Scottish cruise company The Majestic Line has reversed its policy on face masks, saying passengers and crew must now wear them in public areas.
In July, managing director Ken Grant – who is also an epidemiologist – told The Telegraph: "We’re not going to cruise with people in masks. We can make it work if it’s the one-metre rule, but unless we can offer a proper Majestic Line experience we just don’t think it’s offering our customers value for money – and we would rather ask them to rebook or give them their money back.”
However, after two of the line’s boats began sailing on August 29 with face masks only required when using tender boats and in shops on shore, Grant has issued new instructions.
He said: “Facial coverings will be worn by crew and passengers indoors in public spaces, other than when eating or drinking. We will be providing clear masks but passengers can, of course, wear their own if they prefer.”
The Majestic Line is operating within the ‘rule of six’ law: as a hospitality company, it can accept separate groups of no more than six people from more than two households – as long as they don’t socialise together.
To help achieve this, Grant has changed the dining arrangements. Instead of up to 10 passengers eating at one large table, and couples sitting closer together to maintain a metre distance from other households, additional seating has been added – to create up to three groups of diners.
He said: “We will continue to review the situation on a weekly basis. If clients do not want to cruise under the new guidelines, we will rebook them for next year or refund their monies.”
The Majestic Line, which in normal years operates four boats with up to 12 passengers on each cruise, is one of the few British ocean cruise companies now operating. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office currently still advises against taking holidays at sea.
One couple who have just returned from a Majestic Line cruise is Charlie and Wendy McNicoll, from Buckinghamshire.
On their six-night voyage around Mull they sat for three meals a day with seven other passengers.
They said: “Splitting up the group and requiring face masks to be worn will, we feel, lessen the wonderful atmosphere that we experienced. However, if it had been our trip, and coming from the restricted life of the past several months, we are sure we would still thoroughly enjoy the cruise.”