Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has unveiled its 2023/24 cruising programme with more than 100 hand-crafted sailings and the introduction of new Journey Navigators across its fleet of smaller ships.
The programme includes opportunities to witness Norway’s Langfoss Waterfall in spring, explore the Azores and visit Lapland in the summer months.
image : Aurora Restaurant on Borealis (c) Fred.Olsen
Trips range from two to 93-nights, with regional departures from Liverpool, Newcastle, Rosyth, Southampton, Dover, London Tilbury and Belfast. The programme also features the return of a fly-cruise programme, with Braemar based in the Caribbean for the winter months.
The new brochure unveils Fred. Olsen’s new Journey Navigators – Nature Scouts, Culture Curators, Maritime Guides and Entertainment Hosts. Guests who book a 2023/24 sailing can enjoy up to £250 per person to spend on board or up to £500 when booking a suite. Those who book a 2023 cruise but also want to travel this year, can take advantage of 10% off any new booking for 2022.
Martin Lister, Head of Itinerary Planning and Destination Experience Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said:
“This has been such an exciting programme to curate. Our smaller ships allow us to offer special experiences for our guests and we’ve been creative with our itinerary planning to shine a spotlight on this. We will be cruising scenic waterways that are out of reach for larger ships, including the Kiel Canal, the Seine and Loire. Braemar is also set to repeat her record-breaking feat of transiting the ultra-narrow Corinth Canal – an experience not to be missed. We also know that guests want authentic experiences ashore so we are developing a programme to support this. In Madeira, for example, rather than simply visit the world-famous gardens, guests can meet with a local orchid expert for a garden tour, including that of a family-run orchid farm. Guests will find our new Journey Navigators on-board each of our ships to bring to life the Joy of the Journey and all that is great about being at sea from holding stargazing events out on deck, to tours of the Bridge to celebrate our maritime history.”
Highlights of Fred. Olsen’s 2023/24 programme of cruising include:
Bolette’s 14-night T2318 ‘Summertime in Lapland and Scandinavia’ cruise, departing Newcastle 1st July 2023. Prices from £2,099 per person.
Itinerary: Newcastle – Turku, Finland – Cruising Turku Archipelago – Oulu, Finland – Kemi, Finland – Holmsund, Sweden – Sundsvall, Sweden – Stockholm, Sweden (overnight stay) – Cruising Stockholm Archipelago – Aarhus, Denmark – Newcastle
For more details: Visit T2318 ‘Summertime in Lapland and Scandinavia’
Bolette’s 15-night T2327 ‘Volcanic Islands of the Canaries, Azores and Madeira’ cruise, departing Southampton on 14th October 2023. Prices from £2,099 per person.
Itinerary: Southampton – Praia da Vitoria, Portugal – Ponta Delgada, Portugal (overnight stay) – Santa Cruz, La Palma – Santa Cruz, Tenerife – San Sebastian, La Gomera – Funchal, Madeira – Southampton
For more details: Visit T2327 ‘Volcanic Islands of the Canaries, Azores and Madeira’
Borealis’ 10-night S2322 ‘Touring Southern Spain, Portugal & Gibraltar’ cruise, departing Liverpool on 22nd October 2023. Prices from £1,399 per person.
Itinerary: Liverpool – Lisbon, Portugal – Cruising Mouth of River Tagus, Portugal – Gibraltar – Málaga, Spain – Cádiz, Spain – La Coruña, Spain – Cruising by Tower of Hercules Lighthouse, Spain – Liverpool,
For more details: Visit S2322 ‘Touring Southern Spain, Portugal & Gibraltar’
Braemar’s 14-night M2401 ‘Latin America Civilisations’ fly-cruise. Flights from London Gatwick/Manchester, departing from Havana, Cuba 2 January 2024. Prices from £2,699 per person.
Itinerary: Havana, Cuba (overnight stay) – Progreso, Yucatán, Mexico – Cozumel, Mexico – Colon, Panama – Cartagena de Indias, Colombia – Santa Marta, Colombia – Santiago de Cuba, Cuba – Havana, Cuba (overnight stay)
For more details: Visit M2401 ‘Latin America Civilisations’
Balmoral’s seven-night L2411 ‘Mighty Waterfalls and Norwegian Fjords’ cruise, departing Newcastle 26th April 2024. Prices from £1,099 per person.
