Jump to content

Cruise prices


WeeCountyMan
 Share

Recommended Posts

That’s a lot of money for an inside cabin.  Fred seems to charge high prices on launch, then reduces prices or adds incentives such as included drinks and tips, nearer to the sail date.  Saga charge lower prices on launch, and prices increase as cabins are sold. We have sailed with both cruise lines, but prefer Saga’s pricing policy.

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, WeeCountyMan said:

Just received a heads up brochure for a Med cruise 2023 - around 24 nights.

 

My initial interest evaporated when I saw the £4,999 price tag.

 

Is that the Corinth Canal itinerary?  We got that one a week or two ago.  Yes prices ridiculous, but those sort of very unusual itineraries do seem to be sold, so I doubt you will see any big reductions apart from some perks like drinks or OBS, which is probably available now.  We may pay a premium for an unusual itinerary, but spending so long on a run of the mill trip to the Med with one day spent in a canal is certainly not our idea of fun. Do much prefer Braemar to Fred's new ships though.

 

We looked at his longer North American Eastern Seaboard cruise a while back.  The one which goes up rivers, so not that many ports visited and also heads a distance south, where you can easily go on a number of cruises fairly cheaply.  We have booked the P&O one which goes to NY and back and visits many more ports.of interest and got a balcony for something similar to Fred's inside price IIRC.  Problem is it is on Aurora September 2023 and, realistically we think there is a fair chance that ship will have been ditched by P&O before then.  We had the same booked for last September, but was not to be and next year seems a bit early to risk that itinerary in case of restrictions.

 

Fred's policy of high pricing on launch is annoying a lot of people.  He really should get that out of his system if he wants to continue in business.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...

We did the original Corinth Canal cruise on the Braemar in a balcony cabin. The itinerary was good, the entertainment was enhanced by a couple acts that Fred flew in. The food wasn't bad... and, of course, the staff were brilliant. However, we thought that the add-ons and the excursions were eye-waveringly expensive. 

 

We would think of doing the cruise again except... the price for the cabin that we had last time has more or less doubled. That's before we pay £20 a day for "gratuities," almost £40.00 a day for a very basic drinks package and another £20 a day for wifi. That's almost £2,000 extra before the excursions. 

 

Fred's pricing increasingly bothers us. As far as we're concerned the cost of so-called "balcony cabins" is seriously uncompetitive when we look at what other cruise lines offer a similar space.

 

There also a need to be some corporate honesty... Fred should admit that many of the cabins that he sells on his "new  ships" as "balcony cabins" only open onto the public prom deck... they have no balconies. 

 

Way back in March 2018 before Covid, Fred Jun. was quoted in Travel Weekly as saying; that he was putting prices up and was making the highest operating revenues ever. What did he think of his passengers?  He's quoted as saying, "A lot of them are sailing three or four times with us a  year, and so it might just mean that they cut down on the number of cruises or they go from a balcony to an inside."

 

Well, we've been travelling  with Fred since the days of the Black Prince and have now done about 30 cruises with him...but Fred can't take our "loyalty" for granted.

 

We don't need to cruise less or downgrade. Why should we when we can have a better balcony cabin, better food, better entertainment... at a lower price with Fred's competitors. With the advantage of cruising in a ship with less that 1,000 passengers on board rather than on Fred's "new" 20 year-old second-hand ships that on virtually every Fred cruise that we've been on in recent years... cruise directors (when Fred had them) has described as "floating blocks of flats."

 

Our next cruise is to Greenland with SAGA on a ship that is really "new". Our balcony (it really will be a private balcony) cabin, drinks, speciality dining, gratuities, chauffeur driven car to the port and home again, excursions, insurance, wifi... and lots more all included... All that for half the price that Fred now want's to charge for the Corinth Canal cruise which is of a similar duration..

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Part of the reason people show such blind loyalty to FOCL is that there are no surprises.  I  suppose it's like getting into a comfy pair of slippers and they are prepared to pay for that assurance.  But yes, I agree that they are more expensive and offer fewer perks.  I no longer pay for an internet package because it's usually too slow to be of any use and I certainly wouldn't pay for a drinks package.  I'd rather use PAYG which works out much cheaper if you are not a huge drinker.  On the other hand if they are offering the package for free then it would be daft to turn it down.  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 1/27/2022 at 11:46 AM, twotravellersLondon said:

We did the original Corinth Canal cruise on the Braemar in a balcony cabin. The itinerary was good, the entertainment was enhanced by a couple acts that Fred flew in. The food wasn't bad... and, of course, the staff were brilliant. However, we thought that the add-ons and the excursions were eye-waveringly expensive. 

 

We would think of doing the cruise again except... the price for the cabin that we had last time has more or less doubled. That's before we pay £20 a day for "gratuities," almost £40.00 a day for a very basic drinks package and another £20 a day for wifi. That's almost £2,000 extra before the excursions. 

 

Fred's pricing increasingly bothers us. As far as we're concerned the cost of so-called "balcony cabins" is seriously uncompetitive when we look at what other cruise lines offer a similar space.

 

There also a need to be some corporate honesty... Fred should admit that many of the cabins that he sells on his "new  ships" as "balcony cabins" only open onto the public prom deck... they have no balconies. 

 

Way back in March 2018 before Covid, Fred Jun. was quoted in Travel Weekly as saying; that he was putting prices up and was making the highest operating revenues ever. What did he think of his passengers?  He's quoted as saying, "A lot of them are sailing three or four times with us a  year, and so it might just mean that they cut down on the number of cruises or they go from a balcony to an inside."

 

Well, we've been travelling  with Fred since the days of the Black Prince and have now done about 30 cruises with him...but Fred can't take our "loyalty" for granted.

 

We don't need to cruise less or downgrade. Why should we when we can have a better balcony cabin, better food, better entertainment... at a lower price with Fred's competitors. With the advantage of cruising in a ship with less that 1,000 passengers on board rather than on Fred's "new" 20 year-old second-hand ships that on virtually every Fred cruise that we've been on in recent years... cruise directors (when Fred had them) has described as "floating blocks of flats."

 

Our next cruise is to Greenland with SAGA on a ship that is really "new". Our balcony (it really will be a private balcony) cabin, drinks, speciality dining, gratuities, chauffeur driven car to the port and home again, excursions, insurance, wifi... and lots more all included... All that for half the price that Fred now want's to charge for the Corinth Canal cruise which is of a similar duration..

 

 

I certainly would have no interest in Saga and their prices IMO are outrageous for all cruises at almost £300pppn, with no options below that price. Their "perks" are all a matter of a lottery regards if individuals would benefit from them.  We live too far from the ports to get a private transfer, so would be given a shared transfer in a cramped mini bus.  I see no point whatsoever in getting up in the middle of the night to be taken to a port in such a manner, when we could have a leisurely drive, or train journey, the previous day and a relaxing night in a hotel.  Insurance is useless to us as we travel so much we would need an annual insurance policy anyway and even Saga would charge extra for medical conditions.  Excursions would again be of no interest to us and I understand the Saga free excursions are, in the main, coach trips - I can think of no worse way to spend a port day!  We do not see the point of wasting a holiday on the internet, but Fred's £10 for one day occasionally is not a big issue and works very well in most areas of the ship, (we used that once or twice on a cruise if successive sea days recently).  Drinks depend on how much someone consumes though £19pppn is better than most lines for people who do drink a bit, though the individual drinks are far cheaper then on other cruise lines and the3 option is there.  £5pppn for tips is hardly a deal breaker and has been at that level for years - I have no idea how you can claim you paid £20 per day (presumably for two).  Saga used to have some very good itineraries with their smaller ships, (the sort of thing Fred still offers) but now Saga are using ships the size of Fred's new aquisitions, the itineraries are not comparable to Fred's, or indeed other companies which are cheaper than Saga - e.g. Azamara, which have very port intensive cruises with some really attractive, small ports, so less wasted sea days in what can be very dicey seas from the UK.

