(7:35 p.m. GMT) -- Cruise lines are playing down hopes of an early restart, despite today's news that domestic cruising could resume from England as early as May 17.
The UK's biggest cruise line, P&O Cruises, said it would take "some weeks after this May 17 date" for its fleet to get back into service. Princess Cruises said "late summer" would be a more realistic start date.
And Cunard was even more pessimistic, stating it could be "some months" after May 17 for any of its three ships set sail again.
Yesterday, Maritime Minister Robert Courts announced that domestic cruising -- from English ports only -- could in principle restart from May 17. This would be strictly following the government's roadmap of opening all travel from this date.
"We strongly welcome the announcement that cruise will be included alongside the restart of other domestic tourism in the UK," said Andy Harmer, director, CLIA UK & Ireland, following the announcement.
"The industry has long planned a phased restart for cruise, with domestic cruises representing the first stage of this plan. We look forward to continuing to work collaboratively with the Government, including through the Global Travel Taskforce in order to ensure the safe restart of international cruise in time for the summer season."
Royal Caribbean released the same statement.
Most cruise lines issued statements supporting the government's stance, while also acknowledging that May 17 seemed early.
Paul Ludlow, P&O Cruises' President, wrote on Twitter: "We are delighted that the Government has acknowledged that UK domestic cruise holidays can begin from May 17. Whilst it will take some weeks after this date for us to restart our operations, we are very much looking forward to welcoming guests on board this summer."
The line still has a domestic start date of "April".
"Today's announcement that cruise lines will be able to restart domestic sailings in the UK from May 17 is very welcome news," stated Tony Roberts, Vice President of Princess.
"As we continue to prepare our ships for return to service in line with the Government's travel guidance, we look forward to the restart of our UK cruises aboard Sky Princess and Regal Princess from late summer."
Chris Hackney, Managing Director of Marella Cruises said: "We welcome the positive news from government that domestic cruises will be included alongside the restart of other domestic tourism in the UK.
"We’re working through what this means for Marella Cruises and our summer programme and we’ll update customers as soon as we have more information. We continue to work closely with the UK Government on the return of international cruising as soon as it is safe to do so."
Last week, P&O Cruises and Princess took the pre-emptive step of cancelling all of their international sailings from the UK, replacing them with domestic cruises.
The main challenge for all of these cruise ship lines is the length of time it takes to put a ship into service, which can take weeks and often months. This is due to a number of reasons, one of the main ones beign the logistics of getting crew back from abroad.
Other UK cruise lines including Fred. Olsen and Saga, have no plans to restart until July.