As we return from a long weekend I hope you all found the time to relax and get your breath back after a particularly relentless couple of months.

However, despite Paul A Young and Eric Lanlard telling us otherwise, Easter is not just about chocolate.

Easter and spring is a time of renewal – of new growth, new hope and very visible new beginnings. It is the lifting of our spirits that comes when spring overcomes winter and also the excited anticipation that our world is gradually coming out of the last lockdown.

All of this is so fitting and relevant to where we are currently as a business. We are on the cusp of our return.

Martin Luther King Jr famously said “Take the first step… You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”

Our new UK coastal cruises are, very definitely, the first step. The initial phase of our return to service and with that, the beginning of a lengthy and complex operation to return our crew to the ships, to put in place new shows, procurement, new dining concepts and, above all, to implement our framework of health protocols. It is imperative that guests have the peace of mind and reassurance that we are doing everything we possibly can to take care of them as they enjoy their holiday – a holiday which will probably be the first for them for many, many months, so the anticipation and build up is enormous.

On several calls last week I was asked how I felt about being on the television and radio talking about the summer programme. It actually felt very emotional – I did over 20 interviews and talking about Britannia and Iona, and everything there will be to do on board, made it seem very real and very imminent. We were rewarded with extremely positive and receptive media coverage. Again, various teams worked to coordinate the messaging across all our channels and certainly supported the success of our initial launch.

As I write, at the beginning of April, we still have well over two months until Britannia sets sail with her first guests but the pace of change is not to be underestimated. I was extremely proud of the team which reacted with agility and speed to the evident preference of our guests for a seven night break. With around a dozen cruise lines now confirming that they will be sailing from the UK this summer we have to remain dynamic and responsive to a changing world around us.

Since the last book I recommended, many of you have asked what I’m reading at the moment. As I have said previously, one of the benefits of lockdown has been a consistent routine, which has resulted in better sleep habits. Someone once recommended that I read “Why we sleep, the new science of Sleep and Dreams” by Matthew Walker. It’s fascinating and I’ll definitely try to hold on to the practice of prioritising sleep when we return to ‘normal’.

Whilst I eagerly anticipated yesterday’s latest Government update it seems there is still a great deal of uncertainty and complexity around dates for the opening up of international travel and holidays abroad this summer.

As far as domestic hospitality goes though, I am excited for every milestone as lockdown is eased. It’s as though I have an internal countdown clock to every date…outside fitness; much longed-for meals and drinks outside and seeing much-missed friends – everything has become more meaningful and memorable.

Talking of memorable, this month we will be announcing details of Iona’s naming ceremony and her godmother. Behind the scenes there is a huge amount of planning and preparation. I can promise you, it will be a ceremony unlike we have seen before, but one which is a celebration of the current time and all that we, as an industry, have achieved in the past and, once again, will achieve in the future.

I fully expect more change ahead. Our “staircase” for this summer and the months ahead is yet to be determined but the one thing the last 12 months has taught me is to stay open minded, responsive and collaborate across teams… and then, working together, we can achieve our success – one step at a time.



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