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Fred Has Appointed a New CEO


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28 minutes ago, twotravellersLondon said:

Peter Deer has reverted to "Pete Deer" and has become Chief Financial Officer. It will be interesting to see if he retains his directorships of eight Fred Olsen Companies.

 

Perhaps the Olsen Family are less than please with the recent performance of FOCLs.

 

I am sure they will always want to improve any business, but the new appointment of a CEO from outside fills a post that has not been filled since Fred Jnr resigned as I understand, so not a downgrading of Peter Deer.  Just that things have been somewhat in limbo and I suspect  Anette was likely having a big input, with her place on the board of the cruise line.  

 

Certainly does not look like they are in any way about to "throw in the towel" regards the cruise business at present though.  Maybe they will sort out that pricing, so early bookers do not loose out so much, though with so few balconies, they will not become particularly cheap.  That is noticeably a very big difference with P&O's Aurora - her balconies and, indeed cruise prices overall, are very different to those of the much bigger ships with the economy of scale.  Arcadia is about the same size as Aurora, but has more balconies, so they are less expensive.  P&O did have some very good deals over covid, but prices rising now.  

 

You may have noticed, from another thread that we have had a couple of upgrades for a November cruise on Borealis, one on a no charge basis as well.  So at least they are not ignoring people who have booked at full price, though it is at a time of year that is difficult for any holiday company to sell their products, so we had hoped there may be some improvement on what we had booked.  Will be interesting to see how it goes and will report back as we have not been on Fred for a number of months.  We did a few cruises to nowhere as well as a Canaries, a Baltic and also a  Med one with some very unusual ports since covid and overall they were good, despite some hiccups on the return to cruising (which was very apparent on all cruise lines as ships got started again).  It was very apparent though that Fred were putting in extra training for new staff and striving to get processes up to scratch, whilst a lot of their old staff had returned, so the atmosphere was every bit as good as pre covid.  Customer service both on land and on the ships has been really good as well.  Although the HAL ships cannot get into the smallest ports, there are still some good itineraries offered on them though, compared to the run of the mill ports of other lines and regional departures are being maintained, which are of interest to a lot of their passengers.

 

Will indeed be interesting to see what happens going forward, a lot of changes are happening throughout the cruise industry, so Fred will not escape them.  

 

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Ok, so I effectively got it wrong about Peter Deer as in theory he was/is the CEO, but our thought processes did not entirely see it that way, since Fred Jnr., (as chair of the board) had obviously had a lot to do with decisions regarding the cruise line.  In various brochures and other publicity material, over covid times,  it was made well known that a lot was in fact, "owner decision" e.g. the choice of furnishings, carpets and materials used in the refurbishments of the ships.  It is also known that Fred Jnr, regularly boarded the ships when they were in Tenerife, where he lives.  The staff always busied themselves getting everything looking good when approaching the Canaries in case he did join them.  We had many conversations with senior staff in the ships post covid as well, often commenting on certain things that did seem a bit silly, to say the least, e.g. some plants and shrubs, (some plastic and some real), which had been placed outside the bar area if one of the ships onto the open rear deck.  In such a position they cut off any views off the ship from the immediate bar area.  Like many other things, we were told they were there because of "owner decision".  Hence how much free reign Peter Deer was actually given regards the overall decisions on the cruise line, is a bit unclear to us.

 

As Annette has remained in the board of the. Cruise line since Fred Jnr resigned, again we  do wonder how much may have been influenced by her views, after all no other board members could really argue with her, though I am sure their views will be aired and possibly considered.

 

Whether Peter Deer wanted to continue as CEO, we will likely never know, but in his position I may well be thinking it is time to scale down towards retirement and that may well be the case with his thoughts/wishes.

