In a major move for the cruise industry, UK based Saga has become the first line to tell its tour and cruise guests that they must be vaccinated if they are to travel with them this coming European summer.

Saga, which is an over 50s travel firm, reported to The Guardian UK a surge in bookings since the vaccination program was announced in the UK.

The company said it was taking reservations on condition that customers are fully inoculated with two shots where necessary, at least 14 days before departure. Passengers will also need to take a COVID test at the departure terminal.

Saga’s entire holiday program of cruises, tours, holiday stays and escorted tours have been delayed until 1 May, with the first cruise departing on 4 May. The company said it would be ample time to allow guests to get two inoculations. Saga polled 2,000 of its customers and found that the majority would only travel once other passengers and guests were vaccination.

UK airline Ryan Air is advertising “jab and go” seats for passengers at reduced rates and has come under attack for using the vaccine as a marketing tool.

A spokesperson said: “The health and safety of our customers has always been our number one priority at Saga, so we have taken the decision to require everyone travelling with us to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

“Our customers want the reassurance of the vaccine and to know others travelling with them will be vaccinated too.”

It is unclear whether other lines will be implementing the same rules. The Guardian reported that P&O UK and Cunard had not implemented the same requirement for passengers when they are due to restart operations.

A P&O UK spokesman said only that the new vaccines “were expected be an important boost for cruising … in the days ahead”.

It is unclear whether cruise companies in Australia might follow Saga’s policies in regards vaccination requirements.

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