Clia UK and Ireland chair Tony Roberts has insisted the ocean cruise sector is focused on a “return with longevity” after domestic sailings were given the go-ahead earlier this week.
Roberts, vice-president UK and Europe at Princess Cruises, said government confirmation that cruises in UK waters could restart from 17 May had given the industry “reassurance” to put plans in place to welcome back guests this summer.
Speaking during a Clia media call on Thursday (11 March), he described how domestic sailings would help "build a body of evidence" for the industry to prove the effectiveness of new health and safety protocols to the UK government and authorities in Europe.
This phased restart would then help pave the way for a wider return to cruising for UK lines to Europe and further afield - but Roberts said the process would be gradual.
“We want to make sure this is a successful return with longevity rather than rushing it and getting something wrong along the way.”
When asked how close to 17 May he believed lines could be ready to restart, Roberts told TTG a 12-week window was “a very real time period” but added it would depend on how individual lines had been preemptively preparing behind the scenes.
He described the “magnitude” of bringing ships back online after such a lengthy time in hibernation as being “similar to bringing a ship into full service... which is very challenging at the best of times”.
“It will take some time to get ships back into action but the feedback we’re getting from guests and the market tells us there is pent-up demand,” he said.
“We’re going to offer a staycation like no other and we’re feeling very excited and very confident about a successful return to UK cruising this summer and taking that first step for a return to the UK cruise industry.”