Hello, and welcome to my July update.
As we draw closer to 19 July, the news is full of all the changes ahead and here at Bolsover Cruise Club we wait in eager anticipation to see precisely what effect these will have on the travel industry over the coming months. It has now been confirmed that many restrictions will be lifted in a move to bring the country back to relative normality and we begin a new era of living with COVID-19. While we clearly still have a challenging period ahead for all of us, the positivity generated by the vaccine programme is a welcome relief!
The last month has been another difficult time for my team, with further large-scale suspensions by both Cunard and P&O Cruises over the forthcoming winter season. Whilst these were anticipated, due to the inaccessibility of many worldwide destinations, the workload has been immense and I hope you will forgive me in taking this opportunity to praise my staff a further time, as they have battled through one setback after another, without any respite whatsoever. It is impossible to get across how complex and time consuming this has become for them, with many of our clients being affected successively over several seasons, thus resulting in difficult financial paths to follow. This of course puts a great strain on our telephone service as we process re-bookings in huge numbers in a very short timeframe, and I apologise again if you have experienced any delays in trying to talk to us during this unprecedented period.
On a very positive note, we have a significant number of clients booked to travel with P&O Cruises to the Caribbean over the coming winter; although there have been a small number of early sailings on Azura suspended, for the most part P&O’s Caribbean programmes are still set to operate, as they are confident government policy will allow them to go ahead as planned. This is refreshing news and no doubt a relief for those of you booked to travel on one of these exciting cruises; a great chance to get some winter sun and relaxation after months and months of restrictions!
Following the suspension of the worldwide winter cruises I mentioned, P&O Cruises launched two replacement voyages on Aurora: a 40-night roundtrip to the Caribbean departing 20 February 2022, followed by a 12-night cruise to the Canaries on 1 April 2022. I’m delighted that we booked almost 40% of the total capacity for these sailings on the first day of itineraries going on sale and expect that, by the time you read this message, both will be sold out. Of course, P&O Cruises are continuing with their staycation programme of sailings around the UK in the meantime, with several cruises already successfully completed.
In terms of launching new itineraries, Cunard follow with 44 new 2021 and 2022 ‘Overseas Escapes’ voyages with Queen Elizabeth, Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria sailing a selection of Caribbean and Iberian Coast holidays, plus those iconic Transatlantic Crossings. These new cruises go on sale soon and we will shortly be communicating full details, including the option to advance register with us.
I really do feel we are moving steadily towards resumption at long last, with most cruise lines having started to bring their ships back into operation, albeit with itinerary modifications to avoid the more difficult areas to reach. In addition to the P&O Cruises and Cunard programmes I have already mentioned, here’s a short summary of when cruise lines are returning to sea over the coming months:
A new cruise line for the UK market with sailings exclusively from UK ports, Ambassador Cruises will make their debut in April 2022 with a four-night maiden adult-only cruise to Hamburg.
Set to resume sailing again with Azamara Quest from Greece as originally planned from 28 August, who will then go on to complete her remaining Mediterranean season. Quest will then head to the Caribbean for three back-to-back sailings, followed by a new selection of 2022 Caribbean sailings. Azamara Journey will begin her Mediterranean season on 13 October and will remain in the sun throughout the winter, cruising with a new programme of sailings to the Canary Islands, Greece and more.
Already cruising again, with Borealis in her maiden season of a series of staycation cruises around the UK. Borealis will sail exclusively from Liverpool for 2021 as part of Fred. Olsen’s ‘Welcome Back’ programme, with scenic-only sailings around the UK ahead of introducing ports of call later into July and August.
They are gearing up to restart cruising out of the Port of San Diego in California, beginning with a season of cruises to Mexico, Hawaii and along the California coast aboard Koningsdam and Zuiderdam. The season is expanding with the addition of six new cruise departures for Zuiderdam and two new cruises on Koningsdam, offering a total of 40 cruises from San Diego from September 2021 through April 2022. With the resumption of service on the West Coast, Holland America Line also is looking towards cruising in the Caribbean with four ships. All sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the season will begin on 23 October, with Nieuw Amsterdam, followed by the new Rotterdam on 3 November, Eurodam on 14 November and then Nieuw Statendam 21 November.
Throughout the pandemic, Hurtigruten’s ships continued to operate coastal cruises servicing the local communities to provide emergency services. Starting this July, they have now started accepting passengers again on their Norwegian coastal sailings for leisure purposes too.
Having departed Southampton on her first sailing on 3 July, Celebrity Silhouette is spending her summer season embarking on a series of six- to eight-night itineraries around Britain’s spectacular coastline. In Europe, Celebrity Apex started a series of Greek Island cruises back in June and will continue through to the end of August.
MSC Virtousa set sail on her summer staycation cruises from Southampton on 20 May and has been cruising the UK coastline since. MSC ships are also operational in Europe again, with MSC Grandiosa and MSC Splendida sailing from Barcelona and Trieste respectively. Like MSC Splendida, who is sailing with Schengen guests only, MSC Seaside resumed Baltic sailings from Kiel for Schengen residents on 3 July. Across the Atlantic, MSC Meraviglia will sail from Miami on 2 August and MSC Divina from Port Canaveral on 16 September.
