An Update And A Look To The Future

Hello,

As Managing Director of Bolsover Cruise Club, the past four months have been both unprecedented but also remarkable as my team have grappled with the unfolding events of this once in a lifetime crisis. As we reach, what to me now seems a mid-point in this defined period of history, I wanted to take this opportunity to reach out to our loyal clients with an update on what’s happened so far and a look into the immediate future.

As we see the first green shoots of the leisure industry opening for business in Europe, the cruise sector remains largely suspended as a result of the Covid-19 spread to many parts of the globe. The UK and Europe have shown that, with determination and sacrifice, we can largely beat the virus and so we know cruising will resume in time.

Having managed Bolsover Cruise Club as a pure retail agent for some 40 years, it was both an exciting and nervous time when, in September 2018, my daughter joined the business as Product Manager, creating a new tour operation that would go on to book many thousands of passengers by the time Covid-19 became a reality in China. Never could we have known the devastating impact this would have on this new operation. Back in February and March, whilst most people in the UK were just getting used to the news of the virus in China, we on the other hand had begun the rollercoaster ride of repatriating hundreds of our Cruise and Stay clients from Asia and then, later, being forced to cancel huge numbers of 2020 Cruise and Stay holidays.

Given our experience in Asia, as the virus moved towards Europe, I had already predicted total lockdown. However, even with this foresight, I could not have known the unprecedented effect this would have on the tens of thousands of passengers booked to travel not only on our own Cruise and Stay holidays, but predominantly our clients sailing with the major cruise lines. We have always been very agile at dealing with major events such as ships retiring with hundreds of affected clients, but this time the scale has been at a level that is impossible for me to get across to anyone, unless you are personally immersed in the crisis as we are.

As cruise upon cruise was suspended, not only were we placed into an extraordinary position of having tens of thousands of affected clients, but we were then launched into having to close our entire operation overnight and restart with each staff member working from home as we all went into lockdown. This in itself was, to say the least, a mammoth operation, but we quickly established an emergency phone system and have since maintained this seven days a week.

Without any choice on our part, almost all cruise operators decided to contact our clients directly by email wherever possible, with a link to confirm their intentions. This effectively took us immediately out of the loop, being unable to control or record what options each client had accepted. The operators in turn, also being overwhelmed by volume, were unable to provide any reporting to us, so we have largely worked blind throughout the crisis with little help from our operator partners. On top of this, many of the cruise operators changed their procedures multiple times and we were faced with a tidal wave of clients calling about future sailings that had not been cancelled, clearly anxious about their impending travel arrangements.

I paint this picture not out of a desire to court sympathy, but to try and explain why we simply have not been able to contact every client with an affected sailing personally, as would be our normal policy. The chaotic environment of unfolding events and magnitude of scale has made this impossible and is my biggest regret to date during this crisis. This does not mean my team have not been working tirelessly arranging transfers, chasing refunds and applying Future Cruise Savings etc., but we simply have been overtaken by sheer volume with everyone working from the restrictive confines of their own home. So, whilst we know everyone has been contacted by their respective cruise operator, if we have not reached out to you personally, I hope this explanation goes some way to explain why and I would like to take this opportunity to extend my sincere apologies.

I mentioned refunds earlier and this has been the hot topic throughout; indeed, the standout issue that has caused the greatest upset to clients at large. Like ourselves, cruise operators and airlines have been overwhelmed by Covid-19. I don’t need to tell you this; Which Magazine, Martin Lewis and the media generally have been ripe with stories about refunds and, at times, queries about refunds have dominated calls to our Sales Team. It remains a misconception to some clients that we hold your monies and I can only reiterate that, in the case of retail bookings, all deposit and balances go directly to the cruise operators, so they hold client’s funds. Therefore, they alone control the timing of refunds. Almost all cruise operators without exception have struggled to cope with the volume of refunds and, only now, some five months into the crisis, we are seeing some movement. If you are still awaiting a refund, then I can assure you operators are working as quickly as resources allow them to clear the backlog. However, in most cases, the Operator processes are automated, so I am afraid chasing these often has no effect. If you do need to contact our Sales Team about an outstanding refund, please remember they are not personally responsible for the delay everyone is experiencing, and they equally are just as frustrated.

