Last year, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines owner, Fred. Olsen Jnr said: “We are focussed on [developing exploration cruises] and have been working on it for some time – we looked again last year, but the yards are full of 4,000-passenger plus ship orders”. This statement clearly indicated that the line is clear to offer a new range of cruising experiences that take passengers to the heart of a range of exciting destinations.
The four ocean-bound ships currently in operation for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines are capable of taking passengers to a range of destinations that are generally inaccessible to larger vessels. This is a refreshing contrast to the larger vessels, which are amenity-laden and attempting to offer a broader sense of appeal to families. However, as outlined by Fred. Olsen Jnr, this has made it considerably difficult to add new vessels to the fleet.
Last year, the line also rolled out a new river cruise line with the launch of Brabant, which offers luxurious journeys along the Danube and Rhine rivers. This 150-passenger chartered vessel offers a more sophisticated and elegant holiday experience with fine dining, spacious cabins, attentive service and much more. This move indicates a clear intention to grow the fleet and develop the range of experiences available.
This is outlined in a statement by Fred. Olsen Jnr, who announced intentions for a new 600-passenger ship dedicated to “exploration cruises”. The emphasis is placed on ‘exploration’, as opposed to ‘expedition’, which enables visitors to visit areas such as Polar Regions of the Arctic and Antarctic. While this new build may have been placed on hold for the time being, the line is looking for new and innovative ways to bring the world closer to passengers.
Speaking to Travel Weekly, Fred. Olsen Jnr said: “The marketplace is going towards bigger and bigger ships and we don’t need to go into that same fight. We would rather focus on getting closer to destinations that the larger ships can’t go to, and then, use the ribs to take guests to the places within those destinations that they don’t usually see.”
“This is the area that we want to exploit. We will then be able to mix important cities like Bergen or Tromso in Norway with everything in between using our smaller ribs.”
Slightly larger than zodiacs, these new rib boats would be fitted with fibreglass bottoms and carry up to 12 passengers at a time. They will be installed on board Black Watch and Boudicca in time for the summer and offer passengers a range of more immersive excursions. Two will be made available on each ship initially, with intentions to increase this to four in the future. These rib boats will also be added to Braemar and Balmoral, although there is currently no specific time frame for this. Excursions on board these rib boats could be booked in advance through travel agents, much in the same as any other excursion currently available on any selected itinerary.
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