Thousands of people have booked staycation sailings with P&O Cruises this summer on the first day of sale.

The cruise line’s flagship Britannia and new ship Iona will set sail from Southampton between June and September, travelling around the UK’s coastline in search of good weather.

The itineraries do not include stops at any ports, apart from one Britannia sailing which will visit Liverpool.

For her maiden voyage, Iona will anchor off the small Scottish island after which she was named, until sunset.

The UK’s largest cruise line said thousands of guests made bookings for three, four and seven-night domestic cruises when they went on sale on Monday.

P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow said: “We always hoped that these domestic cruises would be popular, given the uncertainty around holidays abroad, but we have never before seen such significant and immediate demand and it certainly shows the effects of lockdown and everyone’s need for a holiday.

“Many thousands of guests have already made bookings and Iona’s maiden voyage to the Scottish islands is already very well sold and will be a very special cruise.

“We have spent so long working towards this point and we all just can’t wait to see our ships sailing once again, it’s been a very long year.”

It comes as the cruise line announced a ban on unvaccinated holidaymakers, allowing only UK residents who have received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine at least seven days in advance onboard.

Failure to provide proof of the jabs “will result in denial of boarding”, the firm warned last week.

Other measures introduced due to the pandemic include requiring passengers to wear masks in certain areas of the ship, and making travel insurance mandatory.

There will also be enhanced cleaning regimes and social distancing, while buffet food will be served by staff.

The Government has advised people to avoid all cruises since July 9, 2020, due to the virus crisis.

But maritime minister Robert Courts told MPs earlier this month that domestic cruises could be permitted from May 17.