Photo courtesy: Royal Caribbean cruise ship Adventure of the Seas, in port at Basseterre, St. Kitts. Roger Wollstadt / Flickr

Cruises will be back on from next month as Royal Caribbean launches its own vaccine passport scheme – but they’ll be swapping the Bahamas for Belfast with UK destinations only.

The company, which usually sails to the far-flung tropics, will instead travel to locations including Liverpool, Belfast and the Orkney Islands, with everyone on board over 18 required to have had two jabs.

Royal Caribbean – which is offering free cruises to key workers – will require either a doctor’s letter or documents confirming the vaccine appointments, with the second dose needing to be received at least two weeks before the date of departure.

The latest figures show 90% of over-50s have now been vaccinated, a promising sign for the cruise industry which overwhelmingly attracts older adults. The average age for a UK and Ireland cruise passenger is 57.

The company, which usually sails to far-flung destinations in the tropics, (like the British Virgin Islands - pictured) will instead travel to destinations including Liverpool, Belfast and the Orkney Islands

The company, which usually sails to far-flung destinations in the tropics, (like the British Virgin Islands – pictured) will instead travel to destinations including Liverpool, Belfast and the Orkney Islands

Managing director Ben Bouldin said Royal Caribbean would be willing to take part in a government vaccine passport scheme if one emerged – despite a cross-party backlash today which has seen 41 MPs vowing to vote against the idea.

Mr Bouldin said: ‘The numbers of vaccinations the UK is managing to achieve is really strong.

‘We recognise that not everyone will have been vaccinated through this summer but we know a good number of our guests would have been and we’re asking to prove they’ve had their two vaccines and we’ll be asking two weeks since their second vaccine.

‘And we’re asking them to prove their vaccine appointment with them or a letter from their doctor. And if the Government continues to finds a successful green card, that would be helpful but we’ll find a solution either way.’

On the change of destinations, he said: ‘Sailing around the UK is not usually what Royal Caribbean does, but the UK government has laid out the opportunity for domestic cruising to resume from May 17, and while we are not starting quite from then we are looking to show how it can be done very safely.’

He added that cruises from the UK to international destinations could resume from September or October, with the company hoping business would be back to usual by 2022.

Royal Caribbean - which is offering free cruises to key workers - will require either a doctor's letter or documents confirming the vaccine appointments. Pictured is Belfast City Hall

Royal Caribbean – which is offering free cruises to key workers – will require either a doctor’s letter or documents confirming the vaccine appointments. Pictured is Belfast City Hall

The Orkney Islands, which is one of the destinations that will be visited by Royal Caribbean cruises

Yesterday, Royal Caribbean announced it was offering key workers free cruises around the UK in a nod of appreciation for their efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

Some 999 rooms will be gifted to workers in the emergency services, NHS, social care sector and armed forces.

Those who want to apply for the voyages must register on the cruise line’s website to enter a ballot. The firm’s Anthem of the Seas ship will begin sailing from Southampton from July 7.

Since July 9, 2020, all holidaymakers have been advised to avoid taking a cruise due to the pandemic.

But maritime minister Robert Courts told MPs recently that domestic cruises could be permitted from May 17.