What a wonderful few days we have had, gloriously sunny and warm. It really is great to see summer has finally arrived after such a sustained period of unsettled weather and this makes me ponder on where the numerous cruise ships must be around the British Isles. I can envisage everyone enjoying sunbathing on deck, making the most of this great weather.
Staycation cruises are now firmly underway and there has been some fabulous publicity around cruising recently as ships return to sea. I was particularly impressed by the images of the new MSC Virtuosa, who by consequence of the pandemic is on her maiden season around the UK. Built by Chantiers de l’Atlantique in Saint-Nazaire, France, she is the second ship in the Meraviglia-Plus class and sister ship to MSC Grandiosa. She is certainly one of the larger cruise ships of today, normally carrying in excess of six thousand passengers. Whilst guest numbers are restricted for these first cruises, there is still availability on MSC Virtuosa’s summer sailings, with the cruise line accepting both vaccinated and unvaccinated passengers. A mixture of port calls and scenic cruising make up her itineraries, but like so many ships sailing this summer, MSC Virtuosa is a destination in itself. She is a great choice for those who like the large ship experience and you can expect an array of dining experiences and other unique attractions, including the futuristic Starship Club, which features Rob the first humanoid robotic bartender at sea.
As you will be aware, Bolsover Cruise Club has a special relationship with P&O Cruises and we eagerly await their first 2021 cruise on Britannia, sailing on 27 June, followed by a series of mini cruises through to September. Iona follows closely after with her eagerly awaited maiden sailing on 7 August, followed by two further 7-night staycations, before resuming her regular programme for the autumn. P&O Cruises are only accepting vaccinated passengers on their staycation sailings and are also operating at significantly reduced numbers to facilitate social distancing. It has been a joy to see thousands of our Cruise Club members booking their spot on these first sailings back, and with availability on a number of departures remaining, there’s still time for you to book. With fares from only £199 per person, they are terrific value too! Book yours here.
On a less optimistic note, I was anticipating that June would be the time when everything started to return to normal from a cruise industry perspective. However, whilst the Government’s unlocking target of 21 June still remains achievable for England, news on an international level remains disappointing. Last weekend’s news that Portugal had moved to the amber list illustrates just how fragile progress remains and has had serious consequences for tour operators and travellers who had rushed to book summer vacations. Sadly, whilst many cruise operators are bringing more and more ships back into service over the summer months, we need restrictions to be lifted both at home and abroad before we are free to travel and cruise again.
This continued uncertainty does concern me, as many cruise operators will have to make difficult decisions soon with regard to their autumn and winter programmes. Clearly, World cruises remain questionable with major destinations such as Australia and South America being firmly closed to travellers for the foreseeable future. However, this period also includes huge Caribbean programmes with significant charter flight operations. The next few weeks will be important for our industry and unless restrictions are lifted soon, then we could see further suspensions. Let’s hope that positive news follows soon and that the autumn/winter season can operate close to normal. We will bring you news as and when any important announcements are forthcoming.
From an operational perspective, I am pleased to announce that our Sales Department resumed their pre-pandemic shift patterns at the beginning of June, which means our telephone lines are once again open in the evening on weekdays and for an extra hour on both Saturday and Sunday. You can contact our Sales Team on the usual number 01246 819819, Monday to Friday 9.00am to 9.00pm, Saturday 9.00am to 7.00pm, and Sunday 10.00am to 5.00pm. The Cruise Bureau will remain closed to visitors to protect our teams working in the Call Centre and I ask that you refrain from visiting as our staff have been instructed to not allow any visitors into the building.
In May’s update, I mentioned our ‘Luxury Edit’, a fortnightly email featuring a selection of handpicked luxury cruise holidays. The email is created by a dedicated team and has been a great source of inspiration for Cruise Club member seeking a premium product. Now, their great work continues to evolve with the introduction of ‘The Luxury Editorial’, an editorial email full of articles that promise to bring luxury cruising to life. With so many premium brands and such subtle differences between them, we created ‘The Luxury Editorial’ to share the nuances of the various luxury cruise lines, their ships, the onboard experience and the unique destinations their smaller ships can reach. We are also collaborating with luxury operators to create dedicated emails showcasing everything one particular cruise line has to offer, along with curated cruise deals that invite you to experience it for yourself. We have received a fabulous response to these new initiatives, so in case you missed them, I have included a link to the latest ‘Luxury Edit’ and ‘Luxury Editorial’ at the end of this update.
If these luxury eshots are exactly the exclusive holiday inspiration you have been looking for, please make sure your marketing preferences include ‘Luxury’ to ensure sure you receive them automatically. Simply follow the link below and you’ll be given the option to add additional preferences or update your preferences altogether if your holiday aspirations have changed entirely in the past year. Be sure to include ‘Luxury’, click submit and leave the rest to us. Not yet a Cruise Club member? Click ‘Register to receive the Luxury Editorial by email’ button below and join the club today for that latest luxury cruise news and more.
Read the latest Luxury Edit here
Read the latest Luxury Editorial here
For now, that’s all. Do enjoy the summer weather and we look forward to hearing from you soon.