FCO says no to cruises

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

In just ten lines, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office issued a travel advisory yesterday about travelling on cruise ships.

Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas

Its advice is not to travel on them and it makes no distinction between river cruising and ocean cruising so presumably this means both types. A few days later it clarified this and the advice only relates to ocean cruising so river cruising can continue.

The Daily Mail headline was “They’ve sunk our cruises,” whilst the Telegraph calls it a “huge blow” for the industry.

In fact it is neither. It came on the same day that a new luxury cruise company – Panache Cruises – was set up in Bolton with the CEO saying he was opening because the future of cruising in two, three years and further out was bright.

The cruise industry itself has announced a moratorium on cruises as Just about Travel wrote on the last day of June.

CLIA – the “trade union” body for cruise companies has suspended all cruises out of the USA until mid-September. Canada has banned cruise ships docking at its ports and most cruise companies are doing nothing until mid to late September at the earliest. There are a few short cruises in the Far East but cruise ships are banned from calling in Australia until September 17th and New Zealand hs done the same until at least the end of August and possibly the end of September.

That leaves Europe. But with individual companies following CLIA’s lead only those that are not members offer cruises.

River cruising began about a month ago in Germany and about three weeks ago in France and Portugal.

Could that be why the FCO has chosen this time to announce its advice? That advice means that most travel insurance policies are negated so if anything happens to a passenger the passenger has to bear all the costs. That is usually sufficient to put people off travelling.

But the FCO advice hasn’t specified an end date and the government hasn’t announced anything either, Unlike the quarantine provision announcement which gave a date for reassessment there was nothing this time.

I suspect that the advice will stay in place all summer and may be relaxed in September when the major cruise lines start up again. But, for now, no-one knows what will happen over the next two months. A second wave or an increase in numbers or even antipathy by locals to cruise ships docking may change dates.

The advice must be to wait and see what happens before deciding on when you want to start travelling on a cruise ship again.

And if you see a fantastic deal and are persuaded to book, make sure you can get your money back or move the cruise forward so that you don’t lose out.

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