Fred Olsen chief appeals to government to support cruise lines

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines also known as 'Fred. Olsen', 'Fred. Olsen ...

The boss of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has called on the government to provide more support for the cruise industry.

With cruise operations suspended until May 23 during the coronavirus pandemic, the UK-based cruise line has been forced to dock its four ships.

Peter Deer, Fred Olsen’s managing director, praised the government for the schemes it had introduced to ease cash flow constraints on companies across the country but appealed for further help to be extended to the cruise sector.

UK chancellor Rishi Sunak said the government was prepared to enter negotiations with individual airlines to discuss “bespoke support as a last resort” last week.

Speaking to Travel Weekly, Deer said: “As a cruise line you hear quite a lot about the airline industry receiving funding from the government. We’re quite a passive bunch. I suspect our margins are better but lining up ships is not a cheap thing to do.

“The government needs to recognise that cruise is a big part of travel in the UK and find ways to support it.”

He called for lobbying from “every angle”, adding: “This is a hairy time for every cruise line, particularly the ones that have brought in new tonnage. It makes your life a bit tougher.”

In Fred Olsen’s 2021-22 brochure, the line offers departures from five UK ports – Southampton, Newcastle, Dover, Liverpool and Edinburgh.

Fred Olsen Cruises Ocean cruises cruise line review - Which?

Deer outlined how food, fuel and other services are bought by Fred Olsen from UK businesses.

Deer added: “We are worth a huge amount to the UK market. When we talk about a holiday environment, money is spent on that destination but with a cruise line that money is spent on a ship.

“It would be great to see some positive spin from the government.”

Asked if Fred Olsen was preparing for a “bounce back” in terms of consumer demand later this year, Deer said: “I think at some point we will see it, but it is all about consumer confidence. People do not have the will to think about their holiday in the short-term.

“They do not know when this event is going to subside. Everyone wants to go on holiday but they need some confidence that the virus is going to disappear.”

Deer said that it was “too early” for targeted marketing but added that the business was still trying to remain at the forefront of customers’ minds.

“We are just talking about our company and what we are doing,” he said. “It is a broader approach.

“People will see if cruises go-ahead before they commit their money.

“People may not do long-haul fly-cruises. They may look to the Mediterranean or the Canaries. I think people just do not know.”

Newcastle Terminal Design Unveiled

Newcastle Terminal Design Unveiled

Newcastle Cruise Terminal Rendering

The NSW Government and Port of Newcastle have revealed the design of the new Newcastle Cruise Terminal which will transform the cruise passenger experience in Newcastle, according to a prepared statement.

The purpose-built facility will cover approximately 3,000 square meters and will include facilities for passenger drop-off and pick up, coach parking and vessel provisioning.

Port of Newcastle’s CEO, Geoff Crowe, said the Newcastle Cruise Terminal would provide a professional transit experience for passengers arriving in Newcastle and a positive first impression of the city.

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“We are excited to share the concept design for the Newcastle Cruise Terminal which reflects Newcastle’s position as a world-class cruise ship destination. The traveller experience is central to GHD Woodhead’s design, with harbour views, ease of movement, natural daylight and a generous sense of spacing greeting passengers.

“The new cruise terminal, to be built at the Channel Berth, will enable the Port to receive more and larger cruise ships in the future. Importantly, it will position Newcastle as a home port where ships can start and finish their destination in Newcastle. Eventually, cruise visits could also be aligned with major events, such as the V8 Supercars, adding another dimension to the visitor and tourism experience,” said Crowe.

“According to the Australian Cruise Association’s estimates, cruise shipping in Newcastle currently injects around $11 million per annum to the local economy. Homeporting has the potential to deliver even more economic value to the region via more cruise ships and more visitors and the opportunity for local businesses to provide goods and services for the provisioning of vessels.”

The $12.7 million Newcastle Cruise Terminal is funded by the NSW Government’s Restart NSW Hunter Infrastructure Investment Fund.

The design was unveiled by the Parliamentary Secretary for Planning, the Central Coast and the Hunter, Scot MacDonald, who said the Newcastle Cruise Terminal would be a major boost for the Hunter’s tourism sector.

“The Newcastle Cruise Terminal is a big win for the region and a key part of Newcastle’s revitalisation. It cements the city as an international cruise destination and will deliver flow of benefit to the region’s already thriving tourism industry. Additionally, it complements the increased capacity of Newcastle Airport,” said MacDonald.

“The NSW Government has contributed $13.1 million towards the $13.5 million Newcastle cruise upgrades*. The Hunter Research Foundation has estimated the projects will contribute around $26.7 million to the local economy and an additional 76 jobs through construction and flow-on effects.”

Crowe said he was thrilled to share the design with the community after many months of detailed planning.

“Throughout the design process, Port of Newcastle has worked with the cruise industry, tourism representatives and Australian border agencies to factor in their requirements.

“Unveiling the design is a significant step and it is only going to get more exciting from here. Construction will commence in early 2018 and Novocastrians will have a cruise terminal to call their own by the end of next year,” said Crowe.

“We look forward to welcoming the Explorer of the Seas on her maiden visit to Newcastle in February 2019 – the largest cruise ship to visit our port carrying 3,900 passengers.”