International cruises will be able to start again from England from 2 August after a 16-month break. People arriving at UK ports who have been fully vaccinated in the US and the EU will also not have to quarantine, the UK government said.
It is part of a plan to relax isolation rules for US and EU arrivals in the UK. An industry body said travel agencies, hotels, tour guides, port operators and other firms would benefit from cruises restarting. Domestic cruises have been allowed to run from May but international cruises have been prohibited.
The government said international cruise travel advice "will be amended to encourage travellers to understand the risks associated with cruise travel and take personal responsibility for their own safety abroad".
Under the new rules, from 04:00 BST on Monday of next week, 2 August, fully vaccinated US and EU travellers arriving from amber countries will not need to quarantine or take a test on day eight of their arrival.
However, they will still need to take a pre-departure test and a PCR test on the second day after they arrive. Travellers from France are not exempt. Arrivals will also still need to complete a passenger locator form. Under-18s will be exempt from isolation, and some will not have to test, depending on their age. The UK government said the rule changes would help to reunite family and friends whose loved ones live abroad.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the reopening of travel was "progress we can all enjoy". However, international cruises are unlikely to be available from Monday. On its website, P&O Cruises said following their UK summer staycations, its Britannia ship will begin planned western Mediterranean itineraries on 25 September, while its Iona vessel will launch on the same date. It said due to the current traffic light system, a "number of itineraries have had to be cancelled".
Cruises on Ventura have been paused until 3 October 2021, while cruises on its Azura ship have been halted up until 10 December 2021. Some others have been delayed until 2022.