MSC (www.msccruises.co.uk) and Princess Cruises (www.princess.com) are the latest lines to announce dates for UK summer sailings, which also include the first opportunity for families to travel with children.
MSC Cruises will set sail on May 20th from the new cruise terminal in Southampton on the first of a series of family-friendly cruises around the British Isles for UK holidaymakers. Princess Cruises will follow suit in July with a programme of ‘Summer Seacations’ which will also depart from Southampton.
The news follows on from adult-only line Viking, P&O Cruises and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines recently announcing plans for 2021 sailings around the UK. Fred. Olsen traditionally attracts mature passengers and although P&O Cruises welcomes families on certain ships, children will be excluded from the special summer itineraries as they will not have had the COVID-19 vaccinations that are a booking requirement; a stipulation also required by Princess.
MSC’s UK programme aboard MSC Magnifica will start with a series of short cruises that will be followed by seven-night sailings visiting UK destinations and offering additional ports of embarkation to guests. MSC has been operating successful cruises in the Mediterranean since last August.
Antonio Paradiso, Managing Director MSC Cruises UK & Ireland, said:
“It’s time for UK holidaymakers to get back on board and enjoy a well-deserved break from what has been a very challenging 12 months for everyone in so many ways. MSC Cruises is a family-owned company, and our guests are an extension of that, so we are looking forward to welcoming them and their families back on board. Our hope is to offer every type of holidaymaker the chance to escape this summer – from grandparents to teens and even the smallest of passengers looking to explore.
“We will welcome both vaccinated and non-vaccinated guests. All guests will be tested prior to embarkation, while non-vaccinated guests will also be required to show proof of negative test done within 72 hours prior to embarkation. Crew, in addition to the protocol-mandated test and 14-day quarantine prior to embarkation, will also receive weekly testing, in addition to other ongoing health monitoring measures.”
He said that since resuming cruises in the Mediterranean last year – which were available to passengers from the Schengen area that were not affected by travel restrictions – MSC had carried more than 50,000 guests. Ships have sailed with a reduced capacity with health protocols including social distancing, the wearing of face masks and shore excursions in self-contained ‘bubbles’.
“Our UK customers can be assured that we will continue to adapt the protocol in line with relevant requirements and guidance, to provide the same seamless experience they are used to when cruising. We are also working on a programme of protected shore excursions for our guests to experience the destinations we will visit following our successful experience since last summer in other markets, but of course this is subject to prevailing circumstances and local guidance at the time of sailing.”
Princess Cruises will offer three-night and week-long cruises aboard Regal Princess and Sky Princess, with a total of 22 voyages from July 31st to September 28th. The itineraries will feature both cruise-only sailings and itineraries with stops at three UK ports.
In addition to health protocols the cruises will showcase touchless technology available through the line’s recently enhanced Ocean Medallion device. Replacing the traditional cruise card, the wearable Ocean Medallion is the size of a coin and provides a range of functions including embarkation and disembarkation, keyless cabin entry, on-demand food and drink and other service requests via a mobile chat function.
Tony Roberts, Princess Cruises Vice President UK and Europe, said,
“We share in our guests’ excitement today as we unveil the details for our new Summer Seacations. With Princess Cruises, the ship is also the destination. Guests can make the most of our multiple dining options, order food and drink poolside, using the MedallionClass app, that can be delivered to you, and enjoy fantastic entertainment both day and night.
“These resort-style seacations offer the perfect opportunity to relax and enjoy some time off. We believe that these cruises will appeal to both our loyal guests who are eager to get back onboard our beautiful MedallionClass ships and holidaymakers looking to experience Princess for the first time.
“While international travel remains uncertain, these new cruises mean that UK residents can take a well-deserved holiday around the UK. We are also delighted that our new cruises will offer the choice between scenic voyages and port-of-call itineraries where guests can visit the historic UK cities of Liverpool, Belfast and Glasgow.”
Known as the ‘River Cruise Queen’, Jeannine Williamson is an award-winning travel writer, cruise expert and our cruise correspondent, who has clocked up thousands of nautical miles.
Photographs courtesy of MSC and Princess Cruises