Domestic cruises in Britain could restart from 17 May, according to UK maritime minister Robert Courts.
Speaking at a virtual meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Maritime and Ports Group, Courts told MPs that the government was working with the home nations to get UK-wide domestic cruising up and running.
He said the move would help the cruise sector restore confidence and demonstrate the robustness of their new COVID protocols for passengers and crew.
The date is the earliest in which foreign and domestic holidays can resume under prime minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap out of the country’s third national lockdown. International travel is set to restart then too.
Indoor dining in restaurants, hotels and B&Bs also open in England on that date if infection rates remain low and the vaccine rollout continues apace.
A statement from the Department for Transport said that restarting domestic cruising in England "will be aligned with the wider resumption of the domestic tourism and indoor hospitality sectors."
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P&O Cruises, which last week revealed plans to offer a series of short break and week-long UK sailings out of Southampton this summer, said it was "delighted" by the acknowledgement.
Paul Ludlow, president of P&O Cruises, said: “While it will take some weeks after this date for us to restart our operations, we are very much looking forward to welcoming guests on board this summer".
He added that further details on ships, itineraries and dates for domestic cruise holidays will be announced by the firm later this month.
Meanwhile, the UK Chamber of Shipping and Cruise Lines International Association said in a joint statement: “We strongly welcome the announcement that cruise will be included alongside the restart of other domestic tourism in the UK.
"The industry has been working with the government over the last year on health protocols which put the safety of our passengers and crew first. Many of these protocols have already been tested successfully where cruise has been able to operate elsewhere in Europe."
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