It’s been an exciting few weeks for UK-based Fred.Olsen Cruises. The line has announced details of an exciting new mini-UK getaway with a big theme, a noted guest speaker on one of the line’s most diverse voyages, and a new maiden call to a notable Spanish city rich with culture.
The Titanic Mini-Cruise
Next year, Balmoral has been chartered to operate a sold-out voyage that will pay homage to one of the most legendary ships of all time: the RMS Titanic. April 15, 2012 will mark one hundred years to the day that the Titanic slipped beneath the icy waves of the North Atlantic.
However, it’s important to remember that April 10, 2012 also marks one hundred years since the great ship departed her Southampton berth on her one and only voyage. In this spirit, Fred. Olsen Cruises will send Balmoral on a commemorative five-night mini-cruise that celebrates some of the most important ports in Titanic’s short existence.
Departing on April 3, 2012 from Southampton, England – not far from the berth where Titanic herself set sail – passengers will sail to Liverpool, England and Belfast, Northern Ireland.
While Titanic herself never called on Liverpool, the city was the historic turnaround point for both White Star and Cunard liners destined for America until both lines moved operations to the more southern port of Southampton in the early 1900’s. For many migrants though, Liverpool was the last European city they would set foot on before their arrival in the much-coveted “New World.”
Belfast, however, is flush with Titanic history. It was here that the enormous White Star liner was constructed along with her sister-ships Olympic and Britannic, the latter of which tragically sank in the Agean after being torpedoed during World War I. While shipbuilding is no longer their primary focus, the Harland & Wolff shipyard still exists to this day, along with the massive fitting-out dock constructed specially for the ships, which were the largest in the world at the time of their construction between 1909 and 1911.
The city’s association with the Titanic runs deeper than just the physical yard, though: nearly everyone at the turn of the century knew someone who was involved in building the great ship, and many of Titanic’s crew onboard that fateful voyage had boarded in Belfast, taking the ship first on her sea trials and then on her delivery voyage to Southampton, England.
One hundred years later, guests onboard Balmoral will have the opportunity to visit the newly-constructed, state of the art, six-story “Titanic Belfast” museum, located at the Harland & Wolff shipyard. The museum will officially open in April 2012.
To the Amazon with the Colonel
Another equally-fascinating experience will occur in February 2012 aboard Braemar’s voyage M1203; a breathtaking cruise through the famous Brazilian Amazon.
Braemar sails deep into the heart of the Amazon, visiting Santarem, Parintins and Manaus following her departure from Bridgetown, Barbados. Along for the journey is noted speaker and explorer, Colonel John Blashford-Snell, who will be joining Braemar as part of Fred. Olsen Cruises continuing onboard enrichment program, Vistas.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Colonel, know that you’d be hard-pressed to find a more qualified and exciting guest speaker: Blashford-Snell has led over 100 expeditions, including the first vehicle crossing of the Darien gap in 1971-72 and the remarkable 1974-75 navigation of the Great Zaire River, better known as the Congo. Over 2,700 miles of this deeply mysterious region were explored on that successful venture. As a Royal Engineers’ Captain, John Blashford-Snell was invited by the Emperor of Ethiopia to assemble and lead a team to explore the famous Blue Nile, a success that cleared the way for numerous future expeditions.
Passengers aboard Braemar are on their own incredible expedition, too. Cruises sailing the Amazon River are few and far between, and this voyage promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience if there ever was one. Passengers originating in the UK will also have one less obstacle to worry about: the cruise fare for this voyage includes roundtrip airfare to Barbados, on aircraft specially-chartered exclusively for Fred. Olsen guests.
The Braemar of Seville
Braemar is also the subject of another exciting event for Fred. Olsen Cruises: their maiden call to the historic Spanish port of Seville on June 27th.
Matt Grimes, Fred. Olsen’s Director of Planning, Ports and Logistics said he was delighted that Braemar would be the first Fred. Olsen vessel to call on Seville, adding, “the recent refurbishment of the port’s entrance lock means that we are able to call into the heart of Seville, berthing the ship only a short walk from the centre of the Andalusian capital. It is an important addition to our busy cruise programme, and offers an exciting combination of tradition and innovation, making it an ideal destination for the enjoyment of our guests. The call demonstrates [Fred Olsen’s] ability to reach smaller ports that today’s new mega-liners are unable to call at.”
Seville Tourism Board’s Head of Promotion and Marketing, Santiago García-Dils de la Vega, added, “The maiden call of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines in Seville City is a moment of special satisfaction after the fruitful Promotional Action Plan that the Seville Tourism Board and the Port of Seville have developed in co-operation with this prestigious cruise line over the past few years.”
Sailing some 40 nautical miles inland from the coast, guests aboard Braemar will have the opportunity to experience the splendour and scenery along the Guadalquivir River as they journey to Seville.
For more information on Fred. Olsen Cruises, their fleet and destinations, be sure to visit our Fred. Olsen Cruises overview right here on The Avid Cruiser.