New traffic light changes come in today - what do they mean for cruise holidays?
Red list countries Turkey, Maldives, Kenya and more shift to the amber list today in an exciting boost for holidays. So what does the new traffic light system mean for cruises?
The traffic light system overhaul announced last week by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps comes into force today.
Turkey, the Maldives, Bangladesh, Egypt, Kenya, Oman, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have all been cut from the red list and shifted to the amber list.
This means double-jabbed Britons can avoid expensive and disruptive travel measures such as hotel quarantine on their return from these destinations.
The news was announced alongside a simplifying of testing measures due to come into play from October 4 and the slashing of the amber list from that date.
The announcement was welcomed with open arms by the travel industry - although many felt more progress was still to be made.
ABTA Chief Executive Mark Tanzer said: “We have also been asking for the green and amber categories to be removed and are pleased to see happen under this new system."
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He continued: "We also welcome the removal of eight more countries from the red list, some of which are important winter sun destinations, though we need more countries to come off the red list in due course.
"Although we recognise the need to retain a red list, the government needs to be much more transparent in its criteria for placing countries on it and it should only be retained for the management of known variants of concern."
So, what does the news signify for cruises? Industry experts predict that by the end of 2021, most cruise lines will be back in business as the world opens up again.
- READ MORE: Complete guide to all major cruise lines' start dates -
CLIA Managing Director for UK & Ireland, Andy Harmer, said: "We welcome any changes that simplify travel requirements for cruise lines and their guests.
"As international travel continues to open up, we are pleased that an increasing number of passengers are being given the opportunity to book their cruise holidays to a range of destinations.
"The wider industry projections are, that by the end of the year, the majority of cruise ships will be operational again."
British holidaymakers are now free to sail to any green and amber destination without facing a raft of restrictions.
International cruises resumed for Britons on August 2, with cruises free to start and end in England, having called in foreign ports, without fully vaccinated travellers having to quarantine.
We spoke to the cruise lines to find out what the latest updates mean for them.
- READ MORE: Do you need special travel insurance for a cruise? -
Riviera Travel CEO, Phil Hullah, said: "We are pleased to see these changes to the traffic light system. They are a positive step forward and will help simplify travel requirements for our guests.
"We provide a wide range of cruises across the globe and are keen to offer sailings to as many guests, and to as many destinations, as possible. We call on the Government to continue to actively monitor worldwide travel, and ensure restrictions are relaxed wherever it is safe to do so."
Some cruise lines admitted the changes didn't have that much of an impact as their schedules are already organised for the coming year.
For instance, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has already set out its cruise programme until 2023 so will not be making any changes at this stage.
Fred. Olsen Managing Director, Peter Deer, commented: “Earlier this summer, we became the first cruise line to sail internationally. As we prepared for that milestone moment, we promised our guests we would only sail to countries on the green and amber lists, so operationally the restructured traffic light system won’t change the places that we cruise to.
"We have an exciting programme of winter sun sailings over the coming months, and our team of Journey Planners will continue to work hard to ensure we comply with all the requirements of each port we visit and that our guests are fully informed.
“We welcome the changes to testing requirements, which will make the process much easier to understand, less daunting and more cost-effective.”
There's no denying the new rules make the way forward for cruise lines and customers much clearer.
Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) isn't making any changes to its programme but Vice President of International Business, Eamonn Ferrin, said: “The government’s decision to remove the traffic light system and relax travel rules is a watershed moment for our industry.
"It has been a long journey to get to this point for us all, during which we at NCL have been working tirelessly to enhance our already robust health and safety protocols to safeguard guests, crew, and the destinations we visit.
"The sense of optimism and clarity this brings to the cruise category and consumers eagerly waiting to get back onboard our ships can’t be understated.”
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