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According to documents filed with Companies' House, Fred. Olsen Jun. resigned as a director of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Ltd and the immediate parent company, Fred Olsen Holdings Ltd, at the beginning of July 2022. 

 

The only Olsen left on the FOCL board is Annett Olsen, Fred's elder sister, who is essentially in charge of running that part of the multi-billion Olsen empire that comes under the banner of Bonheur.

 

FOCLs has emerged from the Covid pause with massive debts and has lost millions and millions in the first six months of 2022.

 

If Fred. Jun. has gone as Chairman of FOCLs, it will be interesting to see just if and how things at FOCLs change under new leadership and whether or not the company is able to win back many of the people who once were part of a very loyal client base.

 

My wish would be for FOCLs to offer a far more competitive all-inclusive pricing package for his more expensive cabins and to ensure that anyone booking early was not disadvantages by later offers and price reductions.

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Thank you for the information twotravellersLondon.  Fred’s current pricing strategy does not encourage people to book early.  Saga, on the other hand, offer their best prices on launch of new itineraries, and prices increase as cabins are sold.
 

We have sailed with Fred several times, but can now see no advantage in booking early in order to use our Oceans discount, as prices reduce considerably  near to the departure date.


Fred had an advantage (as far as we are concerned), in that he sold fly cruises which Saga does not currently offer.  We hope that will happen again; we will have to wait and see.

 

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3 minutes ago, LandC said:

Thank you for the information twotravellersLondon.  Fred’s current pricing strategy does not encourage people to book early.  Saga, on the other hand, offer their best prices on launch of new itineraries, and prices increase as cabins are sold.
 

We have sailed with Fred several times, but can now see no advantage in booking early in order to use our Oceans discount, as prices reduce considerably  near to the departure date.


Fred had an advantage (as far as we are concerned), in that he sold fly cruises which Saga does not currently offer.  We hope that will happen again; we will have to wait and see.

 

We're in the same position and have been booking with SAGA because we don't want to play Russian roulette with prices.

 

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17 hours ago, twotravellersLondon said:

 

 

According to documents filed with Companies' House, Fred. Olsen Jun. resigned as a director of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Ltd and the immediate parent company, Fred Olsen Holdings Ltd, at the beginning of July 2022. 

 

The only Olsen left on the FOCL board is Annett Olsen, Fred's elder sister, who is essentially in charge of running that part of the multi-billion Olsen empire that comes under the banner of Bonheur.

 

FOCLs has emerged from the Covid pause with massive debts and has lost millions and millions in the first six months of 2022.

 

If Fred. Jun. has gone as Chairman of FOCLs, it will be interesting to see just if and how things at FOCLs change under new leadership and whether or not the company is able to win back many of the people who once were part of a very loyal client base.

 

My wish would be for FOCLs to offer a far more competitive all-inclusive pricing package for his more expensive cabins and to ensure that anyone booking early was not disadvantages by later offers and price reductions.

And bring back adults only itineraries  

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17 hours ago, LandC said:


Fred had an advantage (as far as we are concerned), in that he sold fly cruises

 

 

It was those Boudicca winter cruises we had taken to in recent years, giving the ability to spend time on the ship with some very interesting ports and combine with an extended long haul holiday each end (sometimes independent tour and stay jaunts).  I rang Fred a couple of weeks beck to ask if they are offering, or may in the future offer, sectors for the around Africa cruise they have planned for winter 23/24.  Just a third, or even a half of that itinerary would be of interest to us as it is a very different itinerary.  The answer was it was unlikely, as the long cruises are selling well from the UK, (not that the booking system supported when I did a search). The salesman did though concede that much nearer the cruise date, sometimes sectors are offered.  He then pointed out that they have fly cruises to the Caribbean planned on Braemar!  I pointed out bluntly that their advantage is their itineraries and a fly cruise to the Caribbean can be obtained far cheaper with P&O.  The Braemar itineraries are much the same as the bigger ships are offering now, so not much point being on a small ship, considering how many cruise passengers will be dumped in the ports overall IMO!

 

There is no Fred itineraries we have a particular interest in at present, but some itineraries are still much more varied than other mainstream lines apart from Ambassador (recently trying them has made us convinced that is a step far too cheap).  We would pay more for Fred, given his better quality of cruise and peaceful atmosphere on the ships, but still needs to be a good itinerary for us. 

 

We have done a number of more standard cruises this year, largely because of the reputation Manchester airport built up last winter and has continued to keep, but hopefully that will get better.  Longer term, we will likely be returning to Azamara, (or even expedition ships on an occasional basis), along with more land holidays if something better than the basic "from the UK cruises" are all that is offered.  Fred does have a big advantage for shorter jaunts, (from our perspective) though, as it is far easier to pick up a ship from the north, (especially Liverpool), compared to having to spend a full day travelling at each end.

      

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19 hours ago, twotravellersLondon said:

 

 

According to documents filed with Companies' House, Fred. Olsen Jun. resigned as a director of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Ltd and the immediate parent company, Fred Olsen Holdings Ltd, at the beginning of July 2022. 

 

The only Olsen left on the FOCL board is Annett Olsen, Fred's elder sister, who is essentially in charge of running that part of the multi-billion Olsen empire that comes under the banner of Bonheur.

 

FOCLs has emerged from the Covid pause with massive debts and has lost millions and millions in the first six months of 2022.

 

If Fred. Jun. has gone as Chairman of FOCLs, it will be interesting to see just if and how things at FOCLs change under new leadership and whether or not the company is able to win back many of the people who once were part of a very loyal client base.

 

My wish would be for FOCLs to offer a far more competitive all-inclusive pricing package for his more expensive cabins and to ensure that anyone booking early was not disadvantages by later offers and price reductions.

