International cruise holidays are no longer cancelled for 2021 now that 75% of adults are fully vaccinated and most countries are on the green or amber lists. On Monday 2nd August the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) lifted its restrictions for international cruising.
The UK cruise industry has also seen how confidently its customers embraced domestic cruise travel since Monday 17th May. Rules and restrictions that were put in place (due to the pandemic) have been adhered to well and cruise lines are now planning their safest overseas programs to temp us to book a cruise holiday.
As much has changed since the last time we could dream of cruising we’ve put together some new advice about cruise travel post lockdown. We’ve also had a scout around to find some of the best cruise holidays currently available.
International Cruise Holidays and Coronavirus
Are international cruise holidays safe?
COVID regulations aren’t going away any time soon. This means that when a ship docks, passengers will need to stay vigilant to the rules in place in that country.
To ensure the safety of everyone concerned, cruise liners will only call into ports that can be visited safely. Primarily this will only include destinations on the UK’s amber and green list.
When on board, you will find the safety measures in place to fill everyone with confidence when travelling.
For example, Virgin Voyages has put in the following safety measures:
- All crew, staff, and passengers must be double jabbed before boarding the ship.
- Sailors are also required to do a 15-minute antigen test before boarding to make absolutely sure they can travel with everyone.
- A new air purification system is being used called ‘Atmosphere’. This system kills 99.9% of all bacteria and viruses in the air. It’s a similar system to the one used in most hospitals.
Once everyone is screened and onboard it is much easier to control the conditions on the vessel. According to some, it is now safer to go on a cruise than to go to a restaurant, theatre, theme park, or casino. There’s also lots more space on a ship as they sail under capacity.
This may feel a little strange for seasoned cruisers but not an unwelcome change!
Which Cruise Lines Are Offering International Cruise Holidays?
- Silversea Cruises’ all-inclusive cruise ships have some exciting plans! From Saturday 7th August Silver Origin can be found cruising among the Galapagos Islands. Or, step aboard the line’s latest ship Silver Moon in Athens. It’s ready to cruise around the Greek Islands with a range of local Greek cuisine on offer in its restaurants. Also, learn how to cook it for yourself, with an onboard gastronomic experience! Board Silver Shadow on Thursday 19th August and sail from Reykjavik to experience Iceland. There are also three expedition vessels in Antarctica, which include the refurbished Silver Wind that will set sail from Saturday 20th November.
- Princess Cruises restarted sailing in Alaska on Sunday 25th July, which will run till Sunday 26th September.
- For a Mediterranean cruise, take to the waves on Norwegian Epic from Sunday 12th September with the Norwegian Cruise Line. Norwegian Epic will set sail from Barcelona. Or, locate Norwegian Getaway and sail around Italy, Croatia, and Greece from Thursday 23rd September.
- Holland America – board its newest ship Rotterdam! It’ll begin a transatlantic crossing on Saturday 2nd October from Amsterdam and glide to Fort Lauderdale in Florida. Its season will then begin in the Caribbean on Saturday 23rd October.
- Saga Cruises will return to international destinations on Tuesday 5th October. Join Spirit of Adventure for a five-day ‘Taste of the Continent’, from Dover to Zeebrugge in Belgium. For a longer cruise, a 22-night voyage on the Spirit of Discovery, will depart from Southampton and sail around the Mediterranean on Sunday 24th October.
- If you want a little more time to plan, Disney Cruise Line’s new ship is set for her maiden voyage on Thursday 9th June 2022. This will be followed by a season of three and four-night cruises to Nassau, Bahamas, (and Disney’s private island), as well as Castaway Cay, from Port Canaveral in Florida.
Are Cruises Protected?
A holiday package not including flights, (such as a coach, rail, river, or cruise holiday), will be covered by ABTA bonding, or insurance policies.
ABTA stands for Association of British Travel Agents and is the UK’s largest travel trade association for both travel agents and tour operators.
ABTA’s protection scheme will provide protection for:
- Non-flight-based holidays such as cruises.
- Linked travel arrangements (LTA’s), for travel services that you have purchased from different traders in separate contracts.
- Any money you paid to a travel agent for example, if you book a car to take you to the ferry terminal.
- Arrangements that are not packages, such as accommodation, if the ABTA Member opts to do so.
- Your transport home will be also covered when you holiday abroad on packages sold in the European Economic Area (EEA).
ABTA’s package protection means that if your travel company goes into administration, and your trip can’t take place, you’ll be entitled to a refund. However, always check with your travel company directly, to see what’s protected.
Also, remember that when you choose a holiday it’s best to book it with a credit card.
What Are the Best Cruise Holidays?
