Fred Olsen

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Fred Olsen fleet

Review of Fred Olsen

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines is a Norwegian-owned, UK-based cruise shipping line with four ships, part of Fred Olsen Group. The company's headquarters are in Ipswich (Suffolk UK). Its owners are Bonheur and Ganger Rolf.

The cruise travel company Fred Olsen was established in 1848 in Hvitsten Norway, by three Olsen brothers - Petter, Andras and Fredrik Christian. They bought its first ships and started international passenger shipping. Today, this family-owned cruise line (into its 5th generation) operates several companies specializing in cruise ship travel, ships' crewing, shipbuilding, even in aviation and offshore industries. Fred Olsen Group also has business interests in the sectors of property development, estate management, luxury hotels and electronics.

Fred Olsen Cruises logo

The ships of the Fred Olsen company are attractive with nice bars and lounges, smartly furnished cabins and deluxe restaurants. The airy public areas provide excellent places to read an interesting book and have a drink while relaxing and watching the world go by. The daily activities, uncrowded pool areas, exotic spas, help you enjoy your cruise holiday on a Fred Olsen ship.

  • Fred Olsen company purchased a new ship in May 2006 - Norwegian Crown, bought from Norwegian Cruise Line. In November 2007 the vessel was dry-docked for lengthening and refurbishment, with pre-built forty metre added centre section. Then the ship was renamed Balmoral, entering service in 2008. This fact was followed in the summer of 2008 by the extension of Braemar - adding a new centre section with new public rooms and cabins. Thus the size of the vessel was increased from 19,000 grt to 24,000 grt.
  • Fred Olsen lines provide traditional cruising with unhurried on board ambience - this is the main reason why they are the best choice for cruise holiday passengers. The four stylish ships of the company offer a variety of itineraries of different duration - from a few days on European mini-cruises to round the world voyages including the most spectacular destinations in the world.
  • On March 7, 2017, Fred Olsen announced the company had its most successful cruise sales day ever. Total bookings were over GBP 3 million for that day. Most of the bookings were made by top tier loyalty club members, following the official release of Fred Olsen's 2018-2019 cruise itinerary program. The increase in bookings over te same launch day in 2016 was 15%. By the new program, the all 4 Fred Olsen ships will visit 228 destinations in 73 different countries. The program also featured 91 scenic cruising areas included in 135 unique itineraries.

Fred Olsen enjoys a high repeat booking rate. To attract first-timer cruisers, since 2013 Fred Olsen offers "Enjoyment Promise". By this initiative, a full cruise full refund is guaranteed to anyone who doesn't enjoy the company's cruising vacation product. The cruise line guarantees that if passengers find that the experience is not for them, they can leave the cruise ship at the next available call port. The "Enjoyment Promise" offer applies only to new bookings and first-time customers.

Occasionally, Fred Olsen offers short UK cruises (themed as "Taster Cruise") allowing potential customers to book 1-night cruise deals. This is a perfect opportunity to sample the line's product without committing too much money or time. Booking these 1-night deals don't require purchasing travel insurance.

In August 2017, the company contracted Speedcast International Ltd to provide fleetwide full package communication (voice and data) services. Speedcast (renown provider of remote communication and IT solutions) installed on all Fred Olsen ships satellite VSAT terminals plus land-based 4G data connectivity. The new technology allows seamless, automatic switching between various networks ensuring highly reliable connectivity at all times. The new network also provides connectivity between the company's offices and the fleet all over the world.

Fred Olsen fleet meets 2015-2018-2020

For the first time ever, on July 28, 2015, all four Fred Olsen ships (the whole fleet) came together in Bergen - Norway's second largest city after the capital Oslo.

  • The four vessels arrived at 8 am and left the port at 6 pm.
  • MS Balmoral was on an 8-night "Norwegian Fjords" cruise from Southampton UK (July 25). Arriving from Stavanger Norway, it docked at Bontelabo Terminal.
  • MS Black Watch was on a 9-night "Cruising the Fjordland"cruise from Liverpool UK (July 23). Arriving from Flam Norway, it docked at Skolten South Terminal.
  • MS Boudicca was on a 7-night "Glaciers, Fjords and Waterfalls of Norway" cruise from Newcastle UK (July 26). Arriving from Newcastle upon Tyne, it docked at Skolten North Terminal.
  • MS Braemar was on a 14-night "Falls, Fjords and Faroe Islands" cruise from Dover UK (July 18). Arriving from Akureyri Iceland, it docked at Festningskaien Terminal.
  • The day-long festivities in Bergen included quayside live music performances (marching drummers, singers, music bands), onboard entertainment (afternoon show, open deck party, live band music), onboard treasure hunt, "‘water cannon" send–off show as all Fred Olsen ships were leaving the port.
  • All four Fred Olsen ships visit Bergen every year since 1997.
  • Following the "fleet meet" day, Balmoral continued to Flam, both Black Watch and Braemar to Eidfjord, Boudicca - to Alesund.