 

I do agree Fred's prices are high and there are certainly other options which are cheaper and more realistically comparable for the more run of the mill itineraries.  The Corinth Canal cruise is priced quite differently to the majority of other Fred cruises, so cannot be taken as the norm (though I have absolutely no understanding why such itineraries sell so well).  The smaller P&O ships are very favorably comparable and we in fact have a midship, superior deluxe balcony cabin (which is the same size as Fred's cabins), booked on Aurora for a 28 night round trip Caribbean later this year for less than £120pppn, booked on launch day.  That is particularly well priced, but launch day prices are always good with them, whilst the prices go up as the cabins get sold.  They also offer free coach travel to the port, but with other options of either free parking or extra OBS, so the choice is there.   Fred used to offer reduced price upgrades to people who book at freedom fare, which we felt made it worth booking earlier, though we were extremely disappointed to not be offered that this year for cruises we had booked, so we have booked a couple of saver fare ones for good itineraries since covid and were pleased with the cabin location for the first, though still keeping our fingers crossed  for the second one, all cruise lines have had to reduce prices quite a bit this year, so some good prices around.

 

Overall, I think the regional departures and more interesting itineraries of Fred's will likely still sell to an extent and there are plenty of other cruisers who will not want to sail on the larger ships which are all companies like P&O will likely have in the near future, but whether it will be enough to keep Fred want to keep going remains to be seen.  Fred's quality of cruise is certainly better than other main stream cruise companies as well.  We were told by one of Fred's Captains that they were still not making money on the ships that are sailing in December and I believe that even the bigger cruise lines are still not turning a profit overall, though individual (much larger) ships may be there already.  After all the cruise lines are all in it for the profits they can make, so all customers can do is make their choice and pay accordingly for whatever that choice is.  Economy of scale will play a big part, as larger ships could always offer much cheaper cruises and seem to have the custom of younger people, though they, of course will be the customers of the future.  Land holidays are also likely to figure much higher on our holiday program, but all can make up their own minds.   

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I agree with a lot of what you have to say.

 

However, canny cruisers need to compare like for like.... and the issue I find is the cost of Fred's balcony cabins... not the ones with a door onto the public deck but those that really do have a private balcony.  This year Fred's doing a 10-night cruise to Iceland. The least expensive balcony cabin is a blistering £459.90 a person. That's almost £900 a day for the two of us. By contrast the 21-night cruise to Iceland and Greenland that we're doing on SAGA just a few weeks later is only £299 a head per day... between the two of us, we're paying £300 a day less that we would be on Fred in a similar cabin. SAGA's sold out... Fred... far from it.

 

Anyone can have a private transfer. We've met people from far north as York, Leeds and Preston who've done so and others from even further north who have paid a little extra. They considered that it was worth the savings on petrol, car parking and hotels but that was their preference.

 

SAGA allow anyone who would prefer to make their own way to the port to do so and reduce the cost of the cruise. So it's the individual's choice to travel by Chauffeur driven car or independently.

 

Passengers, like ourselves, who do not need SAGA's insurance have no need to take it.

 

SAGA provides free excursion for those who want them from the ship's gangway... a far cry from those companies who are a bit mean in providing shuttle busses.

 

I really do know just how slow Fred's email can be... I used to have to login to the organisation that I advised two or three times a day... it used to take me up to 25 mins each time just to log into my email.

 

As you say, £5pppn for tips is hardly a deal breaker but on our recent cruises with Fred we've been automatically charged £140 a week for the two of us. We've been told that £5 per person per day mean's £5 per waiter per day and £5 per stewardess a day... per person in the cabin. That's not what is seems to say on Fred's website. But... the reality is on our bills. 

 

The new SAGA ships are virtually the same length and beam as the old Rotterdam and Amsterdam that Fred's using now... there's hardly a meter difference either way. The really big difference is that Fred would put 1400 people into that space and SAGA have limited the total capacity to 999.  

 

The itinerary that we're doing this summer is much the same as we've done on the Black Prince, the Braemar, the Boudica and the SAGA ships over the course of that last 30 years. Certainly at the moment, especially with the Braemar laid up into a third year, there is virtually no real difference in the itineraries offered by the two companies.

 

Times are hard for all cruise lines these days and certainly the Bonheur ASA accounts show that Fred's losing an awfully lot of dosh at the moment. Our problem is that the cost of a Fred cabin with a real balcony is just far too expensive compared with other ships and so we're increasingly looking for alternatives elsewhere. And... people new to Fred's offering, having paid out for a balcony cabin may have expectations well above those of many of Fred's loyal customers who have been with him for years and would never dream of cruising with anyone else. 

 

Now that Fred has increased his capacity by about 50% from about 3,200 passengers to almost 5,000 the real question will be whether he'll be able to fill those extra cabins at the prices he's charging.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 hours ago, twotravellersLondon said:

I agree with a lot of what you have to say.

 

However, canny cruisers need to compare like for like.... and the issue I find is the cost of Fred's balcony cabins... not the ones with a door onto the public deck but those that really do have a private balcony.  This year Fred's doing a 10-night cruise to Iceland. The least expensive balcony cabin is a blistering £459.90 a person. That's almost £900 a day for the two of us. By contrast the 21-night cruise to Iceland and Greenland that we're doing on SAGA just a few weeks later is only £299 a head per day... between the two of us, we're paying £300 a day less that we would be on Fred in a similar cabin. SAGA's sold out... Fred... far from it.

 

Anyone can have a private transfer. We've met people from far north as York, Leeds and Preston who've done so and others from even further north who have paid a little extra. They considered that it was worth the savings on petrol, car parking and hotels but that was their preference.

 

SAGA allow anyone who would prefer to make their own way to the port to do so and reduce the cost of the cruise. So it's the individual's choice to travel by Chauffeur driven car or independently.

 

Passengers, like ourselves, who do not need SAGA's insurance have no need to take it.

 

SAGA provides free excursion for those who want them from the ship's gangway... a far cry from those companies who are a bit mean in providing shuttle busses.

 

I really do know just how slow Fred's email can be... I used to have to login to the organisation that I advised two or three times a day... it used to take me up to 25 mins each time just to log into my email.

 

As you say, £5pppn for tips is hardly a deal breaker but on our recent cruises with Fred we've been automatically charged £140 a week for the two of us. We've been told that £5 per person per day mean's £5 per waiter per day and £5 per stewardess a day... per person in the cabin. That's not what is seems to say on Fred's website. But... the reality is on our bills. 

 

The new SAGA ships are virtually the same length and beam as the old Rotterdam and Amsterdam that Fred's using now... there's hardly a meter difference either way. The really big difference is that Fred would put 1400 people into that space and SAGA have limited the total capacity to 999.  

 

The itinerary that we're doing this summer is much the same as we've done on the Black Prince, the Braemar, the Boudica and the SAGA ships over the course of that last 30 years. Certainly at the moment, especially with the Braemar laid up into a third year, there is virtually no real difference in the itineraries offered by the two companies.

 

Times are hard for all cruise lines these days and certainly the Bonheur ASA accounts show that Fred's losing an awfully lot of dosh at the moment. Our problem is that the cost of a Fred cabin with a real balcony is just far too expensive compared with other ships and so we're increasingly looking for alternatives elsewhere. And... people new to Fred's offering, having paid out for a balcony cabin may have expectations well above those of many of Fred's loyal customers who have been with him for years and would never dream of cruising with anyone else. 

 

Now that Fred has increased his capacity by about 50% from about 3,200 passengers to almost 5,000 the real question will be whether he'll be able to fill those extra cabins at the prices he's charging.

 

If you do have proof you have been overcharged for tips, I suggest you take it up with Fred's head office, though as tips are not compulsory anyway, you could have removed the entire amount if you did not want to pay it and reception staff would have done that for you, whilst on the ship.  The tip auto charge has been correct on all our Fred cruises, including four of them post covid.

 

The Fred WiFi has certainly been working very well since the post covid start up, though as I have said previously, you do need to be in certain areas of the ship.  I cannot comment about pre covid days, though there are some locations were ship's wifi is problematic on all cruise lines.  I do wonder when you were last on a Fred ship and also wonder if you have actually sailed on a new Saga ship.  In our opinion no cruise is worth anything like £300pppn, but  that is entirely a matter for the individual.person.

 

Edited by tring
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Many thanks for your advice on being "overcharged" by Fred. However this was done dusted and all "gratuity" charges removed on 21st October 2019... well over two years ago. We've been on dozens of Fred cruises over the years and so we know the ropes... and many of the wonderful staff very well. So no probs there.

