Capacity on domestic cruises in June and much of July will remain capped following the government’s four-week delay in easing lockdown restrictions.
The prime minister announced on Monday that measures will remain in place until July 19 because of the rapid spread of the Delta variant.
The original roadmap for easing of restrictions had set out June 21 for restrictions to be eased, including all legal limits on social contact.
The Department for Transport updated its advice about the roadmap out of lockdown on Tuesday, saying: “It is expected that England will move to Step 4 on July 19, though the data will be reviewed after two weeks in case the risks have reduced.
“By Step 4, the government hopes to remove all legal limits on social contact. This includes lifting capacity limits for domestic cruises.”
Domestic cruises have been permitted in England since May 17, under Step 3 of the roadmap.
They can operate with up to 1,000 people or 50% capacity, whichever is lower. This capacity limit applies to passengers only.
Groups of more than six people or two households are not be allowed to mix indoors – whether or not they originally booked in the same group.
A spokesperson for cruise trade body Clia said: “As part of the government’s roadmap we have seen the restart of cruising in the UK with protocols that go beyond any other travel sector operating today.
“We continue to encourage the government to recognise the multi-layered approach being adopted by cruise lines during this restart phase and continue to seek clarity on a timetable for a full resumption of cruise holidays”
MSC Cruises began cruises around the UK with 1,000 passengers on Virtuosa (pictured) last month. Viking’s newest ocean ship, Viking Venus, started sailing its England’s Scenic Shores itinerary on May 22.
Several other operators are due to start domestic sailings this month or next, including Marella Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, P&O Cruises, Saga Cruises, Cunard, Princess Cruises and Disney Cruise Line.
Cruise lines have also been hit by Covid restrictions in Scotland, which have meant they cannot have passengers embarking or disembarking in Greenock, near Glasgow, as planned.