The Solent Steam Packet is sorry to have to confirm that the Board have made the very difficult decision to cancel the remaining 2020 sailing season, due to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Our priority, as always is the continued safety of our guests and crew. With social distancing measures likely to mean reduced passenger numbers and restrictions on selling food and alcohol our earning potential has been severely reduced. In addition our crew, many of whom are over 70, cannot be expected to put themselves or their families at risk.
In making this decision we have also considered the impact of the cancellation of events such as the 2020 Bournemouth Air Festival, the absence of Southampton’s proposed Mayflower 400 Maritime Festival and the continued absence of cruise ships, whose interaction with Shieldhall on our sailings is a highlight of many guests’ experience whilst on board.
2020 was to have been a very special year for Shieldhall, set to celebrate her 65th birthday in July, and with many cruises set to sell out. However, most of our 2020 cruises will be replicated in our 2021 sailing programme, which we are looking to bring forward and launch this summer. Not going to dry dock this year means that Shieldhall will now lay-up, saving the significant costs that annual dry docking entails. However, whilst looking to minimise costs we recognise that we will not be raising much needed revenue from ticket sales. Ticket revenue is critical to the ongoing success and wellbeing of Shieldhall, allowing our team of volunteers the opportunity to maintain one of the flagships of the National Historic Fleet. When we cancelled our May and June 2020 sailings, many supporters indicated they would like Shieldhall to retain their ticket for 2021 – a very significant gesture which benefited the ship enormously. In now cancelling the remainder of the season, we are politely asking remaining ticket holders if they would consider transferring their 2020 booking to 2021.
As noted, we anticipate being ready to launch our 2021 programme in the summer, when we will have more news on dates and times of specific sailings, and can process and forward tickets.
We will look to keep our members and supporters updated with 2021 news via the Shieldhall website www.ss-shieldhall.co.uk, emails and social media.
We encourage everyone to keep up to date with the current Government & NHS advice and guidelines around Coronavirus by visiting the following link: www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/
Thank you for your understanding, patience and ongoing support which means so much to the charity. Stay safe and we hope to see you on board in 2021 for our 66th year afloat, and when we will also be celebrating the 30th year of sailing in charitable ownership!
What do you need to do if you have purchased a ticket with us for our 2020 sailing programme?
We have sent all passengers that were due to sail with us this year and email at 09:00 on Friday 22nd May. If you have not received an email, please get in touch with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org