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USA holidays open up to Britons today - what it means for cruise & latest travel advice

Author: Harriet Mallinson

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USA holidays are back on the table for UK travellers from today. Now, vaccinated Britons will be able to visit America freely - what does it mean for cruise travel?

US travel opened up today as the American government lifted restrictions.

Anyone who has been fully vaccinated can now finally visit USA shores, marking a huge development in the travel industry as the world recovers from the pandemic.

Travellers will still need to take a Covid test within three days of their departure date to the US.

Mark Tanzer, Chief Executive of ABTA – The Travel Association, said of the changes: "British holidaymakers are now able to enjoy a long-anticipated break in the USA again. The reopening of travel to the US is a very welcome development.

“The USA is currently the second most popular destination on holidaymakers’ wish list for the next year. Pre-pandemic figures show that 4.8 million UK travellers visited the destination in 2019, drawn by vibrant cities, national parks and entertainment venues, with New York and Florida among the most popular destinations."

Here we look at the new rules, what they means for cruise holidays and the latest travel advice.

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New US entry requirements

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has updated its advice for US travel.

It states: "The US Government will lift restrictions from 8 November 2021 for foreign citizens who are fully vaccinated with any COVID-19 vaccine approved for emergency use by the World Health Organisation or approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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

"These are the AstraZeneca, BIBP/Sinopharm, Covishield, Janssen, Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech and Sinovac vaccines.

"In addition, those who have received the full series of an active (not placebo) COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca or Novavax COVID-19 vaccine trials are considered vaccinated."

US travel: Britons who are fully vaccinated can now travel to the USA. Credit: Shutterstock

The FCDO went on: "Children under 18 are exempt from the vaccination requirement.

"British nationals planning to travel to the US from 8 November 2021 should familiarise themselves with the new requirements on the CDC website before booking any travel.

"Fully vaccinated air passengers arriving to the US from a foreign country must get a COVID-19 test no more than 3 days before their flight departs.

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"Most travellers that are not fully vaccinated will need to test no more than one day before travel or present a negative result or documentation of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past three months to the airline before boarding the flight.

"Only those with an exception or US Citizens, US Nationals, and US Lawful Permanent Residents will be able to enter the US unvaccinated."

US travel: The changes are perfect for those eager to cruise the Caribbean in the coming months. Credit: Shutterstock

What do the new US rules mean for cruise?

The lifting of travel restrictions means double-jabbed Britons can now freely cruise to the US, starting and ending their voyage in US ports - perfect for those eager to cruise the Caribbean in the coming months.

A Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) spokesperson said: "CLIA joins our peers across the travel and tourism sector to express our appreciation to the Biden Administration for recognising the importance of international travel to the U.S. economy and for establishing a path for international visitors to travel to the United States responsibly.

"The cruise industry is an important driver of international visits to the United States, prompting approximately 2.5 million international visitors to travel to the United States to embark on a cruise in 2019, representing nearly 18 percent of all U.S. cruise embarkations.

"International cruise visitors in the United States spend $4.5billion (£3.1billion) annually on hotel stays, transportation, retail and other U.S. businesses, supporting nearly 60,000 American jobs. Our members look forward to welcoming international travellers, including from the United Kingdom and the European Union, back to the United States while continuing to prioritise public health."

However, many cruise line have not added the US to itineraries due to the restrictions so the new rules will no immediately impact certain brands.

For instance, Fred. Olsen and Marella Cruises are not due to sail to the US until May 2023.

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Clare Ward, Director of Product and Customer Services at Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said: “We love showing our guests the world, and while we don’t have any cruises to mainland America until 2023, what this change in restrictions will do is provide a real boost to guests looking to travel to the USA – whether they are returning to their favourite state or looking to explore for the first time.

“In October 2023, our wonderful ship Balmoral will embark on a 34-night sailing to showcase some of America’s most spectacular waterways, including the Hudson River and the Cape Cod, Chesapeake and Delaware Canals, following on from calls into some beautiful Canadian ports."

Princess Cruises has also said itineraries will not be affected. Tony Roberts, vice president Princess Cruises UK & Europe, said: “The reopening of the US to UK residents is great news for Princess and the cruise industry as a whole. Last week, Regal Princess and Sky Princess departed the UK for Fort Lauderdale as scheduled to start their winter Caribbean seasons.”

A Virgin Voyages spokesperson told World of Cruising: "We're thrilled to see the borders open more broadly and welcome all of our British cruisers the chance to experience Virgin Voyages, and our first ship, Scarlet Lady sailing from her home port. We had such a successful inaugural season out of Portsmouth this summer, and would love to show off our Caribbean itineraries to our UK audience."

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) also has no changes planned. Eamonn Ferrin, NCL Vice President of International Business, commented: “The United States easing its travel restrictions and re-opening to vaccinated air passengers from the UK from November 8 onwards is a major milestone for travel recovery across the globe.

"Another positive step towards re-opening international travel, which brings optimism and clarity to businesses and consumers eagerly waiting to travel more freely after almost two years of uncertainty... all vaccinated guests travelling with NCL can enjoy their cruise and their favourite US destinations with the utmost confidence.”

The biggest developments in US cruising came two weeks ago when America's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced its health rules would be extended until mid-January.

This means cruise lines will be required to follow CDC's protocol on ships.

These include such rules as: "Face masks to be worn by all travellers while on public transportation including all passengers on board and all personnel operating maritime conveyances travelling into, within, or out of the United States".

US cruises: The lifting of travel restrictions means double-jabbed Britons can now freely cruise to the US. Credit: Shutterstock

Travel advice for USA holidays

ABTA has shared its advice on travelling to the US from today for fully vaccinated holidaymakers. This is what you need to know:

Check the FCDO travel advice for the USA before travelling.

Remember to get a visa or an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) visa waiver to enter the USA as a visitor. For further information, check the US State Department website.

- READ MORE: Your essential post-Covid guide to Caribbean cruising -

You will need to have proof of being fully vaccinated and proof of a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test taken no more than three days before departure or proof of having recovered from COVID-19 in the past three months.

Lateral flow tests (which are cheaper than PCR) are allowed. However, if you do a self-test, it must include real-time video supervision from your test provider.

Before boarding your flight, you will be asked by your airline to sign an attestation form to confirm that the information you present regarding your COVID-19 vaccination status and test results are true.

US travel: Lateral flow tests (which are cheaper than PCR) are allowed. Credit: Shutterstock

You will need to take a COVID-19 test three to five days after arriving in the USA, unless you have recovered from COVID-19 in the 90 days before travelling. See Centre for Disease Control (CDC) website for further details.

Children under 18 are exempt from the vaccination requirement but those aged between two and 17 will need to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test and a test three to five days after arrival in the USA.

Individual states and territories in the USA have their own COVID-19 measures, such as when to wear face masks etc, and some may also have quarantine requirements, which may change at short notice.

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A full list of local health departments is available on the CDC website and travellers are advised to check the website regularly prior to their trip.

Face coverings are mandatory on aircrafts, trains, buses and at airports when travelling to, from and within the USA.

When you get back to the UK, you will need to take a COVID-19 test on or before day two of your return. The UK Health Security Agency website has information on how to find a private testing provider.

You will need to complete a Passenger Locator Form up to 48 hours before you return to the UK and provide the booking reference number of your day two COVID-19 test on the form.

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