Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has revealed details of its 2018-19 deployment, with more of a focus on scenic cruising and special one-off itineraries, such as a 14-night Authentic India fly-cruise. There will be nine maiden calls across the globe, from Anavilhanas, Amazonas in Brazil to San Remo, Liguria, Italy. Together the line’s four ships will visit 73 countries and 91 areas of scenic cruising.
Speaking at the programme launch, Justin Stanton, sales and marketing director, said: “The beauty of a Fred Olsen cruise holiday is that we can get closer to the world’s most beautiful cities and destinations – many of which the larger cruise ships cannot reach – and we are pleased to be offering even more of our scenic and cultural cruises in 2018-19.
“Our strategy is to call at smaller ports with our smaller, more intimate ships, and guests will get the chance to experience picturesque rivers, canals, lochs and fjords with Fred Olsen, as well as port calls right at the heart of the destinations.”
The line is offering more experience-led cruises than before, 117 in total, that have been created around specific global events, such as the Edinburgh Tattoo or New Year’s Eve in Sydney.
Stanton added: “We will be in certain places at the right time of year, for example, a 14-night Authentic Andalusia & Seville Orange Blossom onboard Braemar is specifically timed to visit the city when the orange blossom is most fragrant in March 2018 and we will be in Monaco for the Historic Grand Prix on Boudicca’s 16-night Film Stars and Classic Cars cruise in May 2018.”
The line has also introduced more short duration cruises aimed at new-to-cruise guests, such as a five-night Norwegian Fjords departure on Balmoral.
“Five-night cruises are a great way to sample the product. A 14 or 21-night cruise is a big commitment. More than 70% of guests have been new-to-cruise on
five-night cruises we’ve done in the past.”
In 2018-19 Fred Olsen will sail from five UK departure ports – Southampton, Dover, Liverpool, Newcastle and Edinburgh (Rosyth). However, Belfast, Falmouth, Glasgow Greenock, Harwich and London Tilbury will no longer be used.
Clare Ward, product and customer services director, explained the impact on customers would be minimal: “We have analysed both financial performance and where guests are coming from for each of our 10 current UK departure ports. With our current deployment, 57% of guests are within 90 minutes of a UK port; with our revised deployment in 2018-19, sailing from five ports, 52% of guests are still within 90 minutes of the UK departure port.
“Reducing the number of ports, thereby reducing the repositioning costs, allows us to work with a smaller number of ports and enables us to concentrate our efforts on improving the embarkation experience for our guests.”
The 2018-19 launch came as Fred Olsen reported a particularly strong 2016. Mike Rodwell, managing director, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, said: “Last year saw some pretty special events taking place in the world…Against this backdrop, we made great strides, posting near record levels of profit, with record sales only offset by the impact of Brexit on our costs. Looking at cruise ticket income, the 2016 result was nearly 10% up on a good 2015, with slightly increased passenger days and a strong increase in yields.
“Looking forward, revenue for 2017 cruises is 12% higher than at this time last year for 2016 cruises.
“Again, it is the yields that are giving the improvement, showing that guests really value our special kind of cruising, so we do not need to discount to the levels that many of our competitors do.”