An MP has called for international cruising to be allowed to restart from 17 May, alongside aviation.
Caroline Nokes, MP for Romsey and Southampton North, said international travel advice for cruising should be aligned with that for aviation.
She has called on aviation and maritime minister Robert Courts to work with colleagues across government to soften the Foreign Office’s (FCDO) stance on cruise.
"The cruise industry is a significant employer in the Southampton area, but British travellers are still advised by the FCDO against cruising – even as advice on flying is set to be relaxed along with eased restrictions," said Nokes in the Commons on Thursday (29 April).
"Approval has been given for domestic cruising, but please can my honourable friend [Courts] work with colleagues across government to make sure international travel advice for cruising is aligned with that for aviation?"
Courts said re recognised the importance of cruising to Nokes’ constituency. "A home port call is estimated to generate approximately £2.95 million, which underlines the critical importance of cruises for employment in Southampton and other ports," said the minister.
"The restart of domestic cruises has indeed been confirmed, and the Global Travel Taskforce (GTT) advises international cruises will restart alongside the wider restart in international travel.
"I am committed to working with colleagues at the FCDO and across government to see a safe restart of international cruises as soon as possible, in line with the GTT."
However, pressed on his and the Department for Transport’s talks with the FCDO, Courts stressed the independence of FCDO advice.
"The Department for Transport engages regularly with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the devolved administrations and the cruise industry on the Global Travel Taskforce and cruise restart," said Courts. "Travel advice is the responsibility of the FCDO."
Ronnie Cowan, MP for Inverclyde in Scotland, said his constituency typically hosts more than 80 visits a year from international cruise ships, and paid tribute to the "valued contribution" they make to the local economy. "When the time is right, we look forward to welcoming them back," he said.
However, he asked Courts for further details of how the government would guard against the import of new variants of Covid-19 when international cruise does restart.
In response, Courts pointed towards a Covid-19 framework drawn up by the cruise industry setting out the health protocols lines will have to abide by.
"That has been recognised as good practice by the UN’s International Maritime Organisation," said Courts. "We will see a safe restart of international cruises in accordance with those protocols."