Iona. Image: P&O Cruises
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Which cruise lines will be restarting UK cruising from May 17th?

On 8th March, the UK government announced that the cruise industry would be included as part of the resumption of domestic tourism and indoor hospitality, as early as 17th May 2021. This has led to a flurry of announcements from some of the world’s leading cruise lines, signalling the restart of this once booming industry. The UK is not the only country to restart cruising, with the likes of Australia and the USA following a similar system for domestic passengers. Here is the lowdown on some of the major cruise lines sailing out of the UK this summer.


Cunard will be launching short cruises on Queen Elizabeth for domestic guests departing from Southampton. Sailings on board Queen Victoria remain cancelled until the end of August, and Queen Mary 2 remains cancelled until November 2021. There is little information on the short cruises at this time.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines will offer UK cruises from July. Guests can choose from one of eleven departures on board Borealis or Bolette, departing from Liverpool or Dover. The itineraries will take in UK highlights such as the Shetland and Orkney Islands and the Isles of Scilly.

MSC Cruises

MSC Cruises will welcome domestic guests on board for UK cruises departing from Southampton from 20th May, with no vaccination requirement. This means that families will be welcome to travel. Guests will have to show evidence of either vaccinations or negative COVID-19 tests (carried out 72-hours prior to embarkation). Cruises will take in a number of ports around Britain. Crew will receive weekly testing on board.

P&O Cruises

P&O Cruises has announced that it will welcome vaccinated guests on board Iona and Britannia from 27th June. The decision to only offer cruises to vaccinated guests has proved controversial in many online forums, particularly for families and young cruisers. The ‘Cruises to Nowhere’ itineraries will range from three to seven night breaks and will include Iona’s maiden voyage.

Princess Cruises

Princess Cruises will offer ‘Summer Seacations’ on Regal Princess and Sky Princess, departing from Southampton from 31st July. Ports of call include Liverpool, Belfast and Greenock, with itineraries ranging from three to seven nights. Both ships are MedallionClass, meaning guests have the added benefit of the latest technology, such as wearable devices, fast internet and wireless access points in each cabin.

Royal Caribbean

At the moment there is no word as to whether Royal Caribbean will start UK sailings. They have announced that they will be doing short cruises out of the Bahamas from June.

Saga Ocean Cruises

Saga has announced that it will recommence cruising from 27th June (Spirit of Discovery), with Spirit of Adventure’s inaugural cruise taking place on 26th July. They have told guests that they must be vaccinated at least fourteen days before embarkation.


Viking will be restarting cruising on 22nd May from Portsmouth on its new ship Viking Venus. The ship will also be christened in the UK. The operator will be allowing UK only guests on board. Although they won’t have to be vaccinated, they will have to have had a negative PCR test and they will have to undertake daily testing on board. All other Viking cruises will remain cancelled until the end of May.

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