It’s remarkable that almost a month has been and gone since my last update; time really does seem to be passing rapidly during the Covid-19 crisis. I thought now would be a good time to let you know what’s been happening here at Bolsover Cruse Club over the past few weeks and to take a look at some of the recent changes within the cruise industry, including the positive steps that cruise operators are taking in readiness for when they begin sailing again.
Firstly, however, I would like to thank everyone for the amazing replies of support to my last email. My various teams have continued working hard on your behalf, processing cruise suspensions, rebooking and chasing refunds. This remains very testing and my staff really appreciate having their outstanding efforts recognised.
I am pleased to report that, after several difficult months, the majority of cruise operators finally have refunds under control. Our dedicated cancellations team has been working tirelessly with cruise lines to ensure our client’s refunds are processed and we have seen thousands successfully concluded in July. I appreciate there are groups of clients that still have refunds outstanding, but I can reassure you that we are pressing each affected operator hard to resolve the technical challenges behind these delays. Please be assured, however, that your monies remain safe, with all holidays sold by Bolsover Cruise Club covered financially by ABTA or ATOL.
A real example of how necessary this financial protection is was the very sad news that Cruise & Maritime had ceased trading in July. They were a favourite with our clients, operating smaller ships and representing great value, yet despite being largely booked for 2020 and almost sold out for next year, they could not secure the necessary funding and failed as a direct result of Covid-19. With hundreds of passengers affected, we assembled a small team to return to our call centre and began work to contact everyone involved. I am pleased to confirm that within five days ABTA claims had been lodged on behalf of the majority of our clients, with refunds to follow directly in due course.
The past few weeks have seen some promising information start to emerge on how cruise lines will look to sail more safely than ever once they return, with new details from Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines, Carnival Cruise Lines and MSC, plus river cruise line AmaWaterways, amongst others. From Carnival’s partnership with leading scientists and the World Tourism Organisation, to RCI and NCL’s collaboration in creating the Healthy Sail Panel of experts, it’s so reassuring to learn how much work is going on behind the scenes to make ships the safest way to holiday again.
So far we have seen plans for virtual muster drills from Royal Caribbean (something I’m sure you will share my excitement for!), enhanced screening at embarkation and throughout voyages, installation of medical-grade air purification systems, contactless dining – with an important promise that it won’t compromise on service or experience – plus assurances from shoreside partners that tours and the like will operate with the same care and attention as sea days.
Of course, I can’t gloss over the recent false starts and what setbacks these are, however I do think they will serve as an opportunity to reassess and refocus efforts on coming back
stronger than ever. With the whole industry working together in a way we’re seeing nowhere else in travel, I’m very confident for what the future holds.
Before I close, as such a major agent for P&O Cruises and with so many loyal followers, it would be remiss of me not to mention the long-awaited news that Iona will finally be delivered before the autumn. P&O Cruises also confirmed that, following discussions with the Meyer Werft shipyard in Papenburg Germany, an as-yet-unnamed sister ship to Iona will be scheduled for delivery in December 2022, with itineraries set to go on sale in spring 2021. While details of Iona’s first sailing are still to be confirmed, you can rest assured that we’ll keep you up to date on news of her inaugural season as it develops.
For the time being, The Cruise Centre at Barlborough and our retail store at Meadowhall both remain closed, and we will continue to offer our award-winning service via telephone and online chat. You can call or chat with one of the team Monday to Friday from 09.00 until 17.30, Saturday 09.00 until 17.00, and Sunday 10.00 until 16.00. Whether you’re planning your next holiday or simply need a question answered, we’re here to help.