In 2018, for its 170th anniversary, Fred Olsen's fleet will dock together in Cadiz (Spain) on September 10, 2018. The 4 themed cruise itineraries ("Captains in Cádiz") were opened for booking on September 28, 2017. The port's excellent facilities are located within the city and allow all 4 liners to be berthed alongside each other.

The next fleet meet was scheduled for April 4, 2020, in Port Funchal (Madeira Island). All 4 itineraries (themed "Four Fredsin Funchal") included as activities welcome ceremony, live music performances, specially-prepared food menus, fun competitions between crew and passengerss of each boat.

Itinerary of Fred Olsen

The ships of the Fred Olsen company are based in Britain during most of the year, with cruises departing from Dover, Southampton, Rosyth (for Edinburgh), Liverpool, Greenock (for Glasgow), Newcastle and Portsmouth. The Braemar’s winter Caribbean fly cruise program operates from Barbados, and provides connecting flights from Manchester and London Gatwick.

Itineraries range from areas that are quite popular, as the Baltic, Canaries, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Norway, to longer cruise routes - ‘Around the World’ and ‘Around South America’. The list of destinations operated by Fred Olsen ships includes the Adriatic, Africa, Canary Islands, Transatlantic, Canada/New England, Northern Europe/UK ((Around Britain/British Isles, Iceland), South America, the US. One of the most British cruise companies, the Fred Olsen fleet consists of smaller size cruise ships - weight/tonnage from 11,000 to 43,000 GRT.

In April 2017, Fred Olsen announced the company will pull its ships out of Falmouth UK. The decision was partly based on the port's lack of dedicated cruising facilities.

Arctic cruise itineraries from UK

Fred Olsen commenced its 2017-2018 cruise season from Dover on June 4, 2017 with a sold-out 7-night "‘Phenomenal Fjords of Norway’" itinerary on the 804-passenger Black Watch. The ship was homeported in Dover for a total of 6 roundtrip itineraries (through August 2017). The program also included an 11-day "Lochs of Scotland" itinerary, a 15-"day ‘Iceland, Ireland and Islands" itinerary and a 28-day adult-only "Fjords of Norway, Iceland and Greenland" cruise. In early 2017, Balmoral and Braemar also offered departures from port Dover.

Fred Olsen river cruise itineraries

In May 2017, the company announced the launch of its new European river cruise program via a chartered vessel. Fred Olsen river cruises were operated in 2018 (April 11 through November 3) on the 156-passenger river ship MS Amadeus Princess (renamed "Brabant" during that period).

MS Amadeus Princess cruise ship (Brabant, Fred Olsen)

MS Brabant river cruisetour deals were open for bookings on May 26, 2017. Fred Olsen's river program includes itineraries on the rivers Danube, Main, Rhine and Moselle, with a total of 30 departures. Itinerary durations are from 5 to 25 nights, complemented by high-quality tours and excursions ashore. The new program was specifically planned to include a large amount of daylight river cruising, allowing passengers to enjoy as long as possible the riverside scenery along the itinerary routes.

The new 2018 river cruise itineraries on Brabant include Dusseldorf to Amsterdam (Holland), Dusseldorf to Nuremberg, Nuremberg to Budapest (Hungary), Budapest to Bucharest (Romania), Dusseldorf to Basel (Switzerland), and Bucharest to Dusseldorf.

Fred Olsen cruise itinerary changes

Fred Olsen cruise line adds a South Africa itinerary program on the Boudicca ship in 2018. The new program will be operated with UK to South Africa fly-cruise deals. The Boudicca's cruise fares will be inclusive of flights from London (or Manchester) to Cape Town (departure port). The 14-night round-trip itinerary includes overnight stays in Port Elizabeth, Richards Bay and Durban. The 3-night stay in Cape Town offers as tour options Scale Table Mountain (cable car ride), wine tours (Stellenbosch, Constantia), Camps Bay strolling, visiting the Victoria and Alfred Waterfront complex and the Newlands (cricket ground), Cape Town Harley Davidson bike tour, boating, shark diving, whales-dolphins watching.