 

There are also things about the running of the cruise lines that we feel needs to be modernised.  One point being that they have not, as yet brought in a option for flexible dining times.  Those HAL ships were originally run with both set and flexible dining options being offered.  Speaking with one of Fred's Maitres d'hotel, we really got the impression he did not want the hassle of bringing in that option, yet the lack of a flexible dining option is undoubtedly off putting for many new to Fred customers as well as some previous customers.  It is also part of our decision to look at other cruise lines for certain cruises.   There are things in the company that does need to move into the modern world - their older customers will not be around forever, the company must move forward.  Even that choice of refurbishment was done in a pretty old fashioned manner, with some strange colour choices that are not really in tune with the taste of the average cruiser.  The quality of refurbishment was good though as is the condition of the structure of those ships, so a lot must have been spent on them.

 

New blood may be very good for the company, but that remains to be seen.  It is also possible that the new CEO wil be given more autonomy to run the cruise line than Peter Deer ever had and may even have a much bigger salary, (either immediately or as potential bonuses etc.).  Whatever happens though, I am sure Annette will be keeping a close eye on the cruise line.

 

 

Edited by tring
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3 hours ago, tring said:

I am sure they will always want to improve any business, but the new appointment of a CEO from outside fills a post that has not been filled since Fred Jnr resigned as I understand, so not a downgrading of Peter Deer.  Just that things have been somewhat in limbo and I suspect  Anette was likely having a big input, with her place on the board of the cruise line.  

 

 

Fred Olsen Jun was never CEO... he took over as Chairman after his father Fred Olsen Sen vacated that position in 2008/2009. Peter Deer's role of Managing Director has been replaced by that of Chief Operations Officer. A new management structure with new titles but Samantha Stimpson, rather than Pete Deer, will head the company as CEO.

 

Samantha Stimpson is an international leader in the turnaround and transformation in flagging companies. She will be in charge. She has a considerable track record and often spends about two years radically refocusing any one company. Business turnaround is the process of avoiding failure or stabilising a struggling business and making changes that lead to sustained improvements and regrowth. It's often the last stage before voluntary insolvency. Samantha Stimpson's role is deep radical change of the business structure... not looking paint charts and carpet samples.

 

It's very likely that Samantha Stimpson has been "head-hunted" to transform it into a viable proposition within a couple of years or so... if that's possible. The decision will have been made at Bonheur Board level some time ago and followed through by Anette Olsen in her role as the the proprietor of Fred. Olsen & Co. which is responsible for the management of the Oslo Stock Exchange-listed company Bonheur ASA. 

 

"Times they are changing." Perhaps the Olsen Family have also asked  "What's the point of continually subsidising a small company doing far from well and drowning in debt." 

 

 

 

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I would not be at all surprised if Samantha Stimpson had been head hunted for the role and as I had suggested in my most recent post above, (which I edited a short while before you posted your last comment here), I suspect she will be given a lot more autonomy to run the cruise line, whilst Peter Deer seemed to have a remit that covered little more than the day to day running of the cruise line, with even basic things being, "Owner decision".  Anette in particular, was apparently of the opinion that the cruise line "Did not make enough money" a number of years ago.  That was actually mentioned to me by a Fred Captain whilst I was sat next to him at the dinner table, so not just rumour.  Any business will always be looking to improve.  However as I said, they are obviously not thinking of throwing in the towel at this stage, or the new appointment would not have been made.

 

I am sure she will be tasked with improving the financial side, (though that has apparently improved this year as cruising has recovered).  She will also need to ensure the company provides a good product, which is attractive to potential customers, both past and new to Fred.  She comes from a German company who have TUI and Phoenix Reisen within their brands and they are very much alive and kicking.

 

Interesting Fred Snr is still taking an interest in the cruise line, having recently visited one of the ships whilst it was in port. 

 

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1 hour ago, tring said:

She comes from a German company who have TUI and Phoenix Reisen within their brands and they are very much alive and kicking.

 

But Samantha Stimpson is from Essex and has very considerable top management experience in the UK... and her recent history includes dealing with insolvent companies.

 

Ten years ago she was with TUI based variously in Crawley/ Surbiton/ Scandinavia. At that time ehe was accountable for all of the Groups Sales Channels, Operations and Customer Service functions . 

It was then that Samantha Stimpson created and delivered against a 5 year plan to bring online & offline together to transform the business improving end to end customer experiences, customer retention, internal engagement and retention and significantly improving profit. She also reduced cost of sale and customer acquisition, increased customer satisfaction, reduced complaints and compensation.