 

FYI... we were on the last ever cruise of the Boudicca and remember well cruising through the Bay of Bengal in early February knowing the problems being experience in the same region by the Westerdam and the Diamond Princess, that we'd sailed on previously. Because we use Wi-Fi as a locational aid when we're logging marine mammal sightings, we were very aware of the unfolding situation. Anyway... days on deck.... some pretty unusual birds, Olive Ridley Turtle after Olive Ridley Turtle and the most magnificent photographs of Stripped Dolphins 5 meters out of the water and roto-tailing. 

 

We've not been on Fred since he restarted cruising... put off by some of his early pricing, the inwardness of these particular second-hand ships and by the terrace cabins "claiming" the prom deck... these things just didn't work for us on the Boudicca and we can't see how they will be any better on the Bolette or the Borealis.

 

I'm delighted to say that we've sailed not only on the SAGA Sapphire and the SAGA Pearl ll but also on the SAGA Spirit of Discovery... just after she was launched. We were booked on  the SAGA Spirit of Adventure... but there was a world pandemic and the rest is history. Anyway we're sailing with SAGA soon and we're so looking forward to it.

 

Your absolutely right that the price of a cruise or any other travel experience is only of value it if the people paying feel that it has been a worthwhile experience. We base our measure of value on; the itinerary, quality of the deck-space.... the Braemar is 10/10, the quality of the accommodation, service, food, pubic areas and the entertainment.

 

We find that most people that we talk to don't just cruise for the sake of another cruise... they really want to be excited, exhilarated and feel that the experience is something really special.

 

Cruising is what you make it. We started cruising when we realised that a cruise ship could take us to places that it would be expensive, difficult and challenging to get to. In those days it was the Black Prince, the Ocean Majesty and the Discovery that took us to the most amazing places... some now closed to cruise boats and tourists. Well we remember the most sensational evening in in the isolated wilderness of Magdalene Fjord at an amazing 79˚ North... about thirty of us saw walrus slip into the water as we edged through thin covering of ice towards the glaciers by the light of the midnight sun. It was one of the most moving and exciting things that we'd ever done. We couldn't sleep that entire night because of the excitement as we glided south over a millpond sea.

 

Decades later, we're still on deck from the crack of dawn for most of the time during sea days until the last lingering glimmers of the sunset. We watch for dolphins and whales and when they don't oblige, we settle for the odd seabird or two. In the evening we relax, enjoy dressing up, having a drink a good meal, a glass or two of decent wine and enjoying the entertainment. On port days we join in the excursions just like everyone else. 

 

And that's where we agree with your sentiments... that what a cruise may or may not be worth but... this morning Fred's "Cruise Sale" brochure arrived. Fred's exploring remote Iceland and Greenland for 14 nights in July would cost the two of us in a balcony cabin (with Fred's basic add-ons... like car parking) about £13,000... that's well over £900 a day... and that's Fred's "Sale prices." For the same price we're traveling with SAGA in the same month on a virtually identical itinerary in a like for like... same sized balcony cabin... for 21 nights... rather than Fred's 14 nights. 

 

Fred is just incredibly so much more expensive. His balcony cabins are IMO uncompetitive in today's market. If we hadn't booked already... to quote the WeeCountryMan who started this conversation... Fred's Sale offer is "An offer I can refuse."
 

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

For a proper private balcony Saga  is cheaper.

Freds  itineries are often very good but I would choose Saga over Fred now as it’s also a much better standard.
The ships are new, door to door car service is great, all inclusive, included excursions, price guarantee etc

 

i can’t see Fred being able to compete for much longer with current prices.

 

Also I hate having tips automatically added - even if they can be removed.


And another thing ! Fred does not do any adults only cruises any more - critical for me.

 

 

 

 

Edited by paulatsea
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, twotravellersLondon said:

 

FYI... we were on the last ever cruise of the Boudicca and remember well cruising through the Bay of Bengal in early February knowing the problems being experience in the same region by the Westerdam and the Diamond Princess, that we'd sailed on previously. Because we use Wi-Fi as a locational aid when we're logging marine mammal sightings, we were very aware of the unfolding situation. Anyway... days on deck.... some pretty unusual birds, Olive Ridley Turtle after Olive Ridley Turtle and the most magnificent photographs of Stripped Dolphins 5 meters out of the water and roto-tailing. 

 

Your absolutely right that the price of a cruise or any other travel experience is only of value it if the people paying feel that it has been a worthwhile experience. We base our measure of value on; the itinerary, quality of the deck-space.... the Braemar is 10/10, the quality of the accommodation, service, food, pubic areas and the entertainment.

 

We find that most people that we talk to don't just cruise for the sake of another cruise... they really want to be excited, exhilarated and feel that the experience is something really special.


 

 

We actually sound very similar in outlook, though we are not wildlife "experts".

 

When you were on Boudicca, we were in Sri Lanka for a two and a half weeks doing a private tour with our own car/driver and hotel stays in Colombo and a beach resort.  We then embarked Boudicca, presumably on the day you left the ship for two weeks up the coast of India and a then had a four night stay in Dubai before returning home.  There was a slight hiccup when we sailed a bit early from Mumbai as a crew member had been reported with flu like symptoms and whizzed into hospital by the authorities on arrival.  We were allowed off the ship that day and we had a great time going around on our own, seeing the train station and other busy locations, visiting the museum and a local bar recommended on TA forums for viewing of the sunset and popping into the Taj bar for a wonderful lunch, whilst walking between all venues.  Our trips always involve both the authentic (poorer) areas as well as the odd splash of luxury.  Anyway, Dehli got involved later in the day and stopped anyone else leaving the ship by 8pm that night, and Mikael Degerlund arrange with head office to leave the port early the next morning as he was fearful the ship could have been impounded.  The crew members who were ashore (some from the area of course), were contacted to return nippily and one just made it in time.

 

The crew member in hospital was diagnosed with a specific strain of flu the following sea day and we were allowed off the ship in Porbandar (Ghandi's birthplace), which was a very poor part of India and a big contrast to the other ports.  Our tuk tuk tour there was a real insight to the country as well as the temple and Ghandi's birthplace itself, (a museum). The smile on our tuk tuk driver’s face when we gave him a lot more than he had asked for was so memorable, yet we still only paid something like £15 - so different to the normal tourist venues (like Goa) when there were taxi cartels etc.  We were aware of what was going on and Mikael Degerlund did say he could forsee the day when the safest place you could be may be on a cruise ship and he did have a point when you consider the P&O world cruise which later returned from Australia with no port stops, nor any covid.

 

We greatly enjoyed that holiday as well as similar jaunts.  You will have visited Yangon on your cruise, we had a cruise cancelled to there, (Hong Kong to Sri Lanka) at about two week’s notice when All Leisure went bust.  We had a post cruise tour and stay booked with Kuoni in Sri Lanka and were able to add a beach resort and flights to that (originally All Leisure flights), so our visit to Sri Lanka in 2020 was a second visit, with a different area covered (again Kuoni for the tour, who are brilliant).  We wanted to arrange a private tour in Myanmar, but could not find a company to do it, so, with the great help of a poster on TA we were able to arrange an independent 2.5 tour of Myanmar, followed by a flight from Mandalay to Chang Mai where we had a fair bit of downtime, before flying home via Bangkok, where we spent another few days.  Myanmar is a great country and it was wonderful to be able to tour at leisure, rather than just have a couple of days in each base, whilst rushing around, but sadly another casualty of world events.

 

The tours we have done for those and other travels have been brilliant, with some top hotels in some places, though we did not use the top hotels in places like Dubai, Hong Kong and Colombo, where there are perfectly good alternatives.  It takes a lot of planning, which I enjoy, but prices overall are way down on the prices of the expensive cruises.  We would make sure now (covid times) that we have one package to cover everything for extra protection, but our disruption insurance gave good cover for previous jaunts.

