Cruising is back. Sun-starved Brits almost broke the internet yesterday trying to book the raft of summer ‘seacations’ suddenly on offer a year after we went into lockdown.
But while P&O Cruises faced technical issues attempting to cope with the ‘unprecedented’ flood of demand for their staycation cruises, and Iglu Cruise saw a 300 per cent uplift in traffic and online bookings, many parents with young families were left disappointed.
While that’s ultra-reassuring while cases of Covid surge in Europe and further afield, it’s impossible for everyone in the UK to have had both shots before embarking on a long awaited cruise. Children and under 18s aren’t part of the vaccination roll out at the moment (unless they have a serious underlying health condition covered by one of the cohorts), and the vaccine supply is part of an ongoing political storm at worst and ‘lumpy’ at best – possibly affecting anyone under 50.
But there’s no reason to despair. Luckily there are some cruises on the horizon for all the family – where only the parents, not children, needs to be vaccinated and others where young adults (though no kids) are also welcome on board thanks to daily testing and/or enhanced health and safety protocols.
Before booking for a cruise abroad, it’s advisable to check the latest Government advice which is constantly changing.
Next week anyone travelling abroad ‘without a good reason’ faces a £5,000 fine. Restrictions will be backed by law to guard against new variants coming into the country. Hopefully, overseas holidays will be allowed after 17 May, and we’ll know more after 12 April when the Global Travel Taskforce meet.
Here’s our round-up of cruises you can enjoy near and far with your family. So the only question you have to ask yourself now is British Isles or Bahamas (BoJo permitting!)?
Only Over 18s need to be vaccinated
Families can choose between the Caribbean or a staycation this summer with an island-hopping cruise from St Maarten or a voyage around Britain with Celebrity Cruises.
Adults will need to be vaccinated before the seven-night cruises but under 18s can sail if they’ve had a negative PCR test within 72 hours before boarding.
There will be strict health protocols on board Celebrity Millennium in the Caribbean and revolutionised Celebrity Silhouette at home – and the crew will be vaccinated.
Departing from St Maarten from 5 June, a choice of family-friendly itineraries include Aruba, Curacao and Barbados, or Tortola, St Lucia and Barbados.
Setting sail from Southampton from Saturday, 3 July, the stunning new luxury Celebrity Silhouette will embark on a series of six- to eight-night itineraries around Britain’s coastline.
Guests will have the chance to explore the Jurassic Coastline from Portland, discover the bustling Scottish cities and stunning highlands from Inverness, Kirkwall and Glasgow, uncover the rich history of Belfast and immerse themselves in the cultural hub of Liverpool – home of the Beatles!
Jo Rzymowska, Vice President and Managing Director EMEA, said: ‘We are excited to offer guests the chance to reconnect at sea with family and friends and to make up for all those missed celebrations. I cannot thank our UK travel partners enough for their unwavering support throughout this unprecedented time. We can’t wait to welcome our mutual guests onboard Celebrity Silhouette.’
UK guests can enjoy a stylish staycation on Celebrity Silhouette following a multi-million pound makeover
It marks the measured beginning of the end of what has been a uniquely challenging time for everyone – Celebrity Cruises president and chief executive Lisa Lutoff-Perlo
In the Caribbean, there are tours available at each port of call as well as private excursions for families or travellers in a ‘bubble’ to enjoy.
‘That we’re able to offer people the opportunity to safely holiday onboard the revolutionised Celebrity Millennium, is incredible, and that we will sail from the magical island of St. Maarten is very special,’ said Celebrity Cruises president and chief executive, Lisa Lutoff-Perlo.
‘It marks the measured beginning of the end of what has been a uniquely challenging time for everyone.’
As well as meeting the cruise line’s requirement, guests must have a negative PCR test taken within 72-hours of arrival to St Maarten. Visit celebritycruises.com
Grab your bucket and spade for fun in the sun with all the family this summer on a cruise
Adrenalin fix ahoy! With the thrills and spills for all the family waiting on board Adventure of the Seas in the Caribbean – and a visit to the line’s own private island – this is one holiday that’s guaranteed to be fun in the sun.
Adults have to be fully vaccinated but under 18s with negative test results can make the most of Royal Caribbean’s summer line up of seven-night cruises setting sail in June from its new homeport in Nassau, The Bahamas.
Thrill seekers of all ages can ride The Perfect Storm twin racer slides, or catch a wave on the FlowRider surfer simulator on board.
Or they can simply soak up the sunshine as they island-hop, exploring Grand Bahama Island and Cozumel, Mexico as well as spending two days back to back on Perfect Day at CocoCay, Royal Caribbean’s private island.
The cruises, which start on 12 June, come after months of successful sailings with Quantum of the Seas in Singapore and the recent announcement of Odyssey of the Seas’ sailing from Haifa, Israel.
All crew on Adventure of the Seas and staff on the cruise line’s private island will be fully vaccinated.
