P&O Cruises’ summer of UK breaks will be coastal sailings for vaccinated Britons only, with Iona’s maiden voyage due on August 7

Iona: P&O Cruises’ ship named after the island will moor off shore (Picture: Dave Monk)

Cruises around the UK coast being offered by P&O Cruises this summer will be all sea days and for vaccinated Britons only, it has been announced.

Starting on June 27, Britannia will offer three and four-night breaks along the south coast until September 19. The only time it will call into a port will be at Liverpool during one six-night cruise.

Iona’s maiden voyage around the Scottish isles on August 7 – including mooring off its namesake island – will be the first in a series of week-long itineraries ending on September 18.

The cruises from Southampton will offer guests ‘the ultimate British break’, says P&O Cruises, with ‘gourmet dining and poolside bites; cocktails and coffees; shopping, spas, shows and endless sea views’. The course of the ship each day will be decided by ‘where the sun shines brightest’.

Home from home: The Glass House on Iona (Picture: P&O Cruises)

Guests will have to be UK residents and fully vaccinated against Covid-19 at least seven days before sailing. As the jabs are not being offered to children under 18, the cruises will be for adults only. The form of proof required for vaccination will be announced later.

Measures such as social distancing and wearing masks in certain parts of the ship will still be applied, says P&O Cruises. Crew ‘will also undergo a strict testing and quarantine regime as well as regular testing during their time on board’. They will also wear masks.

Prices for a balcony cabin will start at £449pp for a three-night break on Britannia, rising to £499pp for four nights and £599 for the six-night cruise.

Iona’s seven-night maiden voyage, including coastal cruising to the Inner Hebrides and Iona, starts at £1,199pp. Subsequent seven-night ‘voyages to the sun’, sailing past the Channel Islands and along the French coast, will cost from £779pp. Travel insurance will be mandatory for every passenger on all these cruises.

Seeking the sun: Britannia at sea (Picture: P&O Cruises)

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: ‘Whilst there is still uncertainty about holidays abroad this summer, we are delighted to be able to offer our guests the ultimate escape here in the UK with the reassurance that we will take care of everything. Also, we really will look at the weather forecast each cruise and aim to take our ships where it is warm and sunny.’

He said of Iona’s maiden voyage: ‘She will anchor off Iona, the island after which she was named, with a celebratory extended stay until sunset for magical views of the historic shores.’

On the subject of children not being able to go on the voyages, Mr Ludlow told me: ‘We absolutely love having children on board, We have amazing children’s clubs and this policy is just for these initial coastal cruises as we resume sailing this summer.

‘This is just the first phase but as we return to full service with our normal sailings in the future, once international restrictions lift, and once we get new guidance from the Government departments, for all future cruises we cannot wait to welcome back families.’

All other P&O Cruises holidays currently on sale do not require guests to be vaccinated.  

The British cruises will go on sale on Monday, March 22, at 8.30am.

See also:

MSC Cruises welcomes children and unvaccinated adults on round-Britain voyages

P&O Cruises announces round-Britain cruises this summer

Four-screen cinema and fun food on Iona

Iona will have its own gin distillery

Iona will retain formal nights

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