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More cruise lines respond to UK capacity restrictions

Royal Caribbean International is the latest line to reduce capacity on a UK-based ship as it tries to bring numbers onboard in line with government restrictions.

Cruise lines had hoped to operate at full capacity after June 21 – dubbed Freedom Day – when the final Covid-19 measures were scheduled to be lifted.

But this week the government announced rules capping numbers at 1,000 passengers or 50% of the ship’s capacity could be in place for a further four weeks until July 19.

Royal said “some guests” on Anthem of the Seas’ first two sailings have been moved to voyages later in the summer season to meet “current recommendations of the government”.

A Royal spokesperson said: “Royal Caribbean International has been working collaboratively with the government to prepare for the start of the UK domestic cruise season.

“Our guest capacity and protocols onboard are all in line with the current recommendations of the government and will remain so until the government advice changes.

“In line with the most recent government announcement, we unfortunately had to move some guests on our first sailings to a future sailing later in the season.

“We are excited to sail and can’t wait welcome our firsts guests onboard.”

The news comes after P&O Cruises, MSC Cruises and Fred Olsen Cruise Lines also contacted affected passengers on early summer sailings following Monday’s announcement.

P&O Cruises said it was “sorry” that “a number of guests” had had to change their holiday plans. Clare Ward, director of product and customer service at Fred Olsen, said that the line had only moved passengers on one sailing this summer.

She said: “We had already planned to sail with a reduced capacity on our initial Welcome Back sailings, which meant only a small number of bookings were affected, and only on one sailing.

“We contacted all guests on the affected cruise, giving them the opportunity to move to one of our other, longer, British Isles sailings. This offer was well received, and as such we do not need to make any further changes in light of the extension to restrictions.”

MSC Cruises also confirmed “a number” of UK passengers who booked a cruise on MSC Virtuosa after June 21 would “need to be assisted to rebook on a sailing departing after the restriction is removed”.

The first 1,000 passengers to book would keep their cabins on the sailing, the line added.

MSC also said affected passengers would be offered “a variety of rebooking options” including refunds.

Start-up line Tradewind Voyages has been forced to cancel its ‘dress rehearsal’ sailing on Golden Horizon on June 22. Tradewind said the move was in response to the prime minister’s update on Monday.

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