P&O Cruises and Saga returned to sea this evening, with both cruise lines departing on round-Britain cruises. The sailings are the first for both operators since the pandemic caused a complete halt in operations last March.

Britannia departed Southampton for P&O Cruises, while Saga’s Spirit of Discovery sailed from Tilbury Docks. Both will take vaccinated guests on short coastal cruises in the British Isles.

Nigel Blanks, CEO of Saga Cruises, said: ‘Our guests are so excited to be back cruising again and our crew members are all looking forward to giving them an incredible experience onboard. We have a great itinerary, taking in some of the most stunning parts of the West Country. There really is no better place to see our beautiful coastline than from the sea.

‘We work to the highest standards and every detail has been thought-through to respect current social distance rules from the onboard entertainment to the dining experience, spa and fitness facilities and personalised customer service. All our guests can board knowing we take their health and well-being incredibly seriously. In addition to the observance of strict safety protocols, guests must have had both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine prior to departure and all our crew onboard have also been fully vaccinated.’

Speaking as Britannia prepared to sail, P&O Cruises President, Paul Ludlow, said: ‘For the first time in over 15 months, our guests are embarking Britannia and we’re once again creating unforgettable holiday happiness.

‘To be the first Carnival UK brand to return to service is a proud moment for everyone at P&O Cruises – what we’ve achieved and overcome to get to this point is remarkable, and it wouldn’t have been possible without the tireless work of our teams both ashore and onboard.’

Guests looking to cruise this summer can still book a staycation holiday in the British Isles. Click here to find out more.