(5:55 p.m. BST) -- Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines will transfer its two most venerable cruise ships, Black Watch and Boudicca, out of the fleet. Neither vessel will re-enter service for the line when it resumes cruises in 2021.
Itineraries currently available for sale on both ships are still open for reservation and will be transferred to Bolette and Borealis, formerly Holland America Line's Amsterdam and Rotterdam, which Fred. Olsen bought in July.
"If you have a future booking on Black Watch or Boudicca, good news! You will now be sailing aboard Bolette or Borealis," Fred. Olsen writes in an email to booked passengers. "Please bear with us as there is now much to do. ... We will be transferring each booking individually and matching your cabin to one of a similar grade and standard on the new ship. We know you will have a lot of questions so we will write to you shortly with details of your revised booking on Bolette or Borealis. Please wait for your letter before calling us, we expect to be very busy and wouldn't want you to wait too long in call queues."
Bolette and Borealis will increase Fred. Olsen's overall capacity by 30 percent. The two vessels carry under 1,400 passengers apiece and offer more open space and larger, more modern public areas.
Black Watch joined the Fred. Olsen fleet in 1996. Built in 1971, the ship initially entered service for much-loved Royal Viking Line as its Royal Viking Star. It also had a short stint with Norwegian Cruise Line as its Westward between 1991 and 1994.
Boudicca also began life with Royal Viking Line, entering service in 1973 as Royal Viking Sky. It remained with the line until 1991 where it passed through a succession of owners before joining the Fred. Olsen fleet in 2005.
In a statement issued to press, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines managing director Peter Deer stated that the future of Black Watch and Boudicca is still under consideration -- meaning it is unknown if they will be sold to another line or scrapped. Given their age and the depressed second-hand tonnage market as a result of the global health pandemic, scrapping might be the most plausible option.
"I am pleased to say we are now at the stage of finalising our back in the water plans, and we are very excited to be doing this with two new vessels within our fleet," Deer said. "While we are still looking at a number of options for Boudicca and Black Watch, what we do know is that they won't resume sailing with us when we do start to cruise again.
"We know that these ships are much loved among our guests, as indeed they are by us, but it is time to evolve and look ahead to a long and bright future for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines.
"We will soon be revealing more details on our plans to resume sailing again, but in the meantime we hope many of you will join us on our virtual farewell cruises to see our two ships off in style."
Fred. Olsen will be holding a virtual cruise programme on Facebook beginning from 24 August to honour the two vessels. Guests and crew are invited to share their favourite memories and photographs of Black Watch and Boudicca and to reminisce about sailings onboard.
Passengers with existing bookings aboard Black Watch and Boudicca will be contacted by Fred. Olsen in the coming weeks with new details. Itineraries advertised aboard both vessels are still available for booking online, and all new bookings will automatically be transferred over to Bolette and Borealis.
Bookings and itineraries aboard Fred. Olsen's other two vessels, Balmoral and Braemar, remain unaffected.