- UK government introduces new travel policies
CLIA Director shares details of collaboration with travel authorities
- Rise in holiday searches as countries reopen
- Saga’s new-build ship to sail in November
- MSC Cruises and Virgin Voyages reveal health protocols
UK government introducing international travel policy
The UK has revealed it plans to implement an international travel policy which allows journeys to be made by land or sea. The initial policy will follow a traffic light system which classifies countries as green, amber, or red depending on their coronavirus cases.
Countries classified as ‘green’ or ‘amber’ will be exempt from quarantine from the 10th July, with classifications based on robust public health criteria.
The government’s full list of ‘safe’ quarantine-free destinations includes:
Antigua and Barbuda
Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba
St Kitts and Nevis
St Pierre and Miquelon
Trinidad and Tobago
Ireland was already exempt as part of the common travel area, as are the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. This is a welcome change, as now the travel restrictions have been lifted, Britons can start to travel and plan holidays for the future.
Read more: Government working on wider travel freedoms
CLIA UK continue to work closely with authorities to plan the return of cruise
The cruise industry, in particular, is continuously working in collaboration with the government, health bodies and maritime authorities, confirmed by CLIA UK & Ireland Director, Andy Harmer.
Speaking with Travel Weekly, Harmer continued, “A lot of work is going on in the background to transform the experience of taking a cruise. The industry is working in collaboration with the government on a ‘door to door’ strategy – from the time of booking through to the passengers’ return home – that would go way beyond protocols in place or proposed for any other travel sector.
“Throughout, CLIA has been working closely with the Department for Transport, Port Health, Public Health England, and the Maritime & Coastguard Agency to develop the road map to resumption – what will happen from time of booking to embarkation at the port, onboard, ports of call, disembarkation and customer follow-up.
“We are also engaged with public health professionals as we review the whole customer journey, from minimising the likelihood of on-board cases by thorough screening of each guest before departure, through comprehensive on-board management and repatriation plans should cases occur on board.”
Rise in search demand for holidays as more countries reopen
Following the UK’s new travel policy announcement, holiday comparison site – TravelSupermarket – recorded its busiest weekend for search since the UK was placed under lockdown in March. Searches for summer holidays to Spain, Italy, Barbados, Croatia, France, and Greece were most popular, with Spain comprising 38% of all searches over the weekend. This included searches for regions such as the Balearics, Canaries, Costa Del Sol, and Costa Blanca.
Greece also experienced a 216% spike in searches, with regions such as Crete, Corfu, Rhodes, and Santorini, while Italy received a 170%; France 167%; Croatia 348%; and Barbados 476%. Many of these destinations are set to be featured on the UK government’s list of ‘green’ destinations, with 15 nations thought to be on the list also including the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Norway, and Finland.
The news comes shortly after the Italian Tourist Board (ENIT) published their guidelines for tourists to follow when visiting. Currently, Britons must quarantine for 14 days after returning from Italy to the UK, though it’s presumed that the country will soon be included as one of the air bridges between the UK meaning they may not have to quarantine at all depending on the level of cases.
Speaking on Italy’s new guidelines, ENIT’s Manager for the UK and Ireland, Flavio Zappacosta said, “We hope to reassure visitors that Italy is ready for tourists and has the correct measures in place to both ensure their health and safety while having a fantastic experience in the destination.”
Other countries are also working on lifting their restrictions, including Dubai which has confirmed it is allowing foreign visitors to enter from early July. The Dubai media office commented on the news, “The new announcement will allow thousands of people affected by the worldwide restrictions in passenger air traffic since the start of the pandemic to resume their travel plans”. Tourists visiting the country will be required to hold international health insurance, covid-19 tests, and a completed health declaration form.
The rise in searches shows the positive demand for holidays, with many longing for a sun-soaked vacation and escape from everyday life to enjoy the getaways lockdown has had us dreaming of. As more countries begin to plan to reopen and release their health and safety protocols, we will update you with further information.
Saga’s brand-new ship planned to sail in November
Saga Cruises has revealed plans for its newest ship, Spirit of Adventure, to launch November 2020. Departing from Southampton on the 5th November, the ship will sail the Mediterranean before returning to the UK port.
