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Fewer than 50 Covid cases from 400,000 cruise passengers

Fewer than 50 cases of Covid have been reported from more than 400,000 passengers who have taken a cruise since last summer, according to Clia.

Speaking ahead of next week’s resumption of cruising in domestic waters around Britain, UK and Ireland director Andy Harmer claimed the low rate demonstrated new health and safety protocols adopted by the cruise industry were proving highly effective.

“They have been working very well,” he said. “We saw cruising resume in parts of Europe, in the Mediterranean and in Asia, and we reckon just under 400,000 people will have taken a cruise.

“Based on publicly-available information, less than 50 cases [of Covid] have been reported for those 400,000 guests. So clearly the protocols are working.

“We’ve seen them in action since July, we continue to build on them and reflect on them and share the best practice from them. Clearly that multi-layered approach is benefiting the cruise operation.”

Asked if the protocols would evolve and restrictions reduce over time, particularly as the vaccination rollout progresses around the world, Harmer pointed to the global nature of the industry with guests and crew from across the world.

“We [the UK] have been one of the fastest to rollout vaccinations, so we need time for vaccines to become more generally available, but also for the global industry to reflect that,” he said.

Clia chairman Tony Roberts, vice president for Princess Cruises in the UK & Europe, added that each cruise line was developing detailed processes and protocols in line with the guidelines, but to suit their particular customers, which is why requirements to sail vary slightly between lines.

“We’ve talked about taking a multi-layered approach rather than relying on one measure, such as making sure that everybody is vaccinated. It goes much further than that.

“Each of the lines takes a view on what their guests are asking for. The vaccination policy that we at Princess have put in place has been driven by guest feedback, which was primarily to say, ‘this is what we would like when we go on holiday’.

“Each of the lines is, of course, entitled to make their own decisions within the [government restart] framework.”

Asked if some of the requirements to sail might change over the course of the summer, Roberts said: “We’ve talked about how much has already changed between October and March, in terms of when we put the framework in place and when we worked with government and got to the point where we were talking about resuming sailing from May 17.

“The situation here is continuing to evolve all of the time. So it’s really difficult to predict exactly where we’re going to be in in two months, three months, six months’ time.

“But one thing that is for sure is that we will be acting on the latest information and the latest science and following the results and guidance we get from government. That will be what really guides us as to how these policies evolve over the coming months.

“All of the cruise lines are watching very carefully as new guidance comes out; as the UK government revises its own policies and approaches, and then adapt to fit that. I think that will continue over the next six to 12 months.”

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