‘We are excited to get back to delivering memorable vacations in the Caribbean, gradually and safely,’ said Michael Bayley, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean International. ‘The vaccines are clearly a game changer for all of us, and with the number of vaccinations and their impact growing rapidly, we believe starting with cruises for vaccinated adult guests and crew is the right choice. As we move forward, we expect this requirement and other measures will inevitably evolve over time.’
Along with the adventures on deck for all the family, fun in the sun awaits on Perfect Day at CocoCay with the tallest waterslide in North America, a helium balloon that floats up to 450ft in the air, floating cabanas and a sundowner on Chill Island’s beach.
The cruises go on sale on 24 March on RoyalCaribbean.com. Travellers must also have a negative Covid test no more than five days before arriving in the Bahamas, a test upon arrival and fil out the appropriate entry forms. More information can be found at The Bahamas website.
All Aboard – No vaccination required
A staycation at sea on board the Disney Magic will be, er, magical
Disney Cruise Line
Families will be able to get much closer to the magic this summer with Disney Cruise Line’s staycations at sea.
Children can hang out with Mickey and Minnie Mouse as well as Frozen’s Anna, Elsa and Olaf and the Marvel Super Heroes on board the Disney Magic’s short cruises from Tilbury, Newcastle, Liverpool and Southampton.
Guests will remain on board the ship throughout the round-trip two, three and four-night sailings giving them more time to enjoy the first-class entertainment, family pools, kids’ clubs, and themed restaurants.
There are adult-only retreats too with a secluded pool and spa for some much-needed RnR.Little ones will be able to get up close to their favourite Disney friends including socially distanced photos with Captain Mickey, a royal promenade with Disney Princesses (always a favourite) or seeing their Toy Story pals. There are also West-End quality shows in the Walt Disney Theatre.
‘Our teams are bringing tremendous ingenuity and fun to these new cruises, tailoring them with care to the times we are living in, yet filling them with everything you’d expect from Disney, from great service and entertainment to immersive dining experiences and magic for the whole family,’ said Thomas Mazloum, president of Disney Cruise Line.
Health and safety measures include COVID-19 testing, health screenings, face coverings, reduced guest capacity, physical distancing and enhanced cleaning.
Disney Magic at Sea Itinerary Details:
Liverpool: Select dates from 15 – 30 July 2021, for 2, 3 and one 4-night sailings.
Southampton: Select dates from 4 – 30 August 2021, for 2, 3 and limited 4-night sailings.
Newcastle: Select dates from 3 – 11 September 2021, for 2 and 3-night sailings.
London Tilbury: Select dates from 14 September – 1 October 2021, for 2 and 3-night sailings.
Disney Magic at Sea staycation sailings go on sale 30 April 2021at 9am on Disneycruise.co.uk.
Minnie Mouse is in the house – well on a summer staycation at sea at least!
Families of all ages and sizes will be able to sail around the British Isles with MSC for a summer no-vaccination staycation.
The cruise line – whose flagship MSC Grandiosa was the first to return to sea last August and has since safely carried more than 50,000 guests in the Mediterranean – will offer a series of short breaks for UK guests from 20 May followed by week-long cruises.
‘MSC Cruises is a family-owned company and our guests are an extension of that, so we are looking forward to welcoming them and their families back on board,’ Antonio Paradiso, Managing Director MSC Cruises UK & Ireland said.
‘Our hope is to offer every type of holidaymaker the chance to escape this summer – from grandparents to teens and even the smallest of passengers looking to explore.
“We will welcome both vaccinated and non-vaccinated guests. All guests will be tested prior to embarkation, while non-vaccinated guests will also be required to show proof of negative test done within 72 hours prior to embarkation.’
Children will have play areas on board while all the family will enjoy the round-the-clock entertainment and multiple dining options. Visit msccruises.co.uk
Kids can have fun safely this summer with MSC Cruises
Guests won’t need to be vaccinated for Viking’s limited edition eight-day ocean cruises around England as passengers and crew will be tested on board every day.
The cruise line has created the first onboard floating laboratory at sea to carry out the daily testing using non-invasive saliva PCR tests. There’s also new air purification technology on all Viking ships, along with additional health checks, sanitisation and social distancing on board.
Unvaccinated guests can explore England’s shores with Viking thanks to its daily tests on board
Available exclusively for UK residents, and perfect for a multi-gnerational holiday close to home, three England’s Scenic Shores cruises on board Viking’s newest ocean ship Viking Venus will be sailing from Portsmouth with departures on 22 May, 29 May and 5 June 2021.
The 930-guest Viking Venus will be named in the UK on May 17 – the earliest date possible that travel can resume. Only over 18s are allowed to sail with the line but that still means families with adult children can travel and different generations can finally get together for a holiday after a year of lockdowns.
‘We welcome the UK Government’s support for the return of safe domestic cruises as an important component in the travel industry’s recovery. In recognition of this support, and to celebrate the fact we have a British godmother—the esteemed broadcaster and journalist Anne Diamond —we have chosen to name our new ship, Viking Venus, in the UK on May 17,” said Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking.
‘We are in a position to restart operations quickly and to start sailing again in May because we have kept our ships crewed during warm lay-up throughout the past 12 months.’