Hello and welcome to my October update!

The past month has continued to be a mixed picture with sales slowing over and beyond the period of the state funeral and non-sales queries still running at record levels, representing a significant proportion of our inbound calls. I mentioned previously that I had taken the decision to create a new department dedicated to dealing with after sales issues and this work is well underway. We are also currently working with British Telecom to reconfigure our telephone system and, as we get closer to Christmas, we will switch over to the new arrangement. Essentially, going forward we will only have one incoming telephone number and you will have three easy options, the first dedicated entirely to new bookings with our dedicated Sales Team supporting this, a second option for after sales and general queries and then finally a payment option.

Currently, the main priority is building the after sales team to enable this new system to operate effectively and free our Sales Team to prioritise new bookings only. I am confident that this new structure will help us handle calls more effectively and, with the additional staff currently training, bring calls times down significantly in busy periods. Sadly, this is a departure from our previous policy of one-to-one service, but this is simply no longer feasible as we have to embrace flexible working policies and the huge increase in administrative tasks as a direct result of cruise operators relying more and more on digital documents etc.

With regard to digital documentation, I would like to take a moment to cover this again, as we still face misplaced criticism from time to time on this subject. Quite clearly the digital revolution is well and truly upon us and, as cruise passengers, we are not immune from this fast-changing world. The Covid years have clearly accelerated this process and almost all cruise operators now ask you to complete immigration details and check-in online via your own protected account. I am afraid we must move with the times and the days of old-fashioned paper tickets, luggage labels, leather ticket wallets etc are a thing of the past. But please don’t shoot the messenger! Strict data protection legislation means we simply cannot access your personal account and undertake these steps for you; plus, in most instances, your e-tickets and such like are accessed via the same account. So, it is important that you are familiar with the features pertaining to your cruise booking to facilitate check-in and boarding. However, we continue to give as much guidance as we can, but simply have no option other than to move with the times.

Since my last update, Princess Cruises have announced that they are adding a brand-new ship, Sun Princess, to their fleet in February 2024, a name that might sound familiar to some of you. There have previously been two Sun Princess ships sailing for Princess Cruises, the first of which was in service between 1974 to 1988 and the second from 1995 to 2000. The vessel will accommodate 4,300 guests and be the first in the fleet to be powered by liquified natural gas, which is becoming the fuel of choice for many of the major cruise lines these days. Her inaugural season is already on sale here, where she will be heading to the Mediterranean and calling at popular ports such as Santorini, Naples and Barcelona. I know many of our Cruise Club Members have been keen to book on this exciting new ship, so I’d urge you to get in touch if you have your eye on any of these sailings to avoid any disappointment.

Also launching in 2024 is the hotly anticipated Queen Anne, the fourth queen to join the Cunard fleet. Details recently emerged of her keel laying ceremony which took place at the Fincantieri-Marghera shipyard in Venice – this marks an important stage in the construction process and I’m sure you will join me in looking forward to receiving more updates on her progress over the coming months.

This will be one of my final updates before the new P&O Cruises ship Arvia sets sail on her maiden voyage. A couple of members of our team were recently invited to Germany to see Arvia in the Meyer Werft shipyard and it’s fair to say their feedback has been glowing. They were treated to a tour of some of the main areas of the ship, including the Grand Atrium and SkyDome by none other than Captain Camby, who will be at the helm when Arvia launches in December.

A number of exciting new Baltic Sea and Scandinavia cruises have also just been launched by P&O Cruises featuring other ships in the fleet. This is a fascinating part of the world I have been fortunate enough to sail many times and I can highly recommend these itineraries. Nine new cruises have been released on Aurora, Arcadia and Britannia in 2024, which also include sailings around the British Isles and Canary Islands, follow this link for further details or call our Sales Team who will be only too pleased to help you.

P&O Cruises Winter 2024, 2025

We are just a matter of days away from being able to share the latest collection of P&O Cruises holidays with you, which will cover the winter 2024/25 season, including the 2025 World Cruise. Details will be making their way to your inboxes and appearing on our website on 20 October.

But in the meantime, here are the on-sale dates for your diary:

  • Tuesday 1 November 2022 – Exclusively on sale for Caribbean, Baltic and Ligurian tier members of the P&O Cruises Peninsular Club
  • Wednesday 2 November 2022 – Holidays departing September to December 2024 go on general sale
  • Thursday 3 November 2022 – Holidays departing January to April 2025 go on general sale

We will be opening pre-registrations on 20 October, when you will have the opportunity to register your specific requirements and we will book these for you once they go on sale as per the dates above. This process is something we have perfected over the years and together with our bespoke booking system connected to P&O Cruises, I am confident in achieving close to 100% success for our clients. I firmly believe no other agent can match our pre-registration process and help you obtain the cruise and accommodation of your choice! Look out for our launch details on 20 October and register with our Sales Team without delay to avoid disappointment!

This month marks the start of the ever-popular Caribbean cruise season, and it is reassuring to see many of the most popular cruise lines making a full return to the region. Celebrity Cruises recently announced they would have nine ships based in this part of the world over the coming months and, as many ports such as Barbados eliminate their entry restrictions, I expect that the destination’s popularity will only continue to rise. Plus, P&O Cruises continue to offer their highly successful Caribbean cruises from now through to spring with very convenient charter flight options from several UK airports. It’s a perfect opportunity to enjoy some great winter sunshine! Take a look here

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