With cruises cancelled for the best part of this year and no current indication as to when cruising will return to any great extent, I have had to act to reduce costs to ensure we remain strong, but equally be ready to restart fully when the time is right. So, for the time being, our Cruise Centre and retail unit at Meadowhall both remain closed and we will continue to offer a telephone service Monday to Friday from 09.00 until 17.30, Saturday 09.00 until 17.00 and Sunday 10.00 until 16.00. I apologise to those who experience delays in speaking to the Sales Team, but at times they are under significant pressure, particularly when any major changes for suspensions take place.

You will have noticed that our marketing has reduced dramatically as the majority of the team are furloughed. However, at long last we are seeing green shoots of recovery. A small number of river cruises in Europe are now operational, along with Hurtigruten, who are expecting to have 14 of their 15 ships back in operation by September. Elsewhere, we are seeing a lot of collaboration between cruise lines as they look to pave the way for the industry to restart. Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines recently joined forces to assemble a panel of experts tasked with implementing new health measures, while Carnival Corporation will host a summit with the World Travel & Tourism Council to bring together specialists in science, research and clinical backgrounds to explore its Covid-19 response. It’s reassuring to see such positive developments and hopefully we will have news of more cruises for you to contemplate soon as we gradually return to normality. Regardless of how long it takes, it’s quickly becoming apparent that cruising will be the safest way to holiday when sailings resume.

As a parting message, in these most testing times, if we have not delivered you the level of service to which we are renowned, I hope you will understand the difficulties in doing so during the Covid-19 crisis. On behalf of my team, I send our sincere apologies.

Thank you for bearing with us.

Your sincerely, 

Michael Wilson

Managing Director

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Rebecca

Author: Rebecca

Editor of Into The Blue, Bolsover Cruise Club’s specialist cruise magazine. Writer for almost ten years – the words have tended to be more specifically about travel and cruising for six of those. Big fan of beaches, even bigger fan of New York. Still can’t pack a case for toffee and once discovered a stranger in the shower of her Airbnb.

45 thoughts on “An Update And A Look To The Future

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    July 10, 2020 at 5:28 pm
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    I understand completely and I do sympathize we have enjoyed cruising with Bolsover for many years will we go again who knows regards Terry and Margaret Watkins

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    July 10, 2020 at 5:31 pm
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    I for one have had exceptional service from your team in these horrid times.
    I cannot wait to book with you again.
    Thank You to you and your team for their work and continual updates.

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    July 10, 2020 at 5:33 pm
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    Just received you em ail about the virus problem we are so upset about the loss to your industry. We have had 6 cruises with you and we’re looking forward to many more but as we are in the 70. S plus category I am worried that we have lost the opportunity to go again. We had to cancel in February as we had booked. For may this year for our 50th wedding anniversary to Venice and Croatia. So so gutted about. It all. But we have stayed. Safe thru out the crisis and I suppose we ought to be grateful for that as so many lively people have lost their lives. We could have never imagined this kind of thing would happen in our lifetime. I will hope bolsover get back to normal soon as possible . Who knows maybe we will get to cruise again before we get too old. Fingers crossed for you all. Take care. Best wishes

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    July 10, 2020 at 5:37 pm
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    To all at Bolsover we can only thank you for providing us with such a wonderful service these past 28 years. Cruising has been an enormous part of our life all these years and you have never let us down. Always so professional at Bolsover with wonderful communication and a fabulous hard working team.Mr Stewart and I don’t feel we can resume our Cruising adventures quite yet as becoming elderly and still so risky but hope to within the coming year. By then we are sure the Cruise companies will have sorted out all the necessary health and safety procedures that Covid demands and it will be safer for us to travel again.
    A long wait at the moment but hopefully we are all starting to see light at the end of this very dark tunnel.
    Thank you Bolsover again for all you have done for us in the past and your hard work.
    You are the best!
    Keep safe all of you!
    Kindest regards,
    Moira and Peter Stewart.

