Latest COVID fallout: Longer cruises from the UK are getting the axe

Mar 4, 2021

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Hoping to cruise out of the UK over the summer? Assuming cruising out of the country resumes by then, the itineraries that you’ll find available might be more limited than usual.

They also might only be available to UK residents.

In what could be a harbinger of things to come, Princess Cruises this week announced it was canceling all of its sailings out of the UK to such far-flung destinations as the Mediterranean, Norway, Scandinavia and Iceland through Sept. 25. 

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Instead, the 14-ship brand hopes to offer a series of new, shorter cruises out of the UK for the summer season that’ll revolve around close-to-home ports. Unlike the typical Princess itinerary out of the UK, the new sailings only will be open to UK residents.

Also canceling far-flung summer sailings out of the UK this week was British line P&O Cruises. The six-ship brand also said it would replace such sailings with shorter, close-to-home sailings that would stick to coastal UK waters.

Like Princess, P&O Cruises said the new itineraries would be open to UK residents only. It’s calling them “staycation” cruises.

The Regal Princess had been scheduled to sail voyages to the Canary Islands and other far-flung destinations out of the UK this summer. (Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises)

The last-minute itinerary changes for the summer come amidst an ongoing COVID-related lockdown in the UK and restrictions on travel to the UK by those coming from abroad.

Neither line offered details of the itineraries they planned for the new close-to-home sailings but promised to release them shortly.

“These sailings will leave from our home port in Southampton and sail around UK coastal waters enjoying the summer sunshine,” P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said in a statement accompanying the line’s announcement. “More details of dates, prices and the experience on board will be announced later this month, but they will, of course, all have flexibility so guests can book with confidence.”

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In addition to canceling far-flung voyages out of the UK for the summer, P&O Cruises this week also canceled all sailings in other parts of the world for the summer. Should cruising resume by the summer, P&O Cruises’ plan is to entirely focus on close-to-home sailings out of the UK.

The changes that P&O Cruises announced this week affect the schedules of all six of its vessels. Itineraries on the line’s Arcadia, Aurora, Azura and Ventura have been canceled through the end of August. Itineraries on Britannia and Iona have been canceled through the end of September.

The changes at Princess affect three of the line’s 14 vessels: Regal Princess, Sky Princess and Island Princess. All three of the ships had been scheduled to sail out of Southampton over the summer. Only Regal Princess and Sky Princess will operate the new, shorter summer cruises out of Southampton that Princess plans, the line said. Princess didn’t say what its plans were for Island Princess.

The Princess sailings out of the UK that were canceled this week included 12-night voyages to the Canary Islands and 12-night sailings to the Baltics.

Related: Cruise lines are canceling more Alaska sailings 

“We share in our guests’ disappointment over these cancelled voyages, and we appreciate the continued understanding and cooperation from our loyal guests and travel advisors,” Princess president Jan Swartz said in a statement accompanying the line’s announcement. “As we prepare our ships for a return to service, we remain in close contact with the UK Government to monitor the latest travel guidance for international guests.”

Lines that still have far-flung sailings from the UK on their schedules for the summer include Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises and MSC Cruises.

Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas is currently scheduled to sail a mix of seven- to 14-night voyages out of Southampton to such destinations as the Norwegian fjords and the Mediterranean.

Celebrity’s Celebrity Silhouette also is scheduled to sail a mix of seven- to 14-night voyages out of Southampton to such destinations as the Baltics, the Norwegian fjords, and Iceland and Greenland.

MSC Cruises’ MSC Magnifica is scheduled to sail mostly seven-night trips to the Norwegian fjords as well as some longer sailings to the Baltics.

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Featured image of courtesy of Princess Cruises

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