In her latest guest post, Cruise Miss introduces us to one of her favourite cruise lines, Fred. Olsen…
I have sailed with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines many times and travelled on all but one ship. That will all soon change, but before I jump ahead of myself, let me tell you more about this wonderful, family-operated cruise line and how I’ve become a loyal “Fred” fan over the years.
The company originated in Hvitsten, a small town on Oslofjord in Norway, in 1848. It was started by the Olsen brothers, Fredrik Christian, Andras and Petter. The brothers bought their first ships and started an international shipping company and the rest, as they say, is history. Fred. Olsen is now in its fifth generation of the family and the cruise line is one of the most trusted among UK cruise passengers.
Beginning with the Braemar and Boudicca
My first Fred. Olsen experience was aboard Braemar in 2014. I joined the ship in Dover for a 2-week Baltic itinerary and I can honestly say that it is still one of the best cruises that I have embarked upon. I couldn’t fault a single thing about the ship, its food or crew and I was charmed by the beauty of the Baltic states. Braemar had everything I like in a cruise ship: great crew, delicious food, open decks and she was petite enough to slip into some of the smaller ports. From that cruise, Fred. Olsen became one of my favourites and it wasn’t long before I was back at sea, this time on Boudicca.
A British Isles itinerary had never been top of my list, but when the chance came along to join Boudicca on her 12-night itinerary, of course, I couldn’t say no. We sailed in October 2015 and believe it or not we had superb weather for the entire cruise – I can’t remember us having a single drop of rain. We called into ports including Belfast, Kirkwall, Invergordon, Cornwall and Guernsey and it was a wonderful way to see more of our own shores. The cruise also proved to offer some of the most interesting and varied shore excursions I’ve ever come across, including Titanic Belfast – which I absolutely recommend – and dolphin watching via high-speed RIB in Invergordon. I felt like my time ashore on this cruise was well spent, I never felt as if I’d missed out on anything or that my choice had been somewhat limited. I was also thrilled with our Cornish arrival as there was a food festival on at the time, which also offered a small market with locals selling arts and crafts. I left with a 6-foot wooden giraffe (I named him Olsen) and a tummy full of fish and chips.
A Cruise On Board the Balmoral
In 2016, I would cruise on Balmoral not once, but twice. I embarked on a 5-night scenic Fjords sailing from the port of Newcastle and I instantly fell in love with the ship and her crew. On that cruise, I celebrated my birthday at sea for the first time (it had only taken me 45+ cruises), enjoyed the breath-taking beauty of the Norwegian fjords and over-indulged in wonderful food. I didn’t want to leave and within weeks of being back on terra firma, I had booked to visit Spain and Morocco later in the year, again aboard Balmoral. This would turn out to be another great choice and my friend and I met some lovely people, people we spent a lot of time socialising and laughing with. I’d spent a great deal of time aboard Balmoral, but I still wasn’t satisfied.
What could I do? Where could I go? I kept asking myself over again and then, it found me. A 46-night cruise from Southampton to the Caribbean, Central America and North America. I boarded Balmoral on a cold February afternoon and off I went on my longest cruise to date. The cruise didn’t quite go as the itinerary planned and we did miss several ports, however, it was filled with great experiences, lovely people and, as always, Balmoral’s amazing crew. We visited Cozumel, St Lucia, Barbados, Belize, New Orleans (for Mardi Gras), Port Canaveral, Miami, Jacksonville, Charleston and Bermuda, just to name a few. Our arrival back into Southampton was truly depressing, I wasn’t ready to leave – I wanted to do it all again, but little did I know that the best was yet to come.
And on to the Black Watch
I’ve mentioned all ships apart from Black Watch. I visited Black Watch a few years ago and she reminded me a lot of Boudicca, since then, of course, she has undergone a substantial refurbishment so she probably looks a little different now. I suppose I will soon find out when I board her in 2018 for a 108-night World Cruise. Yes, I am going on a full world cruise and I cannot wait! I never thought I’d have an opportunity to do something like this or at this stage in my life, but my courses are set and going I am. Black Watch will leave Southampton and head west. Our ports of call include: Havana, Cuba; Cozumel, Mexico; Manta, Ecuador; Easter Island, Chile; Bora Bora, Tahiti; Rarotonga, Cook Islands; Auckland, New Zealand; Sydney, Australia; Komodo Island, Indonesia; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Yangon, Myanmar; Mumbai, India; Aqaba, Jordan; Alexandria, Egypt; Kusadasi, Turkey; Livorno, Italy; and Malaga, Spain. Black Watch will also make full transits of the Panama and Suez canals. I’ve previously enjoyed a partial Panama Canal transit, but never have I gone from the Atlantic side to the Pacific side. I don’t like to fly, in fact I hate flying, so I’m always grateful for the wide selection of ex-UK itineraries that Fred. Olsen offer. It’s fair to say that this cruise will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me and I am certainly going to live every single moment of it.
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, alongside a few others, is keeping the traditions of ocean travel alive. They appreciate that many people still want to enjoy the feeling and freedom of being at sea, they want a ship that allows uninterrupted views of the world around them, without the gimmicks, celebrity endorsed restaurants or inflated onboard prices. The motto is ‘bringing the world closer to you’ and Fred. does exactly that. With a wide range of exciting itinerary options and four fabulous ships to choose from, why not let Fred. Olsen take you somewhere unforgettable in 2018?
If you want to follow in Danielle’s footsteps and travel with Fred Olsen, take a look at our great cruise deals over on the main website.
All images credited to Fred. Olsen Cruises