 

Thanks, yes interesting, though he may just have a health issue, so cannot be sure it means anything that much.  All lines, even the big cruise companies like Carnival  Corporation, have still been loosing cash up to now, with the third quarter forecast to turn that around with a small profit.  The reported 73% average occupancy on Fred ships in Q2 does not seem too bad given the current state of the industry, though admittedly with his smaller ships he will need a higher rate occupancy than the monster ships sailing now and we have always wondered if Braemar will really return.

 

As I do not think you have travelled on a Fred ship since covid, you may not be aware that a questionnaire was sent out 2-3 weeks ago, which appeared to be concentrating on asking if certain "perks" would make the customer more likely to book, what he calls a suite.  I would not call all his balconies suites, but of course some other cruise lines do similar - we were in a mini suite on a Princess ship last autumn, which was very much the same size/floor layout as balconies on the newer Fred ships and P&O would call any balcony cabins with a decent sized seating area a deluxe/superior cabin and charge a higher price.  Anyway, the questionnaire started by asking if you would have any interest in booking a suite and the questions apparently ended soon after that for anyone who said they would not have an interest in a suite at all.  Beyond that, things suggested were inclusive drinks, excursions, free spa package or speciality restaurants and a couple of other ideas which I cannot remember now.  There was also a question asking which three of the suggestions are more likely to make booking a suite appeal.  I answered a clear, "not interested" to all of them as we would never consider Fred's balconies whilst he allowed smoking on balconies, yet there was no option to state freely why the perks were of no interest to me (i.e. smoking), which seems to miss a very important point IMO.  

 

That questionnaire did seem to imply that there are thoughts regards increasing the "Suite Dreams Package", hence going in the direction of a "ship within a ship" concept, which is now used by a number of mainstream cruise lines.  Personally rather than specific benefits, I would prefer to see an option of various perks - I saw an advert recently (poss NCL) when you could choose two or three extra perks from a selection.  Better still, I would be more interested in a large OBS, which could be used on whatever we chose to spend it on.  P&O are currently offering a very large OBS with their new bookings (which are not as cheap as they were) and are even adding an extra OBS for people who have already been booked on cruises departing on the next few months - presumably as a feel good factor and to help keep bookings which need the balances paid soon, (early bookings were often on a reduced deposit which is easy to walk away from).

 

We have been wondering what will happen to Fred for a while, since the cruise business does not seem to be looking good at all currently and the future will be a big challenge to all holiday companies.  Although there has been a big investment supported by the parent company so far, I wonder if they will continue to do that, especially since Annette was known to think the cruise line did not make enough money a good number of years back.  However there is probably a niche for them if they play it right IMO, since there must be a market for something between the really cheap offerings of the monster ships and Ambassador, (which from our recent experience has a way poorer quality offering) and the much more expensive expedition or so called luxury lines, that are far more expensive.  Fred's excellent staff and cruise quality is a major part of that IMO - although there have been teething problems, it has been obvious that the newer staff are being guided by the more experienced ones and even the managers have been in evidence (e.g. MD overseeing lunch service on the outdoor deck on a Balmoral cruise in June/July as well as a member of staff from head office training groups of newer staff).  I think it is essential Fred maintains his service levels to those good levels, to keep him apart from the lines where we have observed some staff being, in our opinion, quite slapdash and even slovenly with no one was making any attempt to correct that.  The regional departures are also a one off USP, given the selection of cruise itineraries which are offered from Northern England/Scotland/Ireland (not just the odd run of the mill cruise itinerary from elsewhere).  As you say, will be interesting to see what happens.

 

We have a couple of Med/Canary fly cruises on Azura and a round trip Caribbean on Aurora booked for this winter as we did not think it would be easy to travel further afield yet and we still wanted some winter warmth, but do hope to spread our wings further in future years.  We did get very cheap, good balcony cabins on those cruises by booking early, which we feel is necessary on larger ships when public space/seating/sun beds are limited, but we will not want to book so early in the future and prices not likely to be anything like as good now either.

  

 

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4 hours ago, paulatsea said:

And bring back adults only itineraries  

 

We do not travel in school holidays and have never seen a child on a Fred ship.

 

There are no facilities for children other than the "Little Skippers Club" which used to be offered pre covid on some school.holiday cruises, not all of them.    I do not think they have re started that club as Fred was, (and I think still is), insisting on everyone being double vaccinated with a booster jab if appropriate.

 

 

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4 hours ago, tring said:

a questionnaire was sent out 2-3 weeks ago, which appeared to be concentrating on asking if certain "perks" would make the customer more likely to book, what he calls a suite

 

We, and many loyalty members that we know, have received exactly the same questionnaire over the last few months. In mid-May a number of higher tier loyalty members were also very well paid to take part in personal interviews by an independent research consultancy on their opinion of the Fred Olsen Cruise Line brand and to offer suggestions about how it might be improved. Some loyalty members on the highest levels have been asked to consider becoming members of focus groups.  

 

So very clearly, FOCLs was actively considering its offer and its market position before the resignation, for whatever reason, of Fred. Olsen Junior from the company and the immediate parent company on the 4th of July this year.

 

The average occupancy rate of 73% across the Bolette, Borealis and the Balmoral over the quarter would normally be encouraging but with a net result for the same quarter of a loss of NOK 108,000,000 (£9.3 million) and a net loss for the first six months of 2022 of NOK 412,000,000 (£35.5 million) the picture is far less rosy... especially as the ultimate parent company announced early last year that it anticipated that the cruise sector would be back to pre-covid levels by now. Currently it looks as if FOCLs will carry less passengers this year than the company carried in the year before the cruise pause...  Things don't look as good as they were forecast..