 

On a cruise ship we only use a cabin for sleeping and showering so no need for us to pay silly prices, but depends on the cruise itinerary.  We greatly enjoyed our terrace balcony on Boudicca to Mauritius from Liverpool, but got that as a reduced-price upgrade.  We would never have an interest in a Fred balcony, because he allows smoking on them, so those prices have no relevance to us.  I agree the “Terrace Cabins” he has now are useless with no private space and not even any on sun on the prom decks of those ships, though I understand they were popular on HAL.  DH is a sun lover, so no matter what cabin we book he still wants on deck for full sun most days.  We very  much like the Renaissance ships, (which we have used at times since our first cruise on Minerva II), for the deck space, but liked our balcony on Azamara (an upgrade bid).  All Fred’s ships have a lot of space for the passengers, even if they get fully booked in the future, (because of the extensive deck space above the Crow’s nest where we have never seen more than a handful of people on recent cruises with reduced capacity).  The smaller P&O ships are also OK if you seek out the top decks, but balconies are dead cheap on P&O anyway.  We book all holidays (including cruises) because of the itinerary, but £300 pppn is way above what we would pay for any.  Enjoy your future holidays,

 

Barbara

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

31 minutes ago, tring said:

 

We actually sound very similar in outlook, though we are not wildlife "experts".

 

When you were on Boudicca, we were in Sri Lanka for a two and a half weeks doing a private tour with our own car/driver and hotel stays in Colombo and a beach resort.  We then embarked Boudicca, presumably on the day you left the ship for two weeks up the coast of India and a then had a four night stay in Dubai before returning home.  There was a slight hiccup when we sailed a bit early from Mumbai as a crew member had been reported with flu like symptoms and whizzed into hospital by the authorities on arrival.  We were allowed off the ship that day and we had a great time going around on our own, seeing the train station and other busy locations, visiting the museum and a local bar recommended on TA forums for viewing of the sunset and popping into the Taj bar for a wonderful lunch, whilst walking between all venues.  Our trips always involve both the authentic (poorer) areas as well as the odd splash of luxury.  Anyway, Dehli got involved later in the day and stopped anyone else leaving the ship by 8pm that night, and Mikael Degerlund arrange with head office to leave the port early the next morning as he was fearful the ship could have been impounded.  The crew members who were ashore (some from the area of course), were contacted to return nippily and one just made it in time.

 

The crew member in hospital was diagnosed with a specific strain of flu the following sea day and we were allowed off the ship in Porbandar (Ghandi's birthplace), which was a very poor part of India and a big contrast to the other ports.  Our tuk tuk tour there was a real insight to the country as well as the temple and Ghandi's birthplace itself, (a museum). The smile on our tuk tuk driver’s face when we gave him a lot more than he had asked for was so memorable, yet we still only paid something like £15 - so different to the normal tourist venues (like Goa) when there were taxi cartels etc.  We were aware of what was going on and Mikael Degerlund did say he could forsee the day when the safest place you could be may be on a cruise ship and he did have a point when you consider the P&O world cruise which later returned from Australia with no port stops, nor any covid.

 

We greatly enjoyed that holiday as well as similar jaunts.  You will have visited Yangon on your cruise, we had a cruise cancelled to there, (Hong Kong to Sri Lanka) at about two week’s notice when All Leisure went bust.  We had a post cruise tour and stay booked with Kuoni in Sri Lanka and were able to add a beach resort and flights to that (originally All Leisure flights), so our visit to Sri Lanka in 2020 was a second visit, with a different area covered (again Kuoni for the tour, who are brilliant).  We wanted to arrange a private tour in Myanmar, but could not find a company to do it, so, with the great help of a poster on TA we were able to arrange an independent 2.5 tour of Myanmar, followed by a flight from Mandalay to Chang Mai where we had a fair bit of downtime, before flying home via Bangkok, where we spent another few days.  Myanmar is a great country and it was wonderful to be able to tour at leisure, rather than just have a couple of days in each base, whilst rushing around, but sadly another casualty of world events.

 

The tours we have done for those and other travels have been brilliant, with some top hotels in some places, though we did not use the top hotels in places like Dubai, Hong Kong and Colombo, where there are perfectly good alternatives.  It takes a lot of planning, which I enjoy, but prices overall are way down on the prices of the expensive cruises.  We would make sure now (covid times) that we have one package to cover everything for extra protection, but our disruption insurance gave good cover for previous jaunts.

 

On a cruise ship we only use a cabin for sleeping and showering so no need for us to pay silly prices, but depends on the cruise itinerary.  We greatly enjoyed our terrace balcony on Boudicca to Mauritius from Liverpool, but got that as a reduced-price upgrade.  We would never have an interest in a Fred balcony, because he allows smoking on them, so those prices have no relevance to us.  I agree the “Terrace Cabins” he has now are useless with no private space and not even any on sun on the prom decks of those ships, though I understand they were popular on HAL.  DH is a sun lover, so no matter what cabin we book he still wants on deck for full sun most days.  We very  much like the Renaissance ships, (which we have used at times since our first cruise on Minerva II), for the deck space, but liked our balcony on Azamara (an upgrade bid).  All Fred’s ships have a lot of space for the passengers, even if they get fully booked in the future, (because of the extensive deck space above the Crow’s nest where we have never seen more than a handful of people on recent cruises with reduced capacity).  The smaller P&O ships are also OK if you seek out the top decks, but balconies are dead cheap on P&O anyway.  We book all holidays (including cruises) because of the itinerary, but £300 pppn is way above what we would pay for any.  Enjoy your future holidays,

 

Barbara

 

Above both sound amazing cruises - 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 minutes ago, paulatsea said:

Above both sound amazing cruises - 

 

They were, we had some good travels in recent years, but does take a lot of planning which is time consuming TBH.  Cruises can all take a bit of planning for though.

 

I meant to say 2.5 weeks in Myanmar, which is probably pretty obvious, but came out as just 2.5, which made it sound like a quick stop from a cruise ship.  No ship involved in the Myanmar/Thai one, though we have found cruises as part of the transport on a longer jaunt have worked very well indeed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 hours ago, tring said:

 

We actually sound very similar in outlook, though we are not wildlife "experts".

 

When you were on Boudicca, we were in Sri Lanka for a two and a half weeks doing a private tour with our own car/driver and hotel stays in Colombo and a beach resort.  We then embarked Boudicca, presumably on the day you left the ship for two weeks up the coast of India and a then had a four night stay in Dubai before returning home.  There was a slight hiccup when we sailed a bit early from Mumbai as a crew member had been reported with flu like symptoms and whizzed into hospital by the authorities on arrival.  We were allowed off the ship that day and we had a great time going around on our own, seeing the train station and other busy locations, visiting the museum and a local bar recommended on TA forums for viewing of the sunset and popping into the Taj bar for a wonderful lunch, whilst walking between all venues.  Our trips always involve both the authentic (poorer) areas as well as the odd splash of luxury.  Anyway, Dehli got involved later in the day and stopped anyone else leaving the ship by 8pm that night, and Mikael Degerlund arrange with head office to leave the port early the next morning as he was fearful the ship could have been impounded.  The crew members who were ashore (some from the area of course), were contacted to return nippily and one just made it in time.

 

The crew member in hospital was diagnosed with a specific strain of flu the following sea day and we were allowed off the ship in Porbandar (Ghandi's birthplace), which was a very poor part of India and a big contrast to the other ports.  Our tuk tuk tour there was a real insight to the country as well as the temple and Ghandi's birthplace itself, (a museum). The smile on our tuk tuk driver’s face when we gave him a lot more than he had asked for was so memorable, yet we still only paid something like £15 - so different to the normal tourist venues (like Goa) when there were taxi cartels etc.  We were aware of what was going on and Mikael Degerlund did say he could forsee the day when the safest place you could be may be on a cruise ship and he did have a point when you consider the P&O world cruise which later returned from Australia with no port stops, nor any covid.

 

We greatly enjoyed that holiday as well as similar jaunts.  You will have visited Yangon on your cruise, we had a cruise cancelled to there, (Hong Kong to Sri Lanka) at about two week’s notice when All Leisure went bust.  We had a post cruise tour and stay booked with Kuoni in Sri Lanka and were able to add a beach resort and flights to that (originally All Leisure flights), so our visit to Sri Lanka in 2020 was a second visit, with a different area covered (again Kuoni for the tour, who are brilliant).  We wanted to arrange a private tour in Myanmar, but could not find a company to do it, so, with the great help of a poster on TA we were able to arrange an independent 2.5 tour of Myanmar, followed by a flight from Mandalay to Chang Mai where we had a fair bit of downtime, before flying home via Bangkok, where we spent another few days.  Myanmar is a great country and it was wonderful to be able to tour at leisure, rather than just have a couple of days in each base, whilst rushing around, but sadly another casualty of world events.

