The UK’s Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, has confirmed the ban on international cruises, which has been in place since March 2020, will be lifted.

The cruise tourism industry breathed a heavy sigh of relief recently as Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, confirmed the nearly 18 month-long ban on international cruises would be coming to an end from August 2.

Cruising industry bosses welcomed the latest easing of travel restrictions with P&O and Carnival UK president, Simon Palethorpe, adding:

We are delighted that the work done by the cruise industry over the past 18 months has been recognised and we are now able to resume international cruising. 


The ban on international cruises will be lifted from August 2.

Easing of restrictions

This latest update, which is paving the way for a return to international sailing, was announced by Shapps on Twitter. On the same day the government also confirmed double-vaccinated citizens in the EU and US would be able to visit the UK without the need to quarantine.


Grant Shapps announced the changes to cruise policy on Twitter

The transport secretary also confirmed, via his Twitter feed that the latest easing of travel restrictions for US and EU nationals coming into the UK was aimed at bringing families and friends back together:

We’re helping reunite people living in the US and European countries with their family and friends in the UK From 2nd August at 4am people from these countries will be able to come to the England from an amber country without having to quarantine if they’re fully vaxxed. 

He added those changes apply to visitors who’ve had a complete dose of either the FDA or EMA vaccine. However, vaccinated travellers will still be required to follow the testing guidance for quarantine-free travel from Amber Listed countries.

Cruising returns

For many, the return of international cruising will herald the restart of holiday normality. But for industry professionals it means, a long-awaited, return to work life.

Including, for companies like Blue Bay, who started to open out their cruise offering this year with Caribbean fly, cruise and stay deals starting to appear on their promotions.


UK cruise offerings have paved the way for change

Since March last year the FCDO has been warning passengers against cruising. However, since May, cruise companies have been allowed to run trips confined to domestic waters. The success of those UK-wide events has proven to be the catalyst to international voyages returning.

Jacqueline Dobson, president of Barrhead Travel, said of the sector’s switch to the provision of UK tours:

The programme of domestic cruising in the UK this summer has been incredibly successful with the cruise lines, ports and associations working tirelessly to ensure they could provide a safe and welcoming onboard experience

The government have confirmed cruising travel advice would be amended from the previous don’t go message to one which chooses to encourage would-be passengers to “understand the risks associated with cruise travel and take personal responsibility for their own safety abroad.”

Following up on that statement, the Department for Transport also said it would be guided by the epidemiological evidence when it came to monitoring the ongoing situation on cruises.


Travel bosses are positive about the return of international cruises


 The inside track

Needless to say, word of the new allowance for international travel has boosted confidence within the industry and wider travel sector. Cruise line bosses have been quick to praise the move.

World Travel Holdings, owner of Cruise118, managing director Alison Earnshaw told Travel Weekly of her delight at the latest update:

It’s really good news. We have been waiting for this for some time. There was a lot of speculation and we’d heard that it would come at the end of July. This is a massive step forward for cruise.

However, a spokesperson from Abta called for caution ahead of the new freedoms and again took the chance to remind the government that more support is still needed throughout the wider travel sector.

The industry is not out of the woods and there is more that needs to be done to support travel businesses through to recovery

Travel association bosses have long campaigned for provisions such as an extension to the government’s furlough scheme and cheaper PCR testing to be made available among other requests.

It’s thought many cruise companies will be ready to set sail for sunnier climbs again from August to late September after relevant provisions have been made to restart journeys.