Fred. Olsen is one of the world’s oldest cruise lines, having originated as a shipping company in 1848 in Norway and then started cruising in 1966.
They have, understandably, gone through a few ships since then. So with that in mind, what is the current makeup of the Fred. Olsen cruise fleet? Which ship is newest, biggest, and best?
Let’s find out.
How many cruise ships does Fred Olsen have?
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines currently has three ocean cruise ships. None of the ships were built for Fred. Olsen, having been purchased and refurbished before joining the fleet. There are five ships that used to sail for the fleet but have been sold or scrapped.
The cruise line also briefly operated a river cruise arm, chartering the Amadeus Princess ship to sail as the Brabnant. This was only available from 2018 until 2020 when the cruise line decided to move away from river cruising.
Fred Olsen Ships By Age
Here’s a look at the current ships in the fleet, ranked by age from newest to oldest.
|Ship||Built||Joined Fred. Olsen||Former name (s)|
Which Fred Olsen ship is the newest?
The newest ship in the Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ fleet is Bolette, both in terms of when she was originally built (2000) and when she joined the cruise line (2020, at the same time as Borealis). She was purchased from Holland America Line, where she had sailed as MS Amsterdam.
Bolette and Borealis joined the fleet as part of a big refresh of the cruise line. Two former ships – Black Watch and Boudicca – were retired at the time and then in 2022 Braemar was also retired.
Those ships were smaller, with a lower capacity, and they were starting to show their age too – especially Black Watch. A fleet upgrade was needed to improve the quality of the ships and add some capacity.
Fred Olsen Ships By Size
Let’s take a look at how the ships compare from a size perspective.
|Ship||Gross tonnage||Length||Width||Total decks||Passenger capacity||Crew capacity|
How big are Fred Olsen ships?
Fred. Olsen cruise ships are small-to-mid-sized cruise ships, aimed at providing a relaxing atmosphere primarily for an older adult audience. The ships have a passenger capacity of around 1,300 each, helping to keep queues to a minimum.
If you’re looking for mega ships packed with all kinds of impressive activities then Fred. Olsen is probably not the cruise line for you. However they do still have a lot of smaller activities to engage guests during the day, and plenty of enjoyable evening entertainment too.
What is Fred Olsen’s largest cruise ship?
The largest ship in the Fred. Olsen fleet is Bolette, the former MS Amsterdam. She is 237 metres long, has 12 decks and a maximum passenger capacity of 1,338. Her internal volume measures 62,735 gross tons, which is around a quarter that of the biggest ocean cruise ships in the world.
What is the smallest Fred Olsen ship?
The smallest Fred. Olsen cruise ship is the Balmoral, which joined the fleet in 2007. She is 218 metres long, has 11 decks and a maximum passenger capacity of 1,325. Her gross tonnage is 43,537 GT meaning she is around 30% smaller than Bolette, and around a sixth of the size of the biggest cruise ships in the world.
Info About Each of The Fred Olsen Ships
Here’s a more in-depth look at each of the ships in the fleet.
Bolette is the newest ship in the fleet and one with a relatively simple history. She was built for Holland America Line in 2000 where she sailed as the MS Amsterdam, where she was the fourth and final ship in the R Class.
In July 2020, Holland America Line and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines announced a deal where the MS Amsterdam and MS Rotterdam would be sold to Fred. Olsen, and a few months later the transfers went through.
Since then, Bolette has been the flagship of the Fred. Olsen fleet.
Most itineraries on Bolette focus on Northern Europe although a selection of cruises to the Canary Islands and Azores are also available.
Borealis shares a similar history to Bolette. She started life as the MS Rotterdam for Holland America Line, the original ship in the R Class.
But she was sold to Fred. Olsen as part of the package deal in 2020, taking the place of Black Watch and Boudicca.
Borealis offers a range of exciting itineraries around Europe with more of a focus on the Mediterranean, although Northern Europe cruises are also available.
She is also the cruise ship that offers a 103-night world cruise, if you really want the ultimate itinerary.
In terms of regional departures, cruises are available from Liverpool, Newcastle, Portsmouth and Southampton.
Of the three ships in the current fleet, Balmoral is the one with the longest history.
She first launched in 1988 as the Crown Odyssey, sailing for Royal Cruise Line, a Greek company that was bought by Norwegian Cruise Line in 1989, although it operated as its own brand until 1996.
When the brand was made defunct, the ship became part of the main NCL fleet and was renamed Norwegian Crown. She sailed for four years before NCL bought Orient Lines, and transferred the ship to that brand, with her name reverted to Crown Odyssey.
