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Are FOCLs' itineraries as good as they were when Fred Jun was at the helm?


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In the good old days "Fred" certainly won Cruise Critics' "Best for Itineraries" for five consecutive years in the twenty-teenies.

 

"Fred" took us to Ny-Ålesund, the glaciers and Walrus of Magdalena Fjord by the light of the Midnight sun and to within sight of the Arctic icepack. We even travelled 900 miles up the Amazon to Manaus and heard the Amazonas Philharmonic play in the Opera House. Fred took us through the Corinth Canal on the largest ship ever to make the transit. Fred had us immensely well entertained in their home by the Compay Ramón in Santigo De Cuba.

 

But this decade... is FOCLs resting on fading laurels?

 

In Greenland... FOCL now only goes as far as Nuuk. On Svalbard all of FOCL's ship are too big and too environmentally polluting to travel as far as Ny-Ålesund and FOCLs will not be allowed into Hornsund.

 

In Norway this last season Honningsvåg seems to have been missed out on cruises... but smaller, modern ships reached there. (We were on one!) 

 

And very, very soon (2026 at the latest) Norway's UNESCO fjords, including  Geirangerfjord, will only be accessible to zero emission ships. (Only electric ships fully relying on batteries, or a ship that's hybrid will be allowed in these fjords... what chance has FOCLs with its existing fleet?)

 

In the Baltic... the FOCLs offer seems to be pretty ordinary and tired. It's the same with near Europe. 

 

FOCLs are advertising a dozen cruises to Gibraltar... almost 30 cruises that touch on the popular cruise destination of Funchal. Over 30 FOCLs cruises will visit Lisbon. But we can't find a single FOCLs ship that will visit Seville. FOCLs now doesn’t have a single ship that can navigate the Corinth Canal... they're all too big!

 

We can't find a single FOCL cruise to Cuba now. The Braemar was due to be in Havana three times in January 2024... but that lovely ship's been ditched.

 

FOCLs has no cruises to Manaus. Reviews of the recent South America and Antarctica on FOCLs' own site comment on missed ports, more tender ports than expected and comment on so many ports visited on a Sunday when "everything was closed." 

 

 

So what would FOCLs now need to put together "expertly hand-craft" to make an interesting itinerary for folks that simply don't want to spend 80 days or more away from home? What would be the ports? What excursions should be offered that didn't require a second mortgage? And what would help to make the trip more enjoyable and more interesting to folk who have little or no interest in sitting in a darkened room... listening to a random "lecture" about whatever?

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  • 3 weeks later...

Sadly, this seems to be the case with most mainstream cruise lines now.

I'm a long-time P&O cruiser and the smaller ships always used to call at some smaller, more interesting ports. Their itineraries up to summer '25 have not enticed me to book as it really is "same old, same old". They seem to be avoiding ports that require tendering (apart from Guernsey, where the call is often abandoned due to sea state!). They also concentrate on longer itineraries for the two smallest ships too, with very few having less than 19 nights.

Regular Saga pax are also complaining about the boring, repetitive itineraries and "too many cruises to the Canaries".

Maybe once they start getting near to recouping their 'pandemic pause' losses they will think about more interesting itineraries? Or maybe not...

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