‘No issue of cruise overcapacity’ Travel Weekly reporters

Agents and customers should not be concerned that there will be too many ships sailing around the UK this summer, according to a leading cruise executive. Speaking on a Travel Weekly

webcast on Monday, MSC Cruises UK & Ireland managing director Antonio Paradiso urged the trade to get behind the restart of domestic cruises from May 17. He said: “Before the pandemic,

we had something like 400 cruise ships sailing around the world. Today, following the latest announcement, we’ll have barely 18. There is demand. It’s an opportunity for all of us.” Paradiso was speaking after

MSC confirmed it would deploy new flagship MSC Virtuosa in place of MSC Magnifica for its summer sailings, and Celebrity Cruises and Disney Cruise Line announced UK sailings on Celebrity Silhouette and Disney Magic respectively. They join a range of lines that

had already announced domestic plans, including P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, Cunard, Saga Cruises, Marella Cruises, Riviera Travel, Hurtigruten, Viking and Tradewind Voyages. On Friday, P&O Cruises

announced it had replaced six short UK cruises with three week-long itineraries “following guest feedback”, while this week Saga Cruises became the first line to unveil sailings farther

Domestic sailings ‘give trade chance to show its value’

Samantha Mayling

The wide range of policies and rules being applied to a growing array of UK cruises planned for this summer offers an opportunity for agents to demonstrate their expertise, according to specialists. More than a dozen lines plan to

operate domestic cruises but are taking a range of approaches on aspects including vaccination and testing requirements and port visits. Alison Earnshaw, managing

director of Cruise118 parent WTH UK, said specialist cruise agents

6 1 APRIL 2021

were well-placed to identify the best options for customers, while general agents could also market the cruises to their wider databases. She added: “There is huge

demand among UK consumers. The value of a travel agent has increased in these times of uncertainty and people have more questions than ever before – it reiterates our importance.” Phil Nuttall, chief executive of the

Travel Village Group, said the cruises offer good-value alternatives to domestic land holidays, which were booking quickly and going up in price. He added that agents could

Antonio Paradiso

its delayed debut in July with a 15-night round-Britain sailing. Celebrity Cruises announced that

Celebrity Silhouette would operate a series of six to eight-night itineraries from July 3 including port calls in Portland, Liverpool, Belfast, Glasgow, Kirkwall and Inverness. And Disney Cruise Line

afield with a visit to the Norwegian fjords on Spirit of Discovery. It said the itinerary was permitted under government guidance as the ship would not make any port calls. Saga also announced that new

ship Spirit of Adventure would make

confirmed Disney Magic would offer a range of short round-trip sailings from London Tilbury, Newcastle, Liverpool and Southampton. Lines’ plans for port calls and

requirements for boarding vary widely. Disney said its cruises would remain at sea, while Cunard confirmed it would make calls at various ports on

selected Queen Elizabeth sailings. i Get Social, page 25

Saga’s Spirit of Discovery

demonstrate their expertise to customers by overcoming confusion about protocols and drawing on their knowledge of MSC Cruises’ successful Mediterranean restart. Andy Harmer, Clia UK & Ireland

director, said the ‘seacation’ cruises were an excellent opportunity for agents to attract “both loyal travellers and a new-to-cruise audience”. Michael Wilson, managing

director of Bolsover Cruise Club, reported strong bookings for week- long sailings, particularly the maiden voyage of P&O Cruises’ Iona. He added: “Vaccination policies

were met with mixed emotions when the staycation sailings were first announced, but it has become apparent that requiring vaccinations and/or testing prior to boarding is a necessary step in sailing safely again.” Despite the positive response,

some agents said complexity and uncertainty remain barriers. Graeme Brett, director of Westoe

Travel, called for more guidance from Clia and Abta as well as government, pointing to issues around port access in Scotland and Northern Ireland, and how tenders would operate with social distancing measures in place.

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