The UK government tightened travel restrictions on cruise ships after fears grew about the COVID Omicron variant.
The new regulation (passed on November 30th) states that cruisers will not be allowed to go out in UK ports (leave the ships) for independent or organized shore excursions. The tourists can only embark/disembark at the end of the cruise (in the homeport).
The first passengers to receive the news were on MSC Magnifica, as the liner docked in Southampton England. The letter distributed among guests read that due to the Omicron COVID variant, travel requirements were changing daily and governments were quickly updating their restrictions.
"The UK government has passed a new regulation banning shore excursions and independent shore excursions for all cruise lines in Southampton and all UK ports starting tomorrow, Tuesday, 11/30/2021.
As a result, all of the excursions you had booked had to be canceled and the amount has already been credited to your on-board account.
Only guests whose cruise ends in Southampton are allowed to disembark. All excursions you booked had to be canceled and the amount was credited to your on-board account."
The restriction applies to all cruise shipping companies coming to the UK until further notice.