebrity's newly revamped Celebrity Silhouette has capacity for 2,886-guests and has therefore had to dramatically cut down on numbers. The first UK cruise onboard is diarised for July 3.

A Celebrity spokeswoman told World of Cruising: "Our passenger capacity and protocols onboard are all in line with the current recommendations of the government and our Healthy Sail Panel, and will remain so until the government advice changes.

"We are set to sail and can’t wait to show how, despite the limitations of the past year, there is no limit to the fun, relaxation and enjoyment of our holidays at sea.”

Government advice states: "Domestic cruises can operate with up to 1,000 people. Credit: Shutterstock
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MSC Cruises

MSC Virtuosa was the very first ship to sail after travel restrictions eased and has been operating under the capped numbers but was intending to operate at full capacity later this month.

Consequently, passengers due to sail between June 21 and July 19 may need to rebook to a sailing post-lockdown, with only the first 1,000 guests able to keep their bookings.

"A number of UK guests who have booked a cruise departing after 21 June but before 19 July may need to be assisted to rebook on a sailing departing after the restriction is removed," an MSC spokeswoman told World of Cruising.

"Whilst still seeking further clarifications from the relevant authorities and continuing to monitor for developments, the company will initially begin by contacting those affected guests due to embark between 23 June and 26 June.

"MSC Cruises has adopted a fair criterion based on the earlier date of booking so that the first 1,000 guests will maintain their bookings, and it can be assured that guests booked on sailings prior to the 21 June are unaffected entirely.

"In addition to a variety of rebooking options, guests will be offered the option of a refund. More details will be available shortly on and through the MSC Cruises’ contact centre or its travel agent partners."

Viking’s newest ocean ship, Viking Venus, began sailing its England’s Scenic Shores itinerary on May 22 and has also been limited to 1,000 passengers.

A number of the cruise lines are sailing the UK this summer but, thanks to their small ships, will not be affected by the 1,000 guest limit.

Cruise lines have also been hit by Covid restrictions in Scotland - passengers cannot embark or disembark in Greenock, near Glasgow, as planned.

Celebrity has been forced to axe a stop and amend its itinerary. A spokeswoman said: “As we await the next update from the Scottish Government regarding the resumption of cruise visits to Scotland, we have made the decision to change the itinerary of our first Celebrity Silhouette sailing which was due to stop in Greenock on July 6.

"In place, we have added two new ports to the itinerary – Liverpool and Dover – offering even more chance for our guests to enjoy the stunning culture and scenery the beautiful British Isles has to offer”.