A true British favourite, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is one of the longest-established cruise lines in the world and has been refining the cruise experience for more than a century and a half. As a family-operated company, it is justly proud of its lineage and heritage as much as its success.

The present Olsen & Company businesses began with three brothers from a small town near Oslo. Fredrik Christian Olsen bought his first schooners in 1848; his brother Petter began his ship owning career in 1852; followed by Andreas in 1860. However, it was Petter’s son Fredrik who laid down the foundations of the present company.

With their fleet of four ships, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is a company that believes ‘small is beautiful’. It take pride in its Norwegian heritage and appreciates that passengers want a wider choice of cruising options than is the norm in today’s world of long flights and short sailings.

Woman and companions enjoying Observation Lounge afternoon tea on a Fred. Olsen cruise

The company’s management understands that their passengers want a more personalised experience; one where modern-day conveniences sail in tandem with traditional values. Time-honoured customs have their place, for this is a cruise experience that has more in common with Noel Coward than Noel Gallagher. Unashamedly British, the entertainment takes its cue from the West End rather than Broadway; the currency is the familiar pound as opposed to the mighty dollar; and announcements are only made in English.

When it comes to that most sublime cruise pastime of dining, the British palate takes precedence. Chefs ensure that the menus are metaphors for fine-living and good taste, but ensure they never overstep the mark and prove too over the top for guests.

Friends admiring the view from their Fred. Olsen cruise ship in Venice

Rarely does the same routing appear twice in the carefully-planned itineraries. With more than 160 ports of call, Fred's ships sail to the world’s most celebrated destinations, as well as many remote locations often bypassed by other ships. Overnight stays are a signature of several cruises, affording more in-depth shore excursions than is the norm.

Another definable difference is the personable and long-standing crew who are adept at creating a ‘home-away-from-home’ camaraderie of friendly faces rather than a seaborne voyage full of strangers.

Judging by the high number of repeat passengers, this is a cruise experience that has been styled to perfection.

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Gary Buchanan
Gary Buchanan
Gary Buchanan has been an influential cruise writer for almost 30 years. Based in Scotland, he writes for Britain’s leading national newspapers and respected consumer magazines on a variety of cruise topics. Recipient of several awards for his creative writing, he has also written five books about cruising. His other skills include being an expert lecturer on maritime history aboard Cunard ships during transatlantic voyages. His favourite cruise destinations include the Greek Isles, Thailand and the Norwegian fjords. When it comes to river cruises he rates the Irrawaddy, Mekong and Seine as real gems.

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