The UK Transport Secretary recently said travel abroad should be off-limits until all UK adults have been vaccinated and people should not be booking holidays. It’s a telling tale as the UK battles a fast-spreading mutation of the virus and has the highest vaccination rate in Europe.
If this does become official policy, it will spell bad news for the travel community and the cruise industry in particular. Expectations are for vaccinations to be complete at the end of the year, at the earliest. It would mean that British cruise passengers would not be able to sail this year from any ports outside the UK.
After the effects Brexit is having, the Pandemic, and now new ideas about complete vaccinations before travel, it creates even more problems for an already battered industry.
What Did He Say?
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said on BBC Breakfast that the UK is serious about vaccination programs to be completed before leisure travel would be permitted again.
Shapps also said on Radio 4 that it was too soon to start booking holidays domestically or internationally.
The statements come from the secretary after the UK revealed plans for arrivals to the UK to go into quarantine in a hotel, with penalties of 10 years in prison for people failing to disclose a visit to Portugal or other “red-list” countries within the past ten days.
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Not only will the UK’s adults need to be vaccinated, according to Grant Shapps, but the other countries will also need to have caught up to the same level as Britain: “We’ll need to wait for other countries to catch up as well, to do that wider international unlock.”
In a move which will surely anger the UK cruise lines, the transport secretary offered some advice to anyone planning a vacation:
“On the shrinking chance that anybody is listening to this interview at this stage and thinking of booking a holiday under the current circumstances, bear in mind you cannot legally do that at the moment. Until you know the result of a lockdown, which we can’t know until we have more data, more information, more information on vaccines as well, please don’t go ahead and book holidays for something which at this stage it is illegal to go and do – whether it’s here or abroad.”
Mr. Shapps said the public would need to wait before a clear picture of where we will be this summer before booking anything:
“Further down the line, I don’t know the answer to the question of where we’ll be up to this summer. It’s too early to be able to give you that information. You’d want to wait until that’s clear before booking anything. The best advice is: do nothing at this stage.”
UK Cruise Lines Still Planning For The Summer
There have not been any significant changes from the UK cruise lines after the transport secretary’s statements. The transport secretary has made various comments on the state of travel in the last year, many of which did not come to fruition due to the ever-changing and fluid situation we find ourselves in.
The comments come as UK based cruise line SAGA cruises has already postponed cruises until May and June 2021, with the added restriction that all guests onboard must be 100% vaccinated. This seems to be the only way the UK government’s plans can be aligned with the cruise lines.
It could very well turn out to be a requirement that all cruise lines will need to abide by if they plan to sail with British guests or from British ports. This will be the case if the only other option the UK government is willing to give is a 14-day quarantine or 10-year prison sentences.
How the plans will be affecting sailing dates for the cruise lines remains unclear. At this point, the dates for UK cruise lines to sail are as show below:
- P&O Cruises UK: April 2021
- Cunard: Queen Victoria to resume on May 17, 2021, Queen Mary 2 to resume on June 4, 2021, and Queen Elizabeth to resume on June 14, 2021
- SAGA Cruises: Spirit of Adventure to resume on May 4, 2021, Spirit of Discovery to resume on June 2, 2021
- Marella Cruises: European operations until March 31, 2021. The cruise line has also delayed the return of all longer sailings until April 30, 2021.
- Fred Olsen Cruise Line: Borealis to resume on May 22, 2021, Bolette to resume on May 29, 2021, Balmoral to resume on June 9, 2021, and Braemar to resume on Spring 2022
As we’ve seen multiple times in the last year, these dates are very likely to change once again as the situation evolves and remains fluid. The day we can offer a definitive date of sailing still looks to be a long way off.
Main Photo Credit: Ben Molyneux / Shutterstock.com