The Foreign & Commonwealth Office has clarified its advice around the much-criticised ban on cruise ships, allowing Brits to take river cruises for the first time in months.
The advice now reads: “Cruise ship travel means staying overnight for at least 1 night on a sea-going cruise ship with people from multiple households.
“Our advice against cruises applies to international travel on a ship that is exclusively for pleasure or recreation, providing overnight accommodation and other leisure facilities such as entertainment venues or swimming pools. Our advice does not include ferries or privately-rented boats.”
Andy Harmer, Clia UK & Ireland director, said: “This latest change to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s advisory regarding cruise ship travel provides a very welcome boost. We are seeing a gradual, phased-in approach to resumption of cruise operations across Europe, initially domestic and regional. CLIA is continuing its constructive dialogue with the Department for Transport and Public Health England to finalise the road map to resumption of international cruise travel.”
Chris Townson, managing director UK, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, added: “We welcome the news that the FCO advice against river cruising has been lifted and are delighted to have supported the efforts of Clia and the rest of the industry to bring about this change. River cruise ships are small by comparison with ocean liners, carry far fewer passengers, and are always in close proximity to the shore, and therefore to local healthcare providers. Uniworld ships have plenty of outdoor space and multiple dining options where we can make reservations, plus our itineraries offer outdoor activities such as bike rides or hikes, and small group visits to uncrowded villages and towns off the beaten track. When in bigger cities we offer exclusive and private experiences such as an after hours visit to St Mark’s Basilica in Venice, just for our group. So for us it has never made sense for river to be treated any differently from a hotel resort – and like our hotel counterparts we have put incredibly robust and enhanced health and safety protocols in place for wellbeing and reassurance of both guests and staff.”
James Cole, founder and managing director, Panache Cruises, said: “It’s so pleasing to see that the FCO has changed its advice and river cruising has been given the green light. When you combine this with the industry leading protocols that are being implemented by each of the cruise lines, the low deposit schemes and flexible booking conditions, together with the exceptional deals available to consumers, now is certainly the best time in the history of cruising to book a cruise. But my advice would be not to wait, as prices will increase as bookings gain momentum.”
John Fair, UK Sales Director CroisiEurope UK, added: “The change in the FCO advice on the current ban on cruising to now exempt river cruises is great news for the river sector. CLIA and the member river cruise lines worked hard and, crucially, together to ensure the change was made. For our agent partners this signals that river cruises are not only safe for customers but that there are extensive health and hygiene protocols in place. At CroisiEurope cruises we have now re-started our programme and will gradually increase the number of sailings in Europe over the coming weeks and months. We look forward to welcoming our UK guests back on-board where we can guarantee them the same high levels of service, food and comfort for which we are known.”