LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM — In what can be seen as a sign of hope for global cruising, the United Kingdom is preparing for the resumption of domestic cruises as early as May.
According to news reports, U.K.’s maritime minister, Robert Courts, appeared at a virtual meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Maritime and Group (APPMPG) to discuss the likely restart of voyages between English ports on May 17.
Last month, Prime Minister Boris Johnson unveiled England’s four-stage roadmap for easing restrictions. According to the roadmap, international travel from England will be banned until May 17 at the earliest.
According to Courts, resuming domestic cruises will help the cruise industry restore confidence and highlight the robust protocols implemented by cruise lines for passengers and crew.
As reported by The Independent, crew members will be required to be tested for COVID-19 and to undergo a two-week quarantine period onboard the ship before passengers are permitted to board.
Global cruises have been paused since March 2020 at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Though a small handful of ocean-going and river cruise companies like MSC and AmaWaterways resumed limited summer operations in Europe for select European markets last year, the cruise industry has largely been at a standstill for an entire year, with CLIA estimating over US$77 billion in global economic losses from mid-March through the end of 2020.
With the global rollout of vaccines, however, the cruise industry is now seeing signs of life, with Britain-based Saga Cruises announcing in January that it will be requiring proof of vaccination from passengers when it resumes operations in May. Since then, other cruise lines like American Queen Steamboat Company, Victory Cruise Lines and Crystal have announced similar vaccination mandates.