Britain’s leading cruise line, P&O, has extended its “pause in operations” to early 2021, with some ships by then likely to have been out of action for a full year.
The company has blamed “evolving restrictions on travel from the UK” – adding to warnings from airlines and airports about the damage no-go warnings are having on the travel industry.
Many of the destinations to which P&O normally sails are in countries such as France, Spain and Portugal – nations to which the Foreign Office warns against travel, and from where two weeks in quarantine is mandatory upon return to the UK.
Planned Caribbean cruises through the winter have been cancelled until the end of January 2021.
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All cruises beginning and ending at Southampton have been cancelled until March.
The P&O Cruises vessels Arcadia and Aurora, moored in UK coastal waters, are likely to stay there through the winter. The first was expecting to be on a world cruise; the second will no longer be enjoying a "Caribbean & South America Adventure”.
The cruise line’s president, Paul Ludlow, said: “With evolving restrictions on travel from the UK, unfortunately it is necessary to cancel these itineraries.
“These further cancellations vary according to ship as well as complexity and length of itineraries, advice and guidance regarding ports of call and current air availability for fly/cruises.
“We are continuing to monitor the overall situation closely and will certainly reintroduce cruises should the opportunity arise and it is feasible to do so.
“We cannot wait for restrictions to ease, borders to open and for us to once again be able to set sail for a new beginning.”
Passengers booked on the newly cancelled sailings can choose between a full refund or a “future cruise credit” with a 25 per cent bonus.
All cruise lines are faced with formidable problems, from reconfiguring ships to reduce the risk of transmission and establishing protocols for on-board cases, to navigating through an unprecedented tangle of government restrictions.