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Friday, 16 September 2011

Who are Fred Olsen?

I'll be continuing my series of posts today looking at the different cruise lines first time cruisers might be interested in and just providing a bit of background to them with some pros and cons.
Todays post will be all about Fred Olsen.

Fred Olsen are a great, old, British company. They're very traditional in their approach to cruises and this should be considered very carefully by anyone looking to book onboard a Fred Olsen cruise.
The one major factor in considering Fred Olsen that you should take into account is their target market. Fred Olsen cruises pitch themselves at the over 55s. These means that there will be a mix of 55+ up to 80/90+ aged people on the cruise. Obviously perfect for some but I know others may not enjoy that.
They currently have four ships.......

The Fred Olsen Balmoral - (1350 passengers)
The Fred Olsen Braemar - (929 passengers)
The Fred Olsen Boudicca - (856 passengers)
The Fred Olsen Black Watch - (804 passengers)

Even a quick glance will tell you that these aren't huge cruise ships of the likes of Royal Caribbeans Oasis of the Seas or even P&Os Azura but again they're a perfect size for the people that book onboard and that's where, I think, Fred Olsen come into their own. The loyalty of their past passengers is enormous.
If you speak to anyone who has ever been on a Fred Olsen cruise you'll find that they rave about it to you.
Another big benefit to Fred Olsen is local ports. Almost all of their sailings are out of the UK but they don't always use Southampton. You can quite often find them in smaller ports like Dover, Portsmouth, Newcastle and Rosyth. They do have a couple of fly cruises, to places like the Amazon, but these itineraries are rare, (normally around Feb each year).
Another big plus to Fred Olsen cruises is their bar prices. Being another UK cruise line their drinks always come in very reasonable as they're not adding another 15% to the price as a tip for the barman, (as most American cruise lines do).
The one thing I think that does let Fred Olsen down is that even though they are a British cruise line they do impose automatic gratuities of £4 per person per day. In their defence these can be removed but if you don't they will be added onto your account at the end of the cruise.

So in summary............

Pros of cruising with Fred Olsen

Very traditional
Very British
Good use of local ports around the UK with lots of UK departures.
55+ plus age range so you won't find hordes of children onboard, even during summer holidays.
Cheap drinks
The staff - it's the one thing about a Fred Olsen cruise that everyone comes back raving about.

Cons of cruising with Fred Olsen

Very traditional - (Formal nights aren't for everyone)
Very British - Not everyone enjoys this atmosphere onboard.
The age range - They're not really suitable for younger couples/families. It's not that you wouldn't feel welcome, you might just feel out of place.
Even though they're British they do have automatic gratuities, (naughty naughty Fred Olsen!).

So what do you think of Fred Olsen? Have you ever cruised with them before? How did your experiences match up with my list of pros and cons and can you add any more of your own?
Let me know here.

Happy cruising