Staycation at sea: Vaccinated passengers to enjoy summer ‘cruises to nowhere’

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'Staycation cruises' are on offer for vaccinated UK residents this summer. Photo: PA Images.
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Additional reporting by Reuters

Vaccinated holidaymakers across the globe are set to enjoy “cruises to nowhere” this summer, as those protected against Covid-19 are invited by cruise operators to staycation at sea.

British cruise line P&O Cruises announced in March that it will offer the “staycation cruises” to UK residents who have been vaccinated.

Holidaymakers can book up to seven nights at sea departing from Southampton in the south of England, and embark on a route navigating the UK coast with no ports of call.

On-board activities will include gourmet dining, cocktail bars, boutique shops, cinemas, spas, gyms, live music and theatre shows.

Proof of vaccination will be required before boarding the ship, and those on board will be required to follow enhanced health measures such as wearing face masks in certain public areas of the ship.

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While vaccination will not be mandatory for crew members, they will undergo a strict testing and quarantine regime as well as regular testing once on board.

Mandatory vaccinations

All other P&O Cruises holidays do not currently require guests to be vaccinated, with its owner — the world's largest cruise operator Carnival Corp — saying on Tuesday that it is not currently taking a position on mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for passengers.

Carnival's statement came just a day after rival Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd said it would mandate travellers be vaccinated under a proposed plan to restart trips from US ports from July 4th.

"We believe that through a combination of 100 per cent mandatory vaccinations ... we can create a safe, 'bubble-like' environment for guests and crew," Norwegian Cruise chief executive Frank Del Rio said on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Royal Caribbean Group has also said it would restart cruises from the Caribbean later this year with fully vaccinated passengers and crew members.

The cruise operator has also extended the run of its “cruises to nowhere” departing from Singapore — which do not currently require guests to be vaccinated — after “overwhelming demand” for its voyages among residents with few options for travel outside of their small island city-state.

Trips on the company's Quantum of the Seas ship, outfitted with attractions like surf and skydiving simulators, will continue sailing from Singapore through October 2021.

Cruising capital

Singapore currently accounts for a third of the world’s cruises, its tourism body said on Wednesday, owing to the roaring success of its “cruises to nowhere” at a time of crisis in the industry globally.

The city-state launched what it called “round trips” on luxury liners in November, which have no port of call and last only a few days. Singapore has seen relatively few domestic Covid-19 cases since last year.

The Singapore cruises are open only to its 5.7 million residents, who have been unable to leave the tiny country for leisure and have settled instead for activities like staycations and even indoor camping.

The cruises recorded about 120,000 passengers, according to the Singapore Tourism Board, and run at lower capacity, with stringent health protocols.

Cruises have yet to restart in many parts of the world after taking a beating from the coronavirus pandemic, with some of the earliest big outbreaks found on cruise ships.

Some cruises have operated in parts of Europe, Asia and the South Pacific, according to the Cruise Lines International Association.

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