Reports that domestic cruises could begin in the new year, followed by a phased restart
The cruise industry could be given the green light to restart as early as January, under plans being discussed by ministers.
The Foreign Office issued blanket advice against all cruise ship travel back in July.
According to The Daily Mail, ministers initially discussed industry claims that ships could quickly be made safe. However, following work on improved medical procedures, discussions about a phased restart for the industry are now said to be at an advanced stage.
The phased restart could mean cruise lines start operating domestic cruises around the UK from January. If these trials are successful, a wider lifting of the ban will be introduced over the following months. However, reports said that operators would be responsible for repatriating guests in the event of an outbreak on board.
A Whitehall source was quoted as saying: “We are working on a framework to allow the industry to reopen safely early in the new year.
“That will allow cruises to restart and enable bookings to take place to start bringing money into the industry again.
“We need to be sure that ships have the right infection control measures in place, the right testing regime and the right facilities to allow them to contain an outbreak.
“In terms of foreign cruises we will need an acceptance that operators have to take responsibility for repatriating their passengers.”
The line looks towards its Shine Rewards Club, social media and webinars as it launches its 2022 programme
P&O Cruises has changed the way it works with the trade in the wake of Covid-19.
During a trade media session earlier this month, Alex Delamere-White, vice president sales & marketing, said that the new lockdown measures currently in force in England were an “unneeded distraction to agents who are doing a remarkable job under almost impossible circumstances”.
The cruise line has decreased its on-the-road sales team, but increased the number of people working on the Shine Rewards Club, social media, webinars and trade communications. The account management team has remained largely unchanged. Delamere-White added that “none of that should be a reflection of the importance of the trade”.
He explained that the way the company engaged with the trade was changing and that there would be more ‘one-to-many’ forms of communication, such as online training sessions. The company’s Summer 2022 webinar currently has 500 sign-ups, five times the usual number.
However, he added that the new 2022 programme could not be “more perfectly timed”, with agents given the chance to earn double Shine points from November 9 until November 22. All summer 2022 holidays on sale from Wednesday, November 11.
The campaign messaging would give agents “something to support and get behind, given everything they’ve been through and continue to go through as a result of Covid”.
Delamere-White confirmed that the 2022 programme had been brought forward as a result of demand P&O was seeing in the market and to give those customers holding future cruise credits a chance to book.