CRUISE firm P&O has announced special domestic sailings this summer from Southampton – but only UK residents who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 will be allowed to board.

The firm says that its ‘Ultimate Escape UK’ holidays on Britannia and Iona will depart from the city between June and September, sailing around the British coasts “where the sun shines brightest”.

However, guests will have to show proof at the terminal that they have had their second vaccine against Covid-19 administered at least seven days before, or be stopped from boarding. The wearing of masks in some areas of the ships will also be enforced.

The firm says this decision has come due to “strong expressed preference” from its customers, but bosses say they’re confident this won’t hinder guests due to the “advanced progress of the UK vaccination programme”.

Britannia will offer three and four night breaks and one six night holiday running from June 27 through to September 19. Iona offers seven night itineraries running from August 7 to September 18. Prices start from £449 per person for a three night break on Britannia. Iona’s seven night maiden voyage starts from £1,199 per person.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “Given recent announcements we have every hope that our guests will be able to enjoy a holiday this summer.

“After the stresses and challenges of the past year everyone certainly deserves a treat and this series of cruises will provide memorable and much needed UK getaways.

“Whilst there is still uncertainty about holidays abroad this summer, we are delighted to be able to offer our guests the ultimate escape here in the UK with the reassurance that we will take care of everything.”

Tickets go on sale on March 22 at 8.30am and will be available to book online on or telephone 03453 555 111 or through a travel agent.