Scottish ban on cruise ships throws round-Britain voyages into confusion

MSC Virtuosa spent another night in Liverpool after its Scottish stop was cancelled (Picture: Stratus Imagery)

Canada did it to the US and now Scotland is doing it to the rest of the UK – banning cruise ships from docking at its ports.

The decision to stop MSC Virtuosa calling at Greenock, near Glasgow, has thrown the plans for other lines’ round-Britain cruises into disarray.

The Holyrood government says it will not allow cruise ships to call until the whole of Scotland is at the lowest level of Covid restrictions.

This could affect the itineraries of lines including Celebrity Cruises, Tradewind Voyages, Princess, Cunard, Marella and Fred Olsen. Fred Olsen, Noble Caledonia and Hurtigruten have already had to cancel some sailings earlier in the season.

Riviera Travel is planning Scottish voyages on its ship Seaventure

Saga Cruises, which is due to call at Scottish ports on the first 2021 voyage of Spirit of Discovery on June 27, said: ‘In the light of yesterday’s statement from the Scottish government, we are currently reviewing the itineraries for our first two Scottish Isles cruises on Spirit of Discovery. We will update our guests booked on these cruises by the end of this week.’

The maiden voyage of P&O Cruises ship Iona, which is due to sail to its namesake island in August, is not affected as there are no port stops.

Small vessels, such as those run by The Majestic Line out of Oban, are able to operate because there are separate rules for boats carrying 12 passengers or fewer.

The cruise industry body CLIA said: ‘The decision not to allow cruise ships to enter Scotland at this time is very unfortunate. Currently, cruise ships calling at UK ports have UK-only guests on board, including many from Scotland.

‘Domestic cruises have safely and successfully restarted in England and across Europe, and the multi-layered measures now in place are there to protect the wellbeing of the destinations we visit, as well as passengers and crew. We continue to seek further clarity from the Scottish Government and would welcome the opportunity to discuss the cruise industry protocols with Ministers.’

Riviera Travel, which is planning Scottish voyages on the ship Seaventure from July 5, has yet to comment.

See also:

My review of the maiden voyage of MSC Virtuosa

Round-Britain 2021: What the main cruise lines plan

Round-Britain 2021: What the small cruise lines plan

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