Publication - Advice and guidance

Coronavirus (COVID-19): travel and transport

Published: 21 May 2021
Last updated: 19 Jul 2021 - see all updates

Guidance on travel rules and restrictions and protection levels, including information on essential travel.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): travel and transport
Domestic cruise ship travel

Domestic cruise ship travel

Domestic cruises with more than 12 passengers will be allowed when all of Scotland reaches Level 1 of the Strategic Levels Framework.

What this guidance covers

This guidance applies to cruises operating around Scotland and docking at Scottish ports. The guidance applies primarily to passenger-carrying domestic cruise ships with more than 12 passengers. We have published advice for pilot boats, bareboat or yacht chartering in our Coronavirus (COVID-19): tourism and hospitality sector guidance. We have also published advice on boat day trips in our Guidance for Transport Operators

International cruises

International cruises are currently prohibited from docking or from taking UK passengers. These are defined as cruises which begin, end, or call at ports outside of the UK.

Read the latest UK government guidance on international cruises.

Guidance for operators

The UK Chamber of Shipping has outlined COVID-19 guidance for cruise passengers, operators and seafarers. You can read this guidance here:

If there is any contradiction between Scottish Government guidance or Scottish legislation and the three framework documents above, Scottish legislation and guidance must be adhered to over the framework documents This guidance includes:

Cruises have to operate in accordance with Scottish travel rules. They should not take passengers residing in Level 3 or 4 areas (as defined in the protection levels) unless those passengers have a reasonable excuse for travelling.


You must not travel if:

  • you live in a Level 2, 3 or 4 area
  • have COVID-19 symptoms or have been advised to self-isolate

Before traveling on cruise ship you should:

Passengers should check local travel restrictions before making any travel plans.

If a cruise docks at multiple ports, what level of restrictions apply?

The Strategic Levels Framework sets out the limitations under which each local authority area can operate. Cruise operators, passengers and staff are expected to act in line with the restrictions in each local authority area when they are off-ship. This would include, for example, considering what level of household mixing may take place while on excursions.

While in the territorial seas of Scotland (including when docked in a port), cruise companies must comply with restrictions outlined by the protection levels. This would mean operating in line with Level 1 restrictions when all of Scotland is at Level 1.

Ports or harbours may have their own safety requirements which have been implemented after a thorough risk assessment.

First published: 21 May 2021 Last updated: 19 Jul 2021 -