Like many small businesses in the tourism industry, we were shell-shocked by the effect Covid-19 had on our blossoming industry. The pandemic came at a time when we had expanded in response to growing demand for tourism experiences in Northern Ireland. 2020 had been set to be a year of growth and opportunity for Abhainn Cruises, with a new vessel, a newly qualified Skipper and a growing base of return customers enjoying the variety of experiential boat tours we have to offer. We were excited.
As the news began to relay the seriousness of the situation our excitement turned to uncertainty and worry. We had already taken hundreds of bookings for trips around Northern Ireland and to the TT Races on the Isle of Man. We made the sad but necessary decision to temporarily close. We contacted every single person who had booked with us and offered a full refund or a credit/rollover. We hate disappointing customers and trips are rarely cancelled by us.
Our customer response was heartening. Every single person understood that we had no choice but to cancel and promised to book with us again when it was safe to do so. Others let us rollover their deposits, helping us maintain cashflow in our small business. We are grateful to every single customer whose trip we had to postpone or cancel, and won’t forget that it is our customers who helped us weather this Covid Storm.
Throughout the Lockdown we have been planning our return, making new plans, drafting a Safe Operation Policy in response to Covid-19 and making contact with our Harbour Masters and Councils. After having been informed that boat charters could recommence we submitted our new policy and were delighted to hear that it had been approved by the Harbour Masters, Council and even the Department of Environmental Health.
We are confident that our measures will keep our passengers safe and happy. We have made the decision to only provide private charters on our vessels so that our passengers are not in proximity with strangers. We have always valued the benefits of private charters and specialised in these for families, friends, work mates, and team building.
We are happy to be back to work on the water helping our customers make life-long memories and are dedicated to providing a high quality, bespoke experience for your staycation this year.