Itinerary: Newcastle– Cruising Lysefjord, Norway – Cruising Hardangerfjord – Eidfjord– Cruising Maurangerfjord and Furebergfossen– Cruising Åkrafjord and Langfoss Waterfall – Bergen– Cruising Nordfjord – Olden – Cruising by Hornelen – Åndalsnes – Cruising Romsdalfjorden and Isfjorden - Newcastle
For more details: Visit L2411 ‘Mighty Waterfalls and Norwegian Fjords’
For more information on Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ new 2023/24 programme, visit fredolsencruises.com/just-released. Book online, call Reservations on 0800 0355 242 Mon to Fri, 8.30am to 6pm; Sat, 9am to 5pm, or contact your ABTA travel agent.
image (c) Fred. Olsen: Braemar going through the Corinth Canal
Swan Hellenic 's new 5-star ship SH Vega will launch ahead of schedule in July, departing Helsinki Shipyard for the cultural expedition cruise pioneer’s Arctic Summer Season.
Celebrating the elegant ice-class ship’s maiden cruises, Swan Hellenic has launched an Arctic Summer Season Sale that helps make this remote wilderness more accessible with reductions of up to 70% off brochure fares for guests booking before 20th June.
For solo travellers the single supplement will be waived for bookings in the sale period. These substantial savings bring Swan Hellenic’s trade partners outstanding opportunities to boost their business.
The Arctic Summer Season Sale prices feature on the Swan Hellenic website where there is also information on the new SH Vega, including choice of Arctic cultural expedition cruises.
Ranging from 9 to 20 days, these discounted maiden season cruises are an opportunity to explore the Arctic, from the Svalbard Peninsula to Iceland’s landscapes of ice and fire, Greenland’s dramatic majesty, the Northwest Passage and the wilds of Northern Canada.
“We’re excited to launch this special celebration of our new purpose-built ice-class ship, which makes her extraordinary maiden cruises uniquely accessible and irresistible,” said Swan Hellenic CEO Andrea Zito. “We look forward to boosting our sales partners revenues and spirits in a challenging period, attracting new curious-minded adventurers to experience the Swan Hellenic difference.”
images from Swan Hellenic
About Swan Hellenic
Swan Hellenic was relaunched in July 2020 to continue the spirit of cultural expedition cruising the company pioneered in the 1950s. Building on its British roots, the new company has a global cultural cruising outlook dedicated to providing guests with the opportunity to ‘see what others don’t’.
Swan Hellenic's purpose-built ships feature elegant Scandi-design interiors, extensive outdoor spaces and dedicated expedition facilities. SH Minerva and SH Vega, two new 5-star Polar Code PC 5 expedition cruise ships with ice-strengthened hulls, respectively launched in December 2021 and arriving in September 2022, each accommodate 152 guests in 76 spacious suites and staterooms, the majority with large balconies. A slightly larger PC 6 ice-class vessel, SH Diana, accommodating 192 guests in the same distinctive comfort and style in 96 staterooms and suites will arrive early 2023.
All three ships feature three dining venues; the Swan Restaurant, Club Lounge and Pool Bar & Grill and are being built to comply with SOLAS Safe Return to Port requirements. Dedicated to guests with a passion for adventure and cultural exploration, the company’s meticulously planned itineraries explore landscapes, wildlife, people and unique cultures of the world’s less travelled regions.
The crews each include a team of 12 seasoned expedition guides, expert speakers and lecturers for a total complement of 120 and 140 persons respectively, offering outstanding staff-to-guest ratios to deliver the highest standards of attentive personal service.
For more information about Swan Hellenic, please visit www.swanhellenic.com
or call +44 (0) 207 846 0271
Havila Voyages newest passenger ship, environmentally friendly Havila Castor, will operate the classic coastal route between Bergen and Kirkenes.
Havila Castor's energy-efficient hull design was created to handle the varied Norwegian coastal weather.
image (c) Havila Voyages
The ship has the world's largest passenger ship battery pack with 6.1 megawatt hours (MWh) meaning the ship can sail emission-free for up to four hours.
"We have a state-of-the-art ship with large cabins and stylish Nordic design that our passengers will be able to enjoy to the fullest” (CEO Bent Martini.)
Martini explained, "Our ships are the most environmentally friendly passenger ships to sail the classic coastal route between Bergen and Kirkenesand. Havila Castor will be the first ship to sail into the world heritage site of the Geirangerfjord silently and emission-free." He went on, "The ship's propulsion is a combination of natural gas (LNG) and the battery pack, so reducing CO2 emissions by up to 30 % and NOX emissions by 90c%. This means that ships of Havila Voyages are the most environmentally friendly ships that sail the coastal route. Our investment in climate, environment and sustainability is more than just words. We will deliver from day one on the requirements that were set in the contract with the Ministry of Transport”.
