Hello and welcome to my October update!
The big story for October was the lifting of international travel restrictions, which is welcome news for both our industry and travellers alike. From Monday 4 October, green and amber countries became one as ‘non-red’ countries so just the ‘red’ list remains in place. Plus, as I write, the government has also lifted advice against non-essential travel to a further 47 countries with just a handful remaining on the red list, namely Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Haiti, Panama, Peru and Venezuela.
Those who are double vaccinated no longer need a PCR test before arrival back into England from a non-red country. The new rules also mean that from later in October, fully vaccinated passengers with an approved vaccine and recognised certificate from a country not on the red list will be able to replace their day two PCR test with a cheaper lateral flow test, reducing the cost of tests on arrival into England. This essentially means joining a cruise sailing beyond the UK has become so much easier and represents a massive step forward.
Whilst this is great news, it has meant that cruise operators have been updating their travel protocols and broadcasting the changes to passengers travelling imminently. I have been honest with you all throughout the last eighteen or so months, giving you a frank account of how things have unfolded for us at Bolsover Cruise Club and the wider industry, and I have to say that the effect of these new messages has been overwhelming with huge numbers of confused clients calling us for clarity. To compound the situation, answers to many questions have initially been elusive as the operators themselves were uncertain and the result, once again, has been long queues in our telephone system with so many clients trying to reach us.
I worry this sounds like a stuck record, but I do feel it is important for you to understand that we are working in extremely difficult circumstances beyond our direct control, compounded by the staff shortages I mentioned in my previous messages. I can only ask again for your continued patience and support as we do everything we can to respond to your queries.
On the subject of staff, I am delighted to say that recruitment has continued to go well, and we have eight new cruise experts currently in training, with several further recruits due to start in November. Whilst these new team members won’t have a direct impact on call waiting times in the short term as they undergo our intensive in-house training, they are all doing very well so it won’t be long until you will be speaking with them. On a wider front, we have a new copywriter and finance executive joining us shortly, as we continue to build our infrastructure to pre-pandemic levels.
Many of our staff have been with the company for years, with an amazing 49 team members recently reaching service milestones – 13 have hit the 10-year mark, 26 have achieved 15 years’ service, and ten of the 49 have amassed an amazing 20 years plus service. I believe this demonstrates the loyalty to what we call the Bolsover Family. We have a great section on our website where you can meet the team and identify those who have been recognised for their long service.
I am delighted to extend a special thank you and congratulations to our Sales Manager, Helen Moore, as she reached an amazing 25 years of service recently. Helen joined as a sales consultant back in 1996 and has been an important member of the team ever since.
Like you, the team here at Bolsover Cruise Club have missed their holidays as travel restrictions have prevailed. However, over the last month or so, as cruise ships return to service, they have been able to sample several ships and, as a result, our team collectively have spent more than 150 nights at sea rekindling their love for cruising. That has been great for staff morale, but the added experience this brings to the business is immense, particularly as this includes many brands that are usually out of reach, and new ships just coming into service.
Finally, in terms of cruise news, I am delighted to share that we are currently preparing for the launch of the P&O Cruises’ Summer 2023 and Winter 2023/24 launch that will be with us well before the end of the year. Whilst specific details are subject to embargo at the moment, you will be the first to know the dates you can advance register with us; after all P&O Cruises is our most popular and most successful brand. Whilst this may seem well ahead, we are expecting this to be one of our most successful launches ever as demand for cruises in 2023 and beyond is already significant. I encourage you to keep up with the latest cruise news by visiting the Cruise News Centre on our website.
Thanks for following my updates and I wish everyone travelling over the next month Bon Voyage and have a great holiday.