Riviera Travel’s chief has described the Foreign Office’s update to its cruise advice a “victory for common sense”.
The FCO has confirmed its recent advice on cruising applies to international travel onboard “sea-going” cruise ships.
The change follows industry pleas for greater clarity, after the nature and wording of the decision advising “against cruise ship travel” shocked and frustrated the cruise sector last week.
The new definition clears the way for Brits to take river cruises and appears to also allow sailings around the UK.
Phil Hullah, chief executive, Riviera Travel, said: “We are delighted that the FCO have clarified their advice. River cruises are safe. This is a victory for common sense, but more importantly is good news for the great British travelling public.
“Riviera Travel plans to only operate within FCO ’safe countries’ such as France and Germany, and where the customer experience is safe and exceptional with our expert local guides and tour managers.
“For now at least, the world is quieter and less crowded and with smaller tour groups and venues limiting the numbers of people allowed in to particular sites, the holiday experience is likely to be bespoke and intimate.
“We’re sanitising the ships not the holiday experience.”
He added that Riviera has been working on plans to resume a limited number of river cruises at the end of August.
“Our brand new five-star river cruise ships were designed to be more spacious, but we’ll go further by halving group excursion numbers and implement an even more scrupulous cleaning regime,” said Hullah.
“We have methodically assessed every aspect of each tour, excursion and cruise.
“Customers will enjoy a great holiday safe in the knowledge that we operate to the highest national and international standards."
Chris Townson, managing director UK, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, also welcomed the news, adding the line had “supported the efforts of Clia and the rest of the industry to bring about this change”.
“River cruise ships are small by comparison with ocean liners, carry far fewer passengers, and are always in close proximity to the shore, and therefore to local healthcare providers,” he said.
“Uniworld ships have plenty of outdoor space and multiple dining options where we can make reservations, plus our itineraries offer outdoor activities such as bike rides or hikes, and small group visits to uncrowded villages and towns off the beaten track.
“When in bigger cities we offer exclusive and private experiences such as an after hours visit to St Mark’s Basilica in Venice, just for our group.
“So for us it has never made sense for river to be treated any differently from a hotel resort – and like our hotel counterparts we have put incredibly robust and enhanced health and safety protocols in place for wellbeing and reassurance of both guests and staff.”