Norwegian Cruise Line
European sailings are expected to resume from 2 August, with Norwegian Jade sailing from Piraeus (Athens) slightly earlier on 25 July. NCL’s operations in the USA will resume with Norwegian Encore from Seattle on 7 August , followed by Norwegian Gem from Miami on 15 August. Norwegian Breakaway, Norwegian Bliss and Norwegian Escape will return in September, October and November respectively, while Norwegian Pearl will sail Panama Canal, Bahamas and Caribbean cruises from 23 December, departing Miami.
Marina will be the first ship to resume sailing for Oceania when she departs Copenhagen on 29 August 2021. Riviera will follow on 18 October with departures from Istanbul, while Insignia and Sirena are scheduled to resume Caribbean cruising from 21 December and 22 January 2022.
Regal Princess returns to the seas later this month, sailing UK ‘Seacation’ coastal cruises from 31 July, joined by Sky Princess later this summer. Both will continue to offer British Isles itineraries throughout autumn. Princess Cruises will resume internationally too on 25 July, with Majestic Princess departing Seattle.
Regent Seven Seas Cruises
Regent will restart with Seven Seas Splendor sailing from Southampton on 11 September 2021, followed by Explorer from Venice on 16 October and Mariner from Miami on 18 December. Navigator will resume operations in 2022, sailing from Miami on 6 January, with Voyager finally completing an operational fleet when she cruises from Barcelona on 15 February.
Royal Caribbean International
Anthem of the Seas became one of the first cruise ships to sail from Southampton this summer when she departed on the first of her summer staycation sailings last week. Quantum of the Seas has been successfully sailing Singapore roundtrips since December 2020, while Spectrum of the Seas has been back at sea in Asia since 29 April 2021. Adventure of the Seas is now departing again from Nassau, while Jewel of the Seas resumed itineraries from Limassol in Cyprus at the weekend. Both Serenade of the Seas and Ovation of the Seas will return to Alaska this summer, while Freedom of the Seas, Odyssey of the Seas and Independence of the Seas are just some of the six ships sailing from US ports in July and August.
Spirit of Discovery returned to service on 27 June, with her brand-new sister-ship, Spirit of Adventure, arriving in Portsmouth just days ago ahead of her naming ceremony on 19 July. Her inaugural cruise is scheduled for 26 July.
Seabourn Ovation debuted new sailings from Greece on 3 July, marking the luxury cruise line’s return to service. Seabourn Odyssey will begin departing from Barbados on Caribbean cruise itineraries from 18 July, while Seabourn Quest will head for the Antarctic from November. New ship, Seabourn Venture, will finally make her maiden voyage from Greenwich in London on 11 December, embarking on a 12-day trip to Norway. The last of the Seabourn ships, Seabourn Sojourn and Seabourn Encore, will return on 11 January 2022 and 17 April 2022.
Silversea revealed their new flagship Silver Moon in Greece back in June, with second fleet newcomer Silver Origin debuting in the Galapagos the very same weekend. Silver Muse will sail roundtrip from Seattle from the end of July, with the same period seeing Silver Shadow begin circumnavigating Iceland on voyages from Reykjavik. Silver Spirit will sail from Southampton to rediscover Northern Europe from 3 September 2021, with Silver Whisper, Silver Wind, Silver Cloud and Silver Explorer all set to return to the seas in November. Most excitingly of all is the debut of brand-new ship Silver Dawn, who will welcome guests from 9 November 2021, starting a maiden season in the Mediterranean before relocating to the Caribbean.
Viking Venus was christened in May and headed straight for the UK coastline on a summer season of sell-out staycation cruises. Viking Orion and Viking Sky resumed cruising in June on all-new Icelandic itineraries. River cruises are soon to return too, with Viking ships plying the rivers of Portugal and France, in addition to the Rhine, from this month.
Scarlet Lady turned heads when she finally debuted in the UK last week ahead of her ‘Summer Soirees’ in August. Like so many new ships, the first Virgin Voyages vessel had her debut delayed by a little over a year.
Previously I have been keeping you up to date with technical developments here at Bolsover Cruise Club that have continued throughout the COVID-19 crisis, and I now have further information to share. Following considerable feedback from clients, we have been working with our own developers and our website team to introduce a digital version of the ‘Immigration and Personal Details’ form that we currently send as a hard copy in your confirmation booklet. In an update which is currently in the final stages of testing, this paper form is to be replaced by a hyperlink that will take you directly to a secure encrypted webpage containing your information. Here you can check, correct and add any missing details. Once submitted back to us, the data is deleted for your peace of mind.
This ‘Immigration and Personal Details’ form is a perfect way for us to check that we have the correct information for you, that everything is spelt correctly and also for us to capture any passport or emergency contact details that might be missing. I highly recommend you take time to follow the link and check the form once we launch this process, as it will prevent any difficulties with incorrect details that become harder to correct once you get closer to departure. Our having a record of your passport and emergency contact details has two significant advantages; firstly, we have the information to help you in the event of an emergency abroad, and secondly, our systems are preloaded with the data necessary to make future bookings faster and simpler. Please be aware, due to data protection, we do not have access to your cruise operator booking personaliser, so you should also make sure your immigration details are captured there as well.
On a final note, I was delighted that so many of you followed my recommendation last month to update your marketing preferences with us, in particular selecting the ‘Luxury’ option to ensure you receive our exciting new luxury eshots. There’s still time to update yours if you haven’t already done so, and I have included the necessary link at the end of this message.
For now, that’s all. Let’s hope this spell of rain goes away and that summer returns as forecast. We look forward to hearing from you soon.