Cruise news: Voyages in UK waters are banned despite change in river cruise advice

Cruises have been off-limits to Britons since earlier this year, due to the coronavirus pandemic. And despite news that river cruises have been given the go-ahead, this does not mean ocean voyages are an option. A source at the Department of Transport (DfT) told Telegraph Travel that the advice does apply to all sea cruises, including those in UK waters.

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  • Cruise: River cruises are exempt from FCO travel advice

The decision was reportedly based on Public Health England’s (PHE) risk assessment of cruise ships, not just a ship’s location, according to DfT.

But the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has confirmed that river cruises will not be covered by their current cruise ship travel advice.

The updated advice clearly defines that a cruise ship holiday means “staying overnight for at least one night on a sea-going cruise ship with people from multiple households”.

The FCO website adds: “The Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises against cruise ship travel at this time.

“This is due to the ongoing pandemic and is based on medical advice from Public Health England.”

It continued: “Our advice against cruises applies to international travel on a ship that is exclusively for pleasure or recreation, providing overnight accommodation and other leisure facilities such as entertainment venues or swimming pools.

“Our advice does not include ferries or privately-rented boats.

“The government will continue to review its cruise ship travel advice based on the latest medical advice.”

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The FCO updated its cruise ship advice on July 9.

However, those willing to fly can now enjoy a break overseas without facing stringent rules on their return.

The UK government released a list of “air bridges” which Britons can travel to without facing stringent quarantine rules on their return.

The FCO is still advising people against non-essential travel abroad.

But some countries are now exempt from this.

Cruise writer Dave Monk told Telegraph Travel that he was disappointed in the UK’s decision to allow river cruises but not domestic sea cruises.

He said: “This is disappointing that, having given the green light to river cruising, the government is holding back on domestic sea voyages, which it appeared to sanction by saying the ban applied to ‘international travel on a ship’.

“Cruising around the UK should pose no more risk than staying in a hotel and, I would have thought, much safer than taking a plane, as social distancing can be maintained from the moment a passenger arrives at the cruise terminal until the time they disembark.”

River cruise specialists were overjoyed with the news that river voyages are now back on.

Phil Hullah, chief executive of Riviera Travel, explained that the move is good news for Britons.

He said: “We are delighted that the FCO have clarified their advice.

“River cruises are safe. This is a victory for common sense, but more importantly is good news for the great British travelling public.

“Riviera Travel plans to only operate within FCO ‘safe countries’ such as France and Germany, and where the customer experience is safe and exceptional with our expert local guides and tour managers.”

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