⚓ Stuart Line Cruises Monthly Newsletter ⚓ September 2020 ⚓

Welcome to Stuart Line Cruises’ September

For those of you who are new to this monthly sign-up, welcome! And for those who have been loyal readers for some time, welcome back to your favourite read of the month! 

Silver Linings

This year has not been easy for us, both from a business perspective and for our family.

Like everyone, we have been confronted with challenges beyond our control or what we could have ever imagined. I would be lying if I said that it has been all plane sailing.

We have been running at around 1/3 of our usual capacity since 4th July, with all of the same overheads as usual – in fact, we have needed extra staff in order to ensure that all of our stringent COVID_19 Safety Measures have been implemented and adhered to. We lost virtually all of our private charter bookings for weddings and parties and so on and the recent introduction of the ‘Rule of Six’ has placed further restraints on what we are able to do. And of course on top of this, the summer season has been dramatically shortened due to the late start.

However, we pride ourselves on always looking on the bright side, never feeling sorry for ourselves and consistent unrelenting efforts to make the best of things. This is not something which is about to change.

Our team have been truly awesome, adapting overnight and really just getting on with it; feedback from passengers has been incredibly positive, with glowing reviews of our exceptional customer service and we feel tremendously proud of this. It has not been easy for our Crew or shore-based staff, with so many additional aspects to their roles. Our Crew have been allocating seating positions during boarding, operating a waiter/waitress-only service during cruises and have been wearing face masks throughout – not to mention the enhanced cleaning protocols which we have in place. Our shore-based staff have been busy updating our website and ensuring that everyone has been aware of exactly what to expect and the volume of enquiries has been understandably high. The measures we have in place have swiftly become the ‘norm’ and are generally perceived by the public to be expected when visiting an attraction but we are not afraid to admit the additional strain this has placed on our staff and our gratitude to them is immense.

The above photos are a symbol of what we have been faced with during this challenging time; they represent resilience, innovation, determination and forward-thinking. We have successfully adapted the way we run our business and have readily embraced new opportunities. We lost most of our private charter bookings as well as many of our special events such as regattas and air shows but in their place, we have introduced our highly anticipated Cruise Ship Sightseeing Tours. This has been our silver lining.

Jake is now at the helm of our family-run business and he could not be doing a better job. He is the calm, resilient, innovative, determined and forward-thinking driving force at every hurdle and his unwavering positivity is something to be admired. It is my privilege to do all of this by his side.

Cruise Ship Sightseeing Tours

Autumn Equinox 

According to the astronomical calendar, 22nd September 2020 marked the start of Autumn – when the leaves start to fall, temperatures drop and the days become shorter.

How the changing of the seasons can be upon us already, I truly have no idea. This year has absolutely flown and it feels so surreal. Our summer season has been so dramatically shortened and yet I feel that we have so completely made the most of it in every way possible. It has been wonderful, actually.

I’m sure you’ll agree, we have been utterly spoilt with the weather we have been blessed with this summer – I certainly haven’t felt the desire to travel abroad (aside from a few other obvious and topical reasons, that is). The demand for our diverse range of cruises has been unprecedented and we have adored showcasing Devon’s stunning East and South Devon coastlines as well as the glorious River Exe Estuary with our passengers. We have actually felt that the summer season has extended further into September than usual – staycation with the family has certainly been a top travel trend for summer 2020 – an undeniable blessing for those operating within the travel and tourism industry in Devon.

The week of the Autumn Equinox marked our last Day Trip to Torquay and Brixham for the year and we will soon see our final Jurassic Coast and Mini Coastal Cruises too. We are starting to notice the arrival of a number of bird species to the Exe Estuary for their winter migration and our Guided Bird Watching Cruises will be upon us before we know it!

Many of you may already be aware that the Exe Estuary is a designated Ramsar Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), owing to its prolific migratory bird life during winter. Thousands upon thousands of birds from the likes of Greenland, Iceland and Arctic Siberia make their home here on the calm and sheltered waters to have their babies and feed on the rich biodiversity found on the vast mudflats at low tide. As I watch the birds dancing triumphantly through the air at the mouth of the estuary and singing merrily, I can’t help but watch in wonder as I think about the epic journey they must have endured to get here. It’s no wonder they appear relieved to have arrived – a truly remarkable feat in my eyes. I am also reminded of the natural wonder which they represent – the natural world is evidently thriving.

We are fortunate to operate throughout the year and to witness this transition from one season to another – to watch as the estuary comes alive – is a real treat. As we head into October, there will be fewer private boats out on the River Exe as they are hauled out for their winter maintenance and storage, making way for the wildlife to thrive and we will relish the unique privilege of sharing it with them.

We love this time of year. It doesn’t mark the end of our season – rather, it marks the exciting beginning of the next.

Guided Bird Watching Cruises
A Post Card from Devon

Lockdown was an incredibly strange time for us all and I have remarked previously about how struck I was by all of your comments and interaction through the limitless digital world. Despite not seeing you for so many weeks and months, we felt connected via our digital platforms and it was a wonderful way to remain engaged and to feel less socially isolated.

A couple of days ago I was sent this photograph from a lovely lady via Facebook. It shows a beautiful embroidery of our Pride of Exmouth, cleverly crafted by the lady’s daughter during lockdown. The lady adores Exmouth and our boats and was really missing us during lock down and this just really touched me.

It is amazing to think that our business and our boats have become part of the scenery in Exmouth for so many people and that our existence touches on so many lives in different ways.

What a beautiful thing and what a lovely lady to have taken the trouble to send me the photograph.

Your thoughts, please! 

And finally, folks, we would really value your input with regards to Sail with Santa for 2020.

We are determined that we will be able to find a way to run these cruises in a fun and safe way but clearly, some aspects of the entertainment which we are able to offer will need to change, due to social distancing and other necessary COVID_19 Safety Measures.

We anticipate that on board capacity will of course need to be significantly reduced and that we will be unable to offer face painting or the Punch and Judy Show. We expect that table and chair seating may be a sensible option, enabling all family groups and individuals to be appropriately spaced apart and we are looking for ideas for entertainment for the children, which would not require people to get up and move around too much.

All ideas very welcome and if you are able to let us know by responding to this email then I would be most grateful.

We want to be able to provide the usual fun, festive and magical experience but as always, your health and safety and that of our staff is our top priority.

Thank you all for your continued support, I cannot tell you how much it means to us. We are so grateful for each and every bit of feedback and word of encouragement and look forward to many, many more glorious boat trips in the months and years to come.
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