 

Since then she was Head of Operational Development with Thomas Cook and Head of Retail with Thomas Cook.

 

More recently she was with the FTI Group. Between October 2030 and September 2022 she was contracted to the London based Rollings Butt LLP to support the liquidation of the now defunct STA Travel. (It went into liquidation on 25 September 2020 following an insolvency filing in Switzerland.)

 

Rollings Butt LLP is a firm of restructuring and insolvency professionals. They specialise in advising the stakeholders of companies in financial difficulties, on restructuring and reorganisation issues for solvent companies and are committed to providing value for money work in an area where larger firms may be conflicted or struggle to be cost effective.

 

Déjà vu? 

 

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4 hours ago, twotravellersLondon said:

More recently she was with the FTI Group. Between October 2030 and September 2022 she was contracted to the London based Rollings Butt LLP to support the liquidation of the now defunct STA Travel.

 

The bright folk will have realised that 2030 should be 2020... must wear the specks!

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16 hours ago, twotravellersLondon said:

 

The bright folk will have realised that 2030 should be 2020... must wear the specks!

 

Your posts are a lot more reliable than mine though, I suspect you cut and paste the long ones in, which is sensible, but I am very rarely that organised 🙂

 

The past experiences (some fairly recent) of Samantha Stimpson, which you have been able to dig out, are certainly a tad worrying, I certainly agree.  However it does also look like this could be a possibility of bringing the line into a better position, as you mentioned in #5, so we do need to wait and see what happens.  I do feel there are efficiencies and improvements that could be made in the way the cruise line operates and, in some respects, it needs to be brought into the modern world. 

 

I had picked up that Samantha had previously worked for Thomas Cook and also for First Choice.  Fred's press report said she comes to them from FTI Touristik as "Chief Commercial Officer", whatever that may be.  From a web search it is an extremely big organisation which deals in many countries around the world.  Phoenix Reisen and Tui (Germany, presumably as the parent company), are two tour operators listed, though lots of others I do not recognise at all.  So where she is currently based is unclear to me.  She certainly has a wide range of experience in the holiday business.

 

If the company wanted to give up immediately, then I feel they would have just packed in well before now.  When speaking to one of the Captains last year, he did say that they were all thankful that the family had supported the cruise line's return -  they could easily have walked away from it.  The Companies which are purely cruise operations have no choice of course, but for Bonheur it was a very different matter, walking away could have been relatively easy.  It was always said that Fred Snr had a soft spot for the cruise line and I still wonder if he had an influence on that decision initially.  However, it is a business and must make a good profit going forward.

 

 

 

Edited by tring
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7 hours ago, tring said:

I do feel there are efficiencies and improvements that could be made in the way the cruise line operates and, in some respects, it needs to be brought into the modern world. 

 

Faced with extremely difficult circumstances, companies often hire a turnaround specialist to help them back to profitability if that's possible, or to advise them to liquidate, if the business can't be saved.

 

Turnaround experts need to be outsiders and need to have objectivity. A specialist can make unpopular recommendations and decisions that are in the best interest of the company. Sometime if problems are temporary a company will be able to employ a consultant... when the problems are more serious a turnaround CEO may be the only solution.

 

In this case, it's likely to have been the Board of Bonheur who made the decision to bring in a turnaround CEO and that would have been some time ago. In this case, an industry specialist with a background in tourism has been selected. 

 

A turnaround CEO is often with the company for 2 - 4 years. It's likely that clear and measurable goals will have been set. The job of a turnaround CEO isn't to run the company but to advise the owners... not vice-versa.

 

We suspect that Samantha Stimpson's first step will be a top-to-bottom viability assessment of the business to determine its prospects for survival. 

 

So what future has a company with four vintage ships,  (Braemar is still on the books and is costing bags of cash to keep afloat.) Is FOCLs really unable to compete with the mainstream cruise-lines and is it relying on a canny elderly demographic in the Norther Britain who are reluctant to pay for any excursions or additional services? Is it the fact that FOCLs have spent over £100,000,000 to resuscitate that market and failed?

