(12:30 p.m. BST) -- Cruise lines have rushed to announce British Isles sailings for UK residents this summer following the tentative news that domestic cruises are permitted to resume from May 17.
Among the lines to unveil British Isles cruises are Celebrity Cruises, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean, Princess and P&O Cruises. Such is the demand, Viking Cruises’ UK itineraries (which are not listed below) sold out at the pre-sale stage to former passengers before ever going on general sale and P&O Cruises' website crashed when its first cruises went on sale.
Although there is now a large number of lines offering round-Britain cruises, note that the ships will be sailing at around half-capacity initially at least -- so our advice is to act quickly as these sailings may well sell out. Just make sure you read the small print and arrange travel insurance at the time of booking your cruise holiday -- and of course note if they require a vaccine to get onboard or not (you can check here).
Here’s a roundup of the best deals for British Isles cruises that have so far been confirmed this summer.
Itineraries: The 2,995-passenger Celebrity Silhouette will sail from Southampton on six- to eight-night voyages around the British Isles from July 3. Calls will include Portland (Dorset), Belfast, Liverpool, Inverness, Kirkwall and Glasgow.
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Deal: Dates and prices have not yet been revealed, though we do know fares will include WiFi, alcoholic drinks and tips.
Small print: Sailings are for British guests only. Passengers over 18 must be vaccinated against COVID-19, and those under age 18 must present a negative PCR test result.
Itineraries: Three- to 12-night sailings from June to October are available, roundtrip from Southampton on Queen Elizabeth. Cunard is offering a mix of scenic cruises and itineraries with ports of call, plus three Sun Voyages to wherever the sun is shining (i.e., routes will remain flexible). Passengers will get a glimpse of The Jurassic Coast, Land’s End in Cornwall and the Isle of Arran, Mull of Kintyre and Sound of Mull in Scotland. Ports of call will include Liverpool, Greenock, Invergordon, Belfast, Newcastle as well as a maiden call to Holyhead in Wales.
Deal: £599pp for a four-night British Isles cruise; £1,299pp for a 10-night sailing and £809 for a seven-night Sun Voyage, all fares based on a balcony cabin.
Small print: Passengers will need to be vaccinated to sail -- meaning children and adults who have not yet been invited for their Covid-19 vaccination will not be permitted sail. Sailings are open to UK residents only. Mandatory travel insurance.
Disney Cruise Line
Itineraries: Disney Magic will sail a mix of two-, three- and four-night cruises round-trip from London Tilbury, Newcastle, Liverpool and Southampton. All sailings are coastal, with no ports of call.
Deal: Sailings will go on sale in April, pending the issuance of government guidelines and authorisations (from April 12).
Small print: Disney Cruise Line is not mandating Covid-19 vaccinations, though testing, health screenings, face coverings, reduced passenger capacity, social distancing and enhanced cleaning will be in place.
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
Itineraries: Fred. Olsen’s two new ships will offer a combination of 11 British Isles cruises, starting with the three-night maiden voyage on Borealis from Liverpool. Bolette will depart Dover on August 16, also on a three-night voyage. There’s also a three-night Welcome Back Balmoral sailing departing from Rosyth (Edinburgh) on July 28.
Deal: Sailings on Borealis and Bolette start from £429pp. The three-night sailing on Balmoral starts from £399pp.
Small print: Available to UK residents only. Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is not mandating Covid-19 vaccinations.
Itineraries: There are two domestic UK voyages setting sail this summer on MS Maud, departing Dover on August 15 and September 10 on 12-night Remote Islands, Natural Wonders and Diverse Coastline itineraries. The sailings will call at Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland’s largest seabird colony, plus the Isle of Iona, St. Kilda, Islay, Isle of Man and the Isles of Scilly, among others.
Deal: Voyages start from £3,315pp and include some excursions, WiFi and house wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner. (Once you’ve booked, subscribe to Hurtigruten’s newsletter and receive £75 onboard credit.)
Small print: Testing will be a requirement (up to 72 hours before departure) with passengers required to show a negative Covid-19 result before embarking. Hurtigruten has not stated that passengers will need to be Covid-19 vaccinated to sail.
Itineraries: Sailings will commence from May 20 on the line’s newest ship, the 6,297-passenger MSC Virtuosa, with roundtrip voyages from Southampton. Sailings will include six mini cruises to Dorset before weeklong cruises commence on June 12, embarking in Liverpool or Greenock.
Deal: A four-night sailing starts from £499pp and seven nights from £849pp, including a premium drinks package and gratuities.
Small print: Available to UK residents only. MSC is not mandating Covid-19 vaccinations. The line will require proof of a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before departure and passengers must ensure that they have organised COVID-specific travel insurance.
