Cruise lines requiring adult guests to be fully vaccinated will be able to sail at up to 50% of ship capacity after 19 July, under new guidance from the Department for Transport.
Under updated rules issued on Thursday (8 July), the DfT said companies “with a Covid-19 vaccination policy in place” could sail vessels half full.
Lines not requiring passengers to be double jabbed must remain at the previous cap of up to 1,000 passengers or 50% capacity, whichever is lower.
The DfT added that by 19 July, “the government hopes to remove all legal limits on social contact” – including removing guidance concerning capacity for domestic cruises.
To count as fully vaccinated, passengers must have received both doses of a UK approved vaccine, more than 14 days before joining their cruise.
“Vaccination requirements do not apply to passengers under the age of 18, to people with a medical exemption, or people involved in Covid-19 vaccination trials,” the DfT confirmed.
The department stressed lines must require all passengers to present a negative Covid-19 test before boarding, while crew “are expected to accept the Covid-19 vaccination as soon as it is available to them”.
Lines “should have a clear plan in place” to have all crew fully vaccinated by the end of October.
The news follows confirmation from transport secretary Grant Shapps earlier that cruise passengers will benefit from rules exempting fully vaccinated Brits from quarantining after returning from amber countries.
Reacting to the increase in ship capacity, Clia UK and Ireland managing director Andy Harmer, said: "We welcome the news that as of 19 July, if the next step of the government roadmap goes ahead, the 1,000-passenger limit on domestic cruises can be lifted to enable larger ships to sail at 50% capacity.
"As the cruise industry’s phased return picks up, this is another positive development. We continue to work with the government on the regulations for domestic and international cruising, with the view to ultimately achieving a full return to service."