 

The question then might be, will a radical strategic reform transform the company's fortunes... and that will look at all manner of things including the ships, ports, target clientele and so on and would these strategic changes produce a viable, if different, company.

 

If it can't... should the company transform itself in to a viable attractive niche market in the same was as, for instance, SAGA has done... smaller ships, all balcony cabins, all-inclusive and with assistance in getting to and from the port... or model itself on Ambassador... or  has FOCLs come to the party too late for that one. 

 

Might it be that Fred. Jun's idea of launching two purpose built exploration ships carrying less than 1,000 passengers with each ship offering guests a bespoke experience at £500+ pppd? (It was reported that discussions had already started with ship-building yards prior to covid.)

 

 

While we can presume, speculate and wonder to our heart's content... only time will tell.

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19 hours ago, twotravellersLondon said:

 

 

While we can presume, speculate and wonder to our heart's content... only time will tell.

 

Absolutely, only time will tell and we need to wait and see.

 

Thank you for sharing that info on how the business world works in this type of situation, though it is pretty much as I had expected and big change could well be ahead.

 

As new builds take a few years to produce, I do not see that being an option now, unless the company start to make the sort of profits that will satisfy Anette and the Bonheur board meanwhile.  I remember you saying in the past that a lot of companies are looking at some kind of inclusive offering, which allows a realistic price at point of sale, so income is assured.  I can see that could be a way forward for Fred, but a choice of what is included will be far better IMO than set options, like Saga offer.  Whilst the Saga model does work well for some people, a lot of those extras, (mini bus transfers, insurance, panoramic coach tours), are not of any use or interest to other people, including us.  That makes their £300pppn totally unrealistic, especially as their itineraries have become a lot more mundane since their new ships were introduced.  Shame about those itineraries as we had looked at some interesting Saga options in the past.  Instead of Fred having different offers that keep changing, he could offer a choice of those options (perhaps more than one and perhaps with an OBC) from the outset.  Following what any other company is doing, will not work, Fred needs to keep their current differences as USP's IMO, (e.g. the unusual itineraries and the more spacious, relaxing ships with a decent quality of service - though realistically, I do see some cutbacks ahead).  Ambassador is very different, nothing like the quality of Fred, so yes, some customers will go for that very cheap option and make do with leaking ceilings, cabins that cannot be temperature controlled to reasonable levels and tender operations that are positively lethal - having experienced their tender transfers, I can see why their previous incarnation of CMV (run by the same people) dropped a lady into the sea as she was being medically evacuated a number of years back.  After our one cruise on Ambassador last year, we will certainly not be back.

 

The main competition for Fred for many people are Aurora and Arcadia, but how long they be around is another unknown.  Carnival are moving P&O over to budget cruises for the family market and the passengers who are currently willing to pay a higher price for Aurora and Arcadia, are not of big interest to Carnival, nor are the newer, bigger ships of interest to many of those passengers. P&O cutbacks have reduced the standard of those ships and customer service considerably, whilst Fred has maintained his - so far anyway.  My comment on Fred coming into the modern world is with his change of mind about flexible dining.  Over covid we were booked on that option for a couple of cruises on the ex HAL ships and there is plenty of space on the ex HAL ships to operate that, but Fred has not bothered to bring it in.  Set sittings are not what many people expect now, though there is no reason why set sittings could still be an option for one floor as was the original Fred plan, with the upper deck part of the MDR's used for flexible dining.  Smoking on balconies is also seen as a problem for many potential passengers and also must increase his insurance bill, as the fire risk is what eventually made other companies ban smoking on balconies. 

 

The lack of those winter cruises done by Boudicca are also a big loss to us, but I can see Fred on his own will not get good deals for flights in the way the far bigger cruise organisations can and a lot of people will not want to arrange their own flights.  Would a link up with another holiday company produce the possibility of re-introducing those distant cruises with flights, perhaps with an optional land stay/tour options, or even as a link up with a chunk of a world cruise?  We would have loved to book half of Bollette's around Africa cruise next month, if that had been an option at an earlier stage, but those part cruise options have only been brought in as late options, when arranging a longer holiday did not seem viable to us any more.

