How Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is delivering the small ship experience

Peter Deer explains how the line is ensuring that its new ships retain the signature look and feel

How Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is delivering the small ship experience
Audiotriums for culinary demonstartions are among the new spaces onboard Bolette and Borealis

By Alex Smith |

While Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines looks towards a resumption of cruising in July, the UK-based operator has chosen to take on an extra challenge. It has purchased two new vessels, Bolette and Borealis, from Holland America Line as part of a plan to bounce back strongly when passengers can set sail again. Preparations are now underway for the two ships’ debuts to ensure that they meet with guests’ expectations of the Fred. Olsen brand. 

“We purchased these ships because they fitted very well into our fleet alongside Balmoral and Braemar,” says Peter Deer, managing director of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. “With each ship carrying less than 1,400 guests, they will allow us to continue to offer the small-ship experience that we are renowned for. However, it was important to us that they continued to look and feel like Fred. Olsen ships too.”  

Cabins play a big part in achieving this. “Work is well underway to refurbish guest cabins and suites so that they have the same elegant, home-away-from-home feel that our guests love,” explains Deer. “We have teams onboard the ships while they are laid up and everyone is working hard to get them ready for a return to sailing in July. We can’t wait to showcase them to our guests.” 

Company owner and chairman Fred Olsen Junior has taken a hands-on approach in the design process for the new vessels. 

“He really is passionate about design and has a clear vision for our newest additions to the fleet,” says Deer. “Carpets and soft furnishings play a big part in the identity of the ships, adding charm and character, and the chairman was heavily involved in this process, right down to considering the design and weave of our carpets. All of the artwork was also selected by the Olsen family, and much of it comes from their own personal collections.” 

The refurbishment will introduce several new facilities to the Fred. Olsen fleet, including two-tiered restaurants and theatres, larger spas, all-weather pools with retractable roofs and auditoriums for culinary demonstrations. Also featured onboard will be the Forrest Estate Room, which tells the story of the development of the Olsen family’s commercial forest.  

“Of course, each venue will have an elegant design to reflect and complement its theme, which goes back to storytelling,” says Deer. “It’s not enough for a venue to look nice, it has to mean something. For example, the carpets in the Bookmark Cafes have coffee beans in the design – it’s that attention to detail that makes all the difference. We are always thinking about the story behind this venue, and we bring it to life from there.” 

Borealis will make her debut on 5 July, sailing a voyage from Liverpool, UK, to destinations along the west coast of Scotland, while Bolette will sail from Dover to the Isles of Scilly and Channel Islands on 16 August. Deer believes that guests will find the atriums of both ships to be a particular highlight when they come onboard. 

“Both Bolette and Borealis have really stunning atriums, with grand clock towers that span several decks,” he says. “These are real focal points at the heart of the ships. We are so proud of the new ships and can’t wait to welcome our guests back onboard so they can explore them from top to bottom.” 

This article was first published in the 2021 issue of Cruise & Ferry Interiors. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed. 

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