With another month passed comes another update. Like September more generally, this one brings a mixture of emotions for me, not least because I begin with news that our Meadowhall store, The Cruise Holiday Shop, will not reopen.
It had always been an aspiration of mine to open a retail store, so it has been disappointing to end our lease, however there are several factors behind the decision. First and foremost, the pandemic has accelerated the shift towards online retail enormously and with times changing so quickly, it is so important that we change with them. We’re in a very strong position to weather these challenging times and I’d like to offer my reassurances that there are no redundancies planned within the business. Instead, we are focusing on growing our digital and call centre offering to enable us to be there for you when you need us the most.
With that in mind, I’m very happy to reveal that our new website is now live, having been in development since March and with online booking to be available soon too. The team has worked incredibly hard on completing such a huge project entirely from home – and in the midst of a pandemic – and I’m sure they’d love you to take a look and share any feedback. This new website, along with a planned extension of our evening opening hours until 9pm on weekdays as we bring the Meadowhall team back in-house, will allow us to support you better than ever in what remain such uncertain times.
Another deciding factor in closing The Cruise Holiday Shop was the health and safety of our staff. They are the ones who make us who we are and they’re the ones guiding you through this new normal. I have to put them first and the size of the Meadowhall store would have made it very difficult to maintain adequate social distancing. Instead, we’ll be encouraging you to visit us at The Cruise Bureau at our Barlborough head office once we reopen. It’s a huge space with a fantastic team on hand to talk all things holidays and it’s located off junction 30 of the M1 – just 15 minutes away from Meadowhall.
On this subject, as part of our focus on being more agile in the way we work going forward and with concerns around virus transmission in mind, I must also advise that we will no longer be accepting payments by cash or cheque once the office reopens. The Covid pandemic has prevented us from handling cash and cheques since March and the current lack of branch banking makes it impossible to make deposits as we did in the past, so we’ll be making this change to reflect the global move towards digital payments. You can of course still make payments with cash and cheque at your own bank branch, making a bank transfer to us and remembering to quote your booking reference. As always, normal money laundering rules will apply.
Now, onto more positive news of holidays reappearing on the horizon. Autumn is historically an exciting time for cruisers, with new itineraries launched by some of our favourite cruise lines. This year hasn’t disappointed despite the circumstances, with new holidays for Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 and Queen Elizabeth now on sale, plus Princess Cruises 2021 itineraries available to book today. All have some tempting free upgrade benefits available, not to mention exclusive Cruise Club Cashback when you book with Bolsover Cruise Club.
I can also reveal that we will be bringing back our popular Bonus Cruise Club Cashback for the first time in six months to celebrate the launch of new P&O Cruises 2022 sailings in November. Details will be revealed very soon, including itineraries and fares, so don’t forget to call and pre-register your interest today to be the first in line to find out more! With the situation remaining uncertain for the rest of this year, I think it’s safe to say that we could all do with something in the diary to look forward to!
More good news comes in the several cruise lines who have continued to complete regular sailings without issue over the past month or so, including SeaDream, Ponant, Paul Gaugin and MSC Cruises to name but a few. Recent days also saw CLIA and the UK Chamber of Shipping join forces to release a preliminary framework designed to prime the industry to relaunch sailings from the UK. While a restart still looks to be some way off, it’s reassuring to see the wheels in motion to getting us back to sea safely.
The refund situation remains that some operators continue to struggle with system issues and the sheer volume. Our dedicated team are still working with these operators on a daily basis, so if you are still waiting for a refund on a suspended sailing from earlier in the year and are not already in discussion with us, please do get in touch so they can take a look at your specific circumstances.
On the subject of refunds, I’m sure many of you will be hoping to use your 125% Future Cruise Credit towards your P&O Cruises Summer 2022 holiday when booking next month, and I have been assured that everything will be in place for this to happen. I should also mention that you now have until 30 April 2021 to request a 100% refund instead, should you not wish to accept the enhanced 125% FCC.
As we move towards the last few weeks of voting for the British Travel Awards, I’ll leave you with a final plea to vote for us if we’ve been there for you in the past months and indeed years. We’d love to end the year on a high!
Stay safe and well,