As the COVID-19 pandemic recedes in some parts of the world, British travellers have started their cruising activities with the launch of the UK’s first cruise staycation sailings in a year.
The first of the sailings have started with MSC setting sail from Southampton on Thursday. It will be a 4-night voyage across the British Isles with a single point stop at Portland in Dorset.
MSC along with several other cruise lines have started launching UK-only sailing for this summer season banking on the British peoples’ eagerness to escape somewhere close by after long months of lockdown.
MSC Virtuosa which has already started UK-only cruising is a 19 deck ship with huge entertainment and leisure facilities. Restaurants, theatres, bars with a robotic bartender, aquapark etc are some of the recreation facilities available onboard.
This voyage has been kept open for UK residents only. However, it isn’t vaccinated people only cruise as non-vaccinated people are also allowed, making it quite viable than other cruises like the Royal Caribbean, Virgin Voyages, Disney and P&O, which are only allowing vaccinated people
Non vaccinated people have to take a PCR test and can be allowed on board the MSC cruise ship if they have been found COVID negative. A negative lateral flow test report taken within 72 hours of boarding the ship can also be used as proof of COVID negativity.
Other than that, the passengers have to fill up a health questionnaire and screened for their temperature along with a swab test before boarding.
Social distancing, face masks and handwashing have been declared mandatory in public spaces onboard the ship. Along with these safety checks, having individual travel insurance has been declared mandatory for cruising by the MSC.
MSC has reiterated that these guidelines are enough for COVID safety and precaution as they have been operating cruises on and off Italy since August 2020 based on these rules.
As per the UK Transport department cruise ships would be sailing with a maximum of 1000 passengers or 50% of their capacity, whichever is the lower benchmark until June 21 and that is what MSC Virtuosa will be following.
The socializing guidelines are the same in a cruise as indoors inland which is to limit groups to 6 people. The guidance has also underlined that cruises from UK ports can only do UK based sailings.
So, by all standards, MSC summer staycation sailings in the UK is likely to set a new standard of cruising in the UK.