Holidaymakers 'desperate' to go on cruise despite vaccine rule

P&O cruise

P&O has banned unvaccinated holidaymakers on its cruises 'to nowhere' in the summer. - Credit: P&O

A Norfolk travel agent said "people were desperate to get on a cruise" despite P&O banning unvaccinated passengers.

Nicholas Lee, who runs Broadland Travel in North Walsham, said there was huge interest in the new three and five-night cruise trips around the UK which don't stop anywhere.

Many of the cruise lines have created these short sailing trips, priced from around £399 each leaving in July and August, such is the demand. But there was some surprise that P&O has followed Saga Cruises in insisting people boarding must have received their vaccinations.

Clarity is being sought by travel agents on whether this means all children will also be banned, because they're not eligible to receive a vaccine.

Nick Lee outside Broadland Travel in North Walsham. Pictures: David Bale

Nick Lee outside Broadland Travel in North Walsham. - Credit: Archant

Mr Lee said: "Effectively P&O are saying if you're 40 or under, you can't go on a cruise. Unlike Saga, their customers are mainly in their 40s but then the government is saying that the 40-plus age group will be vaccinated by August so that may be P&O's thinking.

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"There hasn't been a lot of clarity, I don't think we'll get this until next month."

The cruise lines have only stipulated vaccinations are needed on their summer trips and not when they restart their usual holidays from autumn. So the new rule won't affect bookings that have been postponed, said Mr Lee.

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P&O's president Paul Ludlow said the new rule applied on cruises until September and said: "All guests of all ages must be vaccinated." He said it was as a result of "guests telling us overwhelmingly so that this is what they want."

Only UK residents who have received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine at least seven days in advance will be permitted onboard.

Failure to provide proof of the jabs "will result in denial of boarding," the firm warned.

Saga Cruises had previously announced it required all guests to be vaccinated when it resumes operations in June.

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines is also operating UK cruises but has not yet insisted on passengers being vaccinated.

The new short cruises will depart from Southampton between June and September, sailing around the UK's coastline in search of good weather.

The itineraries do not include stops at any ports, apart from one which will visit Liverpool.

The government had advised people avoid all cruises since July 9, 2020. But maritime minister Robert Courts told MPs last week that domestic cruises could be permitted from May 17.

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