 

The new FOCLs leadership will certainly have a challenge. The easy answer would be to go into the growth sector of "boutique cruising" for the traditionalist market (Fred Jun. had a brilliant idea for specialist exploration ships at one stage and was reported as having had discussions with ship-building yards).  But... given the present older, high maintenance and comparably inefficient ships that make up the FOCLs fleet, the expectations of many of the FOCLs' loyalty members who cruise several times a year and the problem that Fred had in past years that when the price point rose, the occupancy rate fell... a move to Boutique cruising for FOCLs could be fraught.

 

A very obvious question is: would many of FOCLs remaining very loyal cruisers who really do believe that the company is "simply the best" and who "wouldn't cruise with anyone else" be happy for the company to change and would they be willing to pay for a more "premium" offer? FOCL's have now an average price of £194 per day per person. When the Fred's price rose from £180 to £193 in 2018, Fred lost over 25,000 passenger days per year. (By comparison,  SAGA currently costs £319 per day per person... interestingly SAGA's current occupancy rate is higher.)

 

We certainly have our own ideas about what would attract us book more FOCLs cruises. We've already had one personalise letter suggesting one particular cruise based on our recent booking history and we very much look forward to seeing what the new FOCLs leadership has to offer in the months to come.

 

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4 hours ago, twotravellersLondon said:

 

 

We, and many loyalty members that we know, have received exactly the same questionnaire over the last few months. In mid-May a number of higher tier loyalty members were also very well paid to take part in personal interviews by an independent research consultancy on their opinion of the Fred Olsen Cruise Line brand and to offer suggestions about how it might be improved. Some loyalty members on the highest levels have been asked to consider becoming members of focus groups.  

 

So very clearly, FOCLs was actively considering its offer and its market position before the resignation, for whatever reason, of Fred. Olsen Junior from the company and the immediate parent company on the 4th of July this year.

 

The average occupancy rate of 73% across the Bolette, Borealis and the Balmoral over the quarter would normally be encouraging but with a net result for the same quarter of a loss of NOK 108,000,000 (£9.3 million) and a net loss for the first six months of 2022 of NOK 412,000,000 (£35.5 million) the picture is far less rosy... especially as the ultimate parent company announced early last year that it anticipated that the cruise sector would be back to pre-covid levels by now. Currently it looks as if FOCLs will carry less passengers this year than the company carried in the year before the cruise pause...  Things don't look as good as they were forecast..

 

The new FOCLs leadership will certainly have a challenge. The easy answer would be to go into the growth sector of "boutique cruising" for the traditionalist market (Fred Jun. had a brilliant idea for specialist exploration ships at one stage and was reported as having had discussions with ship-building yards).  But... given the present older, high maintenance and comparably inefficient ships that make up the FOCLs fleet, the expectations of many of the FOCLs' loyalty members who cruise several times a year and the problem that Fred had in past years that when the price point rose, the occupancy rate fell... a move to Boutique cruising for FOCLs could be fraught.

 

A very obvious question is: would many of FOCLs remaining very loyal cruisers who really do believe that the company is "simply the best" and who "wouldn't cruise with anyone else" be happy for the company to change and would they be willing to pay for a more "premium" offer? FOCL's have now an average price of £194 per day per person. When the Fred's price rose from £180 to £193 in 2018, Fred lost over 25,000 passenger days per year. (By comparison,  SAGA currently costs £319 per day per person... interestingly SAGA's current occupancy rate is higher.)

 

We certainly have our own ideas about what would attract us book more FOCLs cruises. We've already had one personalise letter suggesting one particular cruise based on our recent booking history and we very much look forward to seeing what the new FOCLs leadership has to offer in the months to come.

 

 

We are well into Platinum level and had the option to agree to the survey which they paid for, but after I filled in to he preliminary questionnaire for that, I was not chosen.  I suspect they were not keen on on me saying things like we do not like doing ship's excursions in ports or use spa facilities etc.

 

I think the more upmarket cruise market is getting far too crowded and there are a heck of a lot of new build, approx 60,000 ton look alike ships around that are all very similar and are quite expensive to cruise on.  At least Fred now has Balmoral back in service and she can still go to ports the newer ships cannot, (e.g. dock centrally in Bordeaux).  We would like to see Braemar back, but will have to see what happens.  Saga used to have some interesting itineraries with their smaller ships, but apart from the Black Sea cruise, which of course did not happen, there is nothing of interest to us and again all cruises leave from the south coast.  I can see the point of some inclusive things, but insurance and being driven miles to port has no appeal whatsoever to us.  Also, as already mentioned by another poster, they are firmly into cruising from the UK, so anything that is a distance away means a very long cruise through well cruised waters.

 

We really do like the Renaissance ships, which are genuinely small and can dock in some great ports centrally, though Carnival Corp never used their Renaissance ships to best advantage.  They even axed Swan Hellenic, (our first cruise line) nippily after they took on the P&O group.  I do realise Swan were not big money makers in either of their incarnations, but I do feel that type of academically based, ship with excellent, very unusual, itineraries could have been worked on.  I suppose the expedition ships are filling that type of area, but at a very hefty price in most cases.  The balconies are lovely on the Renaisance ships too, but equally we have also been in outsides and even insides, which were ok since the public areas are not crowded and do give a more affordable alternative.

 

I think Fred needs to keep his current ships for now.  The outside/inside cabins do give an affordable option, for cruisers from the UK without being on massive ships, which will soon be the only option for the Carnival Corporation and other big organisation cruise lines.  Keeping even Fred's current ships will mean the prices will have to be higher than for the bigger ships, but some will not want to go on the bigger ships, so I believe there would be a market for him, as long as he keeps his service level and continues interesting cruises and cruises from places other than the south coast - a lot of us live up here 🙂

We went on Sky Princess last Oct/Nov on Med from the UK cruise and the ship was only half full, but it seemed really crowded - we would hate to be on that if it was full!