 

Anyway, no point my musing, as you say, what will be will be.  Meanwhile we are making the most of what is still available and I am sure we will find some travel possibilities of interest to us in the future, possibly more land hols.

 

Enjoy whatever you have planned.

 

Edited by tring
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As suggested in an earlier post, it will be interesting to see how long it takes for Fred under the new CEO to introduce a sensible pricing policy which might encourage people to book earlier again, secure in the knowledge that they are not going to be badly disadvantaged by fire sales nearer the sail date.

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On 10/19/2023 at 1:36 PM, tring said:

She is to take up the post no later than Feb 1st 2024.  Announcement on a press release, accessible from Fred's website:-

 

https://media.fredolsencruises.com/pressreleases/fred-olsen-cruise-lines-welcomes-samantha-stimpson-as-its-new-ceo-3279874

 

 

 

Posted this before reading all the interesting and informative posts above!

 

 

Hmmm. The article doesn't give much information on her previous posts. Whilst I obviously understand that reviews are only a snapshot, her current Company only rates 2 out of 5 on Trustpilot...

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21 hours ago, Britboys said:

Posted this before reading all the interesting and informative posts above!

 

 

Hmmm. The article doesn't give much information on her previous posts. Whilst I obviously understand that reviews are only a snapshot, her current Company only rates 2 out of 5 on Trustpilot...

 

I had seen that, but she does describe herself on Linked in as "International leader, Turnaround, transformation", though I have not got any further than that.  There will certainly be change, whatever that is, but I do feel Fred needs to keep his USP's to some extent. 

 

The future remains to be seen, but the whole cruise scene is changing a lot anyway. 

 

 

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23 hours ago, Britboys said:

Whilst I obviously understand that reviews are only a snapshot, her current Company only rates 2 out of 5 on Trustpilot...

 

She's been with FTY for only 17 months. Her role there has been COO and CCO and it's not possible in those positions to turn a company around in that period of time. The roll of CEO with FOCls is a whole different kettle of fish.

 

 

 

1 hour ago, tring said:

I had seen that, but she does describe herself on Linked in as "International leader, Turnaround, transformation", though I have not got any further than that.  There will certainly be change, whatever that is, but I do feel Fred needs to keep his USP's to some extent. 

 

 

What is FOCL's USP?

 

FOCLs hasn't won the award for itineraries, food or entertainment for years.

 

A throughly comprehensive rethink may well rescue the company from oblivion.

 

 

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20 minutes ago, tring said:

 

I had seen that, but she does describe herself on Linked in as "International leader, Turnaround, transformation", though I have not got any further than that.  There will certainly be change, whatever that is, but I do feel Fred needs to keep his USP's to some extent. 

 

The future remains to be seen, but the whole cruise scene is changing a lot anyway. 

 

 

Indeed. Personally, I would like them to position themselves in between P&O (with the two smaller ships in mind) and Saga - but with realistic launch prices. With some of their fares at present, Saga are a better option taking into account what's included. I'd also like them to continue trying to operate more interesting itineraries.

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31 minutes ago, twotravellersLondon said:

 

She's been with FTY for only 17 months. Her role there has been COO and CCO and it's not possible in those positions to turn a company around in that period of time. The roll of CEO with FOCls is a whole different kettle of fish.

 

 

 

 

What is FOCL's USP?

 

FOCLs hasn't won the award for itineraries, food or entertainment for years.

 

A throughly comprehensive rethink may well rescue the company from oblivion.

 

 

I'm not sure what direction they could take with a "comprehensive rethink". They are currently sitting between the larger mainstream lines and the likes of Saga. They could easily steal pax away from P&O's two smaller ships just by modernising a little and moderating their prices. They are unlikely to take business off Saga with the current launch prices but probably could do so with more realistic fares.

I've been sailing with P&O for many years but am now finding that their product is very repetitive and with much less choice for those of us not interested in larger ships. I would love to give Fred another go but need to plan ahead due to other commitments and since Covid, Fred's advance prices are just crazy for what they offer - especially for a solo like me.

