Cruise travel: What are the new rules on international cruises from TODAY?

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The Government announced that international cruise travel will be able to operate once more from August 2 as part of a new wave of measures aimed at reopening the travel industry. International cruises have been out of service for 16 months, making it one of the hardest-hit industries during the coronavirus pandemic.

What are the cruise rules now?

Announcing the reopening, the Government said: “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.”

But what exactly are these rules, and what will travellers need to do to safely enjoy a cruise?

Here is what the Government says:

  • Get travel insurance. Make sure you check your insurance covers possible disruptions, and be sure to check if you need evidence of vaccination to make a claim.
  • Speak to your doctor before booking if you are clinically extremely vulnerable.
  • Take extra medication if you need it, in case you get stuck on board.
  • If possible, wait until you’re fully vaccinated.
  • Use the same hygiene methods you do usually – handwashing, hand sanitiser and masks.
  • If you fail to follow protocols put in place by the cruise operator, you may be sent back to the UK.
  • Make sure you know what the local restrictions are of any countries you’ll visit on the cruise and comply with them.
  • Remember, even if you remain on board, if your ship calls at an amber or red list port, you will need to quarantine when you get back.
  • Fully vaccinated US and EU travellers arriving from amber countries will not need to quarantine or take a test on day eight of their arrival but will need to take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on the second day after they arrive.
  • Arrivals will need to complete a passenger locator form.
  • Under-18s will be exempt from isolation, and some will not have to test, depending on their age.
  • Note that separate rules will continue to apply for those arriving from France – travellers who have been in France in the 10 days before arriving in England must quarantine for 10 days after arrival, and take a Covid test on or before day two and on or after day eight, even if fully vaccinated.

While many will be getting excited to pack their bags and head for the seas, it’s not likely many operators will be offering cruises just yet.

On its website, P&O Cruises said following their UK summer staycations, its Britannia ship will begin planned western Mediterranean itineraries on September 25, while its Iona vessel will launch on the same date.

The operator said due to the current traffic light system, a “number of itineraries have had to be cancelled”.

Cruises on Ventura have been paused until October 3, while cruises on its Azura ship have been halted up until December 10. Some others have been delayed until 2022.

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

Both firms are part of US giant Carnival cruises, which is one of the world’s biggest cruise companies.

The hugely profitable business was brought to its knees by Covid after regulators around the world stopped ships from sailing to try and limit outbreaks.

There were outbreaks on various cruise liners, including some owned by Carnival.

There is an increased risk of respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases on ships due to passengers and crew mixing from different parts of the world, according to experts.

Richard Ballantyne, chief executive at the British Ports Association (BPA), said UK domestic cruises had demonstrated how ports and cruise lines could “ensure the health and safety of passengers, crew and destinations”.

He said the organisation is “hopeful that the devolved administrations will follow suit shortly” in allowing international cruises.

The British Ports Association, which represents more than 400 ports, terminal operators and port facilities, said it was “disappointed” that arrivals from France still need to quarantine on arrival into England for ten days.

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