 

I do see that long term Fred would need to look beyond his current fleet, if he does indeed continue in the cruise market (we do wonder).  Beyond that, I would prefer to see something more like the Hurtigruten expedition ships.  A start with one like that could be a good move, as they have green credentials, but not charging totally silly cash for luxury items - even champagne is inclusive with Regent which is totally ridiculous IMO!

 

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14 hours ago, tring said:

 

We do not travel in school holidays and have never seen a child on a Fred ship.

 

There are no facilities for children other than the "Little Skippers Club" which used to be offered pre covid on some school.holiday cruises, not all of them.    I do not think they have re started that club as Fred was, (and I think still is), insisting on everyone being double vaccinated with a booster jab if appropriate.

 

 

 

 

I have seen children on Fred - outside of the school holidays - mainly infants - but a few school age  - and they ended up next to us - so after that we only chose the adults only itineraries.

 

 

Hope they bring some back.

 

Edited by paulatsea
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I was invited to a meeting in London to discuss our Fred experience - this was about 5 years ago when the prices were competitive.

 

It was suggested that they get some new ships as the fleet was tired - we often used to suffer from fumes coming through the air con for example.

Also mentioned was the lack of balconies.

Also the fluctuation in prices - although good value at that time people wanted some sort of fixed pricing or variable but consistent like saga where the prices increase towards the sail date and a price guarantee so that they were confident they would not be paying more than someone else for exactly the same cruise.

 

The general feeling was that the staff were excellent and the itineraries especially were very good and different to other lines.

Also people liked the fact that several cruises on each of the ships were adults only exclusively (even though not many children usually go with Fred) as many did not want to take any risk of having children on board.

 

One person suggested that they try and appeal to a younger crowd - but everyone else disagreed as one of the things that they liked was the more mature fellow passengers.


 

 

 

 

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12 minutes ago, paulatsea said:

I was invited to a meeting in London to discuss our Fred experience - this was about 5 years ago when the prices were competitive.

 

It was suggested that they get some new ships as the fleet was tired - we often used to suffer from fumes coming through the air con for example.

Also mentioned was the lack of balconies.

Also the fluctuation in prices - although good value at that time people wanted some sort of fixed pricing or variable but consistent like saga where the prices increase towards the sail date and a price guarantee so that they were confident they would not be paying more than someone else for exactly the same cruise.

 

The general feeling was that the staff were excellent and the itineraries especially were very good and different to other lines.

Also people liked the fact that several cruises on each of the ships were adults only exclusively (even though not many children usually go with Fred) as many did not want to take any risk of having children on board.

 

One person suggested that they try and appeal to a younger crowd - but everyone else disagreed as one of the things that they liked was the more mature fellow passengers.


 

 

 

 

I agree, pricing is an issue. We booked a cruise recently and the price dropped just a few days later which is really annoying, to the extent that we are putting off booking another one we had planned. Once bitten twice shy.

 

Im sure someone booking when the brochures came out is paying even more than I am and will be equally peeved.

 

We only book Fred to avoid the long drive south so “regional” departures are an essential and I’m sure I’m not alone in that point of view. New management please note,  if regional departures go and we have to travel anyway then we have wider choices and Fred would not be the first choice.

 

On every other line we travel in a balcony or suites but I can’t bring myself to pay the inflated prices on Fred for what is just a very basic balcony cabin. We did buy a “suite” once and it was just a glorified balcony and no extras (the suite dreams package is poor, no enhanced menus or services that I could see for the much higher price).

 

I do like the more unusual itinerary’s.

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13 hours ago, twotravellersLondon said:

(By comparison,  SAGA currently costs £319 per day per person... interestingly SAGA's current occupancy rate is higher.)

I don't know what your baseline is but we are booked on a Saga Christmas cruise in a standard balcony cabin (but not the lowest grade) at a cost of £223 per person per day.

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10 minutes ago, david05 said:

I don't know what your baseline

 

SAGA's latest 2022 Financial report.

 

The £319 is their average per person per day. Some suites are at least twice the price of a standard cabin and so that raises the average price.

 

We've likewise just returned from a SAGA cruise, also had a higher grade standard cabin and likewise paid less that the £319 average. 

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6 minutes ago, twotravellersLondon said:

 

SAGA's latest 2022 Financial report.

 

The £319 is their average per person per day. Some suites are at least twice the price of a standard cabin and so that raises the average price.

 

We've likewise just returned from a SAGA cruise, also had a higher grade standard cabin and likewise paid less that the £319 average. 

Thanks for the explanation.

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3 hours ago, david05 said:

Thanks for the explanation.

 

 Many thanks David.

 

We suppose that the real problem for FOCLs is the resistance of its current client base to paying more and the problems of attracting new clients to higher priced cabins where there is fierce competition from other cruise lines who are offering bright, modern attractive ships.

 

There are two elements to consider; the viability of FOCL's older, less environmental friendly and less efficient ships on the one hand and the acceptability of the hotel offer onboard these ships to the target demographic of new cruisers who might consider using FOCLs for the first time.

 

When we were on the Boudicca's last cruise, we were upgraded to a suite on the top accommodation deck. We soon discovered that only three of the nineteen suites on deck nine were occupied: one by a contractor and the other two by upgrades. Perhaps that was a sign of the times even then.

 

We think that FOCLs need to have a really radical rethink about what it's doing and how it's positioned in the current market. 

