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Cruise holidays are back - international cruising will resume in August as ban lifts

Author: Harriet Mallinson

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International cruises are back on, it has been confirmed today, in a huge and exciting boost for both the travel industry and holidaymakers.

Cruise lines can now once again operate international sailings.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted today: "We're able to confirm the restart of international cruises."

This means cruises can start in England, call at foreign ports and then return to England without vaccinated passengers having to quarantine.

Restrictions are set to be dropped on August 2.

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The Department of Transport said in a statement: "Following the close monitoring of epidemiological evidence, gained through the restart of the domestic cruise industry earlier this year, the UK government has also confirmed the go-ahead for international cruise sailings to restart from England in line with Public Health England guidance.

"International cruise travel advice will be amended to encourage travellers to understand the risks associated with cruise travel and take personal responsibility for their own safety abroad.

"To further support the safe restart of international cruise travel, the government and cruise industry have signed a breakthrough memorandum of understanding (MOU) to help the industry build back from COVID-19 while protecting British nationals from future pandemic-related disruption."

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) welcomed the Government’s announcement.

- READ MORE: Major cruise lines face mask policies explained -

The resumption of international cruises follows the successful restart of domestic cruises earlier this year.

Cruise lines have been sailing around Britain with enhanced protocols that go beyond any other travel sector operating today.

Since last summer, around 800,000 people have sailed on cruises around the world, demonstrating the effectiveness of the industry-wide protocols.

CLIA Managing Director for UK & Ireland, Andy Harmer, said: “The decision to allow the restart of international cruise is very good news for the industry. The success of this summer’s round Britain cruises has led the way.

“The cruise industry has worked intensively during the last 18 months in collaboration with the Government, health authorities, ports, and other industry bodies to develop enhanced protocols that protect guests, crew, and the destinations we visit."

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He added: “The industry looks forward to welcoming guests back onboard to visit international destinations.”

Domestic cruises resumed back on May 17 but the industry has been waiting with bated breath for rules to relax on international cruises.

Cruise lines are very happy with the news.

P&O Cruises and Cunard said they welcomed the UK Government’s announcement.

- READ MORE: Complete guide to major cruise lines' start dates -

Carnival UK president Simon Palethorpe said: “We are delighted that the work done by the cruise industry over the past 18 months has been recognised and we are now able to resume international cruising.

“Whilst our guests are so pleased to be back on board for the current series of UK coastal cruises there is certainly demand to travel abroad with us, knowing they have the reassurance of our health protocols.

“It has been an exceptionally difficult and challenging time for the global cruise industry but this news marks the beginning of a new start and one which will be welcomed by our crew, our guests and the UK economy.”

P&O Cruises has been sailing UK coastal cruises since the end of June and new ship Iona will sail its maiden voyage next Saturday, August 7. The company’s international cruise holidays are set to start from September 25.

P&O Cruises Iona has gorgeous suites with picturesque views. Credit: P&O

Cunard’s first UK cruise will sail on August 13 with international cruises beginning in October.

Tony Roberts, vice president of Princess Cruises UK & Europe said: "Today’s decision to remove the FCDO’s advice against international cruise is very welcome news. From this Saturday (31 July), Princess Cruises will have restarted domestic sailings in the UK, beginning with Regal Princess.

"We look forward to resuming our international cruises from the UK on Regal Princess and Sky Princess from the end of September, with a total of eight voyages sailing roundtrip Southampton.

As always, the safety and wellbeing of our crew, guests and destinations we visit remain our top priority. Our vaccination and testing policies will remain in place for these cruises and will be reviewed on a regular basis as the global situation continues to evolve."

- READ MORE: What you must do before you travel abroad in 2021 -

CLIA said today that the UK cruise industry continues to demonstrate its commitment to a phased, responsible resumption. No other form of travel provides such high transparency of reporting, providing consumers with reassurance that they can sail with confidence.

The framework protocols agreed with the UK Government will apply to international cruises, and will also complement the global CLIA Member Policy for all ocean-going cruise line members. For example, the current practice of 100 percent testing of guests on UK domestic cruising will apply to international sailings.

The news followed the major announcement that passengers arriving from amber countries who have been fully vaccinated in Europe (EU Member States, European Free Trade Association countries and the European microstate countries of Andorra, Monaco and Vatican City) and the USA will not have to quarantine when entering England, as part of a range of new measures designed to continue to drive forward the reopening of international travel.

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