(12:01 a.m. GMT) -- P&O Cruises is offering a series of round-Britain cruises on its two newest ships this summer -- for UK residents who have been vaccinated.
Sailing at reduced capacity and with new health protocols, the line will offer round-trip short breaks on Britannia and week-long cruises on its new ship Iona from Southampton from June 27 until September 19, 2021.
The news comes just one day after Viking Cruises confirmed it will restart round-Britain cruises May 22 for U.K. residents only with no port stops on its newest ship Viking Venus. And on the same day as Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines also announced a restart date for round-Britain cruises. Neither Viking nor Fred.at this stage is requiring passengers to be vaccinated.
P&O Cruises stated all passengers of all ages "must meet the requirements of the COVID-19 vaccination policy" -- a move that effectively rules out children onboard, as under-18s are currently not included in the UK vaccination rollout. Both Britannia and Iona are billed as "family-friendly" ships.
When asked about the policy, P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said:
“We absolutely love having children on board, and this policy is just for these initial coastal cruises as we resume sailing this summer.
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"This is just the first phase but as we return to full service with our normal sailings in the future, once international restrictions lift, and once we get new guidance from the Government departments, we cannot wait to welcome back families.”
The vaccination order also does not extend to the crew. Instead, they will undergo a strict testing and quarantine regime, as well as regular testing during their time on board.
"As the start of Iona's very special maiden season, the new Ultimate Escape series of holidays includes a memorable seven-night maiden voyage sailing around the Scottish islands," Ludlow added.
"Iona will anchor off Iona, the island after which she was named, with a celebratory extended stay until sunset for magical views of the historic shores."
Just last week, P&O Cruises, Princess and Cunard played down hopes of an imminent restart to cruising, stating it would take "weeks" to get the ships ready.
Britannia will offer three- and four-night breaks, and one six-night cruise with a call at Liverpool, running from June 27 through to September 19.
Iona offers seven-night itineraries running from August 7 to September 18. Prices start from £449 per person for a three-night break on Britannia. Iona’s seven-night maiden voyage starts from £1,199 per person.
In addition to all passengers being vaccinated, everyone onboard will be required to follow enhanced health and wellbeing measures.
These protocols include enhanced sanitation measures, appropriate social distancing and the wearing of masks in certain areas of the ship. A spokesperson confirmed that the ships would sail at reduced capacity, but did not say how much.
The line released the following statement: "Our protocols are subject to change, as we will continue to work with our experts and with government bodies to ensure all of our practices evolve in line with latest advice, with our primary focus always being to protect the health and wellbeing of our crew and guests and the communities we visit."
The line also confirmed travel insurance will also be mandatory for all passengers.
The cruises go on sale at 8.30am March 22, 2021, and will be available to book online on at pocruises.com, by telephone at 03453 555 111 or through a travel agent.