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.

Here in the UK, some small Scottish boats such as SkarvLines have restarted sailings. 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 has this month taken delivery of new ship Iona but the line has scrapped plans to sail this year, instead looking ahead to 2021. Saga has also postponed the launch of its new ship, Spirit of Adventure, until February.

So where in the world can we cruise?


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.

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

CroisiEurope’s new ocean ship, Belle des Oceans, began services to Corsica on July 26. A spokesman said: “When travel restrictions allow, Britons are always welcome. All our sailings are bilingual.” 

Borders: Open | UK quarantine on return: Yes


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

Borders: Open* | UK quarantine on return: No

*there are restrictions on travellers from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales, North East England, North West England and Yorkshire and the Humber

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


German lines Nicko Cruises and A-Rosa are running English-language cruises on the Douro. CroisiEurope is back on the river too.

Borders: Open (subject to a health screening on arrival | UK quarantine on return: Yes


A-Rosa is sailing on the Danube and was joined on August 17 by CroisiEurope.  

Borders: Open | UK quarantine on return: Yes


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 between Athens, Mykonos and Santorini.

Borders: Open (subject to completing a Passenger Locator Form in advance) | UK quarantine on return: Only applies when returning from certain islands

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


CroisiEurope began sailings on August 13, joining companies such as Katarina Line, which operates 60 small ships with up to 36 guests. 

Borders: Open | UK quarantine on return: Yes


MSC Cruises resumed sailings in the Mediterrean 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 but sailings since September 27 are open to people to a list of other countries, including the UK and Ireland. Aida began cruises for German guests on October 17.

Borders: Open | UK quarantine on return: Yes

French Polynesia

Paul Gauguin Cruises restarted international services on July 29 and was joined by passenger-cargo vessel Aranui 5 on August 8.

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

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


SeaDream and Hurtigruten have been operating since mid-July, though the latter has suspended expedition cruises following coronavirus cases on Roald Amundsen

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


Ponant is sailing eight-day itineraries from Reykjavik. 

Borders: Open (travellers must pay for a coronavirus test or self-isolate for 14 days upon arrival) | UK quarantine on return: Yes


The only cruises sailing so far are on a historic schooner in Maine, the Stephen Taber. UnCruise began operations on August 1 but had to cancel the rest of the season after a positive coronavirus test on a passenger, who later tested negative. 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.

Borders: Restrictions | UK quarantine: No

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

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