The Department for Transport has published fresh guidance confirming the framework for the gradual restart of domestic cruising.
The guidance confirms that no more than 1,000 passengers will be allowed to sail between May 17 and June 21, stating ships “will be able to operate with up to 1,000 people or 50% capacity, whichever is lower”.
It also outlines permitted settings for groups meeting on board.
Groups of more than six people, or two households, will not be allowed to mix indoors – even if they were in the same group that booked the cruise, the DfT said.
The capacity limit only applies to passengers on board and does not include crew.
From June 21, the government “hopes to remove all legal limits on social capacity”, meaning capacity limits on board would be lifted, the DfT confirmed. That is the same date Boris Johnson has said he hopes all Covid restrictions will be able to be dropped.
The DfT reiterated it was currently illegal to travel abroad and that the Foreign Office (FCDO) advised “against international sea-going cruise travel due to public health medical advice”.
MSC Virtuosa is in line to become the first ship to resume operations in UK waters when the MSC Cruises ship sails from Southampton on May 20.
Last month, the line’s UK boss Antonio Paradiso told a Travel Weekly webcast he hoped to operate at 80% capacity from June 21 after the initial limits were lifted.