Family Cruise Holidays
A family-friendly cruise holiday will be a treat for any family. While cruising across the sea, you can experience a range of entertainment and attractions suitable for all ages and interests.
During ‘sea days’ (in-between onshore excursions), visit waterparks, watch enchanting acrobatic performances or even explore a theme park.
In recent years, cruise lines have created a range of onboard experiences and programs for children. Here are a few to choose from…
Cruise holidays around the Greek Islands
Book a cruise with the Norwegian Cruise Line onboard Norwegian Jade. It will dock into Istanbul, Volos, and the Greek Isles before disembarking in Athens. Visit the archaeological site of Delos in Mykonos and stroll along volcanic-sandy beaches in Santorini. Savour seafood in colourful markets throughout. On the cruise itself, programmes for children aged 6 months and up include sensory play and circus games. To spend some time together there are escape rooms where you can work together to solve challenges, before dining at one of 42 restaurants.
Sail around the Mediterranean from Barcelona
With Disney, Cruise Line families can experience the magic of Disney throughout. Children can meet their favourite characters at a fairy-tale tea party and take part in creative workshops. You can all chill out with a Disney movie screening. When on dry land, visit the famous excavations of Pompeii, where you can learn all about the notorious eruption of Vesuvius in Naples. Immerse yourself in Roman architecture, and stumble upon historic sites, such as the pantheon. Then on to Florence to seek out art, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, and its creative culinary scene.
A Norwegian cruise holiday from Southampton
Travelling with the Grandchildren? Plan a May half-term trip to the Norwegian Fjords with the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line. It is rated to be one of the best for a family-friendly cruise. On sea days, watch films in the 3D theatre or take in Ben Elton’s We Will Rock You theatre production. You can also dive into one of many swimming pools. The ship will dock in three traditional towns on its route. Artistic Alesund, which is full of Art Nouveau architecture, has the picture-perfect Sunmore Alps in the background. Pick an excursion and see the Briksdal Glacier in quaint Olden. Then visit Bergen, a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, to try a range of seafood.
Considering a family cruise holiday at Christmas? Here are our suggestions…
Christmas Cruise Holidays
If you are gearing up to ensure Christmas 2021 makes up for last year, a Grand River Cruise at Christmas could be for you. Explore traditional Christmas market towns and walk among a winter wonderland of twinkling lights. While breathing in the sweet, warm aroma of gingerbread. Then back on board to tuck into festive food and allow yourself to be carried away by traditional entertainment.
Where can I go for a Christmas cruise?
- Down the upper Danube, from Germany to Austria. Pay pretty Durnstein a visit. Before meandering through the UNESCO heritage site Wachau Valley, which has the most splendid scenery on the river. Then wake up in Vienna, to discover elegant buildings adorned with Christmas lights and décor on Christmas day.
- Float along the scenic Seine River, from festive Paris to Normandy. You’ll dock into the traditional towns of Rouen and Honfleur, illuminated in lights. Then visit the snow-covered Martainville castle, before returning for a Gala Dinner.
- Sail across the River Rhine from Cologne to Koblenz, Germany. Visit Europe’s oldest Christmas market in Strasbourg, France! Then explore the medieval town of Mainz. Onboard ship you will enjoy premium cruise accommodation, as well as live cooking stations and regional treats throughout.
Does the sound of a river cruise appeal to you? Experience one in Europe in the spring…
River Cruise Holidays
The benefit of booking a river cruise is that they carry fewer people than a cruise ship. This is an ideal option if you want to escape the crowds and have a little more peace and quiet while away.
Want to know the best time to go on a river cruise in Europe? Book one during late spring (April-May) or early autumn (September-October)!
Where can I go for a river cruise?
- Welcome the joys of spring by setting sail through Holland. Admire the blooming tulip fields and visit the colourful Keukenhof Park. Famous for fabulous floral displays. Then cruise down the Dutch Waterways to admire Amsterdam in full bloom.
- For a little more heat, take in the dramatic scenery on the river Douro. Said to be Portugal’s river of gold, along its banks you can stop into Regua and Pinhao to sample fine wine in the famous vineyards. Back on the river you can enjoy the views from panoramic windows or take a dip in the pool on the sundeck.
Travel Insurance for International Cruise Holidays
Wherever you go and whenever you’re comfortable traveling internationally via cruise travel, don’t forget to take Free Spirit travel insurance for your cruise holiday. Also, our policies include Coronavirus cover if you have to cancel your holiday. If you or someone in your party is taken ill with or tests positive for COVID-19.
Taking travel insurance on holiday is now more important than ever because countries can still close their borders without warning due to an increase in different coronavirus variants. So travel with confidence and take the right insurance for you and your companions.