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    July 10, 2020 at 5:41 pm
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    A very comprehensive and well-put message! Thank you for all your hard work, it is very much appreciated, and we are looking forward to speaking to Rose Long again as soon as we can recommence cruising.

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    July 10, 2020 at 5:43 pm
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    Thank you for your fulsome message, Michael. We hope as you do,that it will not be long before Bolsover Cruise Club is fully back in operation again.

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    July 10, 2020 at 5:45 pm
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    I am so sad that the cruising industry is still unable to operate .we have been avid cruisers with p&o for many years .last year we had to cancel our cruises due to the sad death of our daughter .now this year with the outbreak of corona virus . I wonder when we will be able to cruise again .bolsover has always been our cruise agent always helpful and friendly staff .keep doing what you do and hopefully we can speak with you soon janetand Gary collins

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    July 10, 2020 at 5:46 pm
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    Michael thank you for your self explanatory email. Hopefully we will soon recover and be able to once again to enjoy our cruising booked through your excellent company. Sending you and your staff our best wishes for a speedy end to this unprecedented crisis.

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    July 10, 2020 at 5:47 pm
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    Thank you for sharing this. I can’t begin to imagine how difficult this has been for all of you. Personally, your service has, as always, been outstanding. There have been times when I really thought cruising might be gone for good. I am now very optimistic about the future, and looking forward to cruising again as soon as I can – maybe even 3 times next year to make up for lost time!

    We just have to hold on and keep going – better times are around the corner.

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    July 10, 2020 at 5:52 pm
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    I have sadly not been on a cruise since my husband died and so have not had a cruise cancelled but your email is very informative and fills me with confidence to book another trip with you when the time is right. I cannot imagine how difficult this crisis must have been for you and your staff to manage and hope that the cruise sector will pick up again as soon as possible.

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    July 10, 2020 at 5:59 pm
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    Than you Michael and your wonderful team in keeping us informed on a regular basis. Like thousand of other clients we are waiting for the day when we can once again cruise in safety.

    God be with you are

    G. David Latchford
    Hamp[shire

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    July 10, 2020 at 6:05 pm
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    we appreciate your communication and fully understand your points raised

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    July 10, 2020 at 6:08 pm
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    Thank you for such a detailed and thoughtful letter.

    BCC will remain our first port of call for all of our future cruises.

    I wish you the very best of luck for the future of BCC and all who sail in her.

    Sue Eyre

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    July 10, 2020 at 6:17 pm
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    What an honest explanation of the situation we are in. Thank you for that. It is totally understandable the frustrations you have been faced with. Hopefully times will change and we will use your outstanding services again.

    Honesty the best policy.

    Thank you

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    July 10, 2020 at 6:23 pm
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    We have just transferred two cruises and booked a third for 2021 and 2022. We have spoken to four different members of your staff, Evie, Jay, Beverley and Sue, all of them have been exceptionally helpful and friendly. We will continue to recommend Bolsover Cruise Club to any friends and acquaintances who show an interest in cruising.

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    July 10, 2020 at 6:33 pm
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    Thank you for such a long letter. It was very much appreciated and reinforced the excelle t service we have always had from your company and every person we have had dealings with. We will be back. Pat & Mike Rhodes. Doncaster

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    July 10, 2020 at 6:41 pm
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    I have found your staff to be extremely helpful having had one cruise cancelled and rebooting another one for Xmas and then I cancelled that one and have now booked another one for April.
    My deposit was transferred by your staff and the new cruise was booked. Very grateful for all your help.

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    July 10, 2020 at 7:15 pm
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    I have not tried to trouble you as I know only to well what you must be going through. Having dealt with your company for over 30 years and in the early days almost only dealt with Michael I know what you have put into your business.

    I just hope you and the company can ride this storm and come out of it soon.

