Fred Olsen Cruise Lines will “take baby steps” on its return, offering only ex-UK cruising to Europe for most of 2021.

Speaking on a Travel Weekly webcast, managing director Peter Deer said: “Our initial steps back into cruising, when we believe it is safe to do so, will be baby steps closer to home, closer to the UK, then a little bit further.

“There will be less exotic cruising, certainly to start with, and once we feel that’s worked really well and we have confidence with everything we’re doing and the guests have confidence, the governments have confidence, then we can be more extensive in the cruising we do.”

Deer added: “Timing-wise, assuming things start to move in the right direction perhaps later this year, we’re going to stay close to home during 2021 and then think to ourselves, how far should we go towards the end of 2021; should we operate fly-cruise, for example.”

Deer said that he hoped the largely blanket advice against non-essential travel imposed by the FCO would be lifted in the next few months so that lines “can actually start operating our businesses”.

“We’re working with the Department for Transport and the FCO,” he said. “We have protocols we’re working up with Clia to say this the set of processes that us and the UK cruise industry are going to work to and then we will take baby steps back into operating.”

Deer said the onus was not just on the UK government, adding that the destinations that the line intends to travel to also needed to be confident that all the right steps were being taken to ensure the safety of passengers, crew and local people shoreside.

“It really is more a pan-European understanding, that is if you’re sailing from the UK as a British guest, and you’re going to, say, Norway, then effectively both countries have to be happy to accept guests from the UK.

“It’s about building a ‘sea bridge’ between different destinations and different countries.”