 

The tours we have done for those and other travels have been brilliant, with some top hotels in some places, though we did not use the top hotels in places like Dubai, Hong Kong and Colombo, where there are perfectly good alternatives.  It takes a lot of planning, which I enjoy, but prices overall are way down on the prices of the expensive cruises.  We would make sure now (covid times) that we have one package to cover everything for extra protection, but our disruption insurance gave good cover for previous jaunts.

 

On a cruise ship we only use a cabin for sleeping and showering so no need for us to pay silly prices, but depends on the cruise itinerary.  We greatly enjoyed our terrace balcony on Boudicca to Mauritius from Liverpool, but got that as a reduced-price upgrade.  We would never have an interest in a Fred balcony, because he allows smoking on them, so those prices have no relevance to us.  I agree the “Terrace Cabins” he has now are useless with no private space and not even any on sun on the prom decks of those ships, though I understand they were popular on HAL.  DH is a sun lover, so no matter what cabin we book he still wants on deck for full sun most days.  We very  much like the Renaissance ships, (which we have used at times since our first cruise on Minerva II), for the deck space, but liked our balcony on Azamara (an upgrade bid).  All Fred’s ships have a lot of space for the passengers, even if they get fully booked in the future, (because of the extensive deck space above the Crow’s nest where we have never seen more than a handful of people on recent cruises with reduced capacity).  The smaller P&O ships are also OK if you seek out the top decks, but balconies are dead cheap on P&O anyway.  We book all holidays (including cruises) because of the itinerary, but £300 pppn is way above what we would pay for any.  Enjoy your future holidays,

 

Barbara

 

 

 

Firstly, your pre-cruise stay in Sri Lanka sound amazing. We did the same thing with Kuoni ages ago, would like to do it again... so just a little bit envious... but in a good way... inspiration for tor future.

 

We fully understand that you "only use a cabin for sleeping and showering so no need for you to pay silly prices, but depends on the cruise itinerary." We're much the same on short cruises across the channel but when the cruise has lots of sea days, the chance of marine mammal sightings, exhilarating landscapes, seabirds or marine mammals we much prefer a balcony where we have all of the facilities of our cabin only feet away.

 

We're both certified marine mammal surveyors with one of the UK's leading whale and dolphin charities It's a bit of a passion. We've surveyed bits of the Greenland sea with Marine Conservation Research (on watch 24/7 in an unheated 21 m sailing yacht) and been involved in other scientific enterprises as well.

 

We know the ORCA people very well, we've completed ORCA training courses, we support the charity and we donate to them.

 

So where many people will pay extra for a land based excursion, we're quite contented to pay a bit more to give us the comfort of a clear, unrestricted view of the sea from a balcony with all facilities on hand while we do what we want to do all day and every day and in whatever weather while we're at sea.

 

Often a balcony allows us to see things that it would be virtually impossible to see from the deck... like the single stripped dolphin that I've attached a photo of. It was fully under the water, virtually touching the hull of the ship... the Braemar.

 

So our issue really is the uncompetitive cost of Fred's balconies. We totally agree with you that these are a ridiculous price for somewhere to sleep and shower. While we are willing to pay a reasonable premium for a private viewing platform that will give us world-class sightings, we're not willing to pay a premium price unless the rest of the cruise including the facilities on board, the food etc can match the expectations created by Fred's prices.

 

If we were to spend the amount that Fred would change us just for one sea-day in a balcony cabin on his forthcoming" Exploring remote Iceland and Greenland"... we could go into London, stay at a five star hotel in the Strand, have dinner in a Celeb Chef Restaurant, top seats for a West-End show and still have enough left over for a couple glass of real fizz in the interval. 

 

It's sad that Fred's been quoted as saying about loyal cruisers like ourselves, "A lot of them are sailing three or four times with us a  year, and so it might just mean that they cut down on the number of cruises or they go from a balcony to an inside." 

 

Alternatively,  as we're doing... we can look to other cruise lines that cater for a similar demographic, have virtually identical itineraries, offer ships with less passengers and more public space, better facilities, better food, better entertainment. After all.... if we're paying 5 star prices... we want 5 star accommodation, 5 star food and 5 star entertainment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CSC_0027.jpeg

DSC_9748.jpg

DSC_6277.jpeg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I pretty much agree with the sentiment - Would not consider Fred  at his full prices and only his last minutes. I have enjoyed both trips they were superb (and to be honest I preferred the terrace to a balcony the option of two doors out of the room and a bathtub is a big plus)

 

BUT - His ships were only 50% full then - The Last minute prices were very generous.

 

We have two Saga trips coming up practically one after the other so its going to be interesting to compare.

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, twotravellersLondon said:

 

 

 

Firstly, your pre-cruise stay in Sri Lanka sound amazing. We did the same thing with Kuoni ages ago, would like to do it again... so just a little bit envious... but in a good way... inspiration for tor future.

 

We fully understand that you "only use a cabin for sleeping and showering so no need for you to pay silly prices, but depends on the cruise itinerary." We're much the same on short cruises across the channel but when the cruise has lots of sea days, the chance of marine mammal sightings, exhilarating landscapes, seabirds or marine mammals we much prefer a balcony where we have all of the facilities of our cabin only feet away.

 

We're both certified marine mammal surveyors with one of the UK's leading whale and dolphin charities It's a bit of a passion. We've surveyed bits of the Greenland sea with Marine Conservation Research (on watch 24/7 in an unheated 21 m sailing yacht) and been involved in other scientific enterprises as well.

 

We know the ORCA people very well, we've completed ORCA training courses, we support the charity and we donate to them.

 

So where many people will pay extra for a land based excursion, we're quite contented to pay a bit more to give us the comfort of a clear, unrestricted view of the sea from a balcony with all facilities on hand while we do what we want to do all day and every day and in whatever weather while we're at sea.

 

Often a balcony allows us to see things that it would be virtually impossible to see from the deck... like the single stripped dolphin that I've attached a photo of. It was fully under the water, virtually touching the hull of the ship... the Braemar.

 

So our issue really is the uncompetitive cost of Fred's balconies. We totally agree with you that these are a ridiculous price for somewhere to sleep and shower. While we are willing to pay a reasonable premium for a private viewing platform that will give us world-class sightings, we're not willing to pay a premium price unless the rest of the cruise including the facilities on board, the food etc can match the expectations created by Fred's prices.

 

If we were to spend the amount that Fred would change us just for one sea-day in a balcony cabin on his forthcoming" Exploring remote Iceland and Greenland"... we could go into London, stay at a five star hotel in the Strand, have dinner in a Celeb Chef Restaurant, top seats for a West-End show and still have enough left over for a couple glass of real fizz in the interval. 

 

It's sad that Fred's been quoted as saying about loyal cruisers like ourselves, "A lot of them are sailing three or four times with us a  year, and so it might just mean that they cut down on the number of cruises or they go from a balcony to an inside." 

 

Alternatively,  as we're doing... we can look to other cruise lines that cater for a similar demographic, have virtually identical itineraries, offer ships with less passengers and more public space, better facilities, better food, better entertainment. After all.... if we're paying 5 star prices... we want 5 star accommodation, 5 star food and 5 star entertainment.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CSC_0027.jpeg

DSC_9748.jpg

DSC_6277.jpeg

 

Nice pics, thanks for sharing.  We did have Orca people on one of Fred's cruises this year, (presumably they do other lines as well) and it was very interesting how they could see the Dolphins coming from way out and also were able to estimate the total numbers (in thousands).  We were sailing between southern Ireland and Lands end at the time of those big sightings, the only time we have seen that many Dolphins was to the North of one of the Cape Verde Islands (not one we stopped at)..

