Once again it has been a busy month here at Bolsover Cruise Club, especially as it’s a key period in the cruise booking calendar! You may recall that, in my last update, I announced more than 300 voyages from Cunard would soon go on sale and this certainly proved to be a sensational hit with you, our Cruise Club Members. Cunard has been one of the standout brands so far in 2024, and it was great to see this trend continuing as many of you have been in touch to book your cruise from this new collection. Booking levels have been amazing, resulting in our best Cunard launch of all time and it is still not too late to find your next cruise. Covering the period from September 2025 through to January 2027, the new Cunard programme includes the full world voyage for the brand-new ship Queen Anne in 2026, and Queen Mary 2’s first-ever transit of the Panama Canal. There is certainly something for everyone, so do take a look here and speak to our Cruise Experts if there’s anything that captures your interest.

We have also been busy building our team even further with eight new staff members joining since my last update to bolster our Sales, Support and Marketing departments. This takes us to over 150 staff in total, a record number and I believe a testament to my commitment to retain customer service at the heart of what we do. So, whilst our new web booking system gives us a new direction for future sales, I remain committed to expanding the personal service we provide over the phone and face-to-face in our Cruise Bureau.

On the subject of the Cruise Bureau, for those of you who prefer to visit us, you’ll notice some fresh faces at our reception desk. Two of our very long-serving receptionists retired late last year, and we’ve now completed the recruitment of our new team of four receptionists, who are very happy to welcome you as your first point of contact when you visit us. If you would like to speak to one of our Cruise Experts in person, please pre-book your appointment to ensure we have a member of staff available to discuss your future cruise.

As for the development side of the business, we have continued with a range of enhancements during February. These have been focused primarily on making our internal systems even more dynamic, which I am confident will deliver even greater efficiencies for you, our customers, in the long term.

I mentioned before that we were also replacing our telephone system and implementation is now in the early stages. By utilising new, cutting-edge cloud systems, we will be able to handle your calls more effectively and continue to provide the award-winning customer service for which we have become renowned. We are hoping to start using a test version in the next few weeks, and although the system will work almost invisibly in the background, you can expect this to result in greater levels of communication with us. Among the biggest benefits will be an integrated webchat service for new and post-cruise enquiries, as well as a brand-new WhatsApp contact, so you will have even more options for speaking to our team. I will share more details on this as we approach the launch date, which I expect to be towards the end of April.

Since my last update, the most significant new ship launch has undoubtedly been Sun Princess, which set sail for the first time a couple of weeks ago. The biggest ship ever to sail under the Princess Cruises brand has been met with high praise indeed, not least among the members of our team who were invited on board the inaugural sailing. Their feedback has been incredible, with the dining, accommodation and overall standard of the ship all receiving glowing feedback! We have already shared some excellent photos on our Facebook channel, so make sure you take a look if you haven’t already done so.

One area of our business that has seen excellent year-on-year growth has been river cruising, so I was interested to learn of several new ships that are currently under construction. Riviera Travel will launch Riviera Rose and Riviera Radiance in 2025, with the former destined for the Douro and the latter sailing both the Danube and from Budapest to the Red Sea. Meanwhile, APT will be introducing two new ships – APT Solara and APT Ostara – to Europe’s rivers, where they will be transporting guests along the Rhine, Main and Danube. River cruising is certainly a relaxed way to see the world and one I would highly recommend if you have yet to try it.

The past few days have seen Fred. Olsen release details of its new 2025 and 2026 sailings. This is a cruise line that remains a firm favourite with our Cruise Club Members, not least because of its range of departure points in the north of England such as Liverpool and Newcastle. There are some fascinating itineraries in this latest collection, including visits to Arctic Norway, and riverside cities such as Rouen and Bordeaux, which are only accessible to smaller ships such as Fred. Olsen’s. There are also plenty of sailings to popular destinations throughout Northern Europe and the Mediterranean, as well as an extended 76-night exploration of South America and the Antarctic. Further details can be found on our website, and make sure you give our Cruise Experts a call if any of these itineraries interest you.

Another significant launch to be aware of is MSC’s 2026 itineraries, which are sailing directly from Southampton. This is another cruise line that has gained popularity among our customers over recent years, primarily due to its innovative new ships and favourable fares. The 2026 cruises range between two and 14 nights aboard MSC Virtuosa, one of the biggest and most family-friendly ships in the fleet. More details are available online.

We currently have one of our Cruise Experts on board the expedition ship MS Fridtjof Nansen in Antarctica. Fran is sailing with HX – formerly known as Hurtigruten Expeditions – where she will experience all the ship has to offer, and of course the incredible landscapes in this largely untouched part of the world. This is certainly one that is on my bucket list, and I would encourage you to follow Fran’s adventures on our social media channels over the coming days. She will also be sharing a full account of her once-in-a-lifetime trip in a future edition of Into the Blue, so keep an eye out for that. Educational experiences such as this remain an integral part of our commitment to enriching our team’s knowledge about new brands and the latest ships. They return with a wealth of insights, ready to share their newfound expertise with their colleagues and you, our valued Cruise Club Members.

If you are already signed up to receive Into the Blue, a copy of issue 55 should be landing with you as we speak. Features in this edition include a spotlight on some of Europe’s up-and-coming destinations, and an exclusive interview with Captain Camby, who has been at the helm of P&O Cruises Arvia since her launch a little over a year ago. As always, if you are not already signed up to receive your complimentary magazine, fill in your details and we will be sure to add you to the mailing list.

Once again thank you for following my updates and I wish everyone travelling over the next month Bon Voyage and have a great holiday.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Wilson

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