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    July 10, 2020 at 7:34 pm
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    We would just like to say a big Thankyou for all your staff who have done so much for us in past years. Stacey has always been most helpful. Hope tone back wit you soon

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    July 10, 2020 at 7:35 pm
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    Dear Mr Wilson

    I’ve just sat and read your letter.
    How on earth you and your team have dealt with these recent events is beyond comprehension.
    I guess you and they will receive many letters of congratulations and thanks.
    I simply wish to add to those,and thank particularly your front line staff for dealing with no doubt some very annoyed customers.
    The public are a strange collection of species…many of us understanding and appreciative of others,and sadly,some who are so quick to criticise and lay blame at their first point of contact.
    How the young ladies and gentlemen of your staff keep their cool when tested by these people,is a mark of their tolerance and professionalism.
    My words of praise to them does not compensate for their feeling of frustration and hurt when having taken a thoughtless and hurting call of complaint.
    Oh how they must want respond in words of few syllables at best and or maybe pull the plug on the call altogether.
    But their training and professionalism see them through.
    Well done you and them;Good luck for the future all of you;and our thanks and Best Wishes x

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    July 10, 2020 at 8:07 pm
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    Thank you Mr Wilson for such an honest and detailed statement. My heart goes out to you and all your colleagues for the unprecedented situation with which you have been dealing .

    Sincere best wishes,

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    July 10, 2020 at 8:13 pm
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    Thank you for this letter, we appreciate your time in doing this and when everything settles we hope to return to cruising via yourselves.

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    July 10, 2020 at 8:21 pm
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    Thank you for the update. It is really informative and helpful.
    I have no quarms at all with your customer service, in fact genuinely thrilled. We changed out Cunard September sailing to next June with no problems and plenty of help from Sophie Bedingfield.
    My only gripe is with Cunard. Not one piece of communication from them.

    Just keep going and thank you.

    John and Jackie.

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    July 10, 2020 at 8:23 pm
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    Thanks for the update Michael. Looking forward to return of cruising even more now.

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    July 10, 2020 at 8:45 pm
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    Thank you for this informative message my wife and i made a decision later part of May to cancel the cruise we were to go on this September. I congratulate you for the help you gave us and the swift respons of P&O to change our cruise to September 2021.
    A good team effort by 2 teams working together Stay Safe.

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    July 10, 2020 at 9:00 pm
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    It was excellent to receive this update from Michael Wilson. All we can say is that throughout this crisis my wife and I have received the most excellent service from Bolsover Cruise Club staff (via Chatline mainly) whenever we made contact.

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    July 10, 2020 at 9:21 pm
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    Is Abigail still with you she was great when I meet her on the venture a few years back

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    July 11, 2020 at 12:31 am
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    I just wanted to express my thanks to Bolsover staff who as ever have been friendly and professional and dealt with any queries I have had very efficiently

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    July 11, 2020 at 8:54 am
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    In May we took the decision to transfer our September P&O cruise to an alternative one in May 2021, as we could see multiple cruises being cancelled due to the a Covid pandemic . We usually visit Barlborough to sort out cruises as we prefer face to face contact and sitting down talking to your friendly and knowledgeable staff is all part of our cruise experience , however our recent telephone and email contact was as efficient and friendly and we were sorted in no time at all. Keep up the good work

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    July 11, 2020 at 9:44 am
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    Your wonderful staff have served us well for over 15 years. They have felt like real friends always cheerful, caring nothing is too much trouble for them. I am greatly saddened for you lovEly people and just hope you can emerge from this awful time.
    Love to all you gorgeous staff and thanks for looking after us.

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    July 11, 2020 at 10:37 am
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    Your team have been brilliant!
    Your operator kept us in the loop and rearranged our holiday seamlessly, thank you.
    Here’s hoping our May cruise from 2020 will definately take place in 2021 and if not, then we have learned over the last couple of months to be patient, not THE patient!

    Myself, husband and 4 friends are already thinking of a get together cruise in 2022 and Bolsover will be our first telephone call.
    Keep doing what you do best!
    Keep well all of you

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    July 11, 2020 at 12:09 pm
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    Thank you so much for your very detailed explanations & can tell you that we certainly have no complaints about your company. In fact we have recommended you o numerous occasions to friends etc.
    However the length of time it is taking to get our refund from P & O is a bit worrying and disappointing given that our cruise/stay would have been completed last month & our application was sent in at about the end of April/early May.
    I will emphasise again though that we do NOT feel this is a reflection of your cruise company.

