This was my first cruise with Fred Olsen and it will also be my last. Why do I say this? It is because I have found that unlike other cruise companies, they do not put passenger satisfaction first and are only interested in the amount of money that they can screw you for. Their attitude when faced with an inquiry out of the norm seems to be unbending and inflexible, a sort of like it or lump it policy.
My wife had suffered a broken ankle before the cruise, she was on crutches and was very unsteady during the swell of crossing the North Sea, On asking at reception for temporary use of a wheelchair I was referred to the doctor who said he would need to examine her at a cost of £40 and wheelchair hire was £150. I explained we had our own one on board whereupon he still said he would need to examine her and would put us off the ship if he deemed her to be unfit. There would be no help in getting us back to the UK. His attitude was appalling, it felt like a threat so we kept quiet and got about the ship as best we could. My wife's condition improved over the course of the voyage and she could use stairs the second week if we were at port or in calm waters - yet he would have had us off the ship. Needless to say there was no help or redress from the company itself. I have been with several cruise companies and have never before come across such an uncompromising attitude.
The tours were ridiculously overpriced. The trip to see the Northern Lights at Tromso involved us being deposited in a dark uneven icy field with only hot chocolate and a tasteless biscuit to eat as we froze.There was one temporary tepee to accommodate large numbers of people, many of maturer years.
I went to the Arctic cathedral myself in Tromso and the Funicular railway in Bergen at a fraction of the cost that a trip would have involved. The only one my wife was able to go on was to the Ice Hotel, I must admit it was impressive and stunning to walk through.
There never seemed to be enough seats jn the public areas, especially when we were at sea and really there was not enough to do at those times, though the staff organizing these things did their cheerful best. It was always a scramble for seats in The Neptune Lounge, with many forced to sit or stand uncomfortably watching screens, Also why could that area not be used to screen films when not being used for other things? The library had a very disappointing selection of books.
On the positive side, the food was excellent and staff were extremely pleasant and obliging, in marked contrast to senior management. A couple of the lecturers were interesting and amusing, though lecture times were not always suitable. The ships company were brilliant when performing their shows, and passengers were extremely friendly, though that is nothing to do with Fred Olsen of course, just the luck of the draw. Also we saw the Northern Lights, the main reason for the trip.
However I have been on better cruises, with more to do, friendliness throughout the ship from top to bottom, and a genuine interest shown in the welfare of passengers. I have never been threatened with being thrown off the ship after making an innocent enquiry on behalf of my wife. I enjoy cruising, arriving at a different place on your own floating hotel. But my experience with Fred Olsen means that I will never go with them again and I would say to others to beware, especially if you have a situation in any way out of the ordinary and which doesn't fit their money-making agenda.