A CRUISE operator cancelled a stop in Inverclyde after hundreds of UK passengers on board were told they would not be allowed to disembark.

The MSC Virtuosa had been due to dock in Greenock yesterday morning before departing at 8pm.

However, the Scottish Passenger Agents’ Association (SPAA) said the ship did not make the journey from Liverpool to Greenock on Tuesday and instead remained in Liverpool for a second day.

The domestic seven-night cruise is due to visit Belfast, Southampton and the Isle of Portland in Dorset, with another planned stop at Greenock before returning to Liverpool.

The SPAA, the professional body for travel agents and the sector in Scotland, has seen a copy of an email sent to current passengers by the cruise operator.

It says: “Due to the latest Scottish Government Covid-19 restrictions and regulations ... we are sorry to inform you that the port call of Greenock has been cancelled.

“No guests are allowed to embark or disembark ... This decision has been made by the Scottish Government and is out of our control.”

Joanne Dooey, SPAA president, told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme: “What’s the difference between a cruise ship coming in and football taking place in Glasgow with no testing being put in place? And when are we ever going to have confidence in the vaccination progress? We are going to have to live with new variants coming in and we have to get on with our lives.”

An MSC spokeswoman said: “In light of recent information received, we are now awaiting further clarification from the relevant authorities in Scotland about the situation for cruising which regrettably means that we have had to cancel our proposed visit to Greenock.”

It came as Scotland recorded its highest number of new coronavirus cases in almost four months.

A total of 1011 new cases of Covid-19 were reported in yesterday’s figures, the highest daily number since February 17 and 316 more than the previous day.

But the test positivity rate – the percentage of tests returning a positive result – was 3%, down from 5% on Tuesday. Hospital figures have also remained the same, with 121 patients on Tuesday with recently confirmed Covid-19, no change on the previous day, though the number in intensive care increased by two to 14.

One Covid-19 death was recorded in the previous 24 hours, taking the total number of fatalities under that measure to 7678. Separate figures from the National Records of Scotland (NRS) – which include suspected or probable cases of Covid-19 – suggest the number of fatalities is 10,130.

The NRS data, also released yesterday, shows the number of deaths involving coronavirus in Scotland has remained the same as last week. Eight deaths were recorded between May 31 and June 6, the same as the previous seven-day period.

Three of the deaths occurred in South Ayrshire, with two in both Glasgow and North Lanarkshire. One death was recorded in the Scottish Borders.

Seven deaths occurred in hospitals while one took place in a care home.

One of those who died was aged under 65, two were aged 65-74, and five were over 75.