 

We have actually traveled on many cruise lines, the itinerary being the crux for us.  As this year meant cruising from the UK, Fred just happened to be the main contender for that, especially as he offers Liverpool as a start point for some cruises (20 mins taxi ride from home), but we do not not normally do so many cruises, but have been wary of flying so far.  The other one we did as a trial this year was a mini suite on Sky Princess at a really good price, though we will not be repeating for a number of reasons, not least of which was the lack of a quiet bar (e.g.observation bar) and speakers which is about the only "entertainments" in which we have an interest.  Most cruise we have booked ahead for now are with P&O (fly cruises and a Caribbean round trip, mainly for some sun whilst the world is, hopefully, getting back to normal), but booked early, which is what is usually their best prices.  The older P&O ships do get very run down and we have found them very dull and dingy, badly maintained and the food/staff is not the best, but that is not why we particularly travel, so will grin and bear it.  Fred has always had expensive headline prices, but most people (like us) have booked on offers he tends to have done in the past, like the 3 for 2 or reduced Freedom Fare prices, though he has gone straight to saver fares this year, which is the difference and they rarely interest us.  Those high prices and various offers have always annoyed us immensely (so nothing new to us), but we have learnt our way around his systems enough to live with them.  We have paid high, (early), prices for the Boudicca long distance cruises to fit them in with arrangements for longer holidays, but got reduced price upgrades, leaving the end price much better for what we got.  Those sort of long distance journeys which can be booked in smaller "bites" do not seems to be on the cards for Fred now though, unsurprisingly.  The loss of All Leisure was our main bugbear, we will always miss Swan and VOD.  HAL have had some good itineraries which we may be able to combine with a long distance holidays in the future, but will be new to us.  Cunard have been mentioned by a number of people, so may try them, but will see.  Over the years we have, (amongst others), sailed on Costa (The Allegra) for an excellent South China Sea Itinerary, the around Cuba, "Cuba Cruise", (run by a Canadian company which chartered the Celestial Crystal for the winters),  and have even used a monster MSC ship as a "ferry", from Hamburg (where we had spent some time) to Southampton via Le Havre and it did it's job as that, but no more, (though we never expected that).  Azamara and other Renaisance ships are some of our most likely future cruises at present, but will choose on individual itineraries.  We are always open to ideas and will remain so but the £300pppn for Saga is not for us, yet I can see some will happily pay that much and their choice.

 

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 hours ago, twotravellersLondon said:

 

 

 

 

Just been reading this on CC. 

 

https://www.cruisecritic.co.uk/articles.cfm?ID=6712&preview=1&et_cid=3514217&et_rid=22073748&et_referrer=Boards_Million_Member_Newsub

 

I did not realise a ship had returned to Antarctica - now that could be worth a big splashing out IMO.  We had often looked at the expedition ships and Ponant has had some extremely good itineraries in other out of the way locations with their other ships, but never got around to any of those. French is no problem for DH and despite my poor O level result all those years ago, I can follow the gist of most conversations and take part in simple ones.  Whether we are prepared to fly that far for Antarctica is the question though, since we had taken to only doing day time flights with nights in airport hotels or a few days off airport.  Still a risk that we could be jailed in a cabin as well, but again sometimes you just have to take a risk to travel....

 

Fred is been great going north and we had greatly enjoyed Greenland, Spitzbergen etc. (as you mentioned earlier Magdalene Fjord was magical).   Mmmmm.....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

22 hours ago, ighten said:

I pretty much agree with the sentiment - Would not consider Fred  at his full prices and only his last minutes. I have enjoyed both trips they were superb (and to be honest I preferred the terrace to a balcony the option of two doors out of the room and a bathtub is a big plus)

 

BUT - His ships were only 50% full then - The Last minute prices were very generous.

 

We have two Saga trips coming up practically one after the other so its going to be interesting to compare.

 

 

I do very much think that your comment gets to the core of the issue... Fred can offer a good product but his pricing of what he describes as "balcony cabins"  is uncompetitive.... Comes down to value for money.

 

We've been looking to do the same thing as you and find a good deal on a shortish cruise so that we could have a real look at one of Fred's newly acquired ships but admit to finding Fred's pricing "strategy" a. bit disconcerting.

 

We were originally looking at Classic Iceland, 9 nights 13 March 2022. In November it was from £799.00. In December it was  from £1,099.00 but included drinks and tips. Now in January it's £1,249.00 but again includes drinks and tips. So if we'd booked early, it would have been a bargain.

 

As an alternative we also looked at Escape to the Canaries, 12 nights March 2022. In August it was from £1,599.00. In October it was from £1,300.00. In November it was from £999.00. In December it was from £1,399.00 and in January, it's now from £1,699.00 but with drinks and tips included... just a roller-coaster. Result? We're not booking with Fred this time.

 

Fred seems to have some sort of fluid pricing going on a cruise-by-cruise basis depending on how much he thinks that he can charge. That can be immensely irritating. A few years ago we looked at one cruise late one afternoon, decided to book the next morning and the price (for two) had increased by £1,000.00.

 

In pre-covid days we often booked on board and had an extra 5% discount and a suite upgrade as well. Was Fred still offering those deals? Any insights?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

22 hours ago, tring said:

Fred has always had expensive headline prices, but most people (like us) have booked on offers he tends to have done in the past, like the 3 for 2 or reduced Freedom Fare prices, though he has gone straight to saver fares this year, which is the difference and they rarely interest us.  Those high prices and various offers have always annoyed us immensely (so nothing new to us), but we have learnt our way around his systems enough to live with them. 

 

As a quick aside...It's interesting what you say about Orca. 

 

The vast number of ORCA members are volunteers and are more likely to be on the bridge rather than on the deck and answer to the Captain in the same way as crew.  We work in teams of three; 180˚ starboard watch, 180˚ port watch and a recorder at the back of the bridge linking sighting to details from the ship's instruments. We use special binoculars to calculate the exact distance and direction of sightings. You may have seen us moving through the ship or ferry in our uniforms; black shoes, black slacks and a black ORCA polo shirt. However we are seldom in the public areas as we survey every sea-day from dawn to dusk with only short breaks don't use the main restaurants and are very unlikely to be on excursions. 

 

The ORCA folk that you will have met on the deck are usually some of the brilliant people that we have in the Portsmouth HQ and are operating as part of ORCA's outreach programme. The ability to identify dolphins and whales at a distance and estimate their numbers just takes hundreds  and hundreds of hours of experience and a fair knowledge of marine mammal behaviour.

 

Apart from these folk officially representing ORCA on cruises you'll also come across lots of ORCA's marine mammal surveyors, like ourselves, travelling on cruises independently as private individuals. That way we get the fun of sightings, the cruise experience and the excursions. Obviously as passengers, we won't be in uniform but will always be delighted to share our passion for wildlife conservation with anyone who stops to have a sociable chat on the ship's rail.

 

Anyway back to the thread... like you we've taken advantage of offers... we spent one wedding anniversary cruise in a rather special suite on the Balmoral thanks to a couple of very welcome upgrades and we've done two sets of three for twos in the past. But we increasingly find... as you see form our last post above... that Fred's pricing strategy is increasingly leaving us all as sea... but in someone else's ships.

 

So we're never sure if Fred's "sale prices" are more of less expensive than they were originally nor whether the same cabin will be available for more or less in the weeks and months before the cruise.

 

Our impression is that when we were cruising with Fred 10 years ago that his ships were always pretty busy and often our Captains announced that the ship was full. In recent years... and before covid... we felt that there were less and less people on board many cruises.... big gaps in the dining rooms. more seats available in the Neptune lounge and that sort of thing.

 

So, I do hope that if the pricing is putting people off booking, that it's something that FOCLs can get sorted. As you point out, there is lots and lots of other alternatives.

 

Anyway your suggestions are really helpful.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, twotravellersLondon said:

 

 

As a quick aside...It's interesting what you say about Orca. 

 

The vast number of ORCA members are volunteers and are more likely to be on the bridge rather than on the deck and answer to the Captain in the same way as crew.  We work in teams of three; 180˚ starboard watch, 180˚ port watch and a recorder at the back of the bridge linking sighting to details from the ship's instruments. We use special binoculars to calculate the exact distance and direction of sightings. You may have seen us moving through the ship or ferry in our uniforms; black shoes, black slacks and a black ORCA polo shirt. However we are seldom in the public areas as we survey every sea-day from dawn to dusk with only short breaks don't use the main restaurants and are very unlikely to be on excursions. 

 

The ORCA folk that you will have met on the deck are usually some of the brilliant people that we have in the Portsmouth HQ and are operating as part of ORCA's outreach programme. The ability to identify dolphins and whales at a distance and estimate their numbers just takes hundreds  and hundreds of hours of experience and a fair knowledge of marine mammal behaviour.

