(2.30 p.m. BST) -- MSC Cruises has changed its vaccination policy in the U.K. mandating that all adult passengers must be fully vaccinated.
The line was the first to restart cruising from the U.K. on May 20 on MSC Virtuosa, operating a mixed policy, allowing adult passengers onboard with proof of a negative COVID test (PCR or lateral flow).
The move follows the U.K. government's decision to increase the number of passengers permitted onboard round-Britain ships to up to 50 per cent of passenger capacity. Up until now the limit was 50 percent or 1,000 passengers.
MSC Virtuosa will now be able to carry 3,167 passengers, or half of maximum capacity, on its next sailing on July 3.
MSC Cruises is currently contacting non-vaccinated passengers to offer them alternative options, including refunds.
The line released the following statement:
"The UK government’s decision to increase the number of guests permitted onboard round-the-UK cruise ships to up to 50 per cent of passenger capacity is to be welcomed as it provides more options for British holidaymakers.
"The condition of this change is that all adult guests must be fully vaccinated and our focus was on inconveniencing as few guests as possible in this rapidly changing environment. It will, however, understandably frustrate a number of our guests who had already booked their holiday with us for voyages but are not yet fully vaccinated.
"While we regret that this change to the capacity limits will disrupt their travel plans and our ability to accommodate some guests as originally planned, the capacity increase allows us to protect many more guests’ holidays which would have been otherwise affected by the recently announced delay of the easing of COVID restrictions."
The move brings MSC into line with Marella and Royal Caribbean, both of which are mandating over-18s be fully vaccinated, but kids can still sail with proof of a negative test.