The British will be allowed to enjoy international river cruises this summer after the Foreign Office (FCO) has confirmed that they are not on a list of activities banned due to the coronavirus.
The guidelines previously stated that the FCO “discourages cruise ship travel at this time”, but a lack of clarity left many wondering what exactly it meant and what type of cruise, if any, was allowed.
However, the advice has now been updated, with the new rules defining cruise ship travel as “staying overnight for at least one night on a cruise ship at sea with persons from more than one household”.
River cruises, like this one in Russia last month, receive the green light from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
River trips, like Moscow’s last month, are generally considered to have a lower risk of infection than those on the ocean
How cruises will change after Covid: end of the traditional buffet, reduced shore visits and temperature controls
By Rita Sobot and Tom Pyman for the Daily Mail
Major cruise lines are moving away from self-serve buffets while onboard entertainment may also be cut as part of a series of travel changes following the coronavirus crisis.
In some cases, customers and crew must also be tested for the virus, or at least go through infrared controls so that their temperature can be read to reduce the risk of spreading infection.
Other measures include limiting the number of passengers and staggering boarding and disembarking to ensure that there are fewer people in terminals and gateways.
On ships, hand sanitizers will be placed everywhere, germ-killing air filters will be installed and occupancy of elevators will be limited.
At least one cruise liner has had to cut back on hospitality by cutting plans for traditional hospitality with a free buffet, while others say only staff will be allowed to serve food, never the passenger.
Major sites such as Spain still have a ban on all cruise ships entering its ports, the government saying it will continue until “the end of the coronavirus crisis”, with no firm date yet specified.
This means that vacationers are now given the green light to get to the water on river trips, which are generally considered to pose a lower risk of infection than those in the ocean.
This is due to the fact that sailing is limited to one or two countries, the routes tend to be shorter and fewer passengers on board, which makes it easier to manage the new health and safety protocols.
The guidelines apply only to “international voyages on a ship”, which means that cruises to Britain also appear to be exempt from a ban, which is a huge boost for domestic affairs.
Andy Harmer, UK and Irish director of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest cruise industry organization, told the Telegraph: “This latest change to the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s advice regarding Cruise ship trips give a very welcome boost.
“We are witnessing a gradual and progressive approach to the resumption of cruise operations across Europe, initially national and regional.
“The CLIA is continuing its constructive dialogue with the Department of Transport and Public Health in England to finalize the roadmap for the resumption of international cruise travel. “
A government spokesperson has insisted that boards be kept under review based on the latest evidence and that it is working with industry to restart operations that are safe for passengers and the crew.
However, the updated advice means that a ban remains in place for ocean cruises, with up to 40,000 workers facing job loss amid advice telling tourists to avoid vacations at sea.
However, Minister Caroline Dinenage has suggested that companies could receive the green light to accommodate passengers on board in October, saying that the government wanted to be “a little safer” that the ships would not be plunged back into the homes of coronavirus.
The ban has exasperated hard-hit businesses that burned millions of people during the pandemic and are desperate to resume operations.
An industry source said last week, “At first glance, we are cooperative, but most of us are angry. “