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Published on Friday, March 13, 2020

More cruise lines suspend operations after over-70s told not to sail

Saga Cruises and AmaWaterways have become the latest to announce they are suspending operations, after the UK Government issued advice to elderly Brits or those with underlying health conditions telling them not to travel on cruise ships.

Saga said suspending its cruise operations for the next six weeks would reduce profit in the division by between £10m and £15m.

AmaWaterways has delayed the start of its European sailing season to April 26 and is suspending Mekong River cruises, due to start on March 23.

The new Government advice, issued after Thursday's Cobra meeting, applies to British nationals aged 70 and over or those with underlying health conditions like chronic diseases and diabetes.

The Government said its warning is based on medical concerns around the 'unique environment of cruise ships and the risk they can pose to vulnerable passengers'.

It comes as part of wider government travel advice, which also includes a new recommendation against overseas school trips.

The advice follows a number of coronavirus outbreaks on board cruise ships, including the Grand Princess and Regal Princess.

Travellers with existing cruise travel plans are being advised to speak to their operator, transport and accommodation provider for further advice.

A Foreign & Commonwealth Office spokesperson said: "Based on the recommendation of the Chief Medical Officer, we are now advising against all travel on cruise ships for passengers aged 70 years and over, and those with high-risk conditions.

"Our first priority is the safety of British nationals. The nature and design of cruise ships - where passengers are contained and the virus can spread faster - makes them a particularly risky environment for vulnerable people. We've already seen the impact a coronavirus outbreak can have on board a cruise ship and we have changed this advice with the safety of British nationals in mind."

Before the FCO advice changed, Princess and Viking had already announced they were suspending operations, while Virgin Voyages said its inaugural season was being postponed. Cruise industry body CLIA has cancelled next month's UK conference and said it plans to rescheduled later in the year.


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