Fred Olsen pushes back restart dates for Braemer and Balmoral ships

Fred Olsen Cruise Line has pushed back the restart date for its two oldest ships, Braemer and Balmoral, citing uncertainty over the current COVID-19 environment.

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines said that Braemer won’t resume operations until 2023, pushing its restart date back by a year, while Balmoral will only return to service in May.

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While Fred Olsen Cruise Line has resumed operations with its two new ships Borealis and Bolette (the former sister ships Rotterdam and Amsterdam of Holland America Line), it had planned to bring its other two ships into service this year.

“We are very much looking forward to having all four of our ships back in service as soon as possible, and it is so important that the time is right when we do so,” the cruise line said in a statement.

“At present, we cannot ignore the increase in Covid-19 that the new Omicron variant is creating in the UK and around the world,” it added.

While Balmoral will be resuming cruises later than planned, Fred Olsen Cruise Lines assured guests that its Scotland itineraries will still be going ahead.

“The good news is that we will still be returning to Scotland for departures this year, with Balmoral to operate between Newcastle – where she was originally due to be based – and Rosyth, where she will take over some of Braemar’s itineraries in the summer months,” the cruise line said.

Fred Olsen has already returned Bolette and her sister ship Borealis to service

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Braemer is the smallest cruise ship in the Fred Olsen fleet, carrying just 929 passengers compared to the 1,300-passenger ships purchased from Holland America Line.

Amid a spate of cruise ship sales and scrapping during 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, which shut down cruises globally, there was some speculation that Fred Olsen might shed its smaller, older vessels.

The cruise line had planned to grow its fleet with the acquisition of the Rotterdam and Amsterdam from Holland America, but amid the pandemic, it decided to sell Boudicca and Black Watch instead. Boudicca was later scrapped.

However, Fred Olsen Cruise Line has put these concerns to rest, specifically stating that there are no plans to sell Braemer before 2023 at least.

“Please be assured that Braemar very much remains a part of our family, and we are already working on some exciting new itineraries for her return in 2023,” the statement said.

“We know some of you will be really looking forward to learning more about these cruises, and we will share more information with you in March and April,” it added.

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