Balmoral in Norway
Balmoral in Norway / Fred. Olsen
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Black Watch's Marquee Pool
Black Watch's Marquee Pool / Fred. Olsen
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Black Watch's Tennis Courts
Black Watch's Tennis Courts / Fred. Olsen / Chris Reeve
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Black Watch's Gym
Black Watch's Gym / Fred. Olsen
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Four Seasons Restaurant on Boudicca
Four Seasons Restaurant on Boudicca / Fred. Olsen / Chris Reeve
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Black Watch's Lido Lounge
Black Watch's Lido Lounge / Fred. Olsen / Chris Reeve
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Superior Outside Cabin on Balmoral
Superior Outside Cabin on Balmoral / Fred. Olsen
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Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Our Review
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger

So you may be wondering, what’s with the period after “Fred”? That’s the way the first Fredrik Olsen, a Norwegian who co-founded a shipping company back in 1848, spelled it — and the tradition continued as the company helped pioneer the modern cruise industry in the 1960s. Still owned by Norway’s Olsen family — now in its fifth generation — Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has a quirky charm that appeals to its primarily British passengers (the line is now based in England). Guests tend to be age 50-plus and are fans of its mid-sized ships, low-key ambiance, good value, and wide-ranging itineraries. Don’t expect a lot of bells and whistles, or the latest in ocean-going technology here. But Fred. Olsen offers a quality, traditional cruise experience, complete with swimming pools, Jacuzzis, spas, and stage shows.

What We Love

Mid-Size Ships: In an era of mega ships, Fred. Olsen has resisted the trend to go big. Three vessels in its four-ship fleet carry fewer than 1,000 passengers — and the largest holds just 1,340.

Surprising Cuisine: Forget the British culinary stereotypes — Fred. Olsen ships serve up inventive meals with a choice of restaurants, including both formal and casual dining options, and diverse menus.

Best Known For

British Atmosphere: Have a pint in the pub, try your hand at deck quoits, read an Agatha Christie mystery in the well-appointed library, take traditional British afternoon tea — and don’t forget to pack your dinner jacket and cocktail dresses for formal nights. (All the ship captains are Norwegian, however.)

Intriguing Itineraries: Besides cruising the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Baltic, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Australia, the Arctic, and the Canary Islands, Fred. Olsen also offers around-the-world voyages. Its smaller vessels can reach off-the-beaten-track ports the mega ships cannot.

Who It's Best For

Older Couples and Anglophiles: Those who like to see the world from a deck chair and discuss the latest offerings from the BBC should love Fred. Olsen.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Ships Are Aging: The Fred. Olsen fleet is comparatively ancient by current standards, with some ships dating back to 1972, having sailed for multiple lines under multiple names. That said, they can also be considered “classics,” and the line has done numerous upgrades to the cabins and public areas during major refittings and refurbishments.