Tui UK has signalled its ocean cruise line Marella Cruises could operate some domestic ‘test’ routes later this year.

Tui UK managing director Andrew Flintham said the company was currently looking at a variety of options to operate UK sailings.

Marella Cruises has postponed the resumption of planned sailings on its four ships until June 30 due to the “ongoing uncertainty” around travel restrictions.

But Flintham confirmed the line would look to operate some domestic routes ahead of international cruise travel fully restarting.

Speaking at the Travel Weekly Future of Travel Spring Forum, he said: “You will see us operating either domestically or in a more limited way to start with while they prove the regulation that is needed.

“We will shaped by the opportunity. The team is looking at a multitude of scenarios; Dover has never looked so attractive!”

Already P&O Cruises has introduced UK sailings to replace cruses cancelled until the end of August and September. Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has also revealed plans for domestic sailings from July.

Meanwhile, Flintham said the first sailings of Tui River Cruises would still go ahead but could not give a firm date. Sailings have been pushed back until the end of June.

He said: “We’ve tried to launch river cruise three times now. We are still planning on launching that product and we have customers that are desperate to go.”

The new three-ship adult-only line was originally due to launch last summer but has been delayed in setting sail due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Flintham said the restarting of ocean and river cruise could be more challenging than other holidays and on “slightly different timelines” and that both were likely to given the go-ahead at a different time to the rest of international travel.

He added: “The [Global Travel] Taskforce is taking cruise as a specific element so I think we will start to get more clarity on April 12.”
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