Welcome to Fred Olsen, the traditional cruise line proud to call themselves a brand that makes you feel at home onboard their ships. With 150 years of sailing heritage behind them, having started way back in 1848, you can put your trust in them to know exactly how to make your cruise experience that extra bit special.
Despite being a Norwegian company, Fred Olsen have strong links to the UK and a loyal following of UK cruisers. In fact, all of their ships are named after famous figures or places from British history, such as Boudicca (named after the English queen of the Iceni tribe) and Balmoral which is of course named after the iconic home of the Royal Family!
But what are Fred Olsen’s ships really like? What sets them apart from one another? What dreamy suites do you have to choose from? And which show will blow you away? We have every answer, so read on to become an expert on Fred Olsen…
Meet The Fleet
As we’ve already mentioned, Fred Olsen have a fleet of small ships with capacities accommodating between 800 to 1,300 guests. One of the best things about travelling with Fred’s is the fact that they also sail from a wide range of regional UK ports, so you don’t have to travel from one end of the country to another just to go on holiday!
This means that, on average, 50% of their passengers only have to travel for 90 minutes in the car to get to their nearest port. That’s a statistic we like the sound of! Here is exactly where you can travel from…
We asked our cruise consultants what they thought of Fred Olsen and Molly told us about her time on Black Watch. “It’s easy to navigate around compared with some of the goliaths of the cruise industry that are out there today. With just 804 passengers she offers an intimate introduction to cruising.” You can read more about Molly and her adventures with Fred Olsen here!
Since her refurb, our specialist cruise consultant Ben has been onboard and shared his opinion: ‘I can honestly say what they have done with such an old ship is truly outstanding! The whole ship has been brightened, enhanced and really brought to the 21st century…’ Read more of Ben’s blog on Fred Olsen here.
Take a look below at our tour around the newly refurbished Black Watch!
Did you know? Braemar was used to house 900 workers during the 2012 Olympics in London! The workers slept and dined in the vessel but didn’t use the pools or bars- what a pity!
Is There a “Typical” Fred Olsen Passenger?
Fred Olsen is ideal for those travellers that want to experience a real cruise, without all the bells and whistles that you get on what are so often called the ‘mammoth cruise ships’. It’s ideal for those who want light entertainment and ships full of history, heritage and unique features.
The line isn’t designed with families in mind, but does suit couples and singles well. In fact, it’s a dream for solo travellers as it has a dedicated single travellers programme to ensure guests can be mixed with other passengers if they wish to be.
There are even dance hosts to dance with solo travellers and a programme for guests that are new to cruising to ensure they settle in to life on the ocean.
A typical Fred Olsen passenger is someone that really values good service and staff who go the extra mile, rather than a line for someone specifically looking for action-packed moments found in the form of Flowriders and rock climbing walls!
Our cruise consultant Dawn explained that Fred Olsen “is not for the thrill seeking family cruisers, but is for those wanting great food, service and a real cruise experience.” You can read more about Dawn and her journeys with Fred Olsen here.
Did you know? Fred Olsen don’t just own ships! They are a multimillion pound company who own Timex, oil companies and Canary Wharf in London was named after them as they used to sail from London Docks to the Canaries before the wharf was built!
Something that we cannot emphasise enough about Fred Olsen is the fact that their small ships give you a really different experience and in this instance it also means you can get right to the heart of the destination you are travelling to.
Larger vessels have to make do with stopping up to several hours outside of a destination whereas Fred Olsen’s ships are even small enough to sail you up river!
They’re known for their Norwegian cruises as they’re able to travel up the smaller Norwegian Fjords such as the Lysafjord. You can get right to the heart of a city or culture with Fred Olsen, which is very unique for an ocean line! It is something you would expect to find from a river cruise line.
In fact, Fred Olsen also cruise the scenic river of Spain… which isn’t something you would be able to do on a 160,000 tonne ship! Other interesting ports of call include the Mardi Gras, Machu Pichu, The Great Wall of China, Petra, Venice and even the everglades of Miami.
You can take a look at some of these great locations here (spread over 200 destinations worldwide).
Whilst the entertainment on Fred Olsen is fairly low key, there is still plenty to keep you entertained.
When you step on-board you will be welcomed with a Captain’s cocktail party and gala buffet and after this there will be a variety of themed nights such as “nautical night” or “rock and roll” evening.
If you’d rather relax than party you can head to the Atlantis Spa & Salon; they offer a full range of beauty treatments with experienced therapists and stylists. There’s pools if you fancy a dip and jacuzzis if you want a relaxing bubbly experience.
Top tip! On port days there’s often special promotions on spa and salon treatments, so it’s worth keeping an eye out for news of this in your Daily Times Newsletter. It will mean you can achieve blissful relaxation (for a discount!)
There is also a gym fitness centre and sauna fully equipped with treadmills, rowing machines, free weights and exercise classes. (Although sadly there is no steam room on Balmoral.) Guests can practice their swing in the golf nets or have a go at black jack or the roulette wheel in the games room.
There’s duty free shopping, a card room and a library for you to enjoy. There’ll also be free lectures if you want to learn something new everyday!
The entertainment programme showcases comedians as part of the “Music and Laughter” shows and the Marina theatre will run the evening show twice, meaning you’ll still be able to see the show no matter what dinner sitting you have.
