Last year was my 30th year at the helm of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and I am delighted to say that the cruise experience we now deliver to our guests is of the highest standard. We have more choice of destinations than ever before, all in the welcoming and comfortable surroundings of our smaller ships. I believe that our unique blend of Norwegian maritime heritage, and knowledge of British cruising tastes means we perfectly serve our discerning and valued clients. It’s the result of many years spent coming to know and understand our guests, listening and responding to their feedback.
An important part of our people’s enjoyment is ensuring that we get them to and from the ships as conveniently as possible. With five departure ports and a choice of airports across the UK, a Fred. Olsen departure is never too far away.
We continually deliver destination experiences that are second to none: wherever possible we take our The Chairman’s Vision vessels right into the heart of the destinations, berthing close to the main attractions. We ensure we show the authentic side of the wonderful countries that we visit, giving more rewarding experiences. We provide scenic cruising as a key part of our itineraries as well, often sailing where larger vessels cannot. I believe that it is these unique elements that make our holidays special.
A key component of any cruise is the on board atmosphere and service as well. I am particularly proud of the long-serving officers and crew who provide such a warm welcome to our guests. I have always been directly involved in interviewing and selecting members of our team: we have a number of staff working for us today who I originally interviewed back in 1986!
Our ships have all undergone extensive refits recently, making them even better than before. These multimillion pound improvements have retained the timeless style for which our ships are known and loved, with new services and features to add to the comfort and range of amenities on board. The rooms have been refurbished – including new bathrooms – ensuring guests feel comfortable and cared for in their home-from-home. The lounges and public rooms have also been updated and premium dining restaurants with speciality menus are now an enticing option across the fleet. We have more variety and choice than ever before.
Three out of our four ocean vessels have a Scottish name. This is not a coincidence, as it’s a country that’s been close to my heart since I worked there as a forester in my teens. Indeed my family continue to have a working estate in Scotland where we operate interests in forestry and renewable energy. Of course we offer a full programme of departures from Rosyth, so I am really pleased to be able to continue this connection through to our cruise fleet.
Throughout my career I have been keen to give our guests the chance to travel with us to far flung and exciting destinations across the world. Our 2019/20 programme builds on this by offering a wider choice of exotic fly-cruise holidays, reaching some of the most iconic parts of the globe. While travelling further from our roots, we will still offer the same high standard of service and ease of travel that we do for our cruises closer to home.
Another exciting development has been the introduction of our brand new river cruise programme. Brabant, introduced in 2018, has an even wider choice of itineraries in 2019. My team have worked hard to ensure that each itinerary visits stunning destinations, from famous cities to small towns, making the most of the wonderful opportunities available along the European river network.
It is my aim to make Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines the very best it can be, providing rewarding cruise holidays on board ‘real’ ships, visiting exciting worldwide destinations both near and far, for many years to come.