Since pausing all operations in March due to the pandemic, Saga had postponed the sister-ship Spirit of Discovery until September. However, this is a positive step for the cruise line and exciting development for its second brand new ship to be welcomed to the fleet.
Nigel Banks, Managing Director of Saga Cruises, said: “We are delighted to announce the planned inaugural sailing of the Spirit of Adventure, our new luxury cruise ship.
“My team is in the process of calling all passengers booked on the inaugural cruise to update them with this latest development and we look forward to welcoming them onboard. We have been working with the industry and government to put in place state-of-the-art appropriate health protocols, putting guest safety first to ensure a return to service in the autumn.”
Following the first sailing, Spirit of Adventure will offer a selection of Mediterranean itineraries ranging from short durations to 31-night cruises and more. Launching the ship is a great sign that the cruise industry is beginning to plan a safe return in more detail, as well as an exciting welcome for new ships as they start their sailing adventures with eager cruisers on-board. Once Saga releases their health and safety protocols, we will ensure to share more information with you.
Read more: New Saga ship to sail in November
Cruise line health and safety plans
More and more cruise lines are releasing their plans for health and safety protocols on-board their ships, with the two latest including MSC Cruises and Virgin Voyages.
With protocols in place for pre-cruise as well as during, MSC Cruises offers simple and practical information for guests to ensure their cruise experience is both safe and enjoyable. Pre-cruise, the cruise line requires a health questionnaire be completed by all guests and a contactless temperature check is carried out before embarkation.
During time on-board, there are elevated standards of sanitation and cleanliness including new methods using electrostatic sprayers; increased frequency of cleaning throughout the ship; 100% external fresh air supplied to all cabins and public areas. All staff are well-trained, well-equipped, and healthy, with extensive screening and medical checks are undertaken with all crew prior to embarkation.
Activities such as mealtimes and shore excursions have also been reviewed, ensuring that the on-board experience can still be enjoyed while remaining safe. Restaurants, bars, and lounges will implement a social distancing with all meals and drinks served at the table. Self-service buffets are temporarily unavailable, but there will remain options to take-away food throughout the day.
As for entertainment, activities have been designed with smaller groups in mind which will be available through pre-booking. The capacity of the theatre will also be reduced, as well as live-streamed around the ship. All MSC Cruises Shore Excursions will also adhere to the same standard of procedures on-board.
Virgin Voyages launched its ‘Voyage Well’ health plan to support the innovative protocols on-board Scarlet Lady when it begins sailing in October 2020. The cruise line has worked with leading experts to expand its existing standards and meet recommendations before, during, and after a voyage.
The ship will feature a HVAC system that pumps fresh air through the ship’s public spaces and cabins, effectively removing recirculated air. In partnership with AtmosAir, Virgin Voyages will be amongst the first in the industry to invest in the installation of a 100% fresh air, bow-to-stern air purification system. The system will also disinfect air on-board with bi-polar ionisation technology which is shown to kill 99.9% of viruses.
Some of the key pillars of Virgin Voyages’ plan include:
- Rapid and effective testing of all passengers and crew as well as pre-boarding health checks prior to embarking
- Post-voyage notification process for all passengers and crew to report becoming unwell within 14 days of leaving the ship (operated through a health tracking app)
- Thermal camera technology in terminals and on-board
- Managing overall ship occupancy and implementing best practices around sanitation, physical distancing and health checks
- Leveraging digital on-board technology to limit contact, including the Band for contactless payments; Service Chat for digital assistance; and virtual queues to enable guests to get in lines for experiences without physically waiting in a queue
Virgin has advised that is will continuously evolve and refine its efforts to improve and perfect health and safety measures on-board, with Tom McAlpin, CEO of Virgin Voyages, commenting: “The health and wellbeing of our Sailors is our number one priority, so we rolled up our sleeves with leading experts to further innovate and create an even healthier way to travel and still have an incredible vacation. We appreciate some people will be apprehensive about traveling, so we are committed to being led by science and creating ways to give people confidence to explore the world while feeling safer, more relaxed and free to enjoy themselves.”