Where in the world can we cruise now?

River cruises have been operating in Germany since June
River cruises have been operating in Germany since June Credit: GETTY

For a while it seemed the world was opening up again after lockdown, with the UK announcing travel corridors to various countries. Then the quarantine measures started kicking in once more.

Some cruises are already sailing in Europe and elsewhere, though the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office is still advising against going on ocean ships. 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.

Main British-based cruise lines will not be sailing until next year, although a few Scottish boats made the water in 2020.

So where in the world can we cruise?

Canary Islands

The Canary Islands are planning to allow sailing between the ports from November 5. Marella Cruises is one of the lines hoping to start operating once UK government advice changes. Parent company TUI Cruises is due to begin sailing seven-day cruises on Mein Schiff 2 from Gran Canaria on November 6.

Another branch of the group, Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, will operate Europa 2 from Tenerife from November 10. Both lines are catering only for German, Austrian and Swiss guests. Aida was sending three ships to the islands in November but has paused operations due to new German rules on travel.

A number of cruise lines are back operating from France – though you will need to quarantine on return Credit: istock

Borders: Open | UK quarantine on return: No


MSC Cruises resumed sailings in the Mediterranean on August 16, although only passengers from Schengen countries are allowed on board, which excludes travellers from Britain and Ireland. Costa Cruises restarted on September 6 for Italian guests. Aida began cruises for German guests on October 17 but has now paused sailings.

Borders: Open (requires negative Covid test taken within 72 hours before arrival) | UK quarantine on return: Yes


Ponant began sailing on July 11 on five itineraries from the French coast. 

Borders: Open | UK quarantine on return: Yes


River cruises have been running since June and include voyages on Viva Cruises, which are all bilingual German and English. A-Rosa has sailed on the Rhine and Moselle. However, those cruises are now paused until the end of November. 

Germany might be your best best for a hassle-free river cruise Credit: ISTOCK

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

Borders: Open (Britons have to present a negative Covid test taken within 48 hours before arrival)  | UK quarantine on return: No


Greece began welcoming foreign cruises to its ports from August 1, although locally-based line Celestyal Cruises will not return until March 2021. Variety Cruises and G Adventures have finished sailings for the season.

Borders: Open (subject to completing a Passenger Locator Form in advance) | UK quarantine on return: No

French Polynesia

Paul Gauguin Cruises restarted international services on July 29 and was joined by passenger-cargo vessel Aranui 5 on August 8. Ponant ship Le Soleal is also sailing there now.

Borders: Open (travellers must present a medical certificate and complete a self-testing kit four days after arrival) | UK quarantine on return: Yes

The whitewashed, cubiform buildings on Santorini can be seen by passing cruise ships Credit: KISA MARKIZA


Hurtigruten has been sailing since mid-July, though it is only operating two ships between Bodø and Kirkenes until further notice.

Borders: Open (arriving Britons must quarantine for 10 days) | UK quarantine on return: No


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has extended the US no-sail ban on vessels carrying more than 250 passengers until October 31.

Borders: Closed | UK quarantine: Yes


SeaDream plans to begin sailings from Bridgetown on November 7. Although Barbados is a British territory – and on the exempt list for quarantine on return to the UK – visitors must arrive with a negative Covid-19 test taken within the last 72 hours, then self-isolate at an approved hotel, villa or government facility until a second negative test is obtained. However, cruise lines may be able to provide quarantine-free direct transport between the airport and port.

Borders: Restrictions | UK quarantine: No

There are restrictions in place but Britons are still able to cruise in French Polynesia

Australia and New Zealand

Some river cruises have restarted. Coral Expeditions began sailings for Australian guests on October 14. Ponant is considering ‘bubble’ cruises around New Zealand for the domestic market.

Borders: Closed | UK quarantine: No


The Dream Cruises ship Explorer Dream has been sailing since July 26, but only for Taiwanese residents.

Borders: Closed to tourists | UK quarantine: No


World Dream, part of the Dream Cruises fleet, will begin sailing on November 6 and be joined by Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas on December 2, both for domestic customers only.

Borders: Closed to short-term visitors | UK quarantine: No


G Adventures is offering trips on the 14-berth Maldives Dhoni Explorer on December 20 and 27.

Borders: Open (visitors must present a negative PCR test taken within 96 hours before arrival) | UK quarantine: No

Please check the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office website for current travel advice before making any bookings