Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines: A bigger fleet for a brighter future

Peter Deer tells Rebecca Gibson why investing in two new ships will help it to build an even stronger brand

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines: A bigger fleet for a brighter future
Fred. Olsen will add new livery to Bolette and Borealis before they start service

Several cruise companies are decreasing the size of their fleets to help them overcome the financial challenges brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. However, UK-based small-ship operator Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is taking a different approach. Confident that the cruise industry will bounce back in the near future, the brand has purchased two vessels from Holland America Line in an effort to strengthen its position in the post-pandemic market.

“Our industry has a much bigger role than simply providing cruise holidays,” says Peter Deer, managing director at Fred. Olsen. “Each year, the cruise sector generates as much as £10 billion (US$13 billion ) for the UK economy and US$150 billion internationally, while providing or supporting 1.2 million jobs globally. Consequently, the world needs us to get back cruising so that we can start feeding into the economy again.

“It’s no secret that Fred. Olsen has been looking to expand our fleet for some time, but we’ve been waiting for the right moment and the right ships. These new additions will increase both our capacity and our market share – they’re an investment that will help us to build an even stronger brand when we are able to sail again.”

The vessels, which sailed as Amsterdam and Rotterdam for the Holland America brand, will be renamed Bolette and Borealis, paying homage to two previous Fred. Olsen ships. According to Deer, they will fit seamlessly into the fleet, complement the brand’s existing ships while bringing exciting new facilities to guests. He confirmed that the new ships would take on the itineraries for the line’s older vessels, Black Watch and Boudicca, which will be retired from the fleet.

“Both ships carry less than 1,400 guests and they offer more dining and restaurant space, all-weather pools, classic two-tiered theatres and large gym and spa areas,” he says. “They also have culinary demonstration theatres and wine-tasting venues, which will help us to showcase the cuisine of the destinations we visit. The two ships are getting our loyal guests even more excited about returning to cruising, and intriguing those who have not sailed with us before.”

Bolette and Borealis joined Balmoral and Braemar in Rosyth, Scotland this September to await the resumption of the cruise industry.Both ships have recently been in dry dock for low-level maintenance work, but Fred. Olsen has plans to make minor upgrades and enhancements to ensure they offer its signature intimate, small-ship cruising experience.

“One of the great things about these ships – and one of the main reasons we chose them – was because they will naturally fit into our fleet without us having to make huge changes,” says Deer. “Of course, we’ll add our own personal touches to the interiors and update the external livery so they will both look and feel like Fred. Olsen vessels.

“However, as always, it will be our crew who will really bring our signature cruising experience to life for our guests by going the extra mile to remember their names and their favourite breakfast order. This highly personalised service is what makes Fred. Olsen special and we’re only able to do this because we operate smaller ships with fewer guests – and that will never change.

While Deer is eager for guests to experience Bolette and Borealis, he is keen to stress that the brand will not start sailing again until it is safe to do so. “It is imperative that the timing is right for the resumption of cruising,” he says. “We’re developing our Safe Sailing Charter, which sets out what we already do to keep our guests safe, as well as the new and enhanced measures they can expect to see when they sail with us in the future. Whenever that may be, we know that our two new ships will then allow us to come back stronger than ever before.”

This article was first published in the Autumn/Winter 2020 issue of Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

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Alex Smith
By Alex Smith
15 October 2020

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