As I’m sure you’re well aware, yesterday evening the UK Government announced its ‘cautious’ plan to lift England’s lockdown over four key stages.

While cruising hasn’t been mentioned specifically and there are no immediate plans to open up international travel, the Government has signalled that hospitality will be restarting from 17 May and the removal of all lockdown restrictions could occur on 21 June – all positive signs for our return to service.

Added to that, our Guests remain incredibly keen to sail with us, so I’m confident that with our planned protocols in place to protect all on board, a cruise with us will be the most compelling holiday offer available in the UK. We will give the nation a much needed break from these challenging times and a sense of hope for a brighter future.

Creating unforgettable holiday happiness is quite the challenge when travel is not allowed. The latest lockdown has certainly felt like the toughest yet, so I hope yesterday’s announcement feels personally and professionally like a ‘two steps forward’ moment.

For those of you with children, I have no doubt the re-opening of schools will be a huge relief as you no longer have to juggle work, parenting and teaching. I can only imagine the additional strain this has caused, so thank you for your resolve and flexibility.

Naturally this also raises questions on our timetable for reopening Carnival House. Ultimately our principles remain the same, as Chris Lees talked about in our update last week. Returning to Carnival House will start with the opening of the collaboration spaces in line with government phase 3 (slated for May), with a phased return to general use as lockdown is relaxed more fully. Clearly it’s some way off yet and something we’ll approach in a thoughtful, safe and considered way.

We’ll keep you posted through the Insider and do feed in any thoughts or questions through your EEG groups. For those who have any concerns, we’ll also be offering ten minute 1:1 sessions with Occupational Health and Employee Relations giving you the chance to ask any questions.

For those hoping for a definite set-sail date, we’re not quite ready to confirm our plans but we remain in very close contact with the UK Government, seeking more clarity on what this announcement means for the cruise industry. While the cruise sector wasn’t called out explicitly yesterday, the hospitality sector was. Large social gatherings will be allowed from June 21, which in my mind most definitely paves the way for cruising. Further, we expect the review of international leisure travel restrictions (review due on 12 April) to help us firm up timelines.

It is also worth saying, that partly as a result of our lobbying, Government has recognised the important role the travel industry plays in the UK economy and the impact the last year has had on the cruise industry and the associated product and service suppliers. The fact that the UK cruise industry brings £10 billion of economic value to the UK economy and supports 88,000 jobs should serve to keep everyone focused on helping us back to business.

We must remember that plans can change and the UK Government made it clear that its plans are based on data and not dates. Currently, the data is very positive – there’s been a sharp fall in death and infection rates, almost 18 million people have had their first vaccine, and new evidence shows those vaccinated have reduced transmission of the virus. We have every reason to be optimistic.

Remember, we all have a responsibility to ourselves, our colleagues and our loved ones to continue to live by the guidelines, on board and at home, so let’s all continue to respect and protect one another and hopefully it won’t be long before we’re creating unforgettable happiness once again!

Take care and all best wishes,

Simon Palethorpe
President, Carnival UK

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