In a year that has seen practically everything in our lives changed, due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and social distancing measures, many events (and thousands of holidays) have had to be cancelled.
Local cruise specialist travel agency, Select Travel Holidays, on Mill Street, Bedford, were no exception, having to cancel their successful annual Cruise Show, which they have held for over ten years.
However, as we have turned increasingly online to a ‘virtual world’ during lockdowns, so – again – have they.
For the last three years, Select Travel Holidays’ Cruise Show has been held at the Sharnbrook Hotel in October, and gives clients the opportunity to meet representatives from partner cruise lines, as well as attend ‘Introduction to Cruising’ presentations for first-time cruisers.
In previous years, their show has also been held at Wyboston Lakes with up to three presentations at a time from cruise line partners.
‘We’ve always had excellent feedback from clients for our Cruise Shows, and when the planned date for our show started to approach, it felt such a shame to cancel it,” said Amy Wright, marketing executive at Select Travel Holidays.
“So I had this idea – why not go virtual? We had been discussing doing virtual events with a couple of our cruise line partners anyway, but I have a tendency to get a little ambitious and think outside of the box, so I started wondering about a virtual cruise show, and it grew legs from there.”
She described the project as ‘a real labour of love.’
“The travel industry has faced the biggest challenges of its history this year, and it’s taken a real thrashing,” said Amy.
“Cruising has been almost completely suspended since March. But we are a famously resilient bunch, and I think that it’s important to have something to look forward to and hope for, and travel has always offered that; we all look forward to our next holiday.
“I hope that the presentations in our Virtual Cruise Festival will inspire people, give them the confidence to dream about travel again, and show them how diverse cruising is, and just give a snapshot of some of the incredible experiences that can be enjoyed.
“Our cruise shows have always focussed on perhaps the less obvious or less well-known cruise brands, and so does our Virtual Cruise Festival.
“We’ve got cruise lines representing the best in luxury cruise and expedition, and river cruising, and some really niche cruise lines, such as the brand-new Virgin Voyages, tall ships such as Star Clippers, and barge holidays with European Waterways, which I think would be ideal for travelling with your bubble.
“I’m also really proud to have Swan Hellenic join us for the Virtual Cruise Festival – this was an iconic British cruise brand that was so beloved, and we had a very strong following of loyal clients who loved Swans until it sadly collapsed in 2017, but now it’s being revived with the first ship launching next year.
“I know a lot of our clients were excited when I got in touch with them about Swans, and are looking forward to finding out more.”
Presentations also include ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Cruising’, panels on luxury, expedition, and river cruising, and ‘Rachel’s Reminiscences’, where the owner of Select Travel Holidays shares some of her personal stories of cruising.
The Virtual Cruise Festival goes ‘live’ this weekend, but will be exclusively for those who have registered up to 23 November – although those interested can register at any point until the 23rd to watch the presentations exclusively and to be eligible for the exclusive show offers.
In partnership with Select Travel Holidays