You could watch magicians, go dancing or enjoy supper club. The Marina theatre is also available for group meetings, get-togethers, live music and cabaret.
The aim of a Fred Olsen ship isn’t to wear yourself out with endless activities… it’s to relax, enjoy yourself and come back from a holiday refreshed!
Our cruise consultant Dawn told us what she thought of the entertainment on-board: “Fred Olsen isn’t all singing and dancing with cookery skills and bionic bars – instead the shops have a great ambiance and a very loyal client base – which now includes me!” Read more of her verdict here!
The dining on Fred Olsen is traditional and of a very high quality. Every ship has a main dining room which has two sittings or an open sitting for dinner. Dinner is five courses and includes tasty treats like herb marinated salmon, slow roasted duck or balsamic braised lamb shank.
The main and formal restaurants include Glentanar Restaurant and Orchid room on Black Watch, Four Seasons, Heligan Room and Tintagel Restaurants on Boudicca, Thistle and Grampian Restaurants on Braemar, and Ballindalloch, Spey and Avon Restaurants on Balmoral.
Boudicca and Black Watch also offer a Grills restaurant as an alternative with al-fresco dining. The premium menu has morsels like seared scallops or panicotti filled with mascarpone and the Palm’s café on Braemar offers buffet-breakfast outdoors.
If you fancy a treat then why not enjoy afternoon tea in the observatory lounge. Whilst you work your way through a selection of premium teas, finger sandwiches, pastries and warm scones, there’ll be music from the on-board pianist and other musicians.
Breakfast can either be a buffet or waiter service and you have a choice of options such as omelettes, French toast or American pancakes. If you want to have it served to you in bed you can, and if you’re travelling around a hot climate you can eat outdoors.
Don’t worry if you’ve come back late from an excursion and missed dinner or if you simply get the munchies later on after dancing, the supper club will ensure you don’t go hungry!
Fred Olsen will also accommodate for those with a variety of dietary needs. Whether you need fat free, vegetarian, diabetic, low cholesterol, low salt, dairy free or gluten free food – Fred Olsen have you covered! Just let them know in advance when you book your cruise so they can help.
Our customers often tell us that food on Fred’s is superb. In fact, our cruise consultant Paul told us: “The food is of a really high standard, I could not fault it – and I am a fussy eater!” You can read more about Paul here.
Dawn agreed with Paul and told us: “the food and service lived up to the great expectations that I had, especially after so many comments from returning guests. The food was simply delicious with such a great choice across the whole menu and if you still didn’t fancy one of the fantastic options available, they would be more than happy to rustle you up chicken and chips!”
Did you know? Unlike many other cruise lines – the cost of drinks on Fred Olsen is very reasonable! A glass of wine may only cost you £3.95 whilst a pint of larger is £3.25! All inclusive drinks packages are also available if you don’t want to have to keep an eye on your bar tab.
All cabins come with tea and coffee making facilities in each cabin, which is good news to us Brits! They also come with a TV, hairdryer, air conditioning, a safe and you can also do your laundry on board if you need to.
There’s a number of adapted cabins on each ship – just ask about your cruise consultant before you book!
Everything on board is priced in sterling and Wi-Fi is available on a pay as you go service.
Fred Olsen also offer a “suite dreams” package for those who (you guessed it) stay in suites! Your room will come equipped with sparkling wine, an afternoon canapé service, complimentary shuttle coach vouchers, free pressing for formal wear, plants in your room, binoculars and much more.
If you’re interested in this then you can learn more here. They also have anniversary packages, birthday packages and retirement celebration packages…
Did you know? If you are celebrating your 18th, 21st, 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th, 70th, 80th, 90th or 100th birthday Fred Olsen will give you complimentary celebration packages! Chin chin!
Like other traditional cruise lines, Fred Olsen is ideal for those that love to dress up every now and then to emulate that old time glamour!
Evening wear generally consists of smart casual wear, with certain nights being formal. Formal wear counts as suits with a dinner jacket and tie for men and cocktail dresses for women whilst smart casual means a shirt and chinos/ trousers for men and a dress or separates for women.
You’ll be required to be fully clothed when entering the dining rooms at lunch and breakfast – so you can’t eat in your beachwear! However in the day time it is still perfectly acceptable to wear shorts and a t-shirt at meal times.
Remember to pack good walking shoes for excursions and some warm clothes if visiting colder climates from the long list of unique destinations Fred Olsen tick off their list daily!
Staff and Gratuities
It is well known that the gratuities on-board are fairly reasonable for the service received; at £4 per passenger per day, they’re some of the cheapest around.
Because of the small size of the ships, you can expect excellent customer service… but don’t just take our word for it! Our past passengers have often complimented Fred Olsen staff.
Mcclenahan from Norwich said: “the Breamar [is] a small ship but one of the friendliest we have been on, the food was excellent, cabin excellent, and the cleanliness of the ship very good.” You can read the rest of the review here.
Jones from Redditch agreed that you can expect: “Impeccable service beyond the call of duty,” whilst Pyner from Great Clacton told us he experienced: “excellent value for money and excellent service, as we have come to expect from Fred. Olsen.” Read more of it here!
So there you have it! That is Fred Olsen Cruises, from its heritage to its affordable drink prices, from its traditional ways to its unique ports of call. Have you sailed with Fred’s before? What was your favourite part? Which Fred Olsen ship is next on the agenda? Leave us your thoughts and comments!