The UK Government has updated its guidance for cruise ships, advising all British people to avoid travelling on them.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) said the new information was “due to the ongoing pandemic and is based on medical advice from Public Health England” and that they would “continue to review its cruise ship travel advice”.
It added: “[The FCO] continues to support the Department for Transport’s work with industry for the resumption of international cruise travel.”
One cruise insider told The Telegraph that this is “the last thing cruise needs right now” and that they expect cruise lines to be “privately furious”.
Previous advice from the FCO, which was issued on March 12 as the industry paused operations across the globe in response to the spread of Covid-19, stated that British nationals aged 70 and above – and those with underlying health conditions – should not travel on cruise ships.
FCO advises against #cruise holidays on the advice of @PHE_uk. No reasons given. No consideration about the different sectors. In fact no logic whatsoever, especially given the industry has moved heaven and earth to make sure its ships are safe. I'd go on a #cruise tomorrow.— Jane Archer (@JaneArcherUK) July 9, 2020
The news is a major setback for an industry that appeared to be tentatively getting back to business, especially in Europe.
And earlier this week Hurtigruten became the first operator to announce new sailings around the country for Britons, departing from three UK ports. They were expecting to welcome guests back from early September, although the latest FCO rules casts serious doubt on the plans.
Telegraph Travel cruise writer Dave Monk said: “This is a blow to British holidaymakers who are seeing cruising return perfectly safely in Europe and who are looking forward to sailing both from the UK and abroad in the coming months.
“It seems curious when pubs, restaurants and resorts are opening and new protocols are being introduced on cruise ships to ensure they are as clean and safe – if not much more so – than land-based alternatives.”
Simon Palethorpe, the president of Carnival UK, said that the “current focus is to work in partnership with public health agencies at the highest level as well as Department for Transport; EU Healthy Gateways and CLIA, the industry governing body.
“Confidence in cruising is strong and we are seeing increasing demand from our guests, who we look forward to welcoming back on board when the time is right.”
Carnival UK includes P&O Cruises and Cunard Line, which have both extended their pause in sailing until October and November, respectively.
In statement from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, said: “We have noted the advisory issued today. The health and safety of guests and crew is an absolute priority for our member lines.
“Since the voluntary suspension of operations, we have been working collaboratively with the Government on the road map to resumption involving a ‘door to door’ strategy – from the time of booking through to the passengers’ return home – with enhanced health protocols.
“We look forward to completing this planning exercise with Government and for the advice to be updated.”