The Foreign Office says UK residents should avoid cruises - here’s what it means if you had one booked

The FCO has advised against cruise ship travel (Photo: Shutterstock)

Thousands of travel plans have gone awry this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, forcing many UK residents to cancel or postpone their holidays.

While foreign travel to a select number of government approved countries is now permitted again, the return of cruise holidays isn’t likely to be on the cards any time soon.

Am I allowed to go on a cruise holiday?

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued a statement on 9 July advising UK holidaymakers to avoid travelling on cruise ships due to the pandemic.

The news comes just after the ban against all non-essential international travel from England was lifted for more than 50 countries on 4 July.

New travel advice from the FCO states, “The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against cruise ship travel at this time.

“This is due to the ongoing pandemic and is based on medical advice from Public Health England.

“The government will continue to review its cruise ship travel advice based on the latest medical advice.

“If you have future cruise travel plans, you should speak to your travel operator, or the travel company you booked with, for further advice.

“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office continues to support the Department for Transport’s work with industry for the resumption of international cruise travel.”

Previous advice issued by the FCO on 12 March said that British nationals aged seven and above, as well as those with underlying health conditions, should not travel on cruise ships.

What does it mean for planned holidays?

The updated travel advice means that many who have future holidays booked on a cruise ship risk having their trips cancelled or postponed.

Responding to the update, Rory Boland, editor of consumer magazine Which? Travel said, "The FCO's advice against cruise ship travel will lead to most upcoming cruises being cancelled or postponed.

"Most cruise holiday customers should be legally entitled to a cash refund within 14 days under the package travel regulations, but as we've seen across the travel industry recently, operators facing a surge in refund claims are often taking longer to return customers' money to them.

"If refunds will be delayed, cruise companies must urgently let customers know and give a clear timetable for when money will be returned.

"The FCO should also extend its warning to include a definitive date, to give operators and customers clarity over when it will be safe to rebook."

When will cruises start again?

P&O Cruises, the biggest cruise line in the UK, has suspended all of its sailings up until 15 October 2020.

The cruise line said it looks forward to welcoming guests back on board “when the time is right”, and is working on enhancing its safety measures to keep both staff and passengers safe. This will include rigorous protocols prior to boarding, on board the ship and at destinations the ship visits, P&O said.

Royal Caribbean is aiming to resume its operations on 16 September 2020 for the majority of its fleet, but a number of ships will remain suspended until a later date.

Canada sailings will be suspended until 31 October 2020, Bermuda sailing will be suspended until 31 October 2020.

All Voyager of the Seas sailings will be cancelled through to 30 September 2020, while Odyssey of the Seas sailings will be cancelled from 5 November 2020 until 17 April 2021, as additional time is needed to complete its scheduled construction.

Princess Cruises has cancelled all cruises sailing in and out of Australia until 21 September 2020.

All cruises in and out of Vancouver and Seattle, along with seven-day cruises from San Francisco, have been cancelled throughout September and October 2020. Cruises from Keelung departing in August 2020 have also been cancelled.

All remaining Europe and Transatlantic cruises on Enchanted Princess, Regal Princess, Sky Princess, Crown Princess and Island Princess, have been cancelled for the remaining of the Summer 2020 season.

Summer to autumn 2020 cruises departing from Japan on Diamond Princess are also cancelled, while with autumn cruises to Hawaii and French Polynesia on Pacific Princess are currently suspended through November 2020.

TUI has cancelled all river cruises travelling on or before 25 November 2020, along with all Marella Cruises sailing on or before 27 August 2020.

Sailings on Marella Discovery 2 from Naples, Asia and the Middle East have been cancelled up until 30 April 2021, and sailings on the Marella Dream from Palma have been suspended until 4 May 2021.

Sailings on the Marella Discovery on or before 31 October 2020, those from Jamaica in December 2020 and January 2021, and sailings on 2 and 9 February 2021, have also been cancelled, as have all sailings on the Marella Celebration.

However, TUI has announced it will restart operations with the Mein Schiff 2 on 24 July. The ship will sail for a three-night cruise in the North Sea, sailing from Hamburg.

Carnival has cancelled all itineraries out of Port Canaveral for departures from14 November 2020 to 30 January 2021, while guests on 18 Carnival Breeze sailings from Fort Lauderdale scheduled to travel from 7 November 2020 to 7 March 2021 have been cancelled.

Transatlantic and European itineraries on Carnival Magic from 31 March 2021 to 3 May 2021 have been cancelled, and seven sailings previously scheduled for Carnival Breeze from Fort Lauderdale from 13 March to 24 April 2021 will move to Miami.