(Updated 7:47 p.m. BST) -- Ship spotters have been having a field day these past few days as multiple ships restart cruising and arrive for imminent restarts from English ports.
Marella kicked off the busiest period in English cruising since May, when Iona was christened and MSC Cruises and Viking restarted, with Marella Explorer leaving Southampton last Friday.
P&O Cruises' Britannia set sail on Sunday, departed Southampton on Sunday for a four night summer sailing around the UK coast, marking the first time a P&O Cruises ship has set sail for 15 months.
Britannia was followed by Saga's Spirit of Discovery which left Tilbury on Monday for a cruise along the South Coast, calling in at Portsmouth, Portland and the Isles of Scilly, also its first since March 2020.
On the same day, Celebrity Silhouette arrived in Southampton, ahead of its first cruise on Saturday since a bow-to-stern refurbishment last year.
And Royal Caribbean's Anthem of the Seas, which was last based here in 2015 and was due to sail a season here last year, arrived into Southampton today (Tuesday), ahead of its first cruise next Wednesday (July 7).
Also restarting was Fred. Olsen Cruises' newly-acquired Borealis. The ex-Holland America Line Rotterdam was the first ship in the Fred. Olsen fleet to resume service, with Borealis setting out on July 5 as part of the line's "Welcome Back" programme of 'round UK voyages.
All lines are operating round-Britain cruises, with the exclusion of Scotland, which is still banning cruise ship calls.
They herald the start of what is shaping up to be the busiest summer of cruising the British isles has ever seen, with 17 cruise lines operating 22 ships.
Jo Rzymowska, Vice President and Managing Director EMEA for Celebrity Cruises, said:
"After over a year away, it's a truly special feeling to be welcoming the beautiful Celebrity Silhouette back to UK shores. Our much anticipated summer season marks a real vote of confidence in the UK cruise industry and the excitement among crew and guests is palpable. Most importantly, we can't wait to treat our guests to the ultimate luxury staycation and give them the opportunity to relax and unwind while looking out at the stunning British coastline."
Ben Bouldin, vice president, EMEA, Royal Caribbean said: “Anthem of the Seas has always been a firm favourite for UK guests, and we have seen incredible demand for our sailings since announcing our return in March. With a jaw-dropping lineup of onboard activities, restaurants and entertainment, Anthem presents the perfect getaway this summer. We can’t wait to welcome families back on board one of the most revolutionary ships in our fleet for a summer of adventure.”
All the lines have different health and safety protocols, with Marella and Royal Caribbean mandating over-18s be fully vaccinated, thus allowing kids onboard, for example. While P&O Cruises, Celebrity and Saga, are operating a fully vaxxed policy for all passengers.
Saga was in fact the very first cruise line in the world to insist on all passengers be fully vaccinated.
"All our guests can board knowing we take their health and well-being incredibly seriously. In addition to the observance of strict safety protocols, guests must have had both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine prior departure and all our crew onboard have also been fully vaccinated," said Nigel Blanks, CEO of Saga Cruises.