UK Cruises could resume services from the United Kingdom in January with domestic voyages along the coastline of the island, according to media reports Tuesday.
A report in the Daily Mail said a phased restart could commence following trials in January that would be based on rapid testing of passengers and the cruise lines agreeing to repatriate passengers in the event of an outbreak.
“We are working on a framework to allow the industry to reopen safely early in the new year, a government source told the Daily Mail. “That will allow cruises to restart and enable bookings to take place to start bringing money into the industry again.
“We need to be sure that ships have the right infection control measures in place, the right testing regime and the right facilities to allow them to contain an outbreak,” the Whitehall source said.
Meanwhile, Cruise Lines International Association UK director, Andy Harmer, has called for an end to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office advisory against cruising.
“We are supportive of the government’s wider travel advice, but are now calling for the removal of FCO’s specific ban on cruising to bring us into line with the rest of the transport industry,” Harmer said.
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Cruise industry worth £10 billion to UK
“That will allow customers to book with confidence again, as well as helping to protect the 88,000 jobs and £10 billion in annual revenue cruising contributes to the UK economy.”
Earlier this year, the FCO said in a statement that it “advises against cruise ship travel at this time… due to the ongoing pandemic and is based on medical advice from Public Health England. “The government will continue to review its cruise ship travel advice based on the latest medical advice.”
In July, it updated its advisory to permit river cruises.
The report in the Daily Mail is not the first piece of positive news on UK cruising.
Carnival UK Chairman says cruises are ‘safest form of travel’
Last week, the Telegraph reported that the UK Minister for shipping and aviation Robert Courts as stating that the government’s global travel taskforce was looking into allowing a resumption of cruise operations.
“I can confirm that the cruise restart will be considered as part of the taskforce and my officials, and I will continue to support the case for a safe resumption as soon as it is safe to do so,” Courts said.
According to the same report. Carnival UK Chairman David Dingle told Courts that there were ‘powerful arguments’ to lift the advisory.
“Because of the bubble that a cruise ship provides, and the fact that it is so highly regulated in every possible way, frankly, at the moment, it’s the safest form of travel you would have,” Dingle said. “We just want to get on and be able to demonstrate that…we firmly believe that the cruise industry can manage Covid.”