In 2003 she was returned to the NCL fleet, refurbished, and given the name Norwegian Crown again. She sailed for the cruise line until 2007 when she was sold to Fred. Olsen and became Balmoral, named after the estate in Scotland.
Balmoral specialises in cruises to the Norwegian Fjords, but also some unique itineraries around Scotland and to some of the rivers of Europe. Yes, this is an ocean cruise ship that does river cruising!
She primarily sails out of the north, either from Newcastle or Rosyth in Edinburgh, but some cruises from Southampton are also available.
Fred. Olsen Ship Features
In terms of onboard features, the ships are all very similar – there aren’t really unique features, but there are some subtle differences in the number of bars or pools. Here’s a full comparison of the features of each of the ships:
|Bars & Lounges||8||8||7|
There are very few unique features to mention. The only one that is truly unique is the option of practising your golf swing on Balmoral, while the Art Studio is an option on both Bolette and Borealis.
But otherwise, the ships all have very similar features.
In terms of accommodation choices, things are a little more different – there are some cabins you can only find on the newer ships, and Balmoral has some exclusive options too.
Here’s a breakdown of the accommodation options on the Fred. Olsen fleet:
|Balcony Junior Suite||YES||YES||YES|
|Single Balcony Suite||YES||YES||YES|
|Superior Balcony Cabin||No||No||YES|
|Superior Ocean View with Picture Window||YES||YES||YES|
|Ocean View with Picture Window||YES||YES||YES|
|Single Ocean View with Picture Window||YES||YES||YES|
|Ocean View with Porthole||YES||YES||YES|
|Single Ocean View with Porthole||No||No||YES|
|Single Superior Interior||No||No||YES|
Terrace Cabins are like a Balcony Cabin but instead of a private balcony, your French Doors open out directly onto the ship’s promenade. So it’s not quite as private.
What Happened to Older Fred. Olsen Ships?
What happened to the Boudicca cruise ship?
Boudicca was a popular Fred. Olsen ship that was retired in 2020 to make way for the arrival of Bolette and Borealis. Once retired she was eventually scrapped in a shipyard in Turkey in 2021.
What happened to Black Watch?
Black Watch was a long-serving ship for Fred. Olsen. She joined the fleet in 1996 and sailed until 2020 when she was also retired ahead of Bolette and Borealis joining the fleet. She was scrapped in India in 2022.
What is happening to Braemar?
Braemar is the third Fred. Olsen cruise ship to have been retired within the last few years. She was retired in 2022 following 21 years of service for the cruise line. The intention is to sell the ship, rather than scrap it, but no deal has been announced yet.
The cruise line has had two earlier cruise ships as well. Blenheim was built in 1970 and served for Fred. Olsen until 1981 when she was sold to Scandinavia World Cruises, although three years later she burnt out. She was then rebuilt and sailed as Discovery 1.
The first ship in the fleet was Black Prince, which set sail as a combination ferry/cruise ship in 1966. In 1987 it was remodelled into a full cruise ship and it sailed for the cruise line until 2009.
Fred Olsen Ship FAQs
Fred. Olsen cruises are available from a number of regional ports around the UK, including Dover, Liverpool, Newcastle, Portsmouth, Rosyth and Southampton. There are also fly-cruise options that depart from Singapore, Reykjavik, Sydney and Dubai.
All Fred. Olsen ships have balconies but they don’t all have Balcony Cabins. On Borealis and Bolette there are Balcony Suites available, but Terrace cabins lead directly onto the promenade, not a private balcony. Balmoral does have Balcony Cabins.
All Fred. Olsen cruise ships have swimming pools. Both Bolette and Balmoral have two pools, while Borealis has one. Bolette and Borealis also have two whirlpools each – Balmoral has four.
WiFi is not free on Fred. Olsen ships – you would instead need to pay for one of the two internet packages. The Social Media package allows access to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter but not WhatsApp – that, and emails, is available on the General Browsing Package.
The Fred. Olsen ships do not have casinos, but they do have card rooms where guests can enjoy friendly card games with other passengers on the ships.
Fred. Olsen cruise ships don’t have cinemas, but there is a theatre for live shows in the evening, while the bars and lounges also have musicians playing. During the day, quizzes are regularly hosted to entertain guests.
There you have it – a complete guide to the Fred. Olsen cruise fleet and the ships that you can sail on. Hopefully, this makes it easier for you to choose a favourite, or just to plan for your upcoming cruise.
I’ve only sailed on Borealis myself so far but make sure you read my Borealis review if you want to know my thoughts on the ship – I was quite surprised by how much I enjoyed it!
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