 

Apart from these folk officially representing ORCA on cruises you'll also come across lots of ORCA's marine mammal surveyors, like ourselves, travelling on cruises independently as private individuals. That way we get the fun of sightings, the cruise experience and the excursions. Obviously as passengers, we won't be in uniform but will always be delighted to share our passion for wildlife conservation with anyone who stops to have a sociable chat on the ship's rail.

 

 

I am responding re Orca from my phone and will address your other comments, (probably tomorrow), on the desktop as I can add a couple of points, but much easier done with a keyboard.

 

Some of Fred's cruises are advertised as having Orca on board as was ours, so I presume he had paid for that, so likely staff (or possibly a member of staff with a volunteer or trainee).  I am not sure what they were wearing, but they were scheduled to be at the front of deck six basically during the daytime on sea days.  There is a big open area at the front of deck six (I understand on at least one other cruise the group were allowed in the forecastle).  We only turned up for about an hour or so late one afternoon l, but there were two Orca people present at the time, obviously both very knowledgeable, but the young lady had a special pair of binoculars (like you mentioned) and was clearly more knowledgeable than the chap who was with her. They were there as experts for the benefit of passengers and were very good at answering questions - there were many questions.  They were not speakers as well, just out on deck during the day.  Apparently there had also been a very large sighting of dolphins earlier that day and I think there has been a been at least one whale around earlier as well and other animals were seen and identified when we were present.  It was August.

 

Edited by tring
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 1/31/2022 at 9:59 PM, tring said:

 

I am responding re Orca from my phone and will address your other comments, (probably tomorrow), on the desktop as I can add a couple of points, but much easier done with a keyboard.

 

Some of Fred's cruises are advertised as having Orca on board as was ours, so I presume he had paid for that, so likely staff (or possibly a member of staff with a volunteer or trainee).  I am not sure what they were wearing, but they were scheduled to be at the front of deck six basically during the daytime on sea days.  There is a big open area at the front of deck six (I understand on at least one other cruise the group were allowed in the forecastle).  We only turned up for about an hour or so late one afternoon l, but there were two Orca people present at the time, obviously both very knowledgeable, but the young lady had a special pair of binoculars (like you mentioned) and was clearly more knowledgeable than the chap who was with her. They were there as experts for the benefit of passengers and were very good at answering questions - there were many questions.  They were not speakers as well, just out on deck during the day.  Apparently there had also been a very large sighting of dolphins earlier that day and I think there has been a been at least one whale around earlier as well and other animals were seen and identified when we were present.  It was August.

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 1/31/2022 at 7:06 PM, twotravellersLondon said:

Anyway back to the thread... like you we've taken advantage of offers... we spent one wedding anniversary cruise in a rather special suite on the Balmoral thanks to a couple of very welcome upgrades and we've done two sets of three for twos in the past. But we increasingly find... as you see form our last post above... that Fred's pricing strategy is increasingly leaving us all as sea... but in someone else's ships.

 

So we're never sure if Fred's "sale prices" are more of less expensive than they were originally nor whether the same cabin will be available for more or less in the weeks and months before the cruise.

 

Our impression is that when we were cruising with Fred 10 years ago that his ships were always pretty busy and often our Captains announced that the ship was full. In recent years... and before covid... we felt that there were less and less people on board many cruises.... big gaps in the dining rooms. more seats available in the Neptune lounge and that sort of thing.

 

So, I do hope that if the pricing is putting people off booking, that it's something that FOCLs can get sorted. As you point out, there is lots and lots of other alternatives.

 

Anyway your suggestions are really helpful.

 

Cruises for this March will have been on sale for almost two years now so last summer was not early.  I think you will find fluid pricing on all holidays now, the Iceland cruise you mentioned is now marked as limited availability, so the cheaper cabins are now booked.  You do need to compare like with like of course and Fred’s cabins are not equivalent to the basic cabins on other lines as they are much bigger you so need to compare the equivalent cabins.  You do need to go into the booking system to check what cabins are still available rather than just look at the “from” price.  Fred has, in recent years, had some very good Black Friday deals for certain cruises, but they are saver fares.  Those offers, like other offers, do end, but we did book one of those for this March and the subsequent saver fare (brought out nearer to sail date) is actually more than we paid late November, which did not surprise us.  All cruise lines have had many vastly reduced prices recently.

 

Regards balconies, of course there are not that many on any Fred ships, so there will be in higher demand.  Yes, the prices are still high, but he allows smoking on his balconies, which after all is a USP and I have not seen that offered on any other cruise line recently.  From a conversation we had with an onboard Oceans/sales rep a few years back, the company are very well aware that the smoking is putting many people off booking balcony cabins, so it is obviously a clear decision to still keep that rule in place.  The quarantine accommodation on Fred’s ships has been on deck one and other deck one cabins are currently being used for crew, so there is less need for them to share cabins.  Hence deck one has not been on sale for upcoming cruises.  Fred is now saying that passengers will be quarantined in balcony cabins if possible, so he may not be so keen to sell the balconies at greatly reduced prices on saver fares – those balcony saver prices had only been about a third of the full price for the pre-Christmas cruises.

 

You have probably heard that in recent years the Bonheur board (and Anette Olsen who is the chair of that) were not supportive of the cruise line.  I was told directly by a captain four or five years ago that they did not think the cruise line “made enough money” and I was also told that the reason which persuaded them to keep it going was "for PR reasons".  It became obvious at that time that he was trying to up the standard of his product with a lot of refurbishments on the ships and he brought in a lot of single offers (which he still does).  It would have been incredibly easy for the family to have walked away from the cruise line over covid as they have no shortage of other businesses of course, though it seems that both Fred Senior and Fred Jnr have been very involved with the re-furbishments of the newer ships - everything has been said to be "owner decision".   I would be sad if we lost the option of Fred, as the itineraries he offers are not available on other cruise lines at reasonable prices, apart from the re-incarnation of CMV.  Having tried CMV, we have no wish to repeat that as we do prefer better quality than we experienced with them and we also do not like their business methods.  P&O are cheap, but the itineraries are extremely mundane, so not that much of interest to us sailing from the UK and I do not see Aurora and Arcadia round for much longer.  Covid is not over yet and with the maximum occupancy levels of about 70% there is no real scope for the smaller ships to turn a profit.  The larger ones will do better with economy of scale, especially as there is a much higher prices for onboard spend, which has never, and still is not a target with Fred.  You only have to consider what has happened to two Crystal ships in the last week, with one being arrested due to the parent company being in administration and the other curtailing it’s world cruise after three days.       

 

We found Fred's occupancy levels depended on the cruise itinerary, with the good itineraries selling easily.  I think he is also being more prepared to put as many people on the popular first sitting as he can manage, with second sitting have far less people present.  I also think more people are prepared to use the self service now, as they can wear casual clothes.

Edited by tring
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, tring said:

You have probably heard that in recent years the Bonheur board (and Anette Olsen who is the chair of that) were not supportive of the cruise line. 

 

2 hours ago, tring said:

We found Fred's occupancy levels depended on the cruise itinerary, with the good itineraries selling easily.  I think he is also being more prepared to put as many people on the popular first sitting as he can manage, with second sitting have far less people present.  I also think more people are prepared to use the self service now, as they can wear casual clothes.

 

2 hours ago, tring said:

the Iceland cruise you mentioned is now marked as limited availability, so the cheaper cabins are now booked.

 

I've seen that the Iceland & Greenland cruise has an "limited availability" flash on it but there do seem to be cabins available in all grades.

 

Just as an aside, it's not surprising that Fred sen. took a great interest in the newly acquired ships... Dr. Olsen is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects and quite apart from the cruise line he is an award winning industry expert who has earned immense respect in international marine circles for his pioneering work on tanker developments, rig developments and lots of other things. 

 

We've also heard the rumours that the Bonheur board aren't supportive of the cruise line but I've never seen any evidence to back up the story.

 

Annett Olsen isn't the Chairman of Bonheur... her father Fred Olsen is and always has been... Annette is the managing director. The 2021 accounts aren't due for a few weeks yet but the published facts are that, in the year ending 31 Dec 2020, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Ltd received £25,000,000 in loan financing from their parent company, Bonheur ASA, to support working capital requirements, including refunds to passengers for cancelled sailings. No lack of support there. 

 

The published facts are also that, at the end of December 2020,  the directors of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Ltd, including Fred Jun, his sister Annette and Peter Deer were of the opinion that the shareholders... i.e. Bonheur... would continue to support Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Ltd.