 

Long, long ago when we started cruising with Fred Olsen on the Black Prince, the commonly held belief was that Fred Sen. was quite happy to run at a loss of a couple of million a year because that was a small price to pay for the great benefits that his cruises brought to places in Norway. Since then Fred Sen's various business ventures in the oil, glass and energy sectors has poured billions into the Norwegian economy and the Olsen family have had a very significant positive impact on the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund. And... in those intervening years, cruising and cruise ships have dramatically changed.

 

We liked Fred Jun's idea of a fleet of two or four 600 pax exploration ships aimed at a boomer rather than a traditionalist market, and exploring ports and coastlines that many ships either couldn't or wouldn't consider. It was all set out and hinted at in a very detailed online questionnaire a two or three years ago. The idea of a personalised port exploration service (what do you want to do and we'll arrange that sort of thing), a quayside concierge at each port and a far fresher and more exciting dining option also appealed.

 

It didn't happen. It may well have been the events of 2020 got in the way, there was uncertainty about how this new venture would sit with the existing business or doubts that the suggested starting price per-person of £300 per day would attract a sufficient market.

 

We've cruised with Fred for almost 30 years and we do very much hope that new leadership will now breathe new life into the cruise line. We're certainly very keen to see what changes, if any, come about.

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42 minutes ago, twotravellersLondon said:

We suppose that the real problem for FOCLs is the resistance of its current client base to paying more and the problems of attracting new clients to higher priced cabins where there is fierce competition from other cruise lines who are offering bright, modern attractive ships.

I could live with the older Fred ships in a suite if the suite offering was better. I don’t mind paying for example for the Retreat on Celebrity as there is added value in terms of the services offered to suite guests. They could create the equivalent of Luminae in the smaller restaurants.

 

On Fred once you step out of your suite, which is not the plushest on the market, then you get exactly the same as someone paying a last minute saver fare for a few hundred pounds when you have paid a few thousand.

 

There is a lot of competition and the main USPs for Fred (imo) are the interesting itinerary’s and regional departures. Princess now offer some of the more interesting places to see and the new Ambassador ships are doing regional departures so there is more competition now than ever.

 

If they want my business in a higher priced cabin then I expect more for my money than just a slightly bigger cabin. Otherwise I can get the small ship experience with the big ship facilities in a ship within a ship in the Retreat, the Haven, the Yacht club etc.

 

 

 

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Having cruised with Fred. before the pandemic, and having two cruises booked during the initial phase of the pandemic cancelled I've not rebooked and sadly I don't feel I will at any point soon.

 

I've cruised with P&O and Cunard and Fred. Service on P&O is poor, but I've found Cunard and Fred. comparable, can be slightly better or worse depending on the cruise is just down to luck.  But Fred. have always offered more interesting intineraries than the Carnival brands, who tend to repeat the same cruises each year.  Fred. has much greater diversity and more interesting cruises.  Fred.'s ships also had a greater mix of solo cabins.  Those two things were the differentiators for me.

 

But it is the fleet that is the problem.  I love the Balmoral but I can't fathom why Fred. bought the two HAL ships, they just didn't sit right with the rest of the fleet.  Being larger than the Bouddica and Black Watch Fred. immediately limited where they could go (Kiel Canal transit for example).  Borealis is already 25 years old (but has just done one year of crusing with Fred.) and sadly it can't compete with Saga and Viking ships which are modern, efficient and better appointed inside.  It feels a dated product when compared to other cruise lines and isn't distinctive enough to stand out anymore.  And trying to step up with larger ships that than Bouddica and Black Watch in a market recovering from the worst of the pandemic and fill them to a high occupancy rate was always going to be a challenge. 

 

I was trying to think what Fred. stood for in my mind but I couldn't think what they are and what they are positioned as.  I was looking on the Fred. website about the "Olsen Way" https://www.fredolsencruises.com/the-olsen-way but it is all quite meaningless.  With cruise lines desparate to make profits after years of losses due to Covid, the market is ultra competitive and I sadly think Fred. are being crowded out.

 

I'm mainy a solo traveller and I won't justify the expense of a Fred. cruise for a dated product, despite the nice itineraries.  Solo prices for high-grade cabins are overpriced for what they are, so extra perks aren't going to encourage me to cruise again with Fred.

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On 8/17/2022 at 1:55 PM, richard_london said:

I've not rebooked and sadly I don't feel I will at any point soon.

 

Very sadly... neither do we. 

 

Over three decades we've spent well over the equivalent of a year cruising around the world in four of Fred Olsen's ships. We've virtually had every grade of cabin from the cheapest, lowliest, nosiest, bumpiest, furthest back effort on the now defunct Boudicca to the grand Owner's suite on the Balmoral... and we have a dizzyingly high ranking in the loyalty club... but we've not a clue as to what the 'Olsen Way' really is.

 

Over recent years one of Fred Jun's declared USPs  has been 'proud to sail our own course' as a 'family run company' but the truth of the matter that FOCL's doesn’t even own the ships... they are each individually owned by separate companies in a highly complex, multi-billion, international, corporate conglomerate beholding to institutional shareholders. 

 

'Smaller is better' is also an odd claim for a company that's increased it's capacity in four ships from 3,879 berths to 4,959 berths... and all of the FOCLs' ships currently operating tend to be bigger than anything that SAGA's, Regent Seven Seas, Viking and Oceana offer and that's before account is taken of several others providers.

 

Hand Crafted? What exactly does that mean for a cruise line.? How does it differ from other cruise lines?

 

'It's all about people' claims FOCLs but other companies that we've cruised with have an equally, if not greater, claim to the USP. 

 

'Travellers not tourists' FOCLs claim... when what's mostly on offer is yet another call into Lisbon, Spain or the Canary Islands and is no different from other cruise lines. 

