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Pressure mounts on Australia as international cruising returns to the United Kingdom

In a massive win for the global cruise industry, international cruises will be able to restart from England from Monday August 2.

The move immediately sparked fresh calls for the Australian government to come up with a plan for the safe return of sailings, with Cruise Lines International Association Australasia MD Joel Katz telling Cruise Passenger: “As the UK government gives the go ahead for international cruising to resume following the success of domestic UK cruising, the more than 18,000 Australian and New Zealanders whose livelihoods depend on the Australasian cruise industry would rightly be demanding our governments lay out a pathway forward for cruise restart in this region.

 “The UK Government, health authorities, ports, CLIA and cruise lines have worked cooperatively to implement enhanced protocols that protect guests, crew, and the destinations cruise ships visit, and we should be able to do the same for a carefully managed, phased and responsible restart here.”

And Royal Caribbean Vice President and Managing Director Gavin Smith added: “The decision by the UK government to lift the ban on international cruising has been welcomed as a significant boost to the positive future of the industry. We’ve worked closely with local authorities and governments globally to develop protocols and measures for the smooth handling of COVID-19, which we will revise to the specific needs of Australia at the time of sailing.

 “While great progress continues to be made around the world on a successful resumption of cruising, we remain hopeful in Australia. We are focused on continuously encouraging and assisting Australian federal and state governments to establish a clear pathway for a return to cruising locally.”

The United Kingdom government said people arriving at UK ports who have been fully vaccinated, particularly passengers from the US and countries in the European Union will not have to quarantine. After 16 months of no international sailings, the move comes as a relief to the local economy as an industry body said travel agencies, hotels, tour guides, port operators and other firms would benefit from the resumption of cruise.

Domestic cruises have been allowed to sail since May with the Viking Venus leading the charge.

The government said that international cruise travel advice “will be amended to encourage travellers to understand the risks associated with cruise travel and take personal responsibility for their own safety abroad”.

Under the new rules, fully vaccinated US and EU travellers arriving from so-called amber countries will not need to quarantine or take a test on day eight of their arrival. Passengers will still need to take either a pre-departure test or a PCR test on the second day of their arrival.

However, international cruises are unlikely to be available from Monday. On its website, P&O Cruises said following their UK summer staycations, the Britannia will begin planned western Mediterranean itineraries on  September 25, while Iona will launch on the same date.

It said due to the current traffic light system, a “number of itineraries have had to be cancelled”. Cruises on Ventura have been paused until 3 October 2021, while cruises on its Azura ship have been halted up until 10 December 2021. Some others have been delayed until 2022.

Cunard’s first UK cruise will sail on August 13 with international cruises beginning in October.

Both firms are part of US giant Carnival cruises, which is one of the world’s biggest cruise companies.

Paul Ludlow, the president of P&O Cruises UK told Cruise Hive: “We are absolutely delighted with today’s announcement from the UK Government that international cruising can resume from the UK. Britannia has been sailing UK coastal cruises since the end of June and Iona’s very special maiden voyage will leave next Saturday August 7.

“Our international cruise holidays on both ships are set to start from September 25 with Britannia sailing to the Mediterranean and Iona to Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands. This is the news we have been working towards and hoping for and we cannot wait to welcome you back on board.”

A number of lines have already been sailing domestically in the UK including Viking, Celebrity Cruises, MSC Cruises and Princess.