International cruises given the green light to restart from England

Travel: Simon Calder says new quarantine rules ‘ludicrous’

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International cruises are set to return to sailing from England as of August 2. Cruises were brought to an abrupt stop in March 2020 amid the onslaught of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, after a 16-month suspension, the UK has included a return to sailing as part of its relaxation of international travel rules.

It coincides with the news that US and EU arrivals who have had both doses of their FDA or EMA-approved vaccine do not need to quarantine.

Although domestic cruises have been able to sail around the British Isles since May 2021, international sailings remained on hold.

In a statement, the Government said the travel advice for international cruises “will be amended to encourage travellers to understand the risks associated with cruise travel and take personal responsibility for their own safety aboard.”

Ships will be able to set sail from 4:00am next Monday.

Guests who have been fully vaccinated 14 days or more before their cruise will be permitted to travel.

US and EU citizens will also be able to enjoy these holidays, without the need for quarantine upon their arrival in the UK, in line with the vaccination policy.

PCR testing rules remain in place, however, with amber list arrivals requiring a pre-departure test and a second test on day two of their arrival into England.

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Arrivals will also need to complete a passenger locator form ahead of their arrival.

An update to the Government website states: “Following the close monitoring of epidemiological evidence, gained through the restart of the domestic cruise industry earlier this year, the UK government has 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.”

Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said he hoped the relaxation of quarantine rules could help reunite families.

“We’ve taken great strides on our journey to reopen international travel and today is another important step forward,” he said.

“Whether you are a family reuniting for the first time since the start of the pandemic or a business benefiting from increased trade – this is progress we can all enjoy.

“We will of course continue to be guided by the latest scientific data but thanks to our world-leading domestic vaccination programme, we’re able to look to the future and start to rebuild key transatlantic routes with the US while further cementing ties with our European neighbours.”

Cruise lines have begun to update their websites in line with the announcement.

P&O Cruises said it will resume its western Mediterranean itineraries on September 25.

Cunard, meanwhile, is due to resume international cruises in October.

Richard Ballantyne, chief executive at the British Ports Association (BPA), said the UK cruise intermarries had displayed that the industry could “ensure the health and safety of passengers, crew and destinations”.

Ryan Johnston, managing director of luxury holiday firm, said: “At last, some good news for holidaymakers and the travel industry.

“The decision means that families can enjoy an international cruise for the first time since the government slapped a blanket advisory against it almost 16 months ago.

“We’ve seen growing interest from passengers ever since domestic cruises were allowed in May, and we’re delighted to welcome people onboard.

“Families are desperate to have a relaxing holiday overseas, and we’ve seen bookings for this summer and next year rocket over the past weeks as optimism returned.

“With more Britons double-jabbed than nearly anywhere else, it’s time for people to be allowed to go and enjoy a bit of foreign sun.”

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