P&O to restart UK cruises this summer for vaccinated passengers only

17 March 2021, 09:49 | Updated: 17 March 2021, 10:03

P&O Cruises will require passengers to be vaccinated this summer
P&O Cruises will require passengers to be vaccinated this summer. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

P&O Cruises has banned holidaymakers who have not been vaccinated from its staycation cruises this summer.

UK residents will have to prove they have received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine in order to board, the UK's largest cruise line said.

They must have received their second dose at least a week before departure.

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Failure to provide proof of the jabs "will result in denial of boarding", the firm warned.

This is a "strong expressed preference on the part of our guests", it added.

Other measures introduced due to the pandemic include requiring passengers to wear masks in certain areas of the ship, and making travel insurance mandatory.

There will also be enhanced cleaning regimes and social distancing, while buffet food will be served by staff.

Cruise holidays are traditionally popular with older people, who have been prioritised in the UK's vaccination programme.

Carnival and Saga cruises have already announced they will require all guests to be vaccinated when they resume operations.

P&O Cruises will operate a series of UK breaks on Britannia and new ship Iona.

Cruises will depart from Southampton between June and September, sailing around the UK's coastline in search of "warm and sunny" weather.

The itineraries do not include stops at any ports, apart from one Britannia trip which will visit Liverpool.

For her maiden voyage, Iona will briefly anchor off the small Scottish island after which she was named.

Since July 9, 2020, the Government has advised people to avoid all cruises due to the virus.

But maritime minister Robert Courts told MPs last week that domestic cruises could be permitted from May 17.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: "Given recent announcements we have every hope that our guests will be able to enjoy a holiday this summer.

"After the stresses and challenges of the past year everyone certainly deserves a treat and this series of cruises will provide memorable and much-needed UK getaways."

The Government's Global Travel Taskforce will provide a report to Prime Minister Boris Johnson on April 12 setting out recommendations for how and when foreign holidays could resume.

They could be permitted for people in England from May 17 under the Prime Minister's road map for easing restrictions.

Turkey announced on Monday that it expects to welcome UK holidaymakers this summer without requiring proof of a coronavirus vaccine or negative test.

Greece will require international tourists to have been vaccinated, had a recent negative Covid-19 test or have coronavirus antibodies, while visitors to Cyprus must have had both doses of a vaccine.