My June update comes to you at a time when we are all enjoying some of the best summer weather I recall for a number of years. I’m just back in the office after a week of driving around Europe on my annual ‘Lads and Dads’ trip, having covered some 2,500 miles reaching as far as Poland to visit Auschwitz. The weather was even hotter over in Poland than we’ve been experiencing here!
Our visit to the concentration camp was very thought-provoking – the point I remember most was the unbelievable size and scale of the camp. Along the way, we visited Colditz and the VW museum in Wolfsburg, as well as several cities including Leipzig, Berlin, Wroclaw, Dortmund and Bruges. A really great trip with my son and friends!
Back at the Cruise Centre and thankful for air conditioning, I must say it’s been a largely uneventful month since my last message. It is quite amazing that Covid is hardly mentioned now and the cruise industry is very much back to normal. The only significant issue that remains for our clients is ‘Future Cruise Certificates’ or ‘Future Cruise Payments’ as they are now known, issued by Cunard and P&O Cruises. We have encountered various problems with the way in which the cruise lines assign these to customers’ bookings, but now have a dedicated member of our support team ensuring any difficulties are dealt with in a timely fashion. While this is outside of our direct control, I do hope you will understand that we are doing everything we can to make sure our customers are not impacted.
My personal focus for the remainder of June is the upgrade to our script system which is about 50% completed. This will not only be much easier for my team to navigate, but will help ensure we are passing on all the relevant and necessary information to you when you make a booking with us. This should be live by the next time I reach out to you. Alongside, my Marketing Team is moving steadily ahead with our new website – we are in the early testing stages, so I hope to bring you more news on this development in the near future.
In other news, the travel industry is fast approaching its awards season, and I am delighted to announce we have once again been nominated for two prestigious accolades. We are proud to have been shortlisted for Favourite Cruise Travel Agent at the Wave Awards, which recognise excellence in the cruising sector. Seven categories are voted for by members of the public – including this one – and to progress to the next stage, we need your votes. I hope you will spare a few moments to vote for us and show your appreciation for our team – you can do so by following this link before 29 June. Thank you to everyone who has registered their vote so far.
We have also been nominated in the Cruise Agency of the Year category at the 2023 Travel Weekly UK Agent Achievement Awards. We are eagerly awaiting the results, which will be announced at a ceremony in London next month. It is extremely humbling for us to be recognised at these awards and, once again, my personal thanks go out to our loyal customers for your continued support.
One of the biggest announcements since my last update has been that Princess Cruises would be adding Star Princess, a new Sphere Class vessel, to its fleet. Those of you who have been cruising for some time will recall the original Star Princess, which was christened by Audrey Hepburn back in 1989. This later became Arcadia for P&O Cruises. She will be the third iteration of the name, and we can expect the newest Star Princess to set sail for the first time in 2025. I notice her inaugural cruise will be a nine-night voyage departing on 4 August 2025, which will visit ports across Italy and Greece. You can see the details here.
This year has already seen its fair share of new ships entering into service, and the past few weeks have certainly been no exception. Among them is Scenic Eclipse II, which was recently christened in Malaga by her godmother, NASA Astronaut Dr Kathy Sullivan. My daughter Katie was invited to the event, and she has returned with glowing reviews of the luxury ship. Likewise, MSC Euribia was named just a matter of days ago by Sophia Loren in Copenhagen, becoming the 19th ship the actress has named for the cruise line. Like many new ships, Euribia is powered by liquified natural gas, the most energy-efficient fuel currently available. Following the traditional ceremony, the ship set sail on the first net-zero greenhouse gas emissions cruise, which I’m sure you will agree is a significant milestone.
Earlier this week, Celebrity Cruises released more details about its latest ship, Celebrity Ascent. This will be the fourth ship in the Edge Series and, if my past experience on Celebrity Beyond is anything to go by, guests can expect to discover some real ‘wow’ moments on board. Although many of the popular Edge Series features will remain, Celebrity is also promising plenty of new additions to the ship, which is due to set sail for the first time this November. We will, of course, keep you updated as more details emerge.
You may have seen from our social media channels that many team members have been out experiencing the products we sell. Staff have been invited to sail with Celebrity Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises over the past month or so, and many of our team have been enjoying cruise holidays of their own, which they are keen to share with you. Make sure you follow us on Facebook and Instagram, where over the coming weeks we will be showcasing a trip to Alaska on board Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth, as well as the newest P&O Cruises ships Arvia and Iona, and brand-new luxury cruise line, Explora Journeys.
Once again thank you for following my updates and I wish everyone travelling over the next month Bon Voyage and have a great holiday.