Cunard has pushed back its UK cruise programme on Queen Elizabeth by four weeks after some crew members tested positive for COVID.
The cruise line says a ‘small number’ of crew are affected, although it has not revealed the specific number.
It’s understood the COVID cases were identified among new crew joining the ship.
Queen Elizabeth is currently moored off the Dorset coast with about 800 crew members on board and had been due to start its UK sailing season on 19 July from Southampton.
It now plans to resume cruises on 13 August.
Cunard President Simon Palethorpe said: “Cunard’s return to service will now be on August 13, 2021, in a revised schedule of UK coastal voyages.
“Since March 2020 the priority has been to work with public health, medical and scientific experts as well as industry bodies and various Government departments to put in place an approved framework of protocols to protect the health and wellbeing of our crew, guests and the communities we visit, both during our pause in operations and once we begin sailing.
“These protocols, of which we are very proud, have proven to be very effective and we had no cases of COVID-19 in over 5,000 crew members until last month when a small number of cases were identified amongst new crew boarding the ship.
“Working in conjunction with Southampton Port Health we took immediate steps to successfully contain the situation and we have limited the number of new crew joining the ship. This has meant, however, that we are not able to complete the final essential preparations or deliver the comprehensive training schedule to the full required contingent of crew prior to the first scheduled sailing.
“We know how much everyone has been looking forward to these coastal holidays but after such a long period it is critical that all our crew are trained in the new procedures and refreshed in the very special White Star service which makes a Cunard voyage so memorable.
“We apologise to those guests whose voyages have been disrupted with this four week delay and we very much look forward to welcoming guests back on board from August 13 as Queen Elizabeth sails from Southampton on a seven night cruise showcasing the highlights of Britain’s coastline.”
All affected guests will receive a full refund or a 110% Future Cruise Credit.