British-based cruise operator Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has confirmed it will be canceling voyages further into the year. The cruise line says it will be using the extra time this creates to investigate how the vaccine’s rollout will affect their operations.
Maiden Voyages of New Ships Delayed
Borealis and Bolette, the companies newest vessels, will now be sailing at least one month later than their original sailing dates of May 22 & 29, 2021. Fred Olsen Cruise Lines has stated that their new maiden voyage cruise dates will be around the end of June.
The cancellations affect 13 voyages onboard three of the companies vessels: Borealis, Bolette, and Balmoral, while the company’s fourth vessel, the Braemar, will not be sailing until Spring 2022.
Fred Olsen Cruise Lines initially planned on resuming cruises onboard Borealis for her maiden voyage on May 22, 2021, Bolette’s maiden voyage on May 29, 2021, and Balmoral to resume on June 9, 2021.
Peter Deer, Managing Director at Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines said:
We are continually reviewing our back in-service dates in line with the latest Government guidance and working closely with CLIA and other industry bodies towards a return to sailing.
This extra time allows us the opportunity to fully understand how the rollout in the vaccine affects the procedures we operate onboard and ashore.
We know that our guests are missing cruising, as indeed are we, and we can’t wait to welcome them all back on board when the time is right.
Whether Fred Olsen Cruise Lines will be taken the same route as SAGA Cruises remains unclear. Two weeks ago, SAGA announced that they would require all guests to be vaccinated before being allowed to sail onboard.
While the postponements will likely not be something that the company’s many fans will enjoy hearing, with the current strict lockdown the UK is under, it can hardly be called surprising anymore. Fred Olsen is contacting affected guests to offer several options, including a no quibble refund or an additional future cruise credit.
New Vessels Launch Long Overdue
The launch of Borealis and Bolette is long overdue. Fred Olsen Cruise Lines already announced in July 2020 that it had purchased the Amsterdam and Rotterdam from Seattle-based Holland America Line.
Fred Olsen Junior said at the time:
“This increase in our capacity demonstrates our confidence in the future. With over 170 years of seafaring history, we have sailed through many difficult periods. With these new additions to the fleet, we will come out of this current situation stronger than ever, ready to deliver the award-winning itineraries that we are famous for.”
MS Bolette, measuring 62,735 gross tons and carrying 1,380 guests, is the former Amsterdam, built by Fincantieri in Italy in 2000. The MS Borealis, measuring 61,849 gross tons and carrying 1,404 guests, is the former Rotterdam, built by Fincantieri and launched on December 21, 1996.
UK Cruise Lines’ Starts Dates Unclear
While UK Cruise lines have been giving out scheduled start dates, it remains entirely unclear when they will be allowed to sail. Although the UK government has been pro-active in cooperating with CLIA UK & Ireland and the chamber of commerce to create frameworks for a restart of cruising, these were already complete in October of last year. Since then, there has been very little information given out.
The current restart dates for the other UK cruise lines are below; however, these remain fluid currently as there is no end in sight just yet for the UK lockdown, despite a strong vaccination drive.
- P&O Cruises UK: April 2021
- Cunard: Queen Victoria to resume on May 17, 2021, Queen Mary 2 to resume on June 4, 2021, and Queen Elizabeth to resume on June 14, 2021
- SAGA Cruises: Spirit of Adventure to resume on May 4, 2021, Spirit of Discovery to resume on June 2, 2021
- Marella Cruises: European operations until March 31, 2021. The cruise line has also delayed the return of all longer sailings until April 30, 2021.
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