What should you know about the safety protocols on UK cruises post-COVID?

In a world that changed rapidly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many sectors had to adjust their practices to ensure the safety and wellbeing of their customers. The cruise industry is no exception. As you plan to embark on an unforgettable journey onboard a cruise ship, understanding the new health and safety protocols is paramount. In this article, we will discuss the key strategies and actions taken to ensure the safe sailing of guests and crew alike.

New Health Protocols Aboard

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered the way cruises operate, with health protocols now a big part of the onboarding process. Before boarding a cruise ship, all guests and crew are required to undertake a comprehensive health screening. This includes a mandatory medical questionnaire and a temperature check.

Furthermore, many cruise lines have introduced mandatory COVID testing as part of their boarding process. Upon a positive test, guests will be denied boarding and offered future cruise credit or a full refund. This strategy is designed to minimize the risk of an infected individual coming onboard and potentially spreading the virus.

Regular health checks continue once on board. If a guest shows symptoms of illness during the cruise, the onboard medical team is trained to respond swiftly. Quarantine and isolation rooms have been established on the ship for such events.

Enhanced Sanitation Procedures

To ensure the safety of everyone on board, cruises have significantly stepped up their sanitation procedures. High-contact areas such as handrails, door handles, elevators, and public bathrooms are cleaned and disinfected frequently throughout the day.

In response to the pandemic, many cruise lines have invested in cutting-edge sanitation technology. For example, electrostatic sprayers that apply a hospital-grade disinfectant to surfaces and ultraviolet light technology for air filtration are now common.

Guests are encouraged to wash their hands often and use the hand sanitizer stations that are conveniently located around the ship.

Onboard Social Distancing and Mask Policies

Social distancing is another strategy cruises have adopted to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Guests are required to maintain a safe distance from others while onboard. This is reflected in the layout of the ship, with furniture arranged to allow for adequate spacing.

In addition, mask-wearing policies have been implemented. Guests are required to wear masks in public areas of the ship where social distancing may be challenging to maintain. This includes places like theaters, elevators, and when moving around the ship. However, masks can be removed when eating, drinking, or in your private cabin.

Changes in Onboard Services and Amenities

The pandemic has changed the way services and amenities are delivered on board. Buffet service, a traditional feature of cruise ships, has been reimagined to reduce the risk of infection. Guests can still enjoy a wide variety of foods, but the self-service aspect has been replaced with crew members serving the food to guests.

Many cruise lines have also introduced timed reservations for onboard amenities such as gyms, spas, and entertainment venues. This strategy helps control the number of people in a space at one time and allows for thorough cleaning between uses.

Shore Excursion Protocols

Shore excursions are an integral part of the cruise experience. However, in the post-COVID era, these excursions are heavily regulated to ensure the health and safety of guests.

Excursions are conducted in a controlled manner, with guests often required to stay in their cruise-approved 'bubble'. This means that guests can only participate in excursions organized by the cruise line, as these follow stringent safety protocols including mandatory mask-wearing, social distancing, and regular sanitation.

By understanding these protocols, you can feel more at ease as you prepare for your upcoming cruise journey. It’s clear that the cruise industry has taken the lessons from the COVID crisis to heart, implementing thorough and comprehensive measures to ensure guest and crew safety whilst maintaining the high level of service and experience that guests expect from a holiday at sea.

New Regulations for Vaccinated Travelers and Testing

In the post-COVID era, proof of vaccination and negative COVID test results have become standard requirements for travel. The cruise industry has aligned with this trend, with many cruise operators necessitating that guests and crew members be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, in addition to providing a negative COVID test result, prior to boarding.

Cruise operators often utilize rapid antigen tests for this purpose, with testing facilities made conveniently available at the port of embarkation. In some cases, cruise operators may require the test to be conducted a specific number of hours before departure to ensure the most accurate results.

Passengers who test positive for COVID-19, despite being fully vaccinated, are not allowed to board and are offered a full refund or the opportunity to rebook for a later date. This stringent approach is in line with the management strategies that cruise operators have adopted to protect the health and safety of all aboard, and minimize the risk of an onboard COVID outbreak.

The requirement for proof of vaccination adds an extra layer of protection. Fully vaccinated guests are less likely to develop severe symptoms if they contract the virus. Furthermore, the majority of vaccinated people are less likely to transmit the virus to others, further reducing the potential for an outbreak onboard.

Adjusted Emergency Response Strategies

Cruise ships are essentially floating cities, and in case of an outbreak of any infectious disease, the response must be swift and efficient. Therefore, the cruise industry has taken significant steps to enhance their emergency response strategies in response to the COVID pandemic.

Each ship is equipped with an onboard medical center, which has been expanded and upgraded to handle cases of COVID-19. The medical staff has received additional training in COVID-19 treatment and response protocols, and ships have been fitted with enhanced medical equipment and supplies to handle potential cases.

If a guest or crew member tests positive for COVID during the voyage, a set of procedures is immediately activated. This includes isolating the individual in a specially designed cabin, conducting contact tracing, and further testing. Infected individuals will be disembarked at the next port, where they will receive further medical care, in compliance with local public health regulations.


In the post-COVID era, the cruise industry has made significant adjustments to ensure the health and safety of guests and crew. With comprehensive health screenings, enhanced sanitation procedures, onboard social distancing, changes in onboard services, controlled shore excursions, vaccination, and testing requirements, and modified emergency response strategies, the industry has demonstrated a strong commitment to customer safety and satisfaction.

The rejuvenation of the cruise industry, along with its robust response to the challenges posed by the pandemic, indicates its readiness to navigate this new normal. As prospective guests, understanding these new protocols and expectations can help you prepare for your cruise journey, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable experience. Remember, the key to safe cruising in this post-COVID era is about staying informed, responsible, and respecting the safety protocols in place.