Cruise lines have emphasised their commitment not to resume sailing until it is “safe to do so” after the Foreign Office suddenly advised against “all cruise ship travel at this time”.
The FCO made the surprise change to its travel advice on all types of cruising on Thursday (9 July) due to the Covid-19 pandemic, despite most cruise lines not planning to resume itineraries until autumn 2020 at the earliest. TTG understands the advice applies to all cruises.
Cruise companies responded by stressing the ongoing work to prepare their ships for an eventual resumption in sailings, as well as how they are “working together” with ministers and public health bodies.
Peter Deer, managing director of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, said: “We are very clear on our position that we will not resume sailing until it is safe for us to do so.
“We chose to voluntarily pause our operations back in March as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and since then have been working tirelessly to prepare our ships, crew and staff for what a return to the water will involve.”
Deer said the line had regular calls with shipping minister Kelly Tolhurst, Department for Transport (DfT) and Public Health England to talk about what needs to be done to enable a return to cruising.
“When we return to cruising, it will be better, safer and stronger than ever, and we will not do so until we and our guests are confident that it is safe, and that the world is ready to welcome us again,” he added.
Carnival UK president Simon Palethorpe said P&O Cruises’ itineraries were currently paused up to 15 October, while sister line Cunard was due to resume sailings until November.
“Our current focus is to work in partnership with public health agencies at the highest level as well as Department for Transport; EU Healthy Gateways and Clia,” he added.
“We will follow applicable guidelines to further enhance our already stringent measures to keep our guests and crew healthy and well, and we will not resume sailings on either of our brands until this framework is in place. This will include rigorous protocols pre-boarding, on ship and in the destinations we visit.”
A spokesperson for Oceania Cruises stressed: “The safety, security and well-being of our guests, crew and communities we visit is our number one priority. We continue to closely monitor the evolving Covid-19 coronavirus global pandemic and its significant impact on communities and ports worldwide.
“We are committed to taking all appropriate steps and actions to combat the spread of Covid-19 and are working closely and in partnership with local, state, federal and global agencies.
“While this may result in additional future changes, please know our teams are working around the clock to do what is right by our guests and travel partners.”