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16 minutes ago, Britboys said:

I'm not sure what direction they could take with a "comprehensive rethink". They are currently sitting between the larger mainstream lines and the likes of Saga. They could easily steal pax away from P&O's two smaller ships just by modernising a little and moderating their prices. They are unlikely to take business off Saga with the current launch prices but probably could do so with more realistic fares.

I've been sailing with P&O for many years but am now finding that their product is very repetitive and with much less choice for those of us not interested in larger ships. I would love to give Fred another go but need to plan ahead due to other commitments and since Covid, Fred's advance prices are just crazy for what they offer - especially for a solo like me.

 

Only a couple of days ago FOCLs sent us a "questionnaire" which invited us to compare SAGA unfavourably again the FOCLs offer.

 

FOCLs lost about 10% of their trade when SAGA launched the two new ships and FOCLs ceased to be a SAGA partner. It's likely that this cruisers where from outside cabins, the higher decks, balcony cabins and suites. Why... in those areas SAGA works out at better value for Money.

 

As you say.... perhaps FOCLs could try to cream off the higher fare customers from P&O but will enough of them be happy to sail from these norther ports?

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36 minutes ago, twotravellersLondon said:

 

Only a couple of days ago FOCLs sent us a "questionnaire" which invited us to compare SAGA unfavourably again the FOCLs offer.

 

FOCLs lost about 10% of their trade when SAGA launched the two new ships and FOCLs ceased to be a SAGA partner. It's likely that this cruisers where from outside cabins, the higher decks, balcony cabins and suites. Why... in those areas SAGA works out at better value for Money.

 

As you say.... perhaps FOCLs could try to cream off the higher fare customers from P&O but will enough of them be happy to sail from these norther ports?

A lot of P&O pax travel down from the North and wish P&O sometimes used the likes of Liverpool...

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1 hour ago, twotravellersLondon said:

 

Only a couple of days ago FOCLs sent us a "questionnaire" which invited us to compare SAGA unfavourably again the FOCLs offer.

 

FOCLs lost about 10% of their trade when SAGA launched the two new ships and FOCLs ceased to be a SAGA partner. It's likely that this cruisers where from outside cabins, the higher decks, balcony cabins and suites. Why... in those areas SAGA works out at better value for Money.

 

As you say.... perhaps FOCLs could try to cream off the higher fare customers from P&O but will enough of them be happy to sail from these norther ports?

 

You forget a lot of people live north of Birmingham, so would benefit from travelling north.  The lowest prices on Fred are usually from the south, especially Dover which is very difficult to get to.  Fred has reduced Dover sailings now.  Also when Bolette was taken out of service last year she was sailing from the south, the other ships continued.  The itineraries and are a lot better than other main stream cruise lines. 

 

Saga started off with some itineraries that were not too bad after Covid, but not the same sort of thing now.  The prices of £300pppn are only worthwhile if you have no use for the perks offered.  Now if a cruise line offered a choice of perks that would be quite different.  That could be a choice of individual perks or a large onboard spend which can be used as desired.  The transfers are good if you qualify for the individual car, but travelling any distance in a mini bus would be horrendous and how many people really want to loose most of their sleep on the previous night to start that journey incredibly early.  I have heard of one couple being picked up in the NW by Saga and driven over to Lincolnshire to pick up someone else before heading south!!  We are happy to book some tours, but not panoramic coach trips and a lot of people have annual travel insurance anyway, like us.  Maybe good value for some people, I agree, though not for a good number of other people.

 

Now what is offered by Azamara is another matter and is very worthwhile in our opinion.  Even their room service breakfast is special. A waiter comes along and sets the balcony table, white table cloth and all, setting all the food out on It.  A matter of personal taste and requirements though.

 

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It’s important to book early with Saga to get the best deal. Our last Saga cruise in April in a standard balcony cabin worked out at £223 pppn with a 35% discount. Saga will collect the day before and transfer you to a hotel near the port (hotel at your own expense) if you wish.

