Travel Matters speaks to


Geoff Ridgeon

Head of Sales, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines


What is it like working with a traditional-family owned business with such heritage?

To us and to our guests, ‘Fred. Olsen’ is so much more than a name on our ships.

The family remains very involved in the business, especially our Chairman, Fred. Olsen Junior, from the planning of our itineraries to the interior design of our ships, right down to how our brochures look. The family is passionate about cruising and the cruises we operate and that passion is shared among us all, no matter what role we play within the company.

There is a rich history behind the name ‘Fred. Olsen’ and we are immensely proud of that. We are constantly looking for new ways we can celebrate that and share it with our guests.

In your opinion what are the main reasons that make your passengers return again and again to travel on your ships?

There is a famous quote from Maya Angelou that says ‘people will never forget how you made them feel’ and it is so true. Our guests come back to us again and again, because of the holidays we share with them and the attentive, personal service they receive from our crew on board. The smaller size of our ships is integral to this. By sailing with hundreds, rather than thousands, of other guests our crew can really get to know them and what they like, from how they like their breakfast to where they like to sit in the bar.

Add to that the opportunity to dock closer in the destinations we visit and the ‘real’ experiences we help our guests to experience ashore… our guests love to cruise with us again and again because of the way we make them feel when they do.

Do you see the travel trade as vital to your success?

Absolutely. We quite simply couldn’t do what we do without the support of the travel trade.

We always work hard to support our travel agents, by keeping them up to date with information, making sure they understand who we are and our brand. Never has this relationship been as important as over the past 12 months, with the travel industry as a whole facing its biggest challenge of our era. We can’t thank all of our loyal agents enough for all of the support they have shown us during this time.

As an extra thank you, all travel agents who make a booking onto our new 2022/23 programme will be put into a draw to win a cruise with us next year! All they need to do is register that booking on our dedicated Travel Agent Centre.

Your two new ships – Borealis and Bolette will welcome passengers soon – what can your guests expect from them?

Bolette and Borealis are the perfect additions to our fleet, bringing a host of exciting new facilities but also complementing our brand and our small ship ethos and that is exactly why we chose them. We are working very hard in the background on getting our fleet ready for a return to sailing and of course, we will be adding our own Fred. Olsen touches to our new ships.

What I can say is that they bring a number of new facilities to our guests, including all-weather pools with retractable roofs; grand, two-tier theatres; culinary demonstration theatres and wine tasting venues; additional dining venues and more space throughout the ships, meaning more space per guest while on board.

What can we expect from your 2022/2023 programme?

The launch of our new cruise programme is always an incredibly exciting time, but I think this year it feels even more so. Not only have we spent the best part of the last 12 months not venturing much further than the supermarket, but it is also the first programme we have created with our new-look fleet with new ships Bolette and Borealis.

Of course, a big part of 2022 will be making the most of our beautiful British Isles, with scenic cruising just as rewarding as the wonderful ports of call. Our ships really come into their own in the Norwegian fjords and we are continuing to celebrate that by sailing size-restricted waters, away from the well-sailed route, right into the heart of the fjordland. Plus, the northerly departure ports of Newcastle and Rosyth are ideally placed to showcase them at their best in just five nights.

But the shorter escapes are not just bound to Norway, with sailings to Belgium, France, Denmark and Spain available in six nights or less, with many of these sailings made possible by the impressive sailing speeds of our new ships, Bolette and Borealis.

We also have some exceptional sailings further afield for those ready to explore the world again. We are offering a return to the Corinth Canal; taking in the autumnal beauty of Canada and even the chance to follow in the footsteps of Phileas Fogg with an 80-day around the world adventure.

Your regional departures from Newcastle and Rosyth have been very successful – will you continue to offer regional departures?

Having convenient, regional departures is a big part of our brand and we have no plans to change that. That is why in our new 2022/23 programme, we are actually introducing two new ports with Belfast and London Tilbury. With the addition of Portsmouth in 2021, we now offer ex-UK sailings from eight UK ports, meaning we sail from more regional ports than any other cruise line.

“To us and to our guests, ‘Fred. Olsen’ is so much more than a name on our ships.”