MSC’s Virtuosa was today due to depart Liverpool for Scotland, however the cruise line appears to have been banned by the Scottish Government.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Scottish Government, said: “We fully understand the impact of the current restrictions on domestic cruises.
“We explained our concerns about the transmission risks posed by cruise vessels in an update to industry on the 24 May and confirmed that we would clarify the position in June.
“Following extensive engagement with stakeholders, we have now confirmed that domestic cruises can restart when all of Scotland reaches level one and we have made industry, including the operator, aware of this.
“This decision has been informed by the combination of risks that exists between both cruises and the wider travel context, including the current trajectory of Covid infections and the unknowns around the new Delta variant, in addition to the potential for high risk of uncontained rapid transmission on the cruise.
A spokesperson for MSC said: “Affected passengers should contact the operator for further information regarding their trip.”In light of recent information received, we are now awaiting further clarification from the relevant authorities in Scotland about the situation for cruising which regrettably means that we have had to cancel our proposed visit to Greenock tomorrow. We hope that our calls to Scotland with our special cruises can commence soon considering how much we were looking forward to welcoming our Scottish guests onboard MSC Virtuosa and how we are aware of the important and widespread contribution that the cruise industry makes to Scotland”.
Joanne Dooey, president of The Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA), the professional body for travel agents and the travel sector in Scotland says, “We’re now facing the situation where Scottish passengers who joined the cruise in Liverpool are barred from setting foot in their own country. The SPAA has been asking for clarity on the situation for this particular cruise ship since last week, and all we have received so far is an indicated that cruises may only restart when all of Scotland is in Level one. Inverclyde itself is currently in Level 1.”
Jacqueline Dobson, President of Barrhead Travel, says, “The news today is yet another hammer-blow for the Scottish travel industry, Scottish holidaymakers and for regional tourism partners who were looking forward to welcoming UK guests ashore for excursions.
“Cruises from Greenock have been on-sale for months, yet despite urgent calls from the industry, the Scottish Government has provided less than 36 hours’ notice that these sailings cannot go ahead.”
The news will like impact Saga cruises, who also plan to operate voyages to Scottish ports.