Where can we cruise when travel restrictions are lifted? The best holidays to book now

The travel corridors are opening, and for many the bags will already be packed. But where can Britons go on a cruise?

Although flights have resumed to many countries, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office is still advising against going on ocean ships, having amended its guidelines to allow river cruises. It says it will continue to review the policy, which, while not an outright ban, makes it almost impossible to find travel insurance for holidays at sea.

In Europe, more than 50 river ships are now sailing – although most of the bigger names are yet to start – and some ocean routes have opened up. 

Here in the UK, some small Scottish boats – such as The Majestic Line – are beginning to restart in Oban. European Waterways is operating a 12-passenger luxury barge along the Caledonian Canal and Loch Ness, as well as the eight-person Magna Carta on the Thames.

P&O Cruises says it will take delivery of new ship Iona by the autumn ahead of plans to restart in November, when Saga also plans to come back with the launch of its new ship, Spirit of Adventure.

Here is where Britons can now sail, subject to UK government advice and local restrictions:


Ponant began sailing on July 11 on five itineraries from the French coast – the same day that A-Rosa resumed river cruises on the Rhône. CroisiEurope has returned to the Seine, Rhône, Burgundy Canal, Rhine (from Strasbourg), Loire and Gironde. European Waterways is offering trips on an eight-person barge in Burgundy.

CroisiEurope’s new ocean ship, Belle des Oceans, began services to Corsica on July 26. However, the UK imposed quarantine on travellers returning from France on August 15.

A spokesman said: “When travel restrictions allow, Britons are always welcome. All our sailings are bilingual.” 

Hurtgruten’s Roald Amundsen was due to sail around the UK in September – this has now been scrapped



River cruises have been running since June and now include four-night voyages on Viva Cruises which are all bilingual German and English. A-Rosa has begun cruises on the Rhine from Cologne and CroisiEurope started on the Elbe on August 3.

Ocean voyages are starting on Mein Schiff, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and Aida, but only for guests from Germany, Switzerland and Austria.


Now the country has been removed from the UK quarantine list, Britons can again enjoy sailing along the Douro. Riviera Travel is starting services in September, or travellers can book English-language voyages with German lines Nicko Cruises and A-Rosa.

Ponant began sailing last month


A-Rosa is  sailing on the Danube and will be joined on August 17 by CroisiEurope.  However, anyone returning from Austria after August 23 will need to self-quarantine under British regulations.


Variety Cruises started operating the 49-passenger Galileo on July 24 and Greece began welcoming foreign cruises to its ports from August 1, although locally-based line Celestyal Cruises has cancelled its season for this year. G Adventures is sailing an eight-day yacht cruise from Santorini to Mykonos in October. However, since the start of September a number of quarantine restrictions have been put in place for returning travellers: those returning to Scotland must self-isolate at home for 14 days, while Wales and England have imposed quarantine measures on those who have been to certain islands. 


CroisiEurope began sailings on August 13, joining companies such as Katarina Line, which operates 60 small ships with up to 36 guests. G Adventures is offering eight-day voyages on a 52ft sailing yacht along the Dalmatian coast in September and October. Croatia has now become one of the countries on the Government’s quarantine list.

The coral-fringed islands in French Polynesia might be worth the quarantine



MSC Cruises resumed sailings in the western Mediterrean on August 16, and will do the same in the eastern Med from August 29. However, only passengers from Schengen countries will be allowed on board, which excludes travellers from Britain and Ireland. Costa Cruises is restarted on September 6, but only for Italian guests.

French Polynesia

Britons can now fly to Tahiti but have to self-isolate for seven days after arrival. Paul Gauguin Cruises restarted international services on July 29 and was joined by passenger-cargo vessel Aranui 5 on August 8.


Norway allowed British travellers to visit without quarantine from mid-July, which gave Britons the opportunity to join coastal cruises with SeaDream and Hurtigruten, though the latter has suspended expedition cruises following coronavirus cases on Roald Amundsen. However, from August 22, Britons arriving in Norway must quarantine for 10 days.


Ponant has begun sailing eight-day itineraries from Reykjavik.

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