  • mv Balmoral (1988) - UK/British isles, Baltic Sea (Russia-Scandinavia and Norwegian Fjords) and Canary Islands leaving out of Newcastle (home-port), also from Dover and Southampton (home-port) including on Transatlantic round-trip cruises to South America. In 2018-2019, the 1,350-passenger flagship Balmoral will offer roundtrip departures out of Edinburgh (Rosyth) for the first time ever. There are a total of 9 cruises scheduled (May through July), including a 5-night Norwegian Fjords, 14-night Scandinavia and St Petersburg, Baltic discovery, 9-night ‘German Waterways’.
  • ms Black Watch (1972) - World Cruise from Southampton, Northern Europe (Norway Fjords, Russia and Scandinavia) leaving from England (Dover, homeport) and Scotland (Edinburgh-Rosyth homeport). In 2017, the ship offered a total of 8 cruises leaving roundtrip from Rosyth. Operated in the period August 14 through October 14, the roundtrip itineraries  included 7-night Norwegian Fjords, 10-night Northern European cities, 16-night Canary Islands and Madeira.
  • ms Boudicca (1972) - UK/British Isles, Azores and Madeira, Mediterranean leaving from Liverpool (home-port), World Cruise round-trip from Southampton to Caribbean and South America. Select departures from Greenock-Glasgow and Belfast are also available. The ship returned to Liverpool on June 9, 2017. In 2017, MS Boudicca was homeported in Leverpool for a total of 10 roundtrip itineraries (June through September). The itinerary program included 9-day "Lochs of Scotland" (Scottish lochs and waterways) and 17-day "Glitz and Glamour of the French Riviera" (Mediterranean cruise, visiting BarcelonaCannes and Monaco). Three fly-cruise deals to Africa and Indian Ocean (Fall and Winter 2017) include: (code D1724, departure October 14, 2017) 33-night "Med, Zanzibar and Mauritius" from Liverpool England UK, (code D1727, departure December 14, 2017) 14-night "Indian Ocean Islands and Zanzibar" from Port Louis Mauritius, and (code D1728, departure December 28, 2017) "Madagascar, Mozambique and South Africa’" from Port Louis Mauritius.
  • ms Braemar (1993) - Baltic Sea (Russia and Scandinavia, Norway Fjords), France (Atlantic Coast ports), Canary Islands and Eastern Mediterranean out of Southampton (home-port). During winter season offers Caribbean cruises out of Barbados.

Fred Olsen commenced its 2018-2019 cruise seasons from Newcastle and Liverpool on April 26, 2018. In 2018-2019, Fred Olsen fleet is visiting 228 destinations in a total of 73 countries around the world, covering 91 scenic cruising areas. The 1,350-passenger flagship mv Balmoral set sail from Newcastle on a 7-night ‘German Cities and the Kiel Canal’ itinerary, and 804-passenger Black Watch departed Liverpool on an 8-night ‘Fjords, Mountains and Glaciers’ cruise around Norway.

In 2018 Balmoral sets sail on a record 15 cruises from Port of Tyne, Newcastle, which is an increase on the 13 departures in 2017. Balmoral’s ex-Newcastle season extends from April through May, from where the vessel repositions to Edinburgh, prior to returning to Newcastle from July through October. Black Watch offers record 18 departures out of Liverpool from April through November 2018, ranging from a 5-night ‘Scottish Lochs, Highlands and Islands’ cruise in July, to a 26-night ‘Canada in the Fall’ trip in September.

At the launch of line's new 2019-2020 cruise program in March 2018, Fred Olsen revealed that it is to offer even more itineraries from Newcastle in 2019-2020, with 16 sailings between April 2019-March 2020, onboard Balmoral. Liverpool expects a bumper number of line's departures in 2019-2020, with 22 itineraries between April 2019-March 2020 onboard Black Watch.

Balmoral’s ex-Newcastle cruises in 2018 include:

  • 7-night ‘Scenic Fjords of Norway’, round-trip from Newcastle on August 5, 2018 from GBP 849 per person;
  • 9-night ‘Diamonds, Chocolates and Canals’, round-trip from Newcastle on September 16, 2018. Prices start from GBP 799 per person.

