UK Releases Framework for Resuming International Cruises

The UK releases a framework for reopening international travel including cruises. Plans set out a new traffic light system to protect the country.

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While the cruise industry in the United States seems to be getting nowhere, the UK’s situation is looking much more positive. Domestic cruises will be allowed from May 17, and now a new traffic lights system has been introduced that will soon allow international cruises from the UK.

UK Cruises Industry Making a Comeback

Domestic cruising is not opening until May 17, but the UK is already steaming full speed ahead on getting international cruising back open too. It’s looking like the UK cruise industry could be among the first to fully reopen by the summer.

A new 20-page report by the UK’s Global Travel Taskforce sets out a new framework for reopening international travel, including cruises no earlier than May 17. This will be done using a new traffic light system. As mentioned in the report, the government is committed to the sector making a comeback using analytic data and a risk-based approach.

Grant Shapps MP Secretary of State for Transport, stated:

“In February, the Prime Minister asked me to develop the framework for a safe and sustainable return to non-essential international travel when the time is right. This report, produced by the Global Travel Taskforce, which brings together the UK government and industry, sets out how we can achieve that goal.”

UK Global Travel Taskforce Report

Compared to the CDC, the UK is remaining open-minded on resuming cruises. Once UK domestic cruises open, the task force will follow closely as it could impact when international cruising opens back up. Travelers will also no longer need to fill out a permission form for international travel.

The report says:

The first GTT report recognised the significant progress made by the cruise sector over the last year to develop COVID-19 operating procedures. The Department for Transport subsequently published a phased risk-based approach to restarting the cruise sector. Since then, much has changed, including our knowledge, understanding and response to mitigating risks of the virus. The UK government has confirmed that domestic cruises will restart in England no earlier than 17 May.

Traffic Light System

The government will implement a new traffic light system to identify if a destination is safe to visit or not. This applies to all travel industries, including cruises. The system aims to protect the public and any new variants of the virus. Different measures will be activated depending if a country is in green, amber, or red as follows:

UK International Travel Traffic Light
Department of Transport UK
  • Green: arrivals will need to take a pre-departure test as well as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on or before day 2 of their arrival back into the UK – but will not need to quarantine on return (unless they receive a positive result) or take any additional tests, halving the cost of tests on their return from holiday
  • Amber: arrivals will need to quarantine for a period of 10 days and take a pre-departure test, and a PCR test on day 2 and day 8 with the option for Test to Release on day 5 to end self-isolation early
  • Red: arrivals will be subject to restrictions currently in place for ‘red list’ countries which include a 10-day stay in a managed quarantine hotel, pre-departure testing and PCR testing on day 2 and 8

The Department of Transport also says travelers should purchase quarantine packages before traveling if returning from a country that is on the red list. Those traveling to counties on the amber or green list will need to book test packages from an approved list.

By early May, the government will release which countries are red, amber, or green in preparation for allowing international travel sometime from May 17.

Positive Signs for UK Cruises

We’ve seen cruises already in the Canary Islands, some parts of Europe, and Singapore, but the UK will be the first major cruise industry to reopen fully. At the beginning of 2021, the situation was not so good, and the Department of Transport was a pretty hush on the situation.

Worth Reading: Calls For Caution Ahead Of UK Cruise Restart

Southampton Cruise Ships
Photo Credit: SeregaSibTravel /

Now, we’re in a completely different situation with the vaccines’ successful rollout, and a new framework for an industry hit hard by the global pandemic. The Department of Transport has been engaging with all the travel industry sectors, including Carnival, MSC, Viking Cruises, Ports, and Cruise Lines International Association in coming up with the new guidelines.

It’s been made clear who is running the show and getting travel back open along with what’s being done to complete this safely. Multiple cruise lines have already announced plans for domestic cruising this summer, which will help the UK’s cruise industry make a comeback.

Also Read: Why Florida Needs to Fight for Cruises to Resume

The United States situation is a lot different with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control remaining firm on its Conditional Sailing Order and releasing outdated technical instructions. Many cruise lines there are looking at alternative homeports, with some even choosing the UK.


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