 

The 'joy of the journey?' Is that  the bingo,  pub-style quizzes on sea-days and sitting in a darkened room listening to some lecture with absolutely no relevance to the area that the ship is sailing? Perhaps it's the one day that cruisers can have a 'free' ice-cream on deck! And, if 'looking out' is so important, why on earth did Fred introduce the inward-looking old ships being ditched by HAL? 

 

'Maritime' is not in the Olsen Family DNA... (scientifically impossible...  the family are not descended from mermaids or suchlike) The company, Bonheur, is currently overwhelmingly involved in renewable energy: wind farms, operating  a 'Wind Service' and in innovative, commercial, renewable energy technology. Bonheur has the majority shareholding in the Norwegian NHST media group. The 'Cruise Sector' is a very tiny part of their overall portfolio.

 

'Travelling respectfully' so as not to 'overwhelm the beauty or local people' is an odd claim when the Boudicca carrying up to 900 passengers and the Black Watch carrying up to 758 passengers have both been replaced by a couple of old ships carrying well-over 1,300 passengers each.

 

'Elegance and simplicity' are not words which automatically spring to our minds when the refurbishment of the public spaces of the old ships that have replaced the Boudicca and the Black Watch are considered.

 

And, very, very sadly 'In the best of company' has, in our very considered opinion, been undermined by FOCL's fare differentials... we received a personalised letter offering one particular cruise from £1,999 but that was the lowest possible saver fare for the most undesirable, inside-cabin on board the ship. When we looked at a suite, for comparison, and added essential like; WIFI, drinks and gratuities the price was well over 7 x higher. How on earth are enormous differentials like that every going to help forge any sense of community on board when, on the one hand, some will find it virtually impossible to obtain excursions and others will be treated and favoured at every turn.  

 

These vague, unsupportable 'Unique Selling Point' claims are really damaging the brand for us... with the uncompetitive pricing structure and the fact that it's really difficult to trust any company that advertises (terrace) cabins as balcony cabins when they don't have a balcony is very seriously deterring us from booking... although we still consider and compare almost every offer. 

 

Part of the problem may lie way back in May 2018 when Fred. Jun. was reported in the travel press commenting on putting prices up and saying of his loyal customer base... “A lot of them are sailing three or four times with us a year, so it might just mean they cut down on the number of cruises or they go from a balcony cabin to an outside.”  Well in the following year, between 2018 and 2019, Fred's revenue fell by about £11 million and his occupancy rate fell by about 2%. Perhaps there was another factor that hadn't been considered... 'them/they' could simply cruise with Fred's competitors. 

 

So we really hope that new leadership at FOCLs will look very carefully at what many of the people who used to loyally cruise with them now think about the brand and why those people are now opting to spend their precious resources with different cruise lines. We're sure that there are lots of people who would welcome a new fresh approach but we do worry that, when compared with modern fleets, the old, outdated, less-efficient, expensive and less environmental friendly 25 year old ex-Rotterdam (now the Borealis) and the 22 year old ex-Amsterdam (now the Bolette), that Holland America Lines ditched for good commercial and environmental reasons, may be serious mill-stones dragging FOCLs down in our competitive, environmentally-aware world.

 

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On 8/11/2022 at 7:57 PM, twotravellersLondon said:

 

 

We, and many loyalty members that we know, have received exactly the same questionnaire over the last few months. In mid-May a number of higher tier loyalty members were also very well paid to take part in personal interviews by an independent research consultancy on their opinion of the Fred Olsen Cruise Line brand and to offer suggestions about how it might be improved. Some loyalty members on the highest levels have been asked to consider becoming members of focus groups.  

 

So very clearly, FOCLs was actively considering its offer and its market position before the resignation, for whatever reason, of Fred. Olsen Junior from the company and the immediate parent company on the 4th of July this year.

 

The average occupancy rate of 73% across the Bolette, Borealis and the Balmoral over the quarter would normally be encouraging but with a net result for the same quarter of a loss of NOK 108,000,000 (£9.3 million) and a net loss for the first six months of 2022 of NOK 412,000,000 (£35.5 million) the picture is far less rosy... especially as the ultimate parent company announced early last year that it anticipated that the cruise sector would be back to pre-covid levels by now. Currently it looks as if FOCLs will carry less passengers this year than the company carried in the year before the cruise pause...  Things don't look as good as they were forecast..

 

The new FOCLs leadership will certainly have a challenge. The easy answer would be to go into the growth sector of "boutique cruising" for the traditionalist market (Fred Jun. had a brilliant idea for specialist exploration ships at one stage and was reported as having had discussions with ship-building yards).  But... given the present older, high maintenance and comparably inefficient ships that make up the FOCLs fleet, the expectations of many of the FOCLs' loyalty members who cruise several times a year and the problem that Fred had in past years that when the price point rose, the occupancy rate fell... a move to Boutique cruising for FOCLs could be fraught.

 

A very obvious question is: would many of FOCLs remaining very loyal cruisers who really do believe that the company is "simply the best" and who "wouldn't cruise with anyone else" be happy for the company to change and would they be willing to pay for a more "premium" offer? FOCL's have now an average price of £194 per day per person. When the Fred's price rose from £180 to £193 in 2018, Fred lost over 25,000 passenger days per year. (By comparison,  SAGA currently costs £319 per day per person... interestingly SAGA's current occupancy rate is higher.)

 

We certainly have our own ideas about what would attract us book more FOCLs cruises. We've already had one personalise letter suggesting one particular cruise based on our recent booking history and we very much look forward to seeing what the new FOCLs leadership has to offer in the months to come.

