we have not yet made the full announcement, and we do not have a time scale for doing so at the current time

Just over a month ago I posted about an email I’d received from Fred. Olsen’s marketing department. It read:-

Hi All,

We just wanted to share with you the exciting news that Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is making a significant investment across its fleet and moving in a different direction…

More details to follow on Monday 13th June 2016, so save a space!

Then on 13 June (which was supposed to be the big day) I received another email:

Thanks for all your interest in our ‘new investment’ e-mail last Friday.

Unfortunately, we are just finalising some last-minute details and will have to keep you in suspense a little while longer…

Apologies for the delay and any inconvenience caused, but rest assured that you will be the first to hear when we are in a position to make the full announcement.

Today I decided to follow this up and asked them if an announcement had ever been made, and pretty much immediately I received this reply:

No, we have not yet made the full announcement, and we do not have a time scale for doing so at the current time.

So it looks to me as if something major has gone wrong somewhere. Here’s a link to my original post on this topic. What’s also interesting is that I can’t find any rumours as to what the announcement might have been about. The Fred Olsen forum on Cruise Critic is completely silent about it, for example, and I can’t see anything on Facebook. That said, someone (Malcolm Oliver?) pointed out that their latest long-term brochure contains details of future itineraries for Black Watch, Braemar and Balmoral but not for Boudicca. Could the announcement have been about a replacement?

It’s becoming known that Fathom, Carnival Corp’s experiment in “social impact cruising” is having some problems. Specifically, in filling the voyages to the Dominican Republic. (Adonia, Fathom’s ship, alternates 7 night cruises to the Dominican Republic with similar-length cruises to Cuba.)

The point about the trips to the Dominican Republic is that Fathom passengers are supposed to be giving something back. In an earlier post I said that “passengers disembarking in the Dominican Republic may volunteer to work on various projects – provision of drinking water, agricultural projects and involvement in literacy projects have been mentioned“, although these activities are not mandatory. Nonetheless, I understand that the ‘feel’ of the cruise is set by the availability of these activities.

It seems that Fathom have been struggling to fill Adonia for Dominican Republic cruises (there’s no such problems for the cruises to Cuba). I’ve heard (from various different sources) that prices for the 7 night cruises have at times been as low as $250 per person. Now, however, I gather that Fathom is changing its marketing. It will increasingly target churches and private schools, because these are two places that, to put it crudely, are interested in “good works”. Ron Fenska, Fathom’s vice-president of sales, is reported as saying “There is no shortage of different types of groups that travel“. Fathom’s problem so far, I suppose, has been to get to those specific groups.

Well, I wish them luck – it’s a bold and innovative venture. But there must be bean-counters back at Carnival Corp’s HQ in Miami who are wondering. Adonia is an R-ship, and her sisters (sailing with Princess, Azamara and Oceania) are all marketed as luxury ships with prices to match.  It’s hard to find an exact match, but as an example an 8 night ‘around Britain’ cruise on Pacific Princess (another R-ship) is listed at £1399 per person – yes, GBP – for an Inside Cabin, and I don’t think that includes air fares. Yet Fathom are currently advertising an inside cabin on Adonia for $499. I wonder how long Carnival Corp will support that? – especially as a 7 night cruise to Cuba this autumn seems to be on sale for $1200 per person (in an inside cabin).

Here’s a link to an article about Fathom’s new marketing and sales strategy.

…for which I must apologise.

The truth is that I have been on holiday (non-cruise). You can read about it here, in fact. But I’m back now – have been for a couple of weeks, in fact – so it’s time to knuckle down and blog about cruising. Except I’m finding it hard to find anything to blog about.

Never mind – something will occur, I’m sure. Actually, there is one thing I want to do, although it will require some research, and that’s do some coverage of the ‘Cruise ships are major polluters’ comment that’s been made recently. I don’t yet have a genuine feel for the balance of the argument so I can’t at the moment comment. No-one likes to think that the things they like to do – drive, fly, cruise – are causing pollution and adding to greenhouse gases, but realistically we all know that they must be. Where should we draw the line? So I’m going to see if I can get my head around the issue regarding pollution caused by cruise ships. It may be a while before I’m able to publish anything, however.

This has been a day for receiving interesting emails from cruise lines. In addition to the incorrect credit card pre-authorisation email from P&O I also received this email from Fred. Olsen:

Hi All,

We just wanted to share with you the exciting news that Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines is making a significant investment across its fleet and moving in a different direction…

More details to follow on Monday 13th June 2016, so save a space!

I’m quite intrigued by this. Obviously Fred. Olsen are faced with the fact that two of their ships, Black Watch and Boudicca, are now very old – 40 years+ in each case. I know they’re very well maintained, but they are old and show it in their on-board arrangements. Perhaps Fred Olsen are going to announce a new build? – although the comment “… making a significant investment across its fleet” does seem to the talking about the current fleet. Then there’s the comment “… and moving in a different direction…” at the end; the possibilities for that are endless.

We must wait until Monday to learn more.

Well, how about this? I received the email below from P&O earlier today:

Dear ….., 

We hope you enjoyed your cruise on Britannia.

We have, since your return, experienced an issue with our on-board account settlement process.

What this means for you is that a second amount (not your on-board account figure) has been pre-authorised on the card you registered on-board. We do pre-authorise funds everyday whilst you are on the cruise, however, on this occasion it happened post cruise, due to an incorrect file being processed.

I want to personally reassure you that this is NOT an additional payment and the money WILL NOT leave your account, however, the funds will be held and therefore will be unavailable for a period of time until released by your card provider. As soon as we realised this had happened we requested a reversal of the pre-authorisation, however, it is your card provider that determines when this money becomes available to you again.

I can assure you that at no time have your personal details been shared or compromised. There is no need for you to take any action, however, please call 0843 374 0111 if you have any questions as a result.

We are very sorry that this has happened and for any inconvenience that it might have caused. 

Kind regards

Christopher Edgington
Director, P&O Cruises


Checking my credit card balance via on-line banking I can see a ‘pending transaction’ of £354.65 for P&O Cruises entered on 7th June, i.e. two days after we disembarked. It’s not going to actually affect me, but I can imagine that it might have an impact on others. Not good, P&O.

Has anyone else received this email?

The pictures above show the cabin we had. It’s a ‘Balcony with Shower and Sofa’ (category GB). As a cabin we preferred it slightly to the equivalent cabins on Ventura / Azura – we thought the small sofa was a definite plus. That balcony, however, is a different matter….

In an earlier post I said I’d put up images showing a comparison of the Britannia balcony with a C deck balcony on Ventura/Azura. Here it is. Remember, the actual cabins behind these two balconies are very similar – standard balcony cabin on Ventura, Balcony cabin with shower & sofa on Britannia – it’s just the balconies that differ. Also remember, all cabins on the port & starboard sides of Britannia have the same size balcony, from the most basic balcony cabin (Balcony cabin with shower and no sofa) to a suite.

Flam-Britannia__MG_3535Here are a few images taken around Britannia. Nothing special, and they’re not comprehensive – just bought they might be interesting.



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