Hello and welcome to my March 2023 update.
I began last month with news that the travel industry had seen a phenomenal surge in business in January – and I’m delighted to say this has continued! We have seen record levels of bookings in February and I must thank you on behalf of the entire team for your overwhelming support. I am in the privileged position of seeing the dedication and professionalism of my staff and they have certainly worked tirelessly to provide the level of service to which we strive during these exceptionally busy times. There are odd occasions that we may not get everything right, but our Trustpilot rating tells me this is indeed rare, which makes me very proud of all the work we do.
Again in February, phone call queues continued to be negligible thanks to finally returning to the right staffing levels and the introduction of the Sales Support Team. The Bureau has also been busy with our appointment service, but we still have not reached optimum levels as we need more staff to achieve this. Please call ahead to book your visit, as we cannot guarantee availability if you walk in. March sees a further induction of six new sales staff that ultimately will give us the scope to increase the level of appointments, plus the introduction of staff who will work permanently in the Bureau for face-to-face bookings.
I would like to take this opportunity to remind you that you have the option to add or change your marketing preferences with us at any stage. You will find a link to do this in the footer of most of our emails, which will help ensure we direct the most appropriate information to you. Great examples are our luxury and river cruise products, as we have a dedicated team who create lots of great content such as special offers from the cruise lines we work with, as well as blogs. Expedition cruising is another example, which is now highly popular and from time to time we have specific information to share. If any of these types of cruising are of interest, please click the link below and update your preferences to make sure we are sending you the emails you want to receive. Not only can you choose the types of cruises that interest you most, but also specific destinations – you can see the full list by clicking this link.
We are currently taking pre-registrations for the new collection of Cunard voyages departing between October 2024 and May 2025. There are over 130 new voyages available, with Queen Elizabeth’s season in Alaska among the highlights. I also noticed that the latest addition to the Cunard fleet, Queen Anne, is set to embark upon a range of longer-duration cruises, including a 107-night World Voyage departing 9 January 2025. The roundtrip from Southampton will visit cities such as New York, Hong Kong and Dubai, and includes a transit of the Panama Canal which I know is a bucket-list trip for many of our customers. At the other end of the spectrum are two-night short breaks to Hamburg departing on 7 January and 27 April 2025, which I’m sure will provide a great taster of this brand-new ship.
The key dates for your diary for the Cunard launch are as follows:
- On sale to Cunard World Club Members – Wednesday, 15 March at 1pm
- General sale – Thursday, 16 March at 1pm
- Exclusive bonus Cruise Club Cashback offer – ends Friday, 31 March at 9pm
If you are not already familiar with our pre-registration process, it provides you with the opportunity to submit your specific requirements which we will strive to book for you once these cruises go on sale. This is something we have perfected over many years, and our bespoke system gives us the greatest possible chance of obtaining the cruise and accommodation of your choice. We are also offering exclusive bonus cashback for our Cruise Club Members until 31 March, so if you are interested in setting sail with Cunard in 2024 or 2025, make sure you give our Cruise Experts a call on 01246 819819.
We’re now just a matter of days away from the naming ceremony for the new P&O Cruises ship Arvia. Since my last update, further details of the event have been announced, including the reveal of the much-anticipated Godmother. There has been plenty of speculation over who would take the title, but P&O Cruises announced just last week that TV personality and singer Nicole Scherzinger would be taking on the role. Not only will she be Godmother to Arvia, but has also taken on the role of Entertainment Partner for the cruise line where she will be responsible for creating music and dance extravaganzas across the entire fleet. She will, of course, be performing at the naming ceremony in Barbados on 16 March alongside other stars such as Olly Murs, Sara Cox and Trevor Nelson. We will be holding a Caribbean-themed event for our team, who will be watching the event live from The Cruise Centre. It will also be available for everyone to watch on a live stream via the P&O Cruises YouTube channel.
I also saw in the past few days that Fred Olsen Cruise Lines is offering a new 82-night Grand Voyage, which departs Southampton on 18 January 2025 and has been timed to make the most of the Holi Festival. The itinerary features a number of destinations across Asia such as Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Myanmar, and guests will be able to experience the Hindu Holi Festival for themselves during a stop in Mumbai. This is a truly once-in-a-lifetime cruise on board Balmoral – details of which can be found here.
The newest ship in the Princess Cruises fleet, Sun Princess, has just been ‘floated out’ from the Fincantieri Shipyard in Italy. This is a significant milestone, as it means construction is largely completed and attention will now be shifted towards finalising the interior spaces. The 4,300-guest ship is due to set sail early next year, and from what I have seen and heard so far, it looks set to be a truly remarkable vessel.
While I’m on the subject of Princess Cruises, a selection of summer 2023 sailings now have considerable savings, so I’d urge you to take a look. These include voyages to Norway, Iceland and the British Isles direct from Southampton, as well as some voyages further afield. All the information is available for you to view on our website.
This is in addition to price drops on board various P&O Cruises holidays, which we have just released in the past few days. There are savings of up to 25% on 2023 and 2024 getaways, including popular destinations across the Mediterranean, so see if we can tempt you with one of these amazing offers. Our Cruise Experts are available should you need more information, or if you would like to make a booking.
Finally, the next edition of Into the Blue will be landing with our Cruise Club Members in the coming days. If you haven’t yet signed up to receive this free, bi-monthly magazine straight through your letterbox, fill in your details here and we will add you to the 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.
Let’s have a huge thank you to the administration team also
Fantastic phone help as always. Thank you Michael for your March update, it is something that I always look forward to and enjoy. Peggy Mcmanus
Monthly Update always useful and informative ; broadly based across the industry.