Despite talk of financial uncertainty and a contracting economy, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is expanding its sailing programme in 2009-10.
The line has added ex-U.K. Portsmouth departures to its list of regional ports, with Boudicca set to sail a number of autumn cruises around the Adriatic, Western Mediterranean, Iberia and Cape Verde in 2009.
Adding to this is the number of regional airports -- which next year will climb to 19 -- making it easier for customers to book a fly-cruise with Fred.
Olsen. Aberdeen has been added to the lineup for the first time ever.
The cruise line's marketing director Nigel Lingard said that the increase in U.K. ports and airports is giving people "an alternative to Southampton, offering more choices and making it really easy for people to get the destinations."
The newly announced cruise programme for the 2009-10 season features visits to a total of 312 different ports in 134 countries spread over 160 cruises.
Following the launch of the 43,000-ton, 1,348-passenger Balmoral in February, the Brit line will be adding even more capacity later this year when Braemar returns to the fleet after undergoing a refurbishment and stretching. The refit will add new cabins to the ship, increasing the passenger load to 977 passengers compared to the 727 before the lengthening. A traditional British pub, second swimming pool, new balcony suites, restaurant and an Observatory Lounge will also be added.
Lingard said that ideally the line wouldn't have increased its services so dramatically (60 percent this year) due to current climates. However, he highlighted the fact that because Fred. Olsen caters to the senior market, it has a bonus.
"We appeal directly to the mature "Middle England" market -- a market still growing strongly as us baby-boomers all come to retirement, with ever-lengthening life spans ahead of us."
--by Kelly Ranson, Associate Editor
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June 18, 2008