Hello and welcome to my December update!
Following my November update, I am delighted to confirm that our updated telephone system is in place and our new Sales Support Department now up and running. As a reminder, I announced the intention to introduce a second option on our telephone system to allow you to speak to this new dedicated team who are looking after post booking queries and, whilst only operational for a couple of weeks so far, it is interesting to see that almost two-thirds of inbound calls relate to after sales queries. This new structure is already making a huge difference and I am confident that, over time, this will significantly reduce telephone queues. In this post-Covid world, recruitment still represents a major issue to all businesses, and we still have a little way to go before we have the right employee numbers, particularly in times of high demand. With this in mind, our Cruise Bureau will remain closed as we prioritise staff to take calls. The new telephone system also includes a queue position, so during busy times you have an indication of where you sit in the queue.
I know many of you will be booking your future travel plans over the next couple of months; there are plenty of great offers around at the moment to entice you, which I fully expect will continue into the new year. For those of you who are already looking further ahead, you may have noticed that many of our core cruise lines have recently announced their itineraries for the 2024/25 season.
Among them is Cunard, whose fleet will be travelling to 113 destinations across 45 countries between April 2024 and January 2025. Cunard’s newest ship Queen Anne will set sail for the first time and embark on more than 30 voyages during her maiden season alone. I know how popular Cunard is among our Cruise Club Members, so I expect demand for these sailings to be particularly strong. If you’d like to be among the first to board Queen Anne in May 2024, I’d urge you to contact us sooner rather than later to make your booking.
Princess Cruises have also released their new Europe 2024 Cruise Collection, which is on sale now. We are also offering bonus cashback to our Cruise Club Members until 31 December 2022, so there really are some great incentives for booking early.
If you are still looking for inspiration for a break next year, then a selection of new sailings just announced by P&O Cruises may be of interest. There are five cruises from Southampton in 2023 and a further one in 2024. Britannia, Aurora and Arcadia will cover a number of popular itineraries including the Canary Islands and Scandinavia. This is in addition to a number of ‘Sail With the Stars’ itineraries, which will see celebrities from the worlds of sport and exploration join selected Ventura sailings in the new year.
While we’re on the subject of P&O Cruises, it’s now just a matter of days before the brand-new ship Arvia arrives in Southampton ahead of her maiden voyage. The cruise line recently announced that Arvia’s official naming ceremony will be taking place in March, which in a first for P&O Cruises will be held in Barbados and live-streamed across the world. Arvia is hailed as a ‘sunshine resort at sea’ and has been designed in such a way to make the most of her Caribbean destinations, so I’m sure you will agree that Barbados is a fitting location for such a momentous occasion.
You may recall that we were recently nominated for a number of industry awards. I am delighted to announce we were awarded bronze at the British Travel Awards in two categories, Best High Street Travel Agency and Best Travel Retailer for Cruise Holidays. Not only this, we received a special commendation at the 2022 Wave Awards, where I’m told there was less than a 2% margin between ourselves and the overall winners. I’d like to offer my personal thanks to everyone who voted for us in these awards which were decided by a public vote. I am also delighted to announce we have just been shortlisted for Luxury Cruise Agency of the Year at the TTG Luxury Travel Awards 2023. We will need to wait until 24 February to find out if we have been successful, but I will of course update you once the results have been revealed.
As we approach the festive season, I’d also like to take this opportunity to remind you of our opening hours over Christmas and New Year, which are available for you to see on our website.
All that is left for me to say is to wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year and, for those of you who are travelling over the coming weeks, bon voyage and have a great holiday.
After reading your December update I was still a little confused as to why your offices remain closed. You did refer to recruitment so wasn’t sure if this is the reason. Our first cruise was in 2019 pre covid so we have been reluctant to book another until we got reassurance that things had returned to some sort of normality. We have friends who recently cruised on Iona and after feeling quite reassured we decided to book with yourselves following recommendations. We were surprised to find a notice on the door despite your web site indicating you are open. Fortunately as we walked away a lady came to the door and invited us inside and the cruise was booked with a very knowledgeable young man-Nathan. Had we not been able to book the cruise face to face we would have gone to an alternative agent. Maybe this is a way of the world now but it’s such a shame when you have such lovely comfortable offices that potential customers aren’t welcomed in there. I hope maybe this will happen in the future.
Hi Chris, we’re really happy to hear one of our Cruise Experts helped you. We are working on openening our Cruise Bureau open in the near future. Thank you.
Dear Mr Wilson,I have noticed that recently there have been a number of TAs who cater either partly or wholly for solo travellers.I am constantly frustrated to see a solo cruise being more expensive than the same cruise for 2 or at least 70% supplement.I realise that it is difficult post Covid for cruise lines who are trying to claw back huge losses but I do feel more should be done in the travel industry to narrow the gap cost wise or at least build more solo cabins into the new ships.I know this has always been a thorny issue but the change to help more solo travellers financially seems to be glacially slow.Congrats to you and all the team for the awards and keep up the good work!
Hi Paul, thank you for your feedback, we will certainly pass this on to the cruise lines. Some cruise lines do offer more competetive solo fares. If there is something you are interested in, a Cruise Expert can certainly look at this for you. Thank you.
Do you have a plan or date in mind to open the office to the public or has telesales become the norm ? This was a very significant USP of Bolsover Cruise Club of which I’m sure is dearly missed. I for one are holding back on booking as I prefer the personal touch which makes the experience much more pleasurable
Hi Angela, we are hoping to be in a position to welcome you into the Cruise Bureau in the near future. In the meantime, our Cruise Experts are always available over the phone. Thank you.