At SeaDream Yacht Club we are well-known for our tagline, ‘It’s yachting, not cruising’ and this has left us in an interesting position regarding current travel advice for our UK guests from the FCO (Foreign & Commonwealth Office) and DFT (Department for Transport).
Currently, The Foreign & Commonwealth Office advises against cruise ship travel due to the ongoing pandemic. This has of course left an entire industry waiting for a change in the approach as cruise ships are now considered by many as one of the safest places to be with their rigorous health and hygiene protocols.
According to the FCO, “Cruise ship travel means staying overnight for at least 1 night on a ‘sea-going’ cruise ship with people from multiple households”. We highlight the ‘sea-going’ element here as this effectively means that they are happy for you to go on a river cruise and river cruises are now successfully operating once again and welcoming UK guests.
Naturally many of our guests and partners have questioned why it would be seen as safe to go on a river ship but not on a yacht, that sails with just 112-guests (less than many river ships) and has in fact been successfully operating in Norwegian waters since June this year, with tight and effective Covid measures in place, as demonstrated in the short video below.
SeaDream has looked into this in more detail and spoken to various influential industry figures and we are certainly hopeful that the advice will change soon as we genuinely feel that our yachts are one of the safest places to be right now, as our Norway season has demonstrated.
The FCO is mainly concerned about the risk to UK travellers abroad and therefore issues around repatriation should a guest fall ill at sea and a whole ship require repatriation. Whereas the DFT is focused on preventing the risk of importing the virus back to the UK.
However, what has been made very clear to us is that this is just advice. No department is telling UK guests they cannot travel on a yacht, they are advising against it and in doing so, they are seeing a 6,000-passenger cruise ship and a 100-passenger yacht as one and the same in terms of risk…
The good news is that SeaDream has proven it can operate safely and our yachts are small enough to enable exceptional health measures and covid prevention processes. This is not just a future plan on paper or a theoretical procedure, this has been put to the test and proven it’s effectiveness for the three months we have been back in operation now.
The other good news is that there are more and more insurance products that will now seek to cover small-ship travel as demonstrated by the increasing number of UK media stories covering a return to ‘small-ship’ cruising in the Med, with well-known journalists back exploring the islands of the Aegean and beyond.
Lastly, aside from insurance, if the concern is that travel advice will change at the last minute and guests are worried about having to quarantine on their return or worst case before they leave due to track and trace or contracting the virus, SeaDream has introduced the ‘Ultimate Booking Assurance’, meaning that should your destination have quarantine restrictions added just before you are due to travel, we will give you a full refund or move your balance to a future voyage.
In short, we are very much open for bookings, so stop dreaming and start planning.