MSC Cruises has shaken up the market in round-Britain cruises this summer by announcing it will welcome children and unvaccinated adults on its short-break and week-long voyages for UK residents starting on May 20.
The cruises, setting off from the new terminal in Southampton, ‘will visit some of the UK’s favourite destinations’ and offer other ports of embarkation on the longer itineraries.
Antonio Paradiso, Managing Director of MSC Cruises UK & Ireland, said: ‘We will welcome both vaccinated and non-vaccinated guests. Our hope is to offer every type of holidaymaker the chance to escape – from grandparents to teens and even the smallest of passengers.’
All guests will be tested on embarkation, while non-vaccinated passengers will also be required to show proof of a negative test done within 72 hours before sailing. Crew will be initially quarantined for 14 days and tested each week.
P&O Cruises has decided that only vaccinated guests – and therefore no children – will be allowed on its round-Britain voyages starting on June 27. With the announcement today, MSC Cruises will be first at sea in the UK – Viking will be next on May 22 and Fred Olsen doesn’t start until July 5.
MSC Magnifica is due to be based in the UK this year. An MSC Cruises spokesperson said: ‘Today our plans for MSC Magnifica to operate from Southampton this season still stand. However, depending on the restart in other regions and their timing, we might be able to bring a larger ship to the UK but we will communicate this promptly if a change does materialise.’
Mr Paradiso said that since MSC Grandiosa restarted sailing in the Med last August, it had safely carried more than 50,000 guests ‘under the protection of our industry-leading health and safety protocol’. The British cruises will sail with a reduced capacity.
He added: ‘Guests can expect a variety of fun and engaging areas for children with play areas for a range of ages. We are also working on a programme of protected shore excursions.’
Mr Paradiso said: ‘We continue to engage with the UK Government and all relevant authorities as we evaluate the ever-changing travel landscape and prepare for any potential roadblocks that could arise as we journey on the roadmap to recovery.
‘Whilst we are excited for a summer of British cruising, we remain confident that we will soon be able to welcome UK guests back on board further afield.’
Further details will be announced shortly.