Fred Olsen Cruise Lines account manager Allison Graham provides the inside track on the line’s 2023 summer programme, featuring a strong emphasis on exploration.
What are the highlights of the summer 2023 programme?
Our summer programme showcases what makes us special and our itineraries have been hand-crafted to really celebrate our small ships. So much has been curated around the best time to visit, whether that’s to witness a destination at its seasonal best, or to coincide with a special event ashore.
In July, for example, Braemar will call into Fredericia, Denmark, in time for the annual 6 July celebration, which is marked with music, parades and fireworks. Borealis will also venture to Canada in October, when the country is famed for its autumnal beauty.
You often describe yourselves as being proud to ‘sail your own course’. What does this mean?
We are proud to sail away from the well-travelled route and to offer off-the-beaten-track experiences in the places we visit. That doesn’t mean we don’t visit destinations we all know and love, but we show them to our guests in a different way.
Bolette has a sailing next year that calls to Venice, for example, but will also visit other lesser-known ports such as Durrës in Albania, Neum in Bosnia and Koper in Slovenia, which have such historical significance in the shaping of these areas.
Borealis’ Exploring Rugged and Remote Greenland and Iceland cruise is another great example, sailing into the spectacular Prins Christiansund and offering a call to Narsarsuaq, where tours to the Qooroq ice fjord await.
Why is the ‘scenic’ route so important to Fred Olsen?
We truly believe in the joy of the journey and that some of the best views are those that can be seen from the water. We don’t sail directly from A to B – we love taking the scenic route and will always make time to showcase each destination’s natural beauty where we can.
It will come as no surprise that our new programme features plenty of calls into our homeland Norway, as it is here thatour smaller ships really come into their own.
We can sail size-restricted waterways right into the heart of the fjords, so guests can witness their beauty directly from the ship. There are also opportunities to see the surreal Midnight Sun in sailings to Arctic Norway and Spitsbergen.
Sailings of our British Isles and Iceland explore some spectacularly rugged coastlines, and we’ll also be sailing the Amalfi Coast at sunrise and sunset, and into the beautiful Bay of Kotor.
What experiences can guests expect ashore?
Our guests want to have real experiences when they travel with us. They don’t want mass market tours or to battle large crowds, instead they are looking to experience different cultures and immerse themselves in the history and the beauty of the places they’re visiting.
This is something our journey planners consider right at the start of the planning process. A great example is Balmoral’s Experience Spanish & Portuguese Traditions cruise in July, where our tours will really shine a spotlight on local delicacies.
Of course, guests can head ashore and try each region’s famous flavours for themselves, but our tours give the opportunity to learn so much more. In Lisbon, they can try their hand at making Pasteis de Nata, while in Valencia they’ll have the opportunity visit the rice fields and learn more about the dishes that have helped to shape the flavours of the region, including the world-famous paella.
Will you still be focusing on regional departures and ex-UK sailings?
The new programme is all ex-UK, with sailings from Southampton, Dover, Liverpool, Newcastle, and Rosyth. While we have a range of sailings from each port, each offers its own unique benefits.
The northerly ports of Rosyth and Newcastle allow us to offer scenic sailings to the Norwegian fjords in just five nights. We are also basing Braemar from Dover for much of the season, as it is ideally placed for us to offer sailings along the Seine and the shallower waterways in Europe.
Will there be a launch offer?
We are offering up to £250pp to spend on board for sailings of up to 19 nights, or up to £500pp when booking a suite. There is the option to add a third guest from £199pp when sharing with two others, plus a number of no single supplement offers for solo travellers.
What about an agent incentive?
To celebrate the launch of our new programme, we are offering 10 agents the chance to win a VIP cruise for two with us. All agents need to do is register new bookings from our summer 2023 programme made between 16 March and 15 April. Full details can be found on our Travel Agent Centre.