Havila Castor is also built for climate-neutral fuel alternatives such as hydrogen and ammonia. With current technology, gradual blending of biogas will further reduce CO2 emissions. As well as reduced emissions, other properties include heat recovery from sea and cooling water as well as a food concept that includes food sourced from short-haul and local producers. The menu on board changes during the sailing to reflect the areas in which Havila Castor sails.
Martini explained, “Our goal is to cut food waste on board and we have a unique food concept which, among other things, means that we do not have a buffet. There has been a lot of positive feedback regarding menus. We are very much looking forward to getting the ship on the route along the Norwegian coast on the maiden voyage”.
Antigua and Barbuda Minister of Tourism and Investment, The Honourable Charles ‘Max’ Fernandez, was joined by Royal Caribbean Group Vice President of Government Relations, Americas, Russell Benford, to sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Antigua and Barbuda and Royal Caribbean Group to bring thousands of job opportunities to the people of Antigua and Barbuda in June.
Minister Fernandez said, “Royal Caribbean is one of the iconic brands that is part of the foundation of cruise tourism in the Caribbean and this initiative will not only see a huge cadre of our tourism professionals become gainfully employed while being ambassadors for our country, but will further strengthen the partnership between the Government of Antigua and Barbuda and Royal Caribbean. It’s a win-win solution for all of us.”
The Minister also spoke of the Government’s careful and successful management of the coronavirus pandemic that gave Royal Caribbean the confidence they could hire the services of citizens of Antigua and Barbuda, "knowing our people are vaccinated, fully trained and possess the skills needed to add value to Royal Caribbean’s operations. The relationship between Royal Caribbean and the Government of Antigua and Barbuda goes back well over 30 years,” said Benford. “We have supported each other through the most challenging times and signing this agreement demonstrates the strength of our partnership and will result in boosting the tourism economy.” He added, “I take this opportunity to congratulate Minister Fernandez as well as our entire team involved in moving negotiations forward that will benefit the people of Antigua and Barbuda. This is a good day for the travel industry.”
In congratulating Royal Caribbean for its service to Caribbean tourism, Antigua and Barbuda Tourism Authority CEO, Colin C. James remarked, “Antigua and Barbuda have enjoyed a strong rebound in cruise arrivals in January and March of this year and Royal Caribbean has been a major part of that. This new partnership will impact hospitality employment opportunities for the destination in a positive way that goes beyond just welcoming cruise passengers to our shores.”
The employment initiative on Royal Caribbean’s ships will commence with a major job fair in St. John’s for nationals and residents of Antigua and Barbuda. Employment opportunities are in positions including the Marine sector - junior seaman, junior engine man, assistant electricians; the Operations Sector - storekeepers, cruise, youth and sports staff, laundry and restaurant attendants, waiters and bakers. In the specialty sector, vacancies are available for positions including in the casino, entertainers and photographers. “This is the tourism industry performing at its finest”, James concluded. The new employees will be Antigua and Barbuda’s cruise guest ambassadors and further strengthen the existing Royal Caribbean partnership.
ABOUT ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA:
Antigua (pronounced An-tee'ga) and Barbuda (Bar-byew’da) is located in the heart of the Caribbean Sea. The twin-island paradise offers visitors two uniquely distinct experiences, ideal temperatures year-round, a rich history, vibrant culture, exhilarating excursions, award-winning resorts, mouth-watering cuisine and 365 stunning pink and white-sand beaches - one for every day of the year. The largest of the English-speaking Leeward Islands, Antigua comprises 108-square miles with rich history and spectacular topography that provides a variety of popular sightseeing opportunities. Nelson’s Dockyard, the only remaining example of a Georgian fort a listed UNESCO World Heritage site, is perhaps the most renowned landmark. Antigua’s tourism events calendar includes the prestigious Antigua Sailing Week, Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, and the annual Antigua Carnival; known as the Caribbean’s Greatest Summer Festival. Barbuda, Antigua’s smaller sister island, is the ultimate celebrity hideaway. The island lies 27 miles north-east of Antigua and is just a 15-minute plane ride away. Barbuda is known for its untouched 11-mile stretch of pink sand beach and as the home of the largest Frigate Bird Sanctuary in the Western Hemisphere. Find information on Antigua & Barbuda at: www.visitantiguabarbuda.com
Representatives of the Royal Caribbean Group, Antigua and Barbuda Ministry of Tourism and the Tourism Authority following the signing
images (c) RCI / Antigua and Barbuda Ministry of Tourism
Saga’s 2023 river cruise itineraries for new Spirit of the Danube and Spirit of the Rhine include all inclusive offerings from 2023 and up to 25% off when booked early. Discount included in the pricing below. In addition, the introduction of back-to-back cruises have an extra 10 per cent off and dedicated solo traveller cabins are allocated on every cruise. The change comes as part of a range of updates that will align the customer experience more closely to that of Saga’s ocean cruise proposition. Other new benefits also include the option to book back-to-back cruises, which will be clearly marketed as such and guests selecting them will receive a further 10% off their booking. There is also a simpler pricing model that means early bookers are rewarded with discounts of up to 25% off the full price. If, for any reason, the price should be reduced after a guest books, Saga will automatically give them the difference back as part of its price promise.