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    July 11, 2020 at 1:26 pm
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    Thankyou for your update, we are so very sorry for you and the whole of your team. It must be awful for you all. As, sadly,we seem to be coming to the end of our long cruising ‘career’ and indeed long friendship with you, going back to your burglary at Bolsover.We send you our esteem, kind regards and friendship, thank you for so many memories. Sincerely, Kate&Derek Killingsley-Smith, Crich
    I think you are aware of Derek’s cancer the current situation is that they are not able to start treatment at Chesterfield Royal Hospital until after the lock down. He was diagnosed just after our last cruise at the beginning of 2020.

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    July 11, 2020 at 6:37 pm
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    I have received help and advice from Chloe – she has been amazing at such a difficult time and I can’t praise her enough. She has always replied so quickly to my emails and even notified me of my refund before P & O and even before I knew the money was in my bank!
    Thank you so much Chloe – I hope it won’t be too much longer before we are able to book our next cruise!

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    July 12, 2020 at 10:51 am
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    Thanks you Michael. We have had great communication from you (Laura Anderson) and are more than happy with how your company have looked after us. We shall hopefully be back to booking again very soon

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    July 14, 2020 at 12:09 pm
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    we have read, understand and appreciate your efforts and concerns and hope to return to normal contact as soon as possible ; all our best wishes go out to all your staff and future efforts.

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    July 14, 2020 at 1:05 pm
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    Hi thank you for up dated information i now it not your fault and trying your best staff are very good and give there best to help
    However ive seen P.O have put babk there cruise dates back im due to travel 7th dec canaries cruise can you advice my position if i decide to cancel this as i think it will be but back further my personal apinion an not sure at this point if im going to be in a posion to be able to go next yr kind regards Bernice coates

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    July 14, 2020 at 4:40 pm
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    Very interesting and informative.

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    July 15, 2020 at 2:30 pm
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    Dear Michael,

    Many thanks for your report and apologies for the last four months. I should like to thank you and your team for their sterling support when our Viking River Cruise was cancelled and our P&O family cruise had to be postponed. Your staff remained as friendly and helpful as ever and any delays regarding refunds were totally understandable. We certainly felt we were in safe hands.

    Gertraud Lawrence on behalf of all 8 Lawrences who are looking forward to enjoying our cruise together in May 2021

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    July 16, 2020 at 6:19 pm
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    Thanks for keeping me up to date during lockdown
    Thanks to your amazing staff guiding us in transferring our cruise holiday s to next year
    Looking forward to better times
    Mrs D Gittns

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    July 16, 2020 at 6:53 pm
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    I just wanted to say that I appreciate all the information you have given me regarding changes to my cruise. Cunard have contacted me and although I haven’t received a refund yet I wasn’t due to sail until October and I can imagine the huge numbers staff are dealing with. I’ve been very pleased with the service I’ve experienced from Elsa at Bolsover and I hope all of your staff keep safe and that your company will weather this extremely difficult period.
    Thank you

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    July 17, 2020 at 8:57 am
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    Thank you for this splendid recount of what is by anyone’s understanding must be horrendous.
    Not only have the management had to deal with the fall out but their own running costs and staff.
    My heart goes out to each and everyone of you in this unprecedented circumstances.

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    July 17, 2020 at 10:24 am
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    I am so pleased that I took the time to read the above statement from Michael Wilson. An honest statement with all the facts. I have used Bolsover for some years now and recommend them to friends. Friendly helpful staff especially under the strains of the current situation. Can’t wait to get back to cruising. Wishing you all well, and a big thankyou.

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    July 17, 2020 at 11:05 am
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    Thank you for this very interesting news article. I always look forward to reading the Travel News and updates from Bolsover Cruise Club. Please keep up your outstanding work and my wife and I are looking forward to sailing with once again in May 2021

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    July 24, 2020 at 4:56 pm
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    We have used your company for many years, and would like to say thank you to Adele, who transferred 2 cruises over to next year, in these difficult times, and also to Molly, outstanding service
    for sorting out our Azamara cruise for next April.
    Bolsover Cruise Club is doing a sterling job, long may it continue.

    Reply

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