 

I've only cruised once with Fred (although had several cancelled once the Pandemic hit) but would love to do so again. The biggest thing that is stopping me is the prices. Whilst I am retired, I have a number of things competing for my time and that makes a late booking quite difficult for me. The launch prices are crazy, especially for solo travellers like me. Whilst the Saga pricing is significantly higher, they of course are all-balcony ships and include drinks, tips, transport to port and insurance (and a few, largely dull excursions).

Fred has always been middle-market and with a woeful choice of smaller ships in that market, I am sure there is high demand but Fred's pricing policy will undoubtedly put people off. They also need to ensure interesting itineraries. I tend to sail on P&O's smaller ships more often than any other line but their itineraries are becoming incredibly repetitive and boring. I have yet to try Ambassador but their itineraries are much more attractive and I would opt for an interesting itinerary on a basic ship over a dull one on a more luxurious and/or larger ship.

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18 minutes ago, Britboys said:

I've only cruised once with Fred (although had several cancelled once the Pandemic hit) but would love to do so again. The biggest thing that is stopping me is the prices. Whilst I am retired, I have a number of things competing for my time and that makes a late booking quite difficult for me. The launch prices are crazy, especially for solo travellers like me. Whilst the Saga pricing is significantly higher, they of course are all-balcony ships and include drinks, tips, transport to port and insurance (and a few, largely dull excursions).

Fred has always been middle-market and with a woeful choice of smaller ships in that market, I am sure there is high demand but Fred's pricing policy will undoubtedly put people off. They also need to ensure interesting itineraries. I tend to sail on P&O's smaller ships more often than any other line but their itineraries are becoming incredibly repetitive and boring. I have yet to try Ambassador but their itineraries are much more attractive and I would opt for an interesting itinerary on a basic ship over a dull one on a more luxurious and/or larger ship.

The pricing is ridiculous. My forthcoming cruise has now reduced in price 4 times in the last month. It has put me off ever booking anytime before the final fortnight. Goodness knows how much it has changed since the launch.
 

They currently have single cruisers offers which may be of interest to you.

 

I don’t think demand is high given the number of cabins which remain unsold and by now the guarantees will have been issued. Friends were on in July and felt the ship was quiet given it was the main summer season (some cabins will be out of commission for quarantine of course).

 

The Scottish government have taken one of the Ambassador ships over the winter for Ukrainian refugees so it is out of commission until May. When it comes back on stream I’m sure people will try the local departures. They go from Dundee up here which is just as handy as Rosyth where Fred berth.

 

I have another 2 cruises with Fred in the pipeline, both more unusual itinerary’s but won’t be in a hurry to book again.

 

I hope the new management take a good look at things. TwotravellersLondon,s very eloquent post above would be a good place to start. Take a serious look at what is actually being offered, rather than verbiage.

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8 hours ago, Britboys said:

I've only cruised once with Fred (although had several cancelled once the Pandemic hit) but would love to do so again. The biggest thing that is stopping me is the prices. Whilst I am retired, I have a number of things competing for my time and that makes a late booking quite difficult for me. The launch prices are crazy, especially for solo travellers like me. Whilst the Saga pricing is significantly higher, they of course are all-balcony ships and include drinks, tips, transport to port and insurance (and a few, largely dull excursions).

Fred has always been middle-market and with a woeful choice of smaller ships in that market, I am sure there is high demand but Fred's pricing policy will undoubtedly put people off. They also need to ensure interesting itineraries. I tend to sail on P&O's smaller ships more often than any other line but their itineraries are becoming incredibly repetitive and boring. I have yet to try Ambassador but their itineraries are much more attractive and I would opt for an interesting itinerary on a basic ship over a dull one on a more luxurious and/or larger ship.

 

Indeed your position booking for single occupancy is a difficult one for most, if not all holidays and I agree with a lot of what you say.  I do agree that Fred's "charge highest prices at onset" is certainly not good, though must admit we are rather wearying of having things booked long in advance anyway and there are a lot of cruise offers at present, to some extent.  Health permitting, we hope to return to more along distance holidays, (sometimes including cruises) from winter 23/24, though cruise lines which are only offering "from the UK" cruises are of no interest to us there and Fred has no sign of returning to the more interesting long distance holidays he was doing, particularly on Boudicca.  Hence we have nothing booked ahead with him and no thoughts of doing so at present.  We also, like you, have no thoughts of paying large amounts to cruise to run of the mill destinations on any cruise line whatsoever or paying a premium for perks which are of no interest to us.

 

Fred is certainly giving some very cheap last minute prices and as there are still some varied itineraries from Northern ports planned, we may be tempted by last minute in future years, but somehow I doubt there will be so many really good offers around then with any cruise line, but we will see.  Indeed we paid less than half the up front booking price for a recent Ambassador cruise and there were only 685 passengers on the ship as well, so about half full.  Not that we will be returning to them though, the slap dash attitude to safety (especially on tender transfers) and the unbearable heat in our first cabin being a big part of that - it made me think about the time CMV dropped a lady into the water during her medical evacuation, though not all itineraries have tender transfers.  P&O are also giving some very good late offers, though do not improve on their early prices for some cruises, which were priced very well indeed at launch (e.g. translocations).  P&O have traditionally been cheaper at launch, though it remains to be seen how that pans out in the future.  P&O have been OK in the past for us if we just want a cruise to warmer waters, or when we had not visited that many cruise ports.  We have three warmer weather cruises booked with them for this winter, since we felt it would be difficult to travel to more exotic locations so soon after covid and looks like we made the right decision there.  However, smaller ships with good itineraries are certainly our preference and as you say there are not many options for that left now, so there may be a space for Fred - we will have to see.  We liked Fred's book three for the price of two offers, but that did restrict his offers to his current passengers as others were unlikely to want to book three cruises up front.  

