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I am taking my first cruise with Fred Olsen in August (2019) and, although I have cruised a number of times before, it has always been with P & O. My Travel Agent has persuaded me that I should try Fred Olsen. I'm a little reluctant to leave the perceived safety of the familiar and step out of my comfort zone into the unknown. I am in my mid 60's, travel alone and prefer my own company.

 

Will I enjoy the Fred Olsen experience and what will the main differences be to P & O?

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Fred does more scenic cruising, so yes the destination does matter if you want advice.  Different destinations can also have a different atmosphere on the ship.  Fjiords will be a short cruise, and also in August, so you will find the age group lower than other Fred cruises, but a fair bit higher than on a similar cruise on P&O.  Less families as well.

 

Given your response to my question, I am thinking about your comment of "preferring your own company".  There is no option of freedom dining on Fred and it would be highly unlikely that you would be able to secure a "table for one" in the dining room, so conversation will be difficult to avoid IMO, unless you wish to go to the self service each night and even then may not be space for table for one on some ships, but waiters will do their best if you ask.  Having said that, we are the same age as yourself and prefer the company of passengers on Fred as we have often found manners somewhat lacking in some P&O passengers when we have been on board their ships.  There are usually quite a number of singles on Fred (mainly because of the higher age range perhaps) and singles meetings are scheduled if you do wish to meet other singles, but no obligation to do so, of course (you could always view the group from afar to decide if they are similar people to yourself).  I should think it would also be difficult to avoid other people on a P&O ship, unless you spend a fair bit of time in your cabin, so doubt Fred will be that different though. 

 

Food and service far better on Fred. 

Edited by tring
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Thank you for your helpful  comments - I now understand why you asked where and when I was going. On P & O I have always requested (and got - sometimes with difficulty) a table for one. I have requested a table for one on the upcoming FO cruise and will wait with nervous anticipation on the outcome - if necessary, I will have to eat in the buffet or, even, room service.

 

The other thing that bothers me about FO is the fact the smoking is allowed on the balconies. I really do not like the smell of cigarette smoke and it would totally spoil the holiday for me. How rife is smoking on balconies?

 

Thank you, again, for your response.

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1 hour ago, Sir Cumference said:

Thank you for your helpful  comments - I now understand why you asked where and when I was going. On P & O I have always requested (and got - sometimes with difficulty) a table for one. I have requested a table for one on the upcoming FO cruise and will wait with nervous anticipation on the outcome - if necessary, I will have to eat in the buffet or, even, room service.

 

The other thing that bothers me about FO is the fact the smoking is allowed on the balconies. I really do not like the smell of cigarette smoke and it would totally spoil the holiday for me. How rife is smoking on balconies?

 

Thank you, again, for your response.

 

Getting a table for two (which is what you would need) is more likely the earlier you book the cruise, so if you booked soon after the cruise went on sale, you may have a chance.  Depends on the ship as well, for instance Black Watch does not have many tables for two.  The next best thing is often a large table as it is easier to just opt out of any conversation and less likely one or two people can take over the conversation.  Second sitting less popular as well so if you choose, or change to second sitting on board, you may be more likely to be lucky, though for an August cruise the ship is more likely to be full.  Speak to the MD who will do their best to help. No hot food on room service menu.

 

Regards the age old thing about smoking - if you have a problem I suggest you speak to customer service as soon as poss.  They are always willing to help you move cabin if another is available - again August could be busy though.  We have had a terrace balcony on Boudicca a couple of times and loved it (no smoking in those on Boudicca and Black Watch, so no prob at all with smoke).  Ok you will be visible from the prom deck, but very few people look towards you, especially if you face away from the direct of flow and do not make eye contact with anyone, (walking is generally one way around the deck).  Good sized balconies as well.

 

The advantage with August and the scenic theme of your cruise is that more people are likely to be outside, meaning the bar facilities are less stressed and passengers more spread out.  You can usually find a seat fairly easily on Fred as they are smaller ships.

 

You may well be very surprised at the more relaxed atmosphere on Fred compared to P&O and may find people much like yourself.

 

Hope you enjoy the cruise,

 

Barbara

Edited by tring
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I am told that some people have a really bad time with the smoking and if you want to be private the Terrace balconies are not at all private.

 

The last time we were on never saw any tables for one and we requested two and got a 4.

 

My friend goes as a single and always goes for a large table, which dilutes the company she says.

 

Getting a single in the buffet might also prove difficult, people will join you if seating is busy, and often is. You will probably finish up in your room, from what you have said.

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  • 3 months later...

Can I ask another question? I have cruised many times, mainly Cunard ,P& O and Celebrity. I want to try Fred Olsen. Is there ballroom and sequence dancing? Also are there dance hosts as I love dancing and I will be travelling solo. I am thinking of a cruise on Black Watch.

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Yes there is ballroom and sequence dancing every evening before the entertainment begins.  Although the dance floors are quite small on all the ships.  There are dance instructors and competent male dance hosts on all the cruises so you will be able to dance as much as you want.

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3 hours ago, Coravel said:

Yes there is ballroom and sequence dancing every evening before the entertainment begins.  Although the dance floors are quite small on all the ships.  There are dance instructors and competent male dance hosts on all the cruises so you will be able to dance as much as you want.

