The UK will include the cruise industry in its earlier announcement that domestic tourism and indoor hospitality could recommence on May 17th, the third of four stages in the gradual re-opening of the British economy, the UK Minister for Aviation and Maritime Robert Courts confirmed on March 8th.
Several cruise lines confirmed plans to begin offering trips.
In a parliamentary committee meeting the minister said that the earliest date for the resumption would be May 17th. He said that there would most likely continue to be limitations and health protocols.
No target date was set for the resumption of international travel.
Cruises are expected to commence first between the English ports. The minister said that they were also working with Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to support a UK-wide resumption of cruising and tourism, with the aim being to have UK-wide cruising and tourism restored by the summer of 2021.
The resumption of domestic cruises will follow a model that has already been deployed by Italy, Germany, Japan, Taiwan, and Singapore.
The UK government said that domestic cruises would provide the industry with the opportunity to demonstrate that the health and safety protocols in place were adequate, and would also give cruise lines the opportunity to re-establish their business gradually.
Trade group the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the Chamber of Shipping issued a joint statement saying that they strongly welcomed the announcement. “The industry has long planned a phased restart for cruise, with domestic cruises representing the first stage of this plan. We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the Government, including through the Global Travel Taskforce in order to ensure the safe restart of international cruise in time for the summer season.”
Carnival Corp’s P&O Cruises UK had previously announced that it was planning to start a programme of short cruises from Southampton. Following the government announcement it said that it was “delighted that the Government has acknowledged that UK domestic cruise holidays can begin from May 17th.”
Another Carnival Corp subsidiary, US-based Princess Cruises, announced that it would launch a limited programme of short cruises from Southampton on two of its cruise ships this summer. The line confirmed that it would begin cruising later in the summer offering cruises limited to UK residents.
With UK residents among the top five source markets for the global cruise industry, the decision by the UK government was being seen as a major step forward by the global cruise industry in the slow return to normality in the global cruise leisure sector.