Travel with confidence
We want to ensure you’re confident to travel with us on our smaller ships. So during this pause in operations, we are busy making preparations to explore the world again this summer.
To help you feel more comfortable booking a cruise holiday with us, and assure you of a relaxing and safe experience on board, we have created our New Plain Sailing Guarantee and our Safe Sailing Charter. You can also read our FAQs below for our 'Welcome Back' sailings this summer.
Your Questions Answered
We know that many of our guests will have lots of questions about our Welcome Back Cruises this summer, so we have collated the below handy FAQs. If your questions have not been answered below, please do get in touch with us either via social media, e-mail or call our team on 01473 742 424.
Pre-cruise - Vaccinations
Will I be required to be fully vaccinated before being able to cruise with FOCL?
By the time we resume sailing in July, we know that a large proportion of UK adults will have received their vaccinations.
The vaccine is a big advancement for the travel industry, but it must be considered as part of a multi-layered approach.
We are in the process of developing our Safe Sailing Charter to include a number of measures, which also includes testing, social distancing and the wearing of face masks.
Will it be a requirement for your crew to be vaccinated?
The health and wellbeing of our guests and crew is our number one priority.
We are investigating ways to vaccinate our crew, although vaccines are not currently available commercially. While we are working hard to resolve this, in the meantime we will be ensuring we keep our crew and guests safe by conducting regular testing, both prior to joining our ships and while they are on board with us.
If vaccinations become a requirement, would this include children?
Many countries have not yet confirmed whether they will or will not require a vaccine for cruise guests. Even if it does not become a requirement in the UK to be fully vaccinated to be able to take a cruise, it may be that some or all of the countries we visit will require it.
It is likely that if any requirements for vaccination are put in place for cruise travel by either our own government, or the destinations we visit, they will be mandatory for all, including children.
If vaccines are made compulsory for cruise, and I have not had both vaccines by the time of my cruise, what options will be available for me?
If you haven’t had both of your vaccines by the time you are due to sail you will be able to have a refund or transfer your booking to another cruise in the future once you have received your vaccines.
Pre-cruise - General
Will it be mandatory to have Covid cover and cruise specific travel insurance?
We already require all guests to have cruise specific travel insurance, including repatriation cover.
You will need to ensure your policy includes cover for any medical, repatriation and expenses costs as a result of a Covid diagnosis or illness during your cruise.
Our recommended travel insurance provider, Holiday Extras, has updated their policy details to include cover for coronavirus. This will support you if you become ill during your cruise with medical assistance plus repatriation costs and accommodation for you and a companion should you need it. This new policy is available to all guests who meet Holiday Extra’s health criteria, including those aged over 70.
Will I need to be tested for Covid to be able to cruise on your ships?
As we restart sailing, testing will become a requirement prior to joining any of our ships.
All guests will be required to take lateral flow tests eight days and three days prior to their cruise date. If both tests provide a negative result guests will be able to travel to the port, where a third lateral flow test will be carried out prior to embarkation.
If the test three days before travel gives a positive result, the guest must not travel to the port until they can provide a negative result from a PCR test.
Any testing upon the cruise’s return to the UK will be in line with government guidelines at the time of sailing.
Will children be able to travel aboard your ships this summer?
We are currently able to take bookings with children aboard our ships for our new sailings this summer, and we know that so many of you are looking forward to taking holidays as a family, or extended family, once again.
While at present there are no restrictions in place to prevent children from travelling with us, if it does become a requirement for guests to be vaccinated before any cruise travel, or before visiting certain destinations by cruise, this requirement will be for all, including children.
If this does become a requirement and you have booked to travel with children who have not been vaccinated you will, of course, be able to have a refund or transfer your booking to another cruise in the future.
If I am on a British Isles cruise, will I still need a valid passport to travel?
Yes, all guests will require a valid passport to be able to sail aboard any of our ships, even if the itinerary is not leaving British waters.
We require that all guests have at least six months’ validity on their passports from the date they return home. This is a requirement that is frequently stipulated by many of the destinations we visit when we do venture further afield again.
I have an underlying health condition – can I take a cruise with you?
Anyone who is considered ‘extremely vulnerable’ as defined by the NHS must contact us before making any new bookings with us.
This is so that we can arrange a call with one of our medical professionals to discuss their requirements and whether they will be able to travel safely with us.
Unfortunately, anyone requiring supplementary oxygen, dialysis or medical ventilation support will not be able to travel with us at this time.
Will you be sailing with a reduced capacity aboard your ships?
When we resume sailing this summer, we will initially do so with a reduced capacity on each ship, to ensure plenty of space to comply with social distancing guidelines.
I am exempt from wearing a face mask – will I still be able to cruise with you?
We understand that not everyone is able to wear a face mask on medical grounds. However, it is likely that any requirements put in place by the government for cruise travel will be mandatory for all.
When will I be able to pre-book my shore tours?
We will send you a brochure of all of the available shore excursions around four weeks prior to your cruise setting sail, and you will be able to book these in advance of your cruise.
