Hello and welcome to my October 2023 update!

My latest update follows on the heels of a recent trip with Royal Caribbean International (RCI) to visit Bordeaux, with a group of agents staying in a lovely chateau and taking in two of the early Rugby World Cup games. It’s a wonderful part of the world to visit and I saw some great rugby as I watched two of our home teams, Wales and Ireland. But, on the serious side, RCI held a series of sessions to discuss their current and future trading. Whilst the cruise industry has enjoyed a phenomenal resurgence since Covid, the RCI product is clearly proving very successful on an international stage, in particular their suite products and the new private island that’s unlike anywhere else in the world, Perfect Day at CocoCay. The overriding point I learnt from the trip is that you clearly need to book early with RCI, especially their latest ship Icon of the Seas, which will become the largest cruise ship in the world when she starts sailing in 2024.

We have just received word that Royal Caribbean will be launching another Icon Class ship in the next couple of years, which is to be called Star of the Seas. She will be the third ship in the fleet powered by LNG (liquified natural gas) and is due to set sail in summer 2025. We will, of course, share more details as and when they become available. 

Last month, I mentioned the importance of getting passport requirements right and this month my focus is the importance of travel insurance. Research carried out by ABTA before the Covid-19 pandemic revealed that 22% of holidaymakers travelled completely uninsured and 27% went without the correct cover; the second group included people who didn’t declare a pre-existing medical condition or who took part in activities that were not covered by their policy. The important point here is that a lot can go wrong whilst you are away and receiving help in many worldwide destinations can be incredibly expensive. Having cover in place is not only essential, but all cruise operators insist on this in their booking conditions. Quite simply, the overarching rule is never ever travel without adequate insurance!

When we think about travel insurance, luggage and lost items seem to come automatically to mind but, in reality, the most important aspects are pre-trip cancellation cover and medical costs abroad, including the potential curtailment of your holiday. With both in mind, you need to ensure your policy covers the value of your full trip, which I know can be challenging these days particularly when booking a longer cruise. However, what catches many people out are the various conditions relating to pre-existing medical conditions. These vary widely from policy to policy, but the golden rule is that most pre-existing conditions for the travelling passengers need to be declared, otherwise a claim is highly likely to be denied. Plus, in many cases, if you are travelling with a close relative with a pre-existing condition, you may also need to declare this to your insurer. Reading the policy carefully is therefore essential and following all instructions is vital, as you really don’t want to find yourself overseas in a predicament with your insurer refusing to cover you.

By the way, if you book a trip with certain operators – including one of our own bespoke packages – you will be asked to provide the name of your insurer, policy number and emergency contact number before any final travel documents are released.

October is set to be an exciting month of development for our company, as we are due to complete two major projects crucial to supporting our continued growth. Over the past few weeks, we have been building an extension to our main staff park that will give us space for just under 40 more cars. At the time of writing, this is very close to being complete, with tarmacking taking place in a just few days and white lining to follow shortly after. This will be operational before mid-October and gives us plenty of capacity for the coming years, while ensuring we have adequate parking for visitors to our Cruise Bureau.

Talking about our Cruise Bureau, this is the second area of redevelopment that is scheduled to take place in October, and which will be well underway by the time you are reading this update. This has always been an area of our Call Centre that has not been fully utilised over the years, and I am now creating a shared space that will house both the expanding Cruise & Stay team, together with the ever-popular Cruise Bureau. These changes will create 32 new desks for our Cruise & Stay Team, along with five customer desks in the Cruise Bureau area. Rest assured, the Cruise Bureau will continue to provide a dedicated waiting area in reception, hosted meet and greet service along with complimentary tea and coffee.

This is a fitting point at which to remind you to call ahead to book an appointment if you intend to visit the Bureau, as we cannot always guarantee to have staff available for walk-ins. Bureau opening times are Monday to Saturday, 10am to 4pm, closed Sunday and Bank Holidays.

A direct benefit of the above changes is the extra capacity to expand the sales force over the next year or so. These changes are a great testament to my personal commitment to have staff working together in one space, rather than working remotely from home. I strongly believe this enables Bolsover Cruise Club to provide the industry-leading standard of service and expertise which is supported by our 4.9* Trustpilot rating with 93% scoring us 5*.

The last couple of days have seen the launch of Cunard’s new summer 2025 collection, which includes 180 new voyages such as iconic Transatlantic Crossings and a selection of journeys on board the brand-new ship Queen Anne. We are offering an exclusive double cashback on these cruises until 19 October, so make sure you get in touch with our team if there’s a particular sailing you have your eye on. You can find out more about these new itineraries by visiting our website.

Whilst I’m on the subject of Queen Anne, Cunard has released a series of images of the ship during her fitting-out phase at the shipyard in Venice. Those of you who have sailed with Cunard previously will notice some stark differences from other ships in the fleet, as well as some returning passenger-favourite venues. There will be a big focus on wellness on board, and the latest renderings show the progress that has been made across several key areas of the ship, including The Pavilion, an open-air deck space with a retractable glass dome.

It is just a matter of days until P&O Cruises releases its next season of sailings, which will cover winter 2025/26. Once the itineraries have been released, you will be able to pre-register your choice of cruise and accommodation with our Cruise Experts. This is a system we have developed extensively over the years and has been highly successful at ensuring our customers secure their choice of holiday. Key dates for the upcoming release are below.[table “371” not found /]

Yours sincerely

Michael Wilson