Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): travel and transport

Published: 27 Aug 2021
Last updated: 8 Oct 2021 - see all updates

Guidance on travel rules and restrictions.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): travel and transport
Cruise ship travel

Cruise ship travel

This guidance is for operators and passengers undertaking a cruise during the COVID-19 outbreak in Scotland.

Update – 04 October 2021

As of 04 October, Scottish International Travel Regulations will align with the UK Government’s most recent update to its international travel policy. In practicality this means:

  • passengers not disembarking in a Scottish port are no longer required to fill out a passenger locator form or complete a pre-departure PCR test
  • if a passenger tests positive for COVID-19 while on a cruise vessel, they can be disembarked at a Scottish port subject to agreement with the relevant Port Health Authority
  • passengers no longer need to take a day 2 PCR test if they will remain in Scotland for less than 48 hours

An amendment will also be made to the booking system to allow cruise passengers planning to disembark to complete their Passenger Locator Form in advance of the usual 48 hours. 

Read further information on the amendments to the regulations.

Guidance for operators

In order to have an aligned approach to viral management, the Scottish Government and UK Government has approved the use of the protocols for cruises developed by the UK Chamber of Shipping. This comprises 3 sets of guidance for cruise passengers, operators and seafarers:

These protocols should however be read in conjunction with Scottish Government guidance and Scottish law, and if there is any contradiction between Scottish Government guidance or Scottish legislation and the 3 framework guidance documents, Scottish legislation and guidance must be adhered to over the framework documents. This includes:

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (Requirements) (Scotland) Regulations 2021 (legislation.gov.uk) which outlines the requirements for mask wearing and the need for businesses to collect customer details for the purposes of test and protect and The Health Protection (Coronavirus) (International Travel) (Scotland) Regulations 2020 which governs the restrictions on international travel into and out of Scotland.

Both operators and passengers should be aware of and comply with the Coronavirus (COVID-19): international travel and managed isolation (quarantine). This outlines the requirements for quarantining and vaccination. Passengers should ensure they are aware of this before travelling or planning an excursion. 

Please note: There is a legal obligation on companies conveying passengers into Scotland from outside the common travel area to check passenger locator forms, vaccination status and pre-departure test certificates where appropriate prior to arrival in the UK.

If a vessel picks up passengers during a cruise who have travelled from or through a red list country in the preceding 10 days, and conveys them to the UK, the passenger and carrier could potentially be committing an offence. The responsibility for ensuring no such offence is committed rests both with the individual and the cruise company. For further  information please see: the Coronavirus (COVID-19): international travel and managed isolation (quarantine).

If passengers are arriving in Scotland for the first time by cruise ship operators will need to make arrangements for appropriate on board testing to allow passengers to complete pre-arrival testing. Passengers are no longer required to complete a Day 2 test if their trip to Scotland will be under 48 hours.  Cruise ship operators are encouraged to use universal asymptomatic testing offers for ongoing surveillance.

Operators should also refer to the Coronavirus (COVID-19): tourism and hospitality sector guidance which sets out required and recommended mitigation measures for mask wearing and the collection of customer details in hospitality settings.  

Guidance for passengers

Both operators and passengers should be aware of and comply with Scotland's rules: Coronavirus (COVID-19): international travel and managed isolation (quarantine). This outlines the requirements for quarantining and vaccination. Passengers should ensure they are aware of this before travelling or planning an excursion.

Passengers must comply with the regulations that apply to international arrivals on testing and isolation, according to the risk assessment of countries they have visited and their residence and vaccination status.

If a vessel picks up passengers during a cruise who have travelled from or through a red list country in the preceding 10 days, and conveyed to the UK, the passenger and carrier are could potentially be committing an offence. The responsibility for ensuring no such offence is committed rests both with the individual and the cruise company.

You may also wish to familiarise yourself with the UK Chamber of Shipping COVID-19 guidance for passengers. This contains information on safety procedures outwith hospitality settings while on a cruise and outlines protocols for embarking, disembarking and general requirements while on board. In hospitality premises, the Coronavirus (COVID-19): guidance for retail, tourism and hospitality customers will always take precedence over this.

You should ensure you have travel insurance, and make sure you are content with the level of cover it provides. This is highly recommended for international cruises. If you already have travel insurance, check it is valid and provides appropriate cover.

You must not travel if you have been advised that you must self-isolate by the NHS Test and Protect service or you are:

  • experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms
  • self-isolating as a result of COVID-19 symptoms
  • self-isolating as a contact of a case who has presented with symptoms in the 10 days previous

First published: 27 Aug 2021 Last updated: 8 Oct 2021 -