With uncertainty still surrounding when and where we can go abroad, many cruise lines are round-Britain cruising as they slowly start to resume sailing.
At first, many of these will be short cruises -- three- to four-nights - "cruises to nowhere" (i.e. no stops). However, later in the summer, lines are planning stops at select ports around the country.
There is a huge array of options, including regional departures, family cruises and seven-nights cruises which allow you to really explore the country.
We caught up with Simone Clark, SVP Global Supply of Iglu Cruise, to get her top 10 reasons to try a round-Britain cruise this summer.
You can form a bubble onboard a ship with friends or family, meaning you can dine, drink and explore together and catch up, especially if you’ve not seen each other for a long time.
Spas and gyms will be open onboard so you can pamper yourself with a treatment, massage, hair cut as well as enjoy high tech gyms and gym classes. Swimming pools will also be open.
With uncertainty about when live entertainment will restart in this country -- get your fix on a cruise. Many of the big lines offer West End-style entertainment onboard and outdoor cinemas, at no extra cost. And best of all -- you can enjoy a night out with your friends and family without worrying about travelling home afterwards.
After a year of lockdown and limited activities, your kids won't have a moment of boredom onboard family-friendly ships like MSC Virtuosa and Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas, both of which are allowing under-18s onboard with a vaccination. You'll find free kids clubs for all ages, as well as children’s entertainment, shows and water parks. The children will be safe, and it means that you get some much-needed time to relax.
… so you don't have to break the budget -- all meals in the buffet and main dining room, entertainment, COVID-19 testing at the port, kids clubs, gym and theatre shows. And many of the UK cruise lines including Celebrity, Marella and P&O Cruises now include drinks and tips. Compare the prices to self-catering in the UK to see the value for money.
The cruise lines are following some of the strictest guidelines of any travel sector, with new health and safety protocols so everyone is tested at the port, passengers have to have been vaccinated or tested prior to arriving (depending on the cruise line), strict cleaning procedures and passengers will initially be kept in a bubble as an added precaution. The ships will also sail at reduced capacity to ensure that social distancing can be maintained if necessary as well as masks being worn in areas where this isn’t possible.
Here's a chance for you to explore your own country (for the ships that are stopping). So far, port stops in the Shetland Islands and Orkney Islands, Belfast, Liverpool and Portland have been confirmed, with the cruise lines all offering a wide choice of excursions.
You likely haven't been away for more than a year so why not spoil yourself by booking a suite on board. Many lines now have dedicated areas for suite guests such as MSC Cruises' Yacht Club and The Retreat on the newly-refurbished Celebrity Silhouette. The larger ships even have dedicated restaurants, bars, pool areas as well as butler/concierge service.
A bionic robot that takes your drinks order, mixes cocktails and can even speak to you? An AI, voice-activated helper in every cabin? Touchless technology which allows you to check-in, order drinks, control your cabin and keep track of your kids? -- you'll find all of these features on ships sailing from the UK this summer.
• With thanks to Simone Clark at Iglu Cruise.