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Friday, 7 October 2011

Are Fred Olsen trying too hard?

First off, I like Fred Olsen. I like their ships, (well the Balmoral); I like the atmosphere onboard; I like their staff and normally I like the way they operate, but just lately it's started to feel that Fred Olsen are trying to be something they're not.


Where I think Fred Olsen come into their own is in the fact that they're a great, traditional, British brand. Everything on board is run in a very British way, with none of the pretentiousness that you can get with some cruise lines.
As I've said though, just lately it almost feels as though they're moving away from that and trying to compete with the likes of Cunard; the problem being the two brands are nothing alike.
You may remember a post I wrote last year, (No thanks Freds, we're British), about how Fred Olsen had started to add gratuities automatically to guests onboard accounts. I remember thinking at the time that it was strange for such a traditionally British company to introduce such an American way of doing things and I wondered what they'd be doing next.
Well it turns out that the next thing they're trialing is to do away with all casual dress codes onboard in an attempt to make their ships more formal, (again why are they trying so hard to be something they're not?)

The official release from Fred Olsen reads:

To avoid confusion, you'll now find that there is no longer a casual dress code onboard, leaving formal, informal, smart casual and, of course themed. In keeping with the more relaxed atmosphere of our theme nights, guests who prefer not to follow the evenings theme can choose to wear smart-casual attire instead.

Now obviously this is nowhere near as bad as introducing automatic tipping and I know that an argument could be made that a more formal cruise is much more 'British' but I don't know, to me it just feels that Fred Olsen are moving away from what made them great in the first place. What do you think?

Happy cruising