Hello and welcome to my January 2023 update!
I do hope you all had a fabulous Christmas and I would to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy New Year!
It’s certainly been a busy time over the Christmas period here at the Cruise Centre with demand for cruising being exceptionally high indeed. With the Covid years behind us, it is great to see business back to pre-pandemic levels, if not even higher, as clearly everyone is ready to cruise again. Against this busy background, I am delighted to say that our new telephone operation with a separate department for post-cruise queries is working very well with queue times greatly reduced. I will be working with the various teams throughout January to balance the workforce carefully to match the demand for the sales and post-sales departments. We still have some way to go in terms of staff recruitment and training the newer members of our company, but I am confident that the bigger challenges are now behind us.
This takes me nicely onto the subject of our Cruise Bureau and, as we move into 2023, we are now accepting a very limited number of weekly appointments to match the staffing we have available. The Cruise Bureau will be “appointment only” going forward, for new bookings only, with payments accepted by debit or credit card. Due to a lack of local banking facilities, we no longer accept cheques or cash. I do urge you to book ahead by calling our Sales Line as we can only guarantee seeing clients who have made an appointment. For the moment this is a limited service whilst we continue to rebuild our workforce post-pandemic, and I thank you for your cooperation and understanding.
Just to mention that whilst I say we no longer accept cheques or cash directly, there is no reason why you cannot pay by bank transfer using cheques or cash at your local bank branch or Post Office (where available), quoting our bank details. The account information is given in your Cruise Documents booklet, and we simply ask you quote your Bolsover Cruise Club booking number as your reference.
January is an exciting month for us as we have a record number of clients travelling on our Cruise & Stay programme on Britannia with P&O Cruises. With hundreds of clients travelling on this departure over the next couple of months we have flown Joshua, a specialist from our Cruise & Stay Department, out to Barbados to work in advance with the taxi operators and hoteliers for the first sailing, plus he will be onboard the Britannia 11 January sailing where he will try and meet as many clients as possible. I am delighted to see Colin will be on board, one of our regular clients who has booked over 100 cruises with us. It will be great to meet up with Colin again, who is one of our many dedicated Bolsover customers!
With the start of a New Year comes the hugely popular Wave season, which sees many of the cruise lines we work with giving significant booking incentives. I dare say that this year is better than ever, with increased onboard credit, low deposits and free drinks packages among just some of the perks that are on offer. We have collated all these deals on our website, so I’d encourage you to take a look.
Since my last update, the brand-new P&O Cruises ship Arvia officially joined the fleet and set sail for the first time. A number of members of our team visited Arvia while she was in Southampton a few days ago, and their feedback has been incredible. They enjoyed a tour of the ship and met some of Arvia’s Local Food Heroes who are integral to bringing destinations to life through the culinary options on board. If you don’t already follow us on our social media channels then I’d encourage you to do so; we have shared some amazing images and videos of Arvia including the American-themed 6th Street Diner, which I know has already become a firm favourite among those lucky enough to have already been on board. I hope to embark the new ship myself in the near future – if my recent experience on board Iona was anything to go by, then I can’t wait to see what Arvia has to offer.
After a short stint in the Mediterranean over Christmas and New Year, Arvia is now on her way to the Caribbean, where she will embark on a series of seven and 14-night itineraries. We currently have some incredible rates on these cruises, with fares starting from as little as £989 per person, including flights, on January to March 2023 departures. If you’ve got your sights set on a getaway to the sunshine over the next few months then make sure you take a look. Arvia is due to stay in the Caribbean until her naming ceremony to be held in Barbados on 16 March, before returning to the UK for her Mediterranean season.
I am also proud to announce we have been nominated for another upcoming industry award. We are in the running for ‘Top Cruise Agency’ at the TTG Top 50 Awards, which celebrates the best travel agencies across the UK and Ireland. The results are due to be announced on 27 April at a ceremony at The Vox in Birmingham and we will, of course, keep you updated on whether we are successful. Once again, I would like to extend my thanks to all our customers as without your continued support, our recognition at these events would not be possible.
In the coming days, our Cruise Club Members will be receiving the first edition of Into the Blue for the new year. As usual, we have included insights into the latest travel trends and exclusive features that will inspire your plans for the months and years ahead. This remains free to our Cruise Club Members and is delivered bi-monthly, so if you don’t already receive your copy please sign up here and we will add you to our mailing list.
Once again thank you for following my updates and I wish everyone travelling over the next month Bon Voyage and have a great holiday.