Having advised against all cruise travel in early July, for which it received much condemnation, with many insisting the decision lacked clarity, the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) has since updated its advice, detailing that the ban applies to international travel onboard ‘sea-going’ cruise ships, but ‘does not include ferries or privately rented boats’.
“Cruise ship travel means staying overnight for at least one night on a sea-going cruise ship with people from multiple households,” the FCO said in a statement. “Our advice against cruises applies to international travel on a ship that is exclusively for pleasure or recreation, providing overnight accommodation and other leisure facilities such as entertainment venues or swimming pools.”
The FCO added: “The government will continue to review its cruise ship travel advice based on the latest medical advice.”
Following this clarification, GlobalData has criticised the FCO, insisting that the latest announcement will only increase uncertainty amongst British travellers and have a negative impact on restoring consumer confidence. Ben Cordwell, Travel and Tourism Analyst at GlobalData, said that the FCO’s latest announcement was a ‘U-turn’ on the statement released last week. “Although, it is of course positive news for river cruises and cruise lines operating solely within the UK, weak, unclear communication will do little to alleviate the concerns of travellers,” he said.
Citing GlobalData’s Coronavirus Recovery Survey, Cordwell noted that 78 per cent of Brits are extremely or quite concerned about the Covid-19 pandemic, and that a ‘large proportion’ of the public was predicted to keep following government advice post-Covid. “However, the FCO’s latest announcement contradicting what was said only a week ago will create confusion for travellers and could reduce the number of passengers cruise companies can attract.
“On a positive note,” he added, “it does at least mean river cruise companies within the UK can be up and running soon. This will help to alleviate some of the financial burden being put on river cruise companies, greatly improving their chances of long-term survival.”