Government confirms you CAN go on a cruise – but on a river

You CAN go on a cruise – but on a river: Government says foreign trips will be allowed on smaller waterways or round-Britain, as Foreign Office changes its stance over holiday Covid rules

  • Previous guidance was unclear, with many unsure over what exactly was allowed
  • The FCO has now distinguished between voyages on mainland rivers and at sea
  • River cruises generally considered to be less of a risk than those on the ocean

Britons will be allowed to enjoy international river cruises this summer after the Foreign Office (FCO) confirmed they are not included on a list of activities banned due to coronavirus.

Guidance previously stated that the FCO ‘advises against cruise ship travel at this time’ but a lack of clarity left many wondering what exactly this meant and which type of cruises, if any, were allowed.

However, the advice has now been updated, with the new rules defining cruise ship travel as ‘staying overnight for at least one night on a sea-going cruise ship with people from multiple households.’

River cruises, such as this one in Russia last month, are being given the green light by the Foreign Office

River voyages, like this one in Moscow last month, are generally considered to carry a lower risk of infection than those on the ocean

By Rita Sobot and Tom Pyman for the Daily Mail

Major cruise line companies are ditching self-service buffets while on-board entertainment could also be cut as part of a raft of changes to trips in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Guests and crew may also have to be tested for the virus in some cases, or at least pass through infrared controls so their temperature can be taken in a bid to reduce the risk of infections spreading.

Other measures include limiting passenger numbers and staggering boarding and disembarking to ensure there are fewer people at the terminals and gangways.

On the ships, hand sanitisers will be placed throughout, germ-killing air filters will be installed and occupation of lifts will be limited.

At least one cruise liner has had to cut back on its hospitality by axing plans for the traditional welcome with a free buffet whilst others say only staff will be allowed to serve food and never the passenger.

Top locations such as Spain still currently have a ban on any cruise liner entering its ports, with the government saying this will continue until ‘the end of the coronavirus crisis’, with no firm date yet specified.

It means holidaymakers now have the green light to take to the water on river voyages, which are generally considered to carry a lower risk of infection than those on the ocean.

This is due to sailing being limited to one or two countries, the itineraries tending to be shorter, and fewer passengers on board, meaning easier management of new healthy and safety protocols. 

The guidelines apply only to ‘international travel on a ship’, meaning round-Britain cruises also appear to be clear of a ban, coming as a huge boost to domestic business.  

Andy Harmer, UK and Ireland director of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest cruise industry body, told the Telegraph: ‘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.’

A Government spokesperson insisted that advice would be kept under review based on the latest evidence, and that it is working with the industry to restart operations which are safe for both passengers and crew.   

However, the updated advice means a ban remains in place for ocean cruising, with as many as 40,000 workers facing losing their jobs amid guidance telling tourists to avoid holidays at sea.

However, minister Caroline Dinenage suggested firms could be given the green light to welcome aboard passengers in October, saying the government wanted to be ‘a little bit more secure’ that ships will not be plunged into coronavirus hotbeds once again.

The ban has infuriated hard-hit companies which have burned through millions during the pandemic and are desperate to resume business. 

An industry source said last week: ‘On the face of it we are being cooperative, but most of us are privately fuming.’ 

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