Published on Thursday, July 9, 2020

Cruise industry not shocked by hardened FCO advice

The UK Government has hardened its advice against cruise holidays for British citizens amid the coronarivus pandemic.

An advisory back in March advised anyone aged over 70 or with underlying health conditions not to take a cruise.

But in a blow to the industry, the advice has now been widened to include everyone.

"The Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises against cruise ship travel at this time," says the new advice.

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

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

"If you have future cruise travel plans, you should speak to your travel operator, or the travel company you booked with, for further advice.

"The Foreign & Commonwealth Office continues to support the Department for Transport's work with industry for the resumption of international cruise travel."

CLIA issued a statement which said: "We have noted the advisory issued today. The health and safety of guests and crew is an absolute priority for our member lines.

"Since the voluntary suspension of operations, we have been working collaboratively with the Government on the road map to resumption involving a 'door to door' strategy - from the time of booking through to the passengers' return home - with enhanced health protocols. We look forward to completing this planning exercise with Government and for the advice to be updated."

Peter Deer, managing director at Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said: "We are very clear on our position that we will not resume sailing until it is safe for us to do so. We chose to voluntarily pause our operations back in March as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, and since then have been working tirelessly to prepare our ships, crew and staff for what a return to the water will involve.

"We have been working very closely with the other UK cruise lines and CLIA to consider what the future of cruising will look like, including our procedures for embarkation, onboard and ashore. This has included regular calls with the UK Shipping Minister, Kelly Tolhurst, and the Department for Transport, as well as Public Health England, working together to consider what needs to be done before we can resume sailing. 

"We have also conducted our own research to understand what our guests would like to see happening whilst they are on their holidays with us.

"When we return to cruising, it will be better, safer and stronger than ever, and we will not do so until we and our guests are confident that it is safe, and that the world is ready to welcome us again."

James Cole, founder and MD Panache Cruises said: "The FCO advice today is disappointing but not surprising and I don't think it will come as a shock to any of the cruise lines, who are currently working hard to establish new standards of health and safety for cruising in the post Covid world. 

"Since our launch on Monday we have been encouraged by the number of bookings and enquiries we've had for our 2021 cruises, proving that people can't wait to get cruising again.

"It will take time for sure for cruise lines to take to the seas but when the time does come, I have no doubt that the industry will be totally transformed for the new world of cruising we will find ourselves in."

A spokesman for Norwegian Cruise Line said: "Despite today's news, we remain optimistic and hope to relaunch cruise operations in the near future."

But Ben Cordwell, travel and tourism analyst at GlobalData, said the impact on customers could be devastating.

"After several months of little or no revenue, it is essential that cruise companies hit the ground running when voyages eventually return. The latest FCO announcement will do little to diminish concerns surrounding the safety of cruises and will increase worries that cruise companies will be unable to survive the mounting pressure caused by Covid-19."


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