The Carnival Corporation subsidiary’s return to service is now scheduled for August 13, Cunard president Simon Palethorpe said in a statement. Five sailings were canceled, all on the Queen Elizabeth ship.

Palethorpe said that since March 2020, the cruise line’s priority has been to work with public health, scientific and medical experts and the government to put into place approved protocol to protect the health of crew and passengers as well as the communities Cunard visits.

“These protocols, of which we are very proud, have proven to be very effective and we had no cases of COVID-19 in over 5,000 crew members until last month when a small number of cases were identified amongst new crew boarding the ship,” Palethorpe said.

While the cruise line worked with health officials to take immediate steps to avoid a COVID-19 outbreak on board – including limiting new crew who were joining the ship and implementing contact tracing and isolation – Cunard was unable to finish its preparations to resume sailing. The ship had been scheduled to sail with passengers for the first time July 19.

“We are not able to complete the final essential preparations or deliver the comprehensive training schedule to the full required contingent of crew prior to the first scheduled sailing,” Palethorpe explained.

Cunard did not share medical details of the crew, including whether they had been vaccinated. 

The BBC reported that the ship has about 800 crew members on board. According to Cunard’s website, the Queen Elizabeth can carry just over 2,000 passengers and 1,000 crew members.

According to government guidance, only domestic cruises are allowed in the U.K. during its third step in the path to cruising’s resumption after it was shut down by the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

By July 19, the UK is expected to reach its fourth step, lifting social distancing and capacity restrictions. Right now, only up to 1,000 passengers, or 50% of capacity, are allowed on board domestic cruises – a limit that doesn’t apply to the crew.

  • Top Feature Photo: Peter Knego for USA TODAY