Cruise lines have started rescheduling guests and offering refunds on UK sailings in response to the Government’s extension of the 1000-passenger limit.
Under existing restrictions, ships offering domestic cruises are limited to no more than 1,000 passengers, or half usual capacity, whichever is the lower.
Groups of more than six people or two households are not allowed to mix indoors, even if they booked as one group.
The rules had been due to be lifted on 21 June, when the UK Government had planned to remove all remaining COVID restrictions.
However, on 14 June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced restrictions would remain in place for up to four more weeks.
P&O Cruises confirmed it is asking ‘a number of guests’ on Britannia’s early sailings to change their holiday dates because the Government has extended the 1,000-passenger limit on cruise ships until July 19.
The 3,647-passenger Britannia is due to resume operations on June 27 and commence six sailings before July 19. The cruise line said not all sailings were affected by the Government’s decision.
Affected passengers will be contacted directly by the cruise line and offered either a 125% future cruise credit or a 100% refund, P&O Cruises confirmed.
A spokesperson declined to reveal exactly how many passengers were affected by the move but said: “We are so sorry for these guests and do hope they will be able to enjoy a holiday with us later in the summer.”
Royal Caribbean said: “In line with the most recent Government announcement, we unfortunately had to move some guests on our first sailings [on Anthem of the Seas] to a future sailing later in the season. We are excited to sail and can’t wait welcome our firsts guests on board.”
MSC Cruises confirmed a number of guests booked on MSC Virtuosa between 21 June and 19 July ‘may need to be assisted to rebook on a sailing departing after the restriction is removed’.
The first 1,000 guests will maintain their bookings and guests booked on sailings prior to 21 June are unaffected.
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has asked for volunteers among guests on the maiden voyage of 1,360-passenger Borealis on 5 July to move to later sailings due to the Government’s extension of the 50% limit on cruise ship capacity.
Saga’s Spirit of Discovery can accommodate 999 passengers, but it had already reduced its capacity for the UK sailings.
Saga said it is ‘currently reviewing what this means for Saga cruises’ and will update guests ‘at the earliest possible opportunity’.
Golden Horizon, the new ship from Tradewind Voyages, was scheduled to begin a six-day ‘dress rehearsal’ cruise on 22 June along the south coast, in preparation for its inaugural voyage on 1 July.
But passengers on the ‘dress rehearsal’ trip have already had messages cancelling their cruise.
An updated statement on its website said: “Since the announcement of an extended lockdown earlier this week, we have been hard at work rescheduling our UK voyages, in order to meet the Government’s guidelines. We are awaiting port confirmations and as soon as these have been verified, we will share full details regarding our plans.
“We appreciate the urgency of new itineraries being released for our guess and will keep you updated throughout the process.”