International cruising will return alongside the government’s wider restart for overseas travel and follow its planned “traffic light” system, according to the Global Travel Taskforce report.
A “risk-based approach” to managing the safe restart of international voyages will be put in place “underpinned by analytical evidence”, the Department for Transport has said.
Its return is subject to “continued satisfactory evidence” from the sector’s domestic restart taking place from 17 May, as well as “successful cruise operations elsewhere in the world”.
It is also subject to the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the UK government and the cruise industry covering the cost and liabilities of repatriation.
As part of its findings, the Global Travel Taskforce recommends removing measures limiting outbound cruising by 17 May “at the earliest” and implement a “traffic light” country system – with different restrictions depending on risk.
The progress of cruise’s international restart will be considered at reviews on 28 June, 31 July and 1 October.
The report noted that “much has changed” in the industry’s knowledge, understanding and response to mitigating Covid since restart framework was published by the government and industry last autumn - with the report recognising “the significant progress” made by the cruise sector over the last year.
As part of the restart framework, cruise operators must work in accordance with UK Chamber of Shipping’s Covid-19 regulations and prior to restarting, must undergo a “full expanded inspection” of its ships by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency.
Cruise operators will be required to work closely with port operators, port health authorities and wider health protection boards within local authorities to agree arrangements for the embarkation and disembarkation of passengers, the report added.
Cruise lines will also need to align with the rules of the UK’s domestic reopening roadmap - including capacity limits onboard - and operate “controlled tour excursions” with passengers remaining in ‘bubbles’ “to minimise risk to communities”.
Cruise industry association Clia said it welcomed the Global Travel Taskforce’s announcement, calling it “the culmination of extensive collaboration between industry, government, health authorities and ports” during past 12 months.
Clia said cruise sector health measures “now go beyond any other" in the travel industry.
“The industry’s protocols have already been tried and tested as almost 400,000 people have sailed on cruises since last summer elsewhere around the globe,” the association said.
"Today’s decision sends a signal of confidence in the industry and is a welcome boost to the thousands of people employed in the sector or whose livelihoods depend upon cruise, including travel agencies, hotels, tour guides, port operators and many other service providers up and down the country.”