Itineraries: Three- and four-night cruises and one six-night voyage will take place on Britannia from June 27 through to September 19. Seven-night sailings will take place on brand-new ship Iona, including the maiden voyage to Scotland, from August 7 to September 18. All departures are from the homeport of Southampton.
Deal: Prices start from £449pp for a three-night cruise on Britannia. Iona’s seven-night maiden voyage starts from £1,199pp based on a balcony cabin.
Small print: Passengers will need to be vaccinated to sail. UK residents only. It is mandatory for all passengers to have full travel insurance cover.
Itineraries: Princess Cruises’ Summer Seacations programme features three- to seven-night voyages on the MedallionClass Regal and Sky Princess. Regal Princess will offer 14 UK voyages from July 31 to September 23. Sky Princess will offer eight UK cruises, between August 30 and September 28. A mix of scenic sailings and itineraries featuring ports of call, including calls in Liverpool, Belfast and Greenock, are available.
Deal: £539pp for a three-night scenic voyage based on a balcony cabin.
Small print: In line with all Carnival UK cruise lines, these sailings are for UK-resident COVID-19 vaccinated passengers only. Travel insurance will also be mandatory for all passengers.
Itineraries: Anthem of the Seas will offer a combination of four-night "Ocean Getaways" and five- to eight-night British Isles cruises from July 7, departing from Southampton. The longer sailings will include calls at Liverpool, Kirkwall, Scotland and Belfast. Royal Caribbean is also offering 999 free cabins on its first Ocean Getaways voyage, departing July 7, to UK residents working in the following professions: emergency services, NHS, the social care sector and armed forces. Pre-registration for passengers eligible for a free cabin opens April 13 with names drawn from a ballot by April 30.
Deal: Bookings open April 7.
Small print: Bookings will be open to UK residents over-18 who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and those under the age of 18 with negative test results.
Itineraries: New for 2021, Riviera Travel has launched two Scottish Highlands & Islands itineraries on MS Seaventure, departing from Edinburgh and disembarking in Greenock (and vice versa) on July 5 and 26. The voyages will call at Inverness, Orkney, Oban and the Outer Hebrides, with excursions to Balmoral Castle, Loch Ness and the Ring of Brodgar.
Deal: The eight-day cruises are from £1,999pp based on an outside cabin.
Small print: All passengers will be required to be vaccinated against Covid-19 or present a negative test result.
Itineraries: Saga has released four sailings on Spirit of Discovery and one voyage on the brand-new Spirit of Adventure departing from London Tilbury. The short season kicks off with Spirit of Discovery’s six-night Scottish Highlands and the Shetland Islands cruise, departing on June 27. Spirit of Adventure’s inaugural cruise is a 15-night circumnavigation of the British Isles, departing London Tilbury on July 26, including calls to Newcastle, Newhaven, Dundee, Kirkwall, Orkney Islands, Ullapool, Cruise St Kilda, Greenock, Belfast, Douglas, Holyhead, Bristol and Falmouth, before disembarking in Dover. Spirit of Discovery will also sail a Northern Isles to the Fjords itinerary, departing on July 3 and July 25, which takes in scenic cruising in the Norwegian fjords.
Deal: £1,236pp for a six-night cruise on Spirit of Discovery, including drinks, WiFi, travel insurance, gratuities, two shore excursions and chauffeur service to London Tilbury for passengers within a 250 miles radius.
Small print: Available to fifty-plus, UK residents only. Passengers are required to be vaccinated against Covid-19 and travel insurance is mandatory.
Itineraries: New cruise line Tradewind Voyages has chartered Golden Horizon -- the largest tall sailing ship in the world -- with seven British Isles itineraries from June 22 to August 14 taking place this summer. A six-night “Dress Rehearsal” cruise kicks off on June 22 from Portsmouth with calls along the south coast. Later sailings include the five-night Eastern Coastal Contrasts, departing July 1, sailing from Harwich to Leith, and the six-night West Coast Gems of Scotland, departing July 15, roundtrip from Greenock.
Deal: Fares start at £899pp for a six-night voyage with drinks at lunch and dinner, WiFi and gratuities included.
Small print: Tradewind Voyages has not said if passengers are required to be vaccinated against Covid-19, nor has the line disclosed its testing policy yet.
Itineraries: The brand-new, adults-only Scarlet Lady will sail roundtrip from Portsmouth on a series of 'Summer Soiree' voyages. Itineraries will include two-, three- and four-night sailings between August 6 and August 27, 2021.
Deal: Three-night voyages are on sale for £499 per person for a Sea Terrace (Balcony) cabin and £599 for four-night voyages.
Small print: Sailings are for British guests only. Passengers over 18 must be vaccinated against COVID-19.