Fred Olsen Cruise Lines to revamp three ships

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Fred Olsen Cruise Lines is sending Braemar, Balmoral and Black Watch into dry dock this winter in preparation for the 2020-21 season.

All three will receive new public areas and cabin improvements during their revamps, taking place from now until December 21 at Blohm+Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany.

In addition, a number of cabins on 804-passenger Black Watch will receive bathroom upgrades.

On Balmoral, an Oriental Room will be added on deck six, where teas and Far Eastern-themed cocktails and drinks will be served.

A photo gallery and flower shop will also be installed on to the 1,325-passenger ship.

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Engineering works, general maintenance and other refurbishments will also be carried out.

Braemar entered dry dock on Thursday and will return to service on November 24 when it sales a nine-night French, Belgian & Spanish City Overnights cruise from Southampton.

Balmoral will enter the yard on December 10 before emerging 10 days later, while Black Watch will go in on December 11 and come out on December 21.

The line’s fourth ship – 880-passenger Boudicca – will go into dry dock in autumn next year.

Peter Deer, managing director of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines said: “We are very proud of our smaller, classic cruise ships and we recognise the importance of investing in ongoing upgrades to ensure that our guests can continue to enjoy them at their very best.

“Our refreshed and the renewed fleet has been very well-received by both new and existing guests following the last round of improvements at Blohm+Voss in 2017 and 2018, and we are keen to showcase the latest enhancements to our guests before Christmas.”

New Fred Olsen ships ‘on the drawing board’

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Fred Olsen Cruise four ships together

Time is right to consider building new ships for Fred Olsen Cruises, according to the cruise line’s chairman.

Speaking at the launch of the operator’s 2018/19 season brochures Fred Olsen Jnr, son of the company’s founder Fred Olsen Snr, said there were plans ‘on the drawing board’ for new ocean vessels.

“Just over ten years ago in 2005 we looked at having a new ship but in terms of finances it didn’t make sense at the time. We are looking at it again and we have ships on the drawing board.

“Any new ships we do produce in the future will be smaller ocean ships which is what we want as a brand and what our customers want.”

UK managing director for the cruise line Mike Rodwell said: “We look at opportunities all the time and a new ship is of course an aspiration of ours but it has to make financial sense.”

At the London launch event on Wednesday evening, the cruise line unveiled its first ever dedicated fly-cruise brochure which Rodwell said had been created following support from the travel trade.

“We’re known for our ex-UK sailings but in the last few years fly cruises have become more important to our customers and to the agents who are selling them,” he said.

“This is a brochure we believe the travel trade can really get behind, as it is what they have told us their customers want.”

In addition to the fly-cruises the line’s four ships – Balmoral, Braemar, Boudicca and Black Watch – will visit 13 new ports of call, including Anavilhanas in Brazil, Khasab in Oman, St Tropez in France and Sanremo in Italy.

Newly appointed sales and marketing director Justin Stanton revealed the line was almost 80% sold for 2017/18, and said he looked forward to working with the trade and sales team to increase agent engagement and knowledge of the brand.

“Travel agents are absolutely key to our continuing success, especially as more than two-thirds of our sales are done through the trade,” he said.

“The next year will see a renewed focus on supporting agents in their knowledge of the product and we can’t wait to get agents on board Black Watch since its drastic renovation.”

Fred Olsen reports record start to 2016

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines is claiming a 27% hike in sales in the first week of January.
The seven days represented the line’s most successful in its history for both yield and volumes with an increasing number of bookings by first-time cruise passengers.


The line says 80% of people booking new five-night Norwegian fjords cruises from Newcastle are first-time cruisers, and are seven years younger than the Fred Olsen average.
The boost over the same record breaking period last year means that some 2016 departures are now sold out.


Sales and marketing director, Nathan Philpot, said: “We are in a very fortunate position that our smaller ships provide us with the ability to create and tailor-make such rich itineraries, for example, our popular river and waterways cruises on shallow-drafted Braemar.


“Our regional departures also give us the significant benefit of making a Fred Olsen cruise even more accessible to our guests.


“A number of our sailings for 2016 are already sold out, or only have a handful of cabins left. We will be moving our largest ship, Balmoral, to Newcastle this year, which was an ambitious decision, but the travel trade have been extremely supportive, and our sales in the north-east are well ahead of expectations.”


He added: “A key strategic driver for us is to attract new guests to the brand. Whilst we have a very high repeat rate – with a significant number of Fred Olsen cruisers returning time and time again – January has seen the share of ‘new to cruise’ guests shift by seven percentage points, and the average guest age has fallen by 11 months across the fleet.


“This is against a backdrop within the cruise industry that has seen the average age grow by five years, with an increasing reliance on existing customers.”


The line’s 2017/18 cruise programme is being released in March, which will see its fleet of four ships sail from ten UK departure ports to more than 200 destinations worldwide.