 

From Bonheur's interim published figures over 2021, it certainly looks like the board of Bonheur have been very supportive in what's been a very tough time for almost every cruise line.

 

But one of Fred's perennial problems really is occupancy rates. Way back at the end of the 20-noughties Fred was achieving over 1.3 million passenger days a year but by 2019... before Covid... that figure had dropped to just over 1 million.

 

With the Bolette and the Borealis adding more that 1,000 berths to Fred's overall capacity, I'm sure that Fred is looking to attract more cruisers and to fill his ships as soon a cruising returns to anything like normal.

 

I  really do agree with you that Fred offers some exciting itineraries but I just think that the board of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Ltd, have to make their pricing structure more transparent, more competitive and more consumer friendly.

 

A good start would be to make balcony cabins value for money.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

29 minutes ago, twotravellersLondon said:

 

 

 

 

I've seen that the Iceland & Greenland cruise has an "limited availability" flash on it but there do seem to be cabins available in all grades.

 

Just as an aside, it's not surprising that Fred sen. took a great interest in the newly acquired ships... Dr. Olsen is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Naval Architects and quite apart from the cruise line he is an award winning industry expert who has earned immense respect in international marine circles for his pioneering work on tanker developments, rig developments and lots of other things. 

 

We've also heard the rumours that the Bonheur board aren't supportive of the cruise line but I've never seen any evidence to back up the story.

 

Annett Olsen isn't the Chairman of Bonheur... her father Fred Olsen is and always has been... Annette is the managing director. The 2021 accounts aren't due for a few weeks yet but the published facts are that, in the year ending 31 Dec 2020, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Ltd received £25,000,000 in loan financing from their parent company, Bonheur ASA, to support working capital requirements, including refunds to passengers for cancelled sailings. No lack of support there. 

 

The published facts are also that, at the end of December 2020,  the directors of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Ltd, including Fred Jun, his sister Annette and Peter Deer were of the opinion that the shareholders... i.e. Bonheur... would continue to support Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Ltd.

 

From Bonheur's interim published figures over 2021, it certainly looks like the board of Bonheur have been very supportive in what's been a very tough time for almost every cruise line.

 

But one of Fred's perennial problems really is occupancy rates. Way back at the end of the 20-noughties Fred was achieving over 1.3 million passenger days a year but by 2019... before Covid... that figure had dropped to just over 1 million.

 

With the Bolette and the Borealis adding more that 1,000 berths to Fred's overall capacity, I'm sure that Fred is looking to attract more cruisers and to fill his ships as soon a cruising returns to anything like normal.

 

I  really do agree with you that Fred offers some exciting itineraries but I just think that the board of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Ltd, have to make their pricing structure more transparent, more competitive and more consumer friendly.

 

A good start would be to make balcony cabins value for money.

 

I looked at the Iceland cruise yesterday, this morning and just now.  There is currently one inside cabin available, so they have reached a level when the odd cabin will be cancelled and re appear, which always happens, but the cheaper saver fare for inside cabins is no longer available - they do get rid of that when there are very few cabins left, which is not surprising.  In fact the cheapest saver fare is for Superior Outsides - not even standard outsides.

 

Some interesting info. regards access to accounts which we have not gained access to, thinks for that.  Sorry, yes I did know Fred Snr. had retained the chair position but had forgot.  The company seems to have been signed over to Annette though, if I understood it correctly.  I put a number of links to info. on the Olsen family on #22 of another thread, some months ago:-   https://boards.cruisecritic.co.uk/topic/2797299-designed-the-olsen-way/  The rest of that thread could be of interest to you as well - it can be found further down this page.

 

I never believe rumours, but having been told something by a Fred Captain, whilst sat next to him at the dinner table, I do not doubt what I was told.  The exact words (in quotes) were that the board thought the cruise line, " did not make enough money", so basically did not think it a good business venture, but that they were persuaded that it was "Good PR".  I am sure Bonheur must have done a lot financially over covid, but persumably they hope it can be turned around in the future, though things are still looking dicey for cruising at present and for a while ahead IMO.  I am sure they will want to assure everyone that their support will be never ending - no business would say anything else publicly, but the future cannot be foretold entirely.  I am also concious that the more long term customers of Fred we had spoken with when we started cruising (after 2006), had always said that Fred Snr. had a soft spot for the cruise line and used to sail on the ships regularly in the past, which we are thinking may be an extra reason for the company to have kept the cruise line going so far.  Interesting that the purchase of the HAL ships is to be paid for in the last two years as well, though a whole load of cash has obviously been spent on the ships so far of course. 

 

You did mention earlier in this thread how Fred Jnr. had stated how well the cruise line was performing financially pre-covid, albeit perhaps putting his foot in it at the same time!  The pricing structures with the high initial prices and various offers have remained the same throughout.  One difference this year is that Fred has offered saver fares on the balcony cabins, whereas previously they were only offered on the cheaper cabins.  The long term customers were kept happy as they were often given upgrades, though that had changed to being offered reduced price upgrades more often by the time we reached Gold level (a few years back) and that in itself did annoy a good number of customers.  I had asked an onboard rep how Fred decided who was given upgrades about five years ago and was told, "how soon you booked, how much you had paid and whether you are Gold".  We are now Platinum, but not had or heard of anyone having an upgrade offer this year, though we had not booked any cruises that far ahead and had not rang to ask what we would be charged for an upgrade as not that bothered.  I doubt the staff have had time to ring round either.  I have seen many comments on another site by people who had booked balconies on the newer ships and indeed would not consider anything else, so I am sure some bookings are being made up front, though I would not know if they are smokers.... 

 

What matters of course is how much profit Fred can make, rather than how many cabins are occupied and if profits were doing well pre-covid, perhaps Fred has been doing better than you think at that time.  As I said, I do not like his pricing methods, but it may just be working for him.  If there are more singles on the ship, that will cause a reduction of some occupancy and some cruises do book up fairly easily.  Once Aurora and Arcadia go there will be little competition for people wanting the smaller ships and less mundane itineraries, sailing from the UK, though it does depend how many people migrate to the CMV re incarnation - and more to the point go back to repeat that experience (not something we are keen to do at this stage).  I can see Saga may have an appeal to some, but there is no cheaper option and basically you are paying for all those extras, even if like us you have no interest in them.  I know there is a reduction if you do not take their insurance, but the -£75 is neither here nor there on those prices.  I do not mean to totally knock Saga and know of people who like that overall package and realise some will go that way, if they continue to trade as they are now.  At present we would happily go on fly holidays and fly cruises - in fact we prefer that to many sea days in poor weather conditions, unless going north of course.

 

You were asking earlier about cruise sales on the ships.  There is a standard extra 5% discount on Freedom Fares and other offers are often advertised on certain cruises - there were some double on board discounts (so -10%) offered on certain cruises when we have been on the ships recently,  but I cannot remember anything else, but we had no interest in booking anything at the time anyway so took little notice.  The Oceans cocktail parties, (which are basically sales drives of course), were not taking place because of covid, so we did not sit through the normal "sales presentation".  I would suggest, if previous sales models are being retained, that it may be worth booking a cruise in a non balcony cabin fairly early at Freedom Fare and then ringing nearer to cruise date to see if they will give a reduced price upgrade, as we have been known to do.  No guarantee that will still work though, so very much a gamble.  If booked on a saver fare the upgrade cost will be substantial - they have a price which they want to obtain, then calculate what you need to pay by subtracting what you have paid for your existing cabin, (or that was how it had been working over the last few years).

 

Happy cruising, no matter who you cruise with,

 

Barbara

 

 

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
 Share

  • Forum Jump
    • Categories
      • Welcome to Cruise Critic
      • ANNOUNCEMENT: Set Sail Beyond the Ordinary with Oceania Cruises
      • New Cruisers
      • Cruise Lines “A – O”
      • Cruise Lines “P – Z”
      • River Cruising
      • ROLL CALLS
      • Cruise Critic News & Features
      • Digital Photography & Cruise Technology
      • Special Interest Cruising
      • Cruise Discussion Topics
      • UK Cruising
      • Australia & New Zealand Cruisers
      • Canadian Cruisers
      • North American Homeports
      • Ports of Call
      • Cruise Conversations
×
×
  • Create New...