This will include the latest protocols in the destinations that you are due to visit, and will arrive along with your luggage labels.
Can I book consecutive (back to back) cruises?
At this time we are sorry that we are not able to offer any consecutive (back to back) cruises. This is aligned with our industry guidelines surrounding our restart.
Will you only be taking UK residents on your Welcome Back sailings?
Yes, our Welcome Back sailings will only be available for UK residents in line with government guidelines.
I am due to sail on Borealis between 22nd July and 23rd August but my cruise isn’t included on your ‘Welcome Back’ sailings – does this mean my cruise is going to be cancelled?
The new programme of ‘Welcome Back’ cruises announced this week only includes NEW cruises which we have made available, to replace any that we have had to cancel. There are some sailings aboard Borealis – for example the eight-night ‘Lochs & Legends of Scotland’ cruise - that will still go ahead as planned. As this is not a NEW cruise, it is not featured in our new ‘Welcome Back’ schedule.
On Board - Dining
How will any on board procedures impact on the dining during my cruise?
Guests will be allocated tables in our main dining rooms as usual, with each table to include up to a maximum of six guests. This will become your dining ‘bubble’.
If you are travelling as a group, we will do our best to accommodate you within one dining ‘bubble’, as long as your group is of six people or less.
If you are travelling on your own, you will also be allocated a ‘dining bubble’ of up to six people, for the duration of your cruise.
You will be able to enjoy all of your meals with any or all of those within your bubble, whether that be in fixed evening dining in our main restaurants, in our buffet restaurants or during breakfast and lunch.
You do not have to dine as your full dining bubble for all meals, as long as you are not dining with anyone outside of your bubble.
Will you still be offering a buffet option outside of the fixed dining times?
Our buffet restaurants will remain open across the fleet. All buffet dishes will be served by our crew.
Guests will only be able to dine with those in their household or their ‘dining bubble’ in our buffet restaurants.
You have previously mentioned a flexible dining option on your new ships – will this still be available?
While there are restrictions in place, we will only be offering fixed dining in our main dining rooms each evening, at set dining times.
The timings are currently 6.15pm and 8.30pm.
On Board - Entertainment
Will you still be offering entertainment on board, including in your theatres?
To ensure that as many of our guests who wish to join our entertainment can do so, we will be adding additional performances to our schedule, including matinee performances.
Guests will be shown to their seats by our crew to ensure that social distance guidelines are met. You will be able to sit with members of your household, or with members of your dining bubble.
Will there be restrictions to activities and leisure on board?
We anticipate being able to open all of our onboard facilities, including our pools, gyms, spas and shops, in line with government guidelines for similar facilities ashore.
We will, of course, adhere to the latest guidance from the UK government at the time of sailing, which may mean we need to limit the number of guests using these facilities at any one time.
Will you still be offering dance hosts for those wanting to have a dance in the evenings?
While we have our bubble system in place there will not be dance hosts available for any daytime or evening entertainment. You will be able to dance with anyone in your household or dining bubble.
Will you be operating any Little Skippers clubs for children aboard your ships this summer?
We will not be operating any Little Skippers clubs aboard our Welcome Back sailings this summer. This is because cruising restart guidelines require all guests, including children, to remain in their household or dining bubbles on board.
On Board - General
Will I need to wear a face mask while on board?
All guests and crew will be required to follow the latest government guidance at the time of sailing, which may include the wearing of face masks.
During our initial ‘Welcome Back’ sailings, we expect masks will need to be worn in areas of the ship where social distancing is not possible.
Will you be operating a ‘track and trace’ system or similar aboard your ships?
All guests will be provided with a wearable device at embarkation.
Should any guest test positive for coronavirus during a cruise, the medical team will be able to identify any other guests who may have come into contact with that person and they will be notified.
If this comes to light after you have returned home, we will contact you directly.
To protect the privacy of all our guests, this information is only available to our medical team and not used for any other purposes than to protect the safety of our guests and crew.
Will I be able to wear another form of face covering, such as a face shield?
We expect masks will need to be worn in areas of the ship where social distancing is not possible. When this is the case we will ask for face masks to be worn, rather than face shields and or forms of face coverings.
What additional facilities will there be available in my cabin?
All of our cabins aboard our fleet include tea and coffee making facilities, as well as in-cabin entertainment with television programmes, films and music on the TVs.
There will also be an extended menu for room service, for both food and drink, that can be ordered throughout the day.
Will I be able to leave the ship in port if I have not booked a shore excursion?
We will allow as much freedom in any of our ports of call that the destinations will allow.
We will, of course, adhere to the latest guidance from the destinations at the time of sailing and will provide our guests with guidance on the local measures before they go ashore.
Will you be offering shore excursions in the ports of call?
We know that exploring ashore is such a big part of a cruise holiday, which is why we will be offering a selection of bookable shore excursions for our sailings around the British Isles, in the destinations that we are able to do so.
We will send you a brochure of all of the available shore excursions around four weeks prior to your cruise setting sail, and you will be able to book these in advance of your cruise.
We will, of course, adhere to the latest guidance from the UK government at the time of sailing.
