Fred. Olsen Builds River Product

Founded in the mid-19th Century, Fred. Olsen was building on a remarkable legacy when it launched into riverboat cruising in 2018. The company’s ocean-going vessels are small enough to take in a bit of the Seine in France, and the Guadalquivir on the way into Seville, but had never had a truly dedicated freshwater ship. Chartering the 360-foot long Brabant from Lüftner Cruises, river-boating newcomer Fred. Olsen applied its 170-years of experience.

Replicating the ocean-going product, the small-ship cruising elements Fred. Olsen considers key are scenic cruising, closer docking, and onboard ambience. It sails the 2006-built Brabant with 40 crew for the 156 passengers, and emphasizes a personalized, immersive passenger experience, according to the 2020 European River Cruise Market Report by Cruise Industry News.

For its second season, the line launched an enhanced enrichment program, according to a statement, including both onboard talks with subject-matter experts, and in-depth shore excursion programs led by insightful guides local to the ports of call.

New in 2019, an optional shore excursions package includes five shore tours relevant to the specific theme of the cruise – from discovering iconic landmarks to sampling local drinks – sells for a £200 set price.

Guest reviews were positive enough to prompt feedback-monitor Feefo to give the line its Trusted Service Award following Fred. Olsen’s first river season. The rating is based solely on reviews.

Line executives boast – with so much experience – they know their guests well, what they love to do, and, while their first season with Brabant went well, they are committed to improving the product.

The line reported a very successful inaugural cruise season with the Brabant – so much so that its looking into expanding the fleet when the time is right. No definite plans for purchasing or chartering another ship have been set yet, a company representative said.

Bookings in 2019 are up an encouraging 30 percent over the same time last year. The line projects 2020 to grow at the same rate as it becomes better known in the river cruise market. Company officials are looking for a 14 percent year-on-year increase in guest numbers.

In 2019, itineraries included the Rhine, the Main, the Moselle, and the Danube, with five to 25 nights cruises.

Next year, Fred. Olsen is introducing 10 maiden calls in five new areas. This includes maiden calls into Luxembourg, taking in the tiny Grevenmacher and Remich communities – places few other river ships venture. They’ll also offer a maiden sailing along the Danube Delta, with its rich and diverse flora and fauna, into the Wachau Valley near Vienna, and to the Iron Gates Gorge on the border of Serbia and Romania.

In 2020, Brabant will visit Trier and Nierstein, in Germany; Cetate, Galați and Dobreta-Turnu Severin, in Romania; Donji Milanovac, in Serbia; Enkhuizen, in The Netherlands; and Vukovar, in Croatia.

About the 2020 European Cruise River Market Report 

The new European Cruise Market Report provides a comprehensive look at the river cruise business with capacity metrics by river and brand, company profiles and much more. 100+ pages of insights. Learn more. 

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