Credit: Shutterstock

New travel rules - what are they and how do they impact cruise holidays?

Author: Harriet Mallinson

Published on:

Updated on:

Travel rules have been updated as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps overhauls the traffic light system. What are they?

Holidays have been simplified under the new tranche of rules that came into force early October

The green list and amber list have been slashed - leaving only a red list consisting of 54 countries. From October 11, this 'no-go' list will be cut to just seven countries.

"If you live in England, you should not travel to countries or territories on the red list," explains the Government.

However, travel to previously green and amber list nations - including such popular holiday destinations as France, Spain, Greece and Italy - is now much easier for those who have been vaccinated.

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What are the new travel rules?

Travel rules for fully vaccinated travellers

The Department of Transport details: "Fully vaccinated means that you have had a complete course of an approved vaccine at least 14 days before you arrive in England. The day you had your final dose does not count as one of the 14 days."

If you have been fully jabbed, and you've visited a non-red list country, before you return to England you must book and pay for a day two COVID-19 test and complete a passenger locator form 48 hours before you return.

- READ MORE: Which cruise lines require a Covid vaccine? -

Jetsetters need to take the Covid test on or before day two after they come back.

The following proof of vaccination is accepted: NHS COVID Pass for England and Wales, NHS Scotland COVID Status app, COVIDCert NI in Northern Ireland and paper certificates.

Holidays: Before you return to England you must book and pay for a day two COVID-19 test if fully jabbed. Credit: Shutterstock

Travel rules for unvaccinated travellers

Before you return to England from a non-red list country you must take a COVID-19 test three days in advance, book and pay for day two and day eight COVID-19 tests, and complete a passenger locator form.

When you arrive back in the UK you'll need to quarantine at home or the place you are staying for 10 days - but you may be able to end self-isolation earlier if you pay for a private COVID-19 test through the Test to Release scheme.

You'll also need to take your Covid tests on or before day two and on or after day eight.

Holidays: Unvaccinated travellers will need to quarantine at home for 10 days. Credit: Shutterstock

What are the rules for red list counties?

When you return to England you must quarantine in a managed hotel and take two COVID-19 tests, even if you are fully vaccinated.

Winter sun destinations including Mexico, South Africa, Thailand, Seychelles, Cape Verde, Costa Rica, Tanzania, Botswana and Namibia have all been cut from the red list in the latest update.

The seven countries remaining on the red list from Monday are Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Haiti, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.

- READ MORE: P&O Cruises Covid restrictions: What rules are onboard? -

The following countries are on the red list until 4am October 11:








Cape Verde



Congo (Democratic Republic)

Costa Rica


Dominican Republic





French Guiana






















Sierra Leone


South Africa





Trinidad and Tobago







Holidays: South Africa is expected to be slashed for the list in time for the October half-term holiday. Credit: Shutterstock

What do the new travel changes mean for cruises?

The cruise industry has welcomed the relaxation of travel rules.

Janet Whittingham, Head of Cruise at Travel Counsellors, commented: “The new travel rules are definitely a step forward in making cruise travel a bit easier and more accessible. Whilst still not offering us the freedom we had before the pandemic, the new travel system will make it a lot clearer to the travelling public which countries and cruises they can book a holiday to.

"‘Seacations’ this year have proven to be a huge success in attracting a new market to cruises and full credit to the cruise lines for pivoting to meet this demand. We are experiencing considerable interest in cruise, with P&O Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises and Regent Seven Seas being our top performers. Our latest stats show a much earlier demand for cruising in key holiday periods for winter 21/22 and summer 2022, when families and loved ones can travel together. "

Andy Harmer, Managing Director for CLIA UK & Ireland, added: "The majority of cruise ships are projected to be operational again by the end of this year, meaning we can expect the return of the diverse range of holiday options we enjoyed previously."

- READ MORE: Marella Cruises Covid restrictions: What rules are onboard? -

However, for some cruise lines, the changes have little impact, with major brands already cementing their cruise programmes for the coming year.

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."

However, the changes greatly open up the world to travel and can provide much-needed clarity to holidaymakers booking future travel.

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