P&O Cruises plans to offer a series of short break and week-long UK sailings out of Southampton this summer.

The ‘ultimate escape’ programme, due to go on sale later this month, has been arranged “following recent government announcements”, the line said.

UK sailings will replace cruises on Arcadia, Aurora, Azura and Ventura which have been cancelled until the end of August and on Britannia and Iona until the end of September.

P&O Cruises last week put a pause on new bookings for sailings due to depart before June 21, the date when the government hopes to ease all social contact restrictions.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said he hoped the “staycation” sailings would have “wide appeal”, adding that the line was “in very close contact with the UK government and associated bodies”.

Ludlow also expressed his disappointment about having to cancel sailings across the fleet, but said “the new UK cruises will enable everyone to enjoy a wonderful holiday this summer”.

He said: “Following recent government announcements and as the vaccine programme is rolled out across the globe, we can all begin to feel a sense of reassurance and hope that this current lockdown period in the UK will come to an end.

“Life can, we hope, slowly return to some semblance of our previous normality as hospitality opens up and summer holidays can be booked with confidence.

“Whilst holidays here in the UK will be the first to become a reality we will, of course, gradually see the return of international travel but first we want guests to be able to enjoy a proper summer holiday at sea with the best in relaxation, entertainment and dining choice.”

He added: “We hope that the UK ‘ultimate escape’ staycation option will have wide appeal and we will do our utmost to make it a very special time.

“In order to offer these UK breaks it does mean that unfortunately we need to cancel some of our current published programme of holidays this summer.

“We remain in very close contact with the UK government and associated bodies as we monitor the latest situation and guidance on travel.

“From the moment we see travel restrictions lifting we will begin the significant logistical task to re-start our operations.”

All guests whose cruises have been cancelled will automatically receive a Future Cruise Credit worth 125% of what they paid.  This 125% Future Cruise Credit can be redeemed against any new booking made by the end of December 2021, on any cruise on sale at the time of booking.

Alternatively, 100% refund is available through the form on the line’s website  until December 2021.