We found the dance hosts very good. They made sure all the singles had a partner. They gave lessons in sequence as well as ballroom which doesn't happen on many ships. We are learned Queen of Hearts rumba and Viennese Swing on Boudicca.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 4 weeks later...

Sorry, yes, I'm quite happy to update you on my first experience of Fred Olsen. I was on Black Watch and was allocated a table for one in the main dining room. It was a "stand alone" table and not one of those in a row with only a few inches between them. It was ideal and made me a very happy bunny. 

 

Also, at breakfast & lunch I was able to secure a table to myself for which I was grateful.

 

I have another cruise on Black Watch booked for Spring 2020 and had a word with the MD before leaving my last cruise and he undertook to allocate me a table for one on the upcoming cruise too.

 

I had a balcony cabin and there was not the slightest indication of anyone smoking nearby.

 

Thank you all for your comments and good wishes 🙂

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On 10/27/2019 at 7:55 PM, Sir Cumference said:

Sorry, yes, I'm quite happy to update you on my first experience of Fred Olsen. I was on Black Watch and was allocated a table for one in the main dining room. It was a "stand alone" table and not one of those in a row with only a few inches between them. It was ideal and made me a very happy bunny. 

 

Also, at breakfast & lunch I was able to secure a table to myself for which I was grateful.

 

I have another cruise on Black Watch booked for Spring 2020 and had a word with the MD before leaving my last cruise and he undertook to allocate me a table for one on the upcoming cruise too.

 

I had a balcony cabin and there was not the slightest indication of anyone smoking nearby.

 

Thank you all for your comments and good wishes 🙂

 

Thanks a lot for the detailed feedback.  I am glad all was well for you and I wish you a good cruise next time.  Yes travelling again on the same ship and making a request to the MD when on board the first cruise is a good way to go about a table request as limited request details can be made on the central system.  Fred also tend to keep people in the more upmarket cabins happy as best they can, so I expect your cabin grade helped a bit, but they also try to keep everyone happy as best they can.  The best advice in all cases, if a problem is encountered, is to make sure your position is known as soon a possible, while better placed cabins/dining tables etc. are still available.

 

We were on a cruise when a couple on our roll call had a cabin/balcony which suffered from cigarette smoke and they were up graded to a cabin on the next deck, near the front of the ship which was great for them.  We were on P&O in August (Arcadia to the Baltics) for the first time in a few years and we found smoking much more prevalent than we have experienced on Fred in recent years.  The pool deck at back of deck 9 was a smoking area on the port side (for the area which is under the protruding deck area above) and it was highly unpleasant to even walk through.  That pool area is what was was used for the 60's/70's party and one or two other similar events, so given the evenings were very cold, the smoking area took over much more than half of the habitable area out there as the musicians and, dance floor and bar were all on the non smoking side and the rear part of that deck was freezing cold due to wind exposure.  Arcadia seemed to have no where else to hold such events either, whereas Fred's ships all have places like the lido lounges and the Coral on Braemar.  Fred's smoking areas are relatively small and well away from the main entertainment/sitting out areas.  We also did not like the roof over the main sun deck on Arcadia which was closed (or almost closed) for virtually the whole cruise, despite the fact the weather was good by day.  Arcadia was a very dark ship as well with old decor, especially in the cabins, which came as quite a shock after getting used to Fred's lighter. brighter ships since the recent refreshments of the decor, linens etc.

 

We have just booked a cruise to the Eastern Seaboard of the US for Septmber 2021 on Aurora, which we hope will be better with the tiered rear at the back, like Fred's ships and we have also booked a balcony for that for a decent price at launch.  What we mainly cruise for is the itineraries though and P&O have more days on port (and better ports) than a similar Fred cruise ,so as we also have a better price, we will make do whatever.  We have recently tried Azamara and found the atmosphere very relaxed and refined, which surprised us as it it the first time we have travelled on an American ship.  With the open dining and small ship we will likely travel with them again some time - as long as we can get a decent price, but that is an issue with Fred now as well.

 

Happy travels,

 

Barbara 

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18 hours ago, Sir Cumference said:

Your 2021 cruise sounds like the one I have just booked (R114) and so I may well bump into you 🙂

 

Yes we are booked on the same cruise and would be nice to meet you.  Early yet, but I will join a roll call nearer the time as they can be quite good for exchanging information, though we do not generally share tours or get too involved with the group.

 

We did a cruise similar to P&O's up the St Lawrence with Fred from Liverpool 2-3 years ago and enjoyed it a lot.  We did not go to Halifax and Sept Iles as visited by P&O, but we called at Montreal, Trios-Rivieres and Havres-Saint-Pierre - all of which we loved.  We were not too keen on our two days in Quebec as it is very touristy but we got a bus to an impressive waterfall one of those days - it was June so quite a bit of water flowing down.

 

Cheers,

 

Barbara 

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1 hour ago, Sir Cumference said:

That's great to hear you will be on the same cruise - I'm going on such a "big" one to celebrate my 70 birthday which will occur during the cruise 🙂

 

We will be 71 at that stage and we both reach the big number in a few months time

 

Hope you enjoy your celebration 🙂

Edited by tring
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