Will the itinerary for my cruise change if there is an outbreak at one of the destinations?
We are calling and speaking to our destination partners regularly, and will be closely monitoring the situation in any destination that we are due to call into.
If there is a local outbreak of coronavirus, or if we have any concerns about any of the destinations we are visiting we will alter your itinerary to ensure you have the best experience possible.
Will I be able to buy duty free products on the British Isles sailings?
We will not be operating a duty free service on any of our ‘Welcome Back’ sailings around the British Isles this summer.
I am a solo traveller – what will my on board experience look like if I do not have a ‘bubble’ to travel with?
All guests who are travelling alone will be allocated a ‘dining bubble’ who they can choose to dine with for any or all of their meals. They will be able to enjoy all other on board facilities within their dining bubble.
Our solo travellers will be welcome to enjoy any of our other on board activities and facilities, which will be subject to the latest guidance from the government at the time of sailing.
We are working hard to make sure when we return to cruising, you continue to have a relaxing and safe experience on board.
Over the last few months, we have been working alongside government departments, the UK Chamber of shipping, other cruise lines and CLIA (our industry body) to establish an agreed set of health and safety protocols which all UK cruise lines will follow when we return to sailing.
While this is being finalised, our Safe Sailing Charter is here to let you know all the ways in which we already keep you safe on board our smaller ships. We will be keeping this page on our website up-to-date with all the latest developments.
Before your cruise
Plain Sailing Guarantee updated ✔
We have updated our Plain Sailing Guarantee to ensure any guests who test positive for Coronavirus and therefore cannot travel can move their cruise to another with no administration fees. This will cover guests on any cruise up to the end of 2021. We’ll hold the money for the cancellation for up to 12 months to give our guests plenty of time to choose an alternative sailing of at least the same value. All guests need to do is call us prior to departure to let us know they cannot travel. Full details can be found in our Plain Sailing Guarantee tab above.
New insurance cover ✔
Our preferred insurance partner, Holiday Extras, has updated their policy details to include cover for coronavirus. This will support you if you become ill during your cruise with medical assistance plus repatriation costs and accommodation for you and a companion should you need it. This new policy is available to all guests who meet Holiday Extra’s health criteria, including those aged over 70.
On board the ship
The highest cleanliness standards ✔
The protocols we use on board follow those approved for hospitals. These involve a dedicated sanitation team who work throughout the day and night ensuring all surfaces in all areas are frequently cleaned with anti-viral solutions. We ensure these protocols are strictly followed with regular auditing using UV and swab testing carried out by our Sanitation Officer.
To maintain our high standards, our crew training will include any new industry approved processes.
We also clean your cabin with the same anti-viral solutions on each day of your cruise and each cabin is deep cleaned between guests departing and arriving. These solutions will kill bacteria and viruses including Norovirus and Coronavirus.
Specialist medical facilities ✔
We have medical centres on board our ships managed by teams of Doctors and Nurses. We are working with Public Health England, the CLIA Medical Action Group and other UK cruise lines to develop agreed and comprehensive processes for how we isolate and treat any guests with symptoms either on board or at the destination.
Additional port options ✔
We will continue to follow the latest advice and guidance from the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office on which ports we visit when we start sailing again. If government advice changes about one of our planned ports of call during a cruise, our smaller ships have more options for alternative ports, which allow us to change course more easily.
Pre-approved tour partners and smaller groups ✔
We only sell shore tours from pre-approved partners in the country we are visiting and where we are confident they will uphold the standards required locally.
Our tours only visit attractions when our approved local tour providers are confident they are following the expected health and safety protocols.
Finally, our smaller ships allow for smaller tours and we have a capacity limit of no more than 25 guests in each shore tour group.
Our new Plain Sailing Guarantee is designed to give you every reassurance about your booking with us during these unusual times.
And it comes completely without clauses or caveats.
This will cover guests sailing with us in 2021, 2022 & 2023.
Risk free deposits ✔
Book any cruise currently on sale and you can change your mind and move your deposit to another cruise within 12 months of your original sailing with no transfer fees. Just let us know no later than when your final balance is due. Applicable to all bookings for 2021, 2022 & 2023 cruises.
For guests who booked after October 2020 and are planning to sail in 2021, you can also opt to have a full refund on your deposit if you decide not to travel (again, just let us know before your final balance is due).
Transfer on your terms ✔
If you cannot travel due to testing positive for COVID-19, we will transfer your cruise or give you a sailing credit.
There will be no administration fees and you can choose any cruise within 12 months of your original sailing date.
No quibble refunds ✔
We are very sorry if your cruise with us is cancelled.
Whilst we would love it if you transferred to another, you can of course have a full refund, with no quibbles, at any time.
Fred. Olsen’s unique Enjoyment Promise
We want you to book your cruise with us with complete confidence. That’s why Fred. Olsen Jnr himself insists each and every booking is covered with his Enjoyment Promise.
It means that if within 48 hours of sailing, you are not enjoying your ocean cruise, we will arrange to take you home at our expense and give you a full refund.