 

I have just acquired a Blue Light Card and was looking through the offers to see that Fred is offering a 5% discount for previous Fred customers (combines with Ocean's discount) and the Blue Light website also says 5% off any current offer for new to Fred customers.  I do think that overall Fred, (as well as other cruise lines), really needs to attract new cruisers as the older ones will not be cruising forever and often the older cruisers are not the biggest spenders once on the ships either, as was discussed in recent days on the P&O boards.  P&O are giving an onboard spend for Blue Light Card holders, though with quite a few restrictions whilst Royal Caribbean are giving a 10% discount on the cruise price, which is good, - but perhaps not good enough for us.........

 

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9 minutes ago, tring said:

 

Indeed your position booking for single occupancy is a difficult one for most, if not all holidays and I agree with a lot of what you say.  I do agree that Fred's "charge highest prices at onset" is certainly not good, though must admit we are rather wearying of having things booked long in advance anyway and there are a lot of cruise offers at present, to some extent.  Health permitting, we hope to return to more along distance holidays, (sometimes including cruises) for  winter 23/24, though cruise lines only offering "from the UK" cruises are no real help to us there and Fred has no sign of returning to the more interesting long distance holidays he was doing, particularly on Boudicca.  Hence we have nothing booked ahead with him and no thoughts of doing so.  We also, like you, have no thoughts of paying large amounts to cruise to run of the mill destinations on any cruise line.

 

Fred is certainly giving some very cheap last minute prices and as there are still some varied itineraries from Northern ports planned, we may be tempted by last minute in future years, but somehow I doubt there will be so many really good offers around then, but we will see.  Indeed we paid less than half the up front booking price for a recent Ambassador cruise and there were only 685 passengers on the ship as well, so about half full.  P&O are also giving some very good late offers, though do not improve on their early prices for some cruises, which were priced very well indeed at launch.  P&O have traditionally been cheaper at launch, though it remains to be seen how that pans out in the future.  However, smaller ships with good itineraries are certainly our preference and as you say there are not many options for that left now, so there may be a space for Fred - we will have to see.  We liked Fred's book three for the price of two offers, but that does restrict his offers to his current passengers as others are unlikely to want to book three cruises up front.  

 

I have just acquired a Blue Light Card and was looking through the offers to see that Fred is offering a 5% discount for previous Fred customers (combinable with Ocean's discount) and the Blue Light website also says 5% off any current offer for new to Fred customers.  I do think that overall Fred, (as well as other cruise lines), really need to attract new cruisers as the older ones will not be cruising forever and often the older cruisers are not the biggest spenders once on the ships either as was discussed in recent days on the P&O boards.  P&O are giving an onboard spend for Blue Light Card holders, though with quite a few restrictions and Royal Caribbean are giving a 10% discount on the cruise price, which is good, - but perhaps not good enough for us.........

 

Yes, there are some very cheap deals available at the moment but I suspect that perhaps some 'maturer' pax are still somewhat reluctant to cruise whilst Covid is a significant 'threat'. Unfortunately, the smaller P&O ships have far fewer 'cheap deals' than the larger ones. My forthcoming cruise on Aurora has been sold out for some time...

Fred really is out of step with the vast majority of cruise lines in terms of pricing policy. If Fred Junior is taking some time out maybe whoever has the rudder will make some changes...

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23 minutes ago, Britboys said:

Yes, there are some very cheap deals available at the moment but I suspect that perhaps some 'maturer' pax are still somewhat reluctant to cruise whilst Covid is a significant 'threat'. Unfortunately, the smaller P&O ships have far fewer 'cheap deals' than the larger ones. My forthcoming cruise on Aurora has been sold out for some time...

Fred really is out of step with the vast majority of cruise lines in terms of pricing policy. If Fred Junior is taking some time out maybe whoever has the rudder will make some changes...

 

Yes late offers not coming up really for the smaller P&O ships.  One of our winter cruises is Aurora round trip Caribbean,which we got at a decent price at launch, (it sold out within a few hours).  The others on Azura are cheaper again.  They are longer, (16nt and 20 nt), translocation cruises with midship, deck C balcony cabins (so double depth balconies).  We booked those Azura cruises for only a tad over £80pppn, but again for a single person that would work out more expensive.  Also if there is not much space on the open decks, staying on a balcony would be far less appealing if on your own IMO, but no problem for us if the weather is warm.  All a bit of a trial for us though since apart from an Arcadia Baltic in summer 2019 and a solar eclipse and northern lights, it has been a number of years since we did many P&O cruises, yet have a good few of those, (along with Swan Hellenic when linked to P&O), under our belts.  

 

I think we will see changes and with other cruise lines as well, they cannot keep the same clientele for ever and P&O have made it clear they want to go for the family market, though I do think we may still see some good deals off season with them.  There is a lot of choice out there, everyone just has to find out what is right for them,

 

Cheers,

 

Barbara

 

 

 

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The news about Fred Jnr resigning has finally made social media.  It has been picked up from a couple of periodicals which I think are trade rags.  Peter Deer is quoted in Travel Weekly as saying (basically that) Fred has been with the cruise line through thick and thin and just made the decision to step down, having said that this was the time to do so.  That is not a direct quote, but no other detail except niceties as I understand it.

 

I was feeling uneasy about the future of the company when I first saw this mentioned here, especially as it was done quietly.  There is also a comment by Peter Deer that the board have not  yet decided what to do about replacing Fred Jnr as chairman.  I wonder if more information will come out now it has made public.  I can see journalists and others with an interest in the company digging as far as they can in the near future.

 

The deal with the newly acquired ships, as we understood it, was that there were two payments to be made in the last two years out of a five year agreement, so those payments will now be drawing near.  We have no big business knowledge though.

 

 

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