It says that now is not the time for the resumption of cruise, but suggests a framework for a phased restart
The UK government has published its full Global Travel Taskforce report, which explores the return of cruise.
The report says that since there has been a significant rise in Covid-19 cases both in the UK and abroad, now is not the right time for the resumption of cruise.
However, the report reveals that it has been proposed by Public Health England that it may be appropriate to resume cruises when the national alert level is at level 3 and when a move to level 2 is being considered by the Chief Medical Officer.
The report says: “It is critical that we proceed cautiously and are mindful of the public health risks as we consider when it is safe to restart cruises, and whether it is safe to move between stages.
“The protection of public health must come first, while enabling economic recovery and the growth of the sector. We need to ensure that there are clear public health measures so that we can increase demand for cruises safely.
“However, it is also vital that we provide clarity on the conditions for cruise restart to enable the sector to undertake effective financial forecasting for their businesses (and ensure financial viability); communicate with clarity to their crew, supporting travel supply chain and customers; secure future bookings for 2021 and beyond; and plan for operational restart.”
The report recommends publishing the criteria for when cruises can restart and agreeing to implement a phased approach to restart when the public health advice is that it is safe to do so.
It also notes that FCDO travel advice on cruises is kept under continuous review and that transition between each phase would be subject to agreement by the Department for Transport, the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA), Public Health England, the Foreign Office and other bodies. See more here.
Meanwhile, a number of cruise lines have extended their suspensions after a public health institute in the US advised against cruising. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that all people avoid travel on cruise ships, including river cruises, worldwide. It said this was because the “risk of Covid-19 on cruise ships is very high”.
Holland America Line has announced that it is extending its pause of cruise operations for all departures up until March 31, 2021, bringing it in line with its Carnival sister brand, Princess Cruises, which has also cancelled all cruises until the same date. P&O Cruises has extended its pause in operations until April 2021.
The line’s president Paul Ludlow said: “With hopeful news headlines clearly we do not want to extend our pause in operations any further than absolutely necessary, but given the ever-changing guidance around international travel and the varying regulations in many European ports of call we felt it prudent to cancel these additional dates.”
SeaDream Yacht Club has cancelled the rest of its 2020 season after a Caribbean cruise on SeaDream 1 was cut short when a number of guests tested positive for Covid-19. The vessel returned to Barbados with passengers and non-essential crew quarantined in their cabins, in what the line described as “an abundance of caution”, but later confirmed that seven guests and two crew members tested positive for Covid-19 by Barbados health authorities.
Lloyd’s Register has awarded the line their highest category of health assurance, ahead of their planned return in the spring
Saga has become the first cruise line to be awarded with a health accreditation by Lloyd’s Register, the maritime safety experts, for Covid-19 health assurance.
The company said that the move was a crucial step ahead of the planned return of sailings in Spring next year. Lloyd’s Register has awarded Saga the Shield+ accreditation, the highest category of health assurance they have.
The framework is designed to give customers greater confidence in how operators can handle infectious diseases, such as Covid-19 and norovirus.
The accreditation means that Saga has met every category set by the UK Chamber of Shipping in its Covid Secure Cruising guidance.
Nick Stace, Saga’s CEO of travel, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the highest health and safety accreditation from Lloyd’s Register for our two ships – the newest on the seas. We have been working with the government, all the relevant authorities and our peers in the cruise industry to put in place all the measures needed to ensure a safe return to cruising. At Saga we believe that our ships offer one of the safest places in the world to see the world.
“This important step removes one of the last barriers to a safe return for cruising. We know there is considerable pent up demand from our customers for cruising. In our most recent round of cancellations, more than 80 per cent of guests immediately rolled their booking over to a new cruise and our guests tell us they are ready to sail. Being the first cruise operator to achieve Lloyd’s Register’s Shield+ accreditation is testament to the work done by all our Saga colleagues and brings us one step closer to welcoming our guests back onboard our ships in the safest capacity possible.”
Joep Bollerman, Lloyd’s Register’s Global Passenger Ship Manager, said: “We are delighted to award our first ever Shield+ certification to Saga. Our new standards are based on medical science from the global health industry, including guidance from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in line with the Cruise Lines International Association (Clia).
“Shield+ provides a detailed survey and inspection regime of the key areas where health risks are elevated, which helps operators like Saga maintain the highest health standards at sea.”