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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Cruise holidays: latest Covid rules and advice for international cruising

P&O Cruises relaxed some rules after September 25 – customers are once again be allowed to book back-to-back cruises instead of having to leave at least a seven-day gap between sailings. Unvaccinated children under 18 will again be welcomed if they can supply a negative PCR test taken within the 72 hours before boarding. Adults aged 18 and above will still need to be fully vaccinated at least 14 days before sailing. 

Marella says guests must wear masks on board and only go ashore on official excursions during international cruises, but this may change.

CLIA guidance is that passengers should remain in a secure ‘bubble’ when leaving the ship on port visits. A spokesperson said: “While the policy will continue to be evaluated as circumstances evolve, it is a critical element of our risk mitigation during this transitional period, as all people onboard will have been tested and should stay in a controlled environment.”

What is the Foreign Office advice on cruises?

The blanket guidance against cruise that had been in place for over a year has been replaced with a series of warnings and advice. The Foreign Office advises holidaymakers to ensure they are fully covered on their travel insurance, to research the medical facilities on the ship they are booking, and to comply both with cruise line regulations and those of the countries they are visiting. 

Will it be easier to get travel insurance for my cruise?

In the last 18 months, anyone going on an overseas cruise has had to take out extra cover for travelling against Foreign Office advice. A spokesperson for the Association of British Insurers said: “When the government relaxes its travel advice, your travel policy will operate in the normal way.”

However, it is important to ensure your policy covers medical costs that could arise from Covid and that it meets the specific requirements of the cruise line you are using – otherwise you could be refused boarding or be landed with a very expensive bill for treatment.

What’s been the experience so far?

According to Andy Harmer, the UK and Ireland director of CLIA, more than 800,000 people have cruised around the world since last July with remarkably few Covid cases – and they were largely before vaccines were introduced. 

Domestic cruises by 12 major lines in England have operated since the summer without major incident. Since ships started leaving US ports again this year, there have been isolated cases of passengers testing positive while aboard but most of the voyages have continued as scheduled. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which monitors the industry, maintains a colour-coded list of ships that have reported cases. Globally, some cruises have been cancelled or curtailed following positive tests on board. 

What should I consider when booking an international cruise?

Aside from the Foreign Office advice, passengers should be prepared to be flexible. Port stops, rules and regulations may change, even during the voyage. A case, or cases, on board could delay disembarkation at the final port or otherwise affect the cruise. Mask wearing, social distancing and restrictions on shore excursions may vary from country to country, line to line and ship to ship. Overall, the advice is to get vaccinated, get insured and be prepared. Then you can enjoy the world’s seas again.

Reader Service: Did you know that some cruise operators require specific cruise travel insurance? Learn how to get the right travel cover for your trip.

Are you planning your next cruise? Let us know in the comments section below.
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