Cruise lines are reviewing their sailings which include Scottish ports of call after authorities in the country banned passengers from embarking or disembarking.
P&O Cruises, Cunard, Saga Cruises and yet-to-launch line Tradewind Voyages said they would assess the situation and make a decision about the itineraries over the coming days.
MSC Cruises was forced to cancel MSC Virtuosa’s planned port of call Greenock on Wednesday (June 9) and said it was now “awaiting further clarification” from Scottish authorities.
The Scottish government confirmed that the decision to continue imposing restrictions on cruise vessels had been taken due to “the unknowns around the new Delta variant” among other risk factors.
British Isles cruises can call into Scottish ports of call once Scotland reached the lowest Covid restriction level, a government spokesperson added.
P&O Cruises’ Britannia vessel is set to call into Greenock in September. A P&O Cruises spokesperson said: “We only have one cruise which includes a call to Greenock so we are responding individually.
“We will monitor guidance and amend the itinerary if necessary and advise guests booked.”
Cunard also confirmed it would “monitor guidance” ahead of Queen Elizabeth’s Scottish calls later this summer.
Tradewind Voyages’ inaugural voyage is scheduled to call at Leith at the beginning of next month.
“We’re going to be reviewing this situation at a board meeting on Tuesday [June 15] and we’re going to follow the government guidance,” said a spokesperson for the line. “We know that customers want to go on these voyages.”
Saga posted on Twitter: “In the light of yesterday’s statement from the Scottish government, we are currently reviewing the itineraries for our first two Scottish Isles cruises on Spirit of Discovery (pictured).
“We will update our guests booked on these cruises by the end of this week.”
In the light of yesterday’s statement from the Scottish government, we are currently reviewing the itineraries for our first two Scottish Isles cruises on Spirit of Discovery. We will update our guests booked on these cruises by the end of this week.
— Saga Trade (@SagaTradeTeam) June 9, 2021
Royal Caribbean International’s Anthem of the Seas ship is scheduled to call at Kirkwall in July. The line told Travel Weekly it would continue to work closely with Clia and local governments to ensure a safe resumption of sailing across the UK and Ireland this summer.
In a statement, Clia called the government’s decision “very unfortunate” and asked for the opportunity to discuss “cruise industry protocols” with ministers.
It added: “Domestic cruises have safely and successfully restarted in England and across Europe, and the multi-layered measures now in place are there to protect the wellbeing of the destinations we visit, as well as passengers and crew.
“We continue to seek further clarity from the Scottish Government and would welcome the opportunity to discuss the cruise industry protocols with ministers.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “We fully understand the impact of the current restrictions on domestic cruises.
“We explained our concerns about the transmission risks posed by cruise vessels in an update to industry on May 24 and confirmed that we would clarify the position in June.
“Following extensive engagement with stakeholders, we have now confirmed that domestic cruises can restart when all of Scotland reaches level one and we have made industry, including the operator [MSC], aware of this.
“This decision has been informed by the combination of risks that exists between both cruises and the wider travel context, including the current trajectory of Covid infections and the unknowns around the new Delta variant, in addition to the potential for high risk of uncontained rapid transmission on the cruise.
“Affected passengers should contact the operator for further information regarding their trip.”