 

We also like Azamara, and are prepared to travel to London and stay overnight in an airport hotel for the right itinerary. 

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15 hours ago, tring said:

You forget a lot of people live north of Birmingham, so would benefit from travelling north. 

 

Firstly we should point out that having lived in Aberdeenshire for almost 30 years (One of us having originated in the Birmingham conurbation) and having written extensively for a national data-base about population, demographics, urbanisation and so on... were very unlikely to, "forget a lot of people live north of Birmingham."  We well remember overnight busses to London. early morning flights to Gatwick & Heathrow, very, very long train journeys and 11 hour car trips!

 

17 hours ago, Britboys said:

'm not sure what direction they could take with a "comprehensive rethink". They are currently sitting between the larger mainstream lines and the likes of Saga. They could easily steal pax away from P&O's two smaller ships just by modernising a little and moderating their prices. They are unlikely to take business off Saga with the current launch prices but probably could do so with more realistic fares.

 

Samantha Stimpson will no doubt be aware of the points that have been frequently made that people travelling north to join a cruise, have a far more limited choice of cruise and are likely to have to pay more pppd for the experience. That may be a "barrier to booking." However that's a small point. What we think that Samantha Stimpson will bear in mind is as far as most cruise companies are concerned; they focus on what's best for the company rather that what would be best for some customers. 

 

She is likely be fully aware that the cruise industry as a whole tends to be one where the best economic model is to be close to market. For instance; Rosyth, if it could command the entire Scottish, market would have about 5.5 million potential customers. By contrast, the South-East ports have a potential market of about 18 million people in a  much smaller area... as many people as Scotland, Yorkshire & the Humber and the North-West combined.

 

We're pretty sure that Samantha Stimpson will be aware that FOCLs does not operate in a vacuum. More than 10 years ago when SAGA decided to reinvent itself as a cruise-line it was a root and branch renewal. Faced with aging, expensive, less environmentally friendly small ships many lower deck and inside cabins that barely broke even and seeing many other lines where canny passengers would pare the cost of the holidays to the bare minimum by declining excursions, taking "cabin" supplies aboard at every possible port. and so on... The answer was ships and a system that would pay it's way... its now doing so... discussions about a third ship are ongoing and... passengers who were less than pleased that SAGA had designed-out inside, lower-deck and ocean-view cabins have long moved on and been replaced by others who are willing to pay for what they want.

 

Still using SAGA as an example...

 

What some see as "perks" with a company like SAGA are seen by many who chose to sail with SAGA as essentials to the greater enjoyment of their holiday... that may be why SAGA ships are 85% full on average and increasingly at full capacity, a third ship is under consideration and the company is doing well having almost tripled profits. By contrast, FOCLs can only reach 75% capacity, the Braemar hasn't cruised since 2020 and the company is in massive debt.

 

The fact is that SAGA passengers are a shrewd lot who know what they're doing and have chosen to spend an average of £330 pppd (not £300) rather than opt for FOCLs average pppd of £189. (less than pre-covid!) If FOCLs want to imitate and compete with SAGA in the future... it will have to charge more than SAGA because the FOCLs ships are older and cost more to run. In our opinion FOCLs isn't about to poach many SAGA passengers.

 

But the issue for FOCLs' first ever CEO... can the company ever make a reasonable profit at those prices with the present clientele? Can FOCLs become a budget cruise-line and successfully compete with Ambassador. Alternatively can the company target and win a clientele that are willing to pay more? The aim, after is to create a company that is profitable and can pay off over £100,000,000 of debt.

 

Or the newly appointed CEO could look at the company... there is the old story dating from the 1930s... A very POSH person in a very flash car comes into the wee glen and stops to speak to a crofter by a field gate. "My good man! How do I get to Aberdeen from here?" After the crofter scratched his head, chewed his pipe and considered the question he answered, "Weel my good sir... if I wis you... I wouldna start from here!"

 

As far as we're concerned. We're not going to second guess on exactly what Samantha Stimpson will do... but we wish her every success and hope that the end result is a cruise-line that we would be happy to entrust with our hard-earned cash.

 

Edited by twotravellersLondon
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