FRED. OLSEN Cruise Lines has launched its 2014/15 programme of sailings to a total of 246 destinations in 85 countries, using its fleet of four smaller ships, the largest of which is the Balmoral which carries 1,350 passengers.
A new departure for the company, in more ways than one, is its addition of Avonmouth and Tilbury to its UK departure ports. They join Southampton, Dover, Harwich, Liverpool, Newcastle, Rosyth, Greenock and Belfast. The other ships in the fleet are the 929-passenger Braemar, 880-passenger Boudicca and 804-passenger Black Watch, reflecting the increasing popularity of no-fly cruises.
The company's sales and marketing director Nathan Philpot said: "We're delighted to be extending the choice of convenient regional departure ports because we know that travel to and from the port is a key decision-maker when choosing a cruise."
New elements of the programme include more overnight stays in cities to give guests more time at the destination and a new series of two-night introductory cruises. At the other end of the duration scale is what the company describes as its most ambitious Grand Voyage ever - a 119-night Exploring the Far East itinerary on the Balmoral, which recently returned to Southampton after a 112-night World Cruise.
Philpot said: "I guess my heart has always been in the Far East since I joined Kuoni over ten years ago, so our 2015 Asia Grand Voyage is very special and I'm personally delighted to have helped create a cruise that balances land and sea content with some really wonderful and iconic places such as Burma, Vietnam, China and the Maldives."
The new brochure is out this week. Details at www.fredolsencruises.com