Black Watch’s ex-Liverpool cruises in 2018 include:

  • 7-night ‘Lochs of Scotland’ cruise, round-trip from Liverpool on September 15, 2018. Prices start from GBP 999 per person.
  • 14-night ‘Islands and Landscapes of the Canaries’, round-trip from Liverpool on October 27, 2018. Prices start from GBP 849 per person. 

Fred Olsen's fleet of 4 ships visit a total of 219 destinations in 75 different countries around the world, covering 79 regions of scenic cruising throughout 2019-2020. Complementing the United Kingdom departure ports of LiverpoolSouthamptonNewcastleEdinburgh and Dover, there is an expanded program of fly-cruises. Fred Olsen ocean cruises include 13 maiden calls: Agios Nikolaos, Alotau, Ambon, Broome, Ermoupoli, Galway, La Romana, Lembar, Patras, Penneshaw, Sabang, Sumatra, Svolvaer, and Wewak.

In 2019-2020, ‘closer’ cruising is still at the fore of Fred Olsen cruise experience. Signature Norwegian fjords itineraries are offered in 2019-2020, along with Greenland fjords, and Musandam fjords in Oman, accessible on dhow boat voyage. Fred Olsen is also operating 5-night ‘taster’ sailings from all 5 UK ports, along the Seine and to the Norwegian fjords. The UK-based cruise operator is expanding the program on Brabant in 2019-2020 to feature the Rhine, Main, Moselle and Danube rivers.

Examples of Fred Olsen ‘Best Time To Go’ itineraries 2019-2020 include:

  • 14-night ‘Mediterranean with Lavender in Provence’ onboard Braemar in July 2019;
  • 14-night ‘Baltic with Tallinn Song and Dance Festivals’ (cultural events which only take place every 5 years) onboard Boudicca;
  • 12-night ‘Spain and Portugal with the Seville Fair’ onboard Braemar in May 2019,
  • 14-night ‘Northern Norway with Sami National Day’ onboard Black Watch in January 2020, featuring ‘yoik’ folk choirs and traditional festivities.

Fred Olsen line also offers an all-inclusive cruise package upgrade (additional fixed price PP per day) and UK fly cruise deals to Canary Islands (year-round discounted airfare from Southampton, England).

Fred Olsen 2018-2019-2020 Cruises from Edinburgh

The flagship of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, Balmoral, commenced her inaugural cruise season from Edinburgh (Rosyth) on May 16, 2018, on a 10-night ‘Swedish Waterways and Cities’ trip. The 1,350-passenger Balmoral offers a record 9 sailings from Edinburgh (Rosyth) during 2018-2019 cruise season, from May through July 2018, which is an increase on the 8 departures onboard Black Watch from the cruise port in 2017. Scottish cruisers choose from a host of cruise destinations with Fred Olsen in 2018-2019, including The Netherlands, Norway, Belgium, Germany, Scandinavia and Baltic.

Fred Olsen confirmed its commitment to Edinburgh with a 2nd programme of departures from the Scottish port aboard Balmoral in 2019-2020. During its 2019-2020 cruise season, mv Balmoral offers 8 cruises from Edinburgh, from June through August 2019, including a 7-night ‘Norwegian Fjords’, 14-night ‘Baltic Capitals’, and 9-night ‘European Rivers & Canals’ experiences.

In 2018-2019, Fred Olsen cruises roundtrip from Edinburgh onboard ms Balmoral include:

  • 9-night ‘German Waterways’, departing May 31, 2018 (from £699 PP). Ports of call include Bremen (overnight stay), cruising Weser River, Kiel Canal Transit, Kiel, Warnemunde, Kiel Canal Transit, Cruising River Elbe, Hamburg.
  • 7-night ‘Diamonds, Chocolates and Canals’, departing June 30, 2018 (from £599 PP). Ports of call include AntwerpGhentAmsterdam.
  • 9-night ‘Greatest Fjords of Norway’, departing July 12, 2018 (adult-only, from £1,099 PP). Ports of call include Cruising Lysefjord, Hardangerfjord, Maurangerfjord, Flam, Naeroyfjord, Olden, Cruising Nordfjord, past Seven Sisters Waterfall, Hellesylt, Cruising Sunnylvsfjorden, KristiansundBergen.

In 2018-2019, the fleet of Fred Olsen is visiting 228 destinations in a total of 73 countries around the world.

Fred Olsen related cruise news