Other already excellent inclusions remain in place such as the complimentary door-to-door chauffeur service, travel insurance with up to £5m covid-cover, at least three sight-seeing excursions on all seven-night cruises and up to eight included on longer cruises as well as gratuities. Guests can also feel reassured that everyone on board is required to have both vaccines and booster and covid safe protocols continue to be observed.
Nigel Blanks, CEO of Saga Cruises, said: “We know our guests want an exceptional experience and value for money so the ‘Spirit’ river cruises will move to all-inclusive from 2023 and we’re introducing back-to-back itineraries with 10% off and discounts starting from 25% off in response to their feedback. These are in addition to the complimentary chauffeur service, travel insurance and a range of included excursions we already offer. We’ve got a lovely line-up of itineraries too, with plenty of new cruise options on-board the brand-new Spirit of the Danube and Spirit of the Rhine along with some firm favourites. All of this is in addition to an exciting line-up of cruises with itineraries ranging from between seven and 16-nights across the two brand-new ‘Spirit’ ships, which only had their official naming ceremony last month."
New to the 2023 line-up will be:
The Golden Age of Art on the Rhine where guests will cruise the Dutch waterways stopping to view iconic artwork in the world-renowned galleries of Amsterdam, Utrecht and The Hague. Joined on board by famous art-dealer and Antiques Roadshow star, Rupert Maas. Seven nights on board Spirit of the Rhine, departing May 8, 2023 starts from £1,241 per person.
Autumn Colours of the Danube is a beautiful ten-night journey on Spirit of the Danube taking in the seasonal scenery along the famous river, with stops in Budapest, Bratislava and Vienna. Prices from £1,574 per person, departing on November 11, 2023.
Art on the Danube takes in Budapest’s Hungarian National Gallery, the Danubiana Meulensteen Museum, Bratislava’s City Gallery and a plethora of galleries in Vienna. The eight-night art-themed river cruise departs on October 27, 2023 on Spirit of the Danube with prices from £1,499 per person.
These join firm favourites:
Flowers on Parade with Charlie Dimmock is a seven-night cruise on Spirit of the Rhine that travels through Antwerp, Utrecht and Zaandam visiting the 17th annual Floralia Brussels flower show, Utrecht botanical gardens, Keukenhof, Haarlem annual flower parade and finishing with a tour of Amsterdam. The cruise departs on April 17, 2023 prices from £1,649 per person.
Gilbert & Sullivan on the Rhine on Spirit of the Rhine starts in Amsterdam with either a culinary walking tour or coach and canal excursion before heading to Cologne for an included city tour, Koblenz, Bingen, Boppard and Andernach, including an optional tour to visit Europe's largest cold-water geyser. The cruise finishes in Dusseldorf with another city tour. All of course accompanied by live performances of the music of Gilbert & Sullivan on board. This seven-night river cruise starts from £1,274 per person and departs on November 13, 2023.
To book guests can visit saga.co.uk or call 0808 258 2031.
Spirit of the Rhine and Spirit of the Danube build on Saga’s boutique design philosophy of its ocean-going vessels, Spirit of Adventure and Spirit of Discovery, and offer a luxury cruise experience for customers on Europe’s famous riverways.
With designs inspired by the nature and culture found along the iconic waterways, both ships have been built with guests central to their design. Each vessel has four passenger decks and 91 guest cabins, hosting up to 182 customers and up to 50 crew. Each ship also features the first-class Saga facilities that guests have come to expect, complete with an en-suite bathroom and walk-in shower. There are two different types of cabin available on both ships. All have a clean, sophisticated design with Spirit of the Rhine reminiscent of Saga’s larger ocean ships and Spirit of the Danube based on an Art Nouveau and Danube Delta theme, with elements such as migratory birds used throughout the ship.
image (c) Saga
I'm Gilly, award winning journalist, travel/ cruise writer & author of 12 books. Credits incl: Telegraph, CNN, Daily Mail, Independent, BBC mags, Country & Town House, The Scotsman, Best, My Weekly, trade titles etc