The Foreign & Commonwealth Office issued a surprise warning against cruise holidays today, advising against trips.
You can read the advisory notice here.
There isn’t much to it. This is the entire text:
“The Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises against cruise ship travel at this time. This is due to the ongoing pandemic and is based on medical advice from Public Health England.
The government will continue to review its cruise ship travel advice based on the latest medical advice. If you have future cruise travel plans, you should speak to your travel operator, or the travel company you booked with, for further advice. The Foreign & Commonwealth Office continues to support the Department for Transport’s work with industry for the resumption of international cruise travel.”
(The reasons for mentioning this is that many cruise travellers are keen collectors of frequent flyer miles. Miles are one of the few ways of obtaining the cheap one-way flights required to join and leave cruises which are not circular.)
It isn’t clear why the guidance has been published at this stage in the coronavirus pandemic or what the advice from Public Health England was. The FCO had said in March that anyone over 70 or with underlying health conditions should avoid cruises, but this new guidance covers all UK residents, all destinations and all ship types.
The guidance is likely to have a devastating impact on what is left of the UK cruising industry, since the existance of such FCO warnings will usually invalidate any travel insurance you hold. The industry was slowly starting to return to life, starting with some European river cruise operators.
A statement from Rory Boland, editor of Which? Travel, said:
“The FCO’s advice against cruise ship travel will lead to most upcoming cruises being cancelled or postponed. Most cruise holiday customers should be legally entitled to a cash refund within 14 days under the package travel regulations, but as we’ve seen across the travel industry recently, operators facing a surge in refund claims are often taking longer to return customers’ money to them. If refunds will be delayed, cruise companies must urgently let customers know and give a clear timetable for when money will be returned. The FCO should also extend its warning to include a definitive date, to give operators and customers clarity over when it will be safe to rebook.”