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In an update to its general travel advice, the UK’s Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised “against cruise travel at this time”. The reason given is the ongoing pandemic. The full text of the advice is:-

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises against cruise ship travel at this time. This is due to the ongoing pandemic and is based on medical advice from Public Health England.

The government will continue to review its cruise ship travel advice based on the latest medical advice.

If you have future cruise travel plans, you should speak to your travel operator, or the travel company you booked with, for further advice.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office continues to support the Department for Transport’s work with industry for the resumption of international cruise travel.

As can be seen there is no timetable given as to when the advice might be changed, so the best we can say is that cruising is advised-against for the foreseeable future. This is obviously disappointing and frustrating for many people who were perhaps hoping that with the recent steady lifting of the anti-Covid-19 measures, cruising would also be able to resume soon.

Indeed, it’s ironic that this coincides with a separate announcement that international travel to certain (stated) countries is exempted from the FCO’s overall advice against “all but essential international travel”. The list of exempted countries includes all of the major Mediterranean countries e.g. Spain, France, Italy, Croatia, Greece, and Turkey, plus most of the countries of northern Europe, e.g. The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and Denmark. Between them, these countries make up the majority of summer cruise destinations. Clearly the government feels that it is cruising itself that present a heightened risk and not the destinations.

As I say, we just don’t know for how long this advice will be in force – possibly until the end of the year. One further complicating factor is that the EU has issued advice and guidance on how to cruise safely at the present time – restrictions and actions that the cruise lines must implement. It may be that the UK government is waiting until it has heard from the EU that agreement has been reached with the cruise lines on the measures that will be introduced. I’ll do a post on this in a day or so.

In the meantime, here’s a link to the webpage holding the travel advice from the FCO during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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