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Tommart

P&O or Fred Olsen?

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Some helpful comments in the P&O forum are leading me to consider Fred Olsen as an alternative to P&O. 


Must admit that P&O's attitude towards their customers (the Amsterdam Ijmuiden con trick for example) have led to that, and frankly it's all got a bit too Skegness/Blackpool/Butlins lately.

 

Anyone use both? How do the ships and onboard services/facilities compare? 
 

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I commented on the P&O forum. We're going to try  FO  again.  The Braemar, hopefully it will be as enjoyable as the first one. Wasn't perfect but that would be unrealistic 😆 there shall be a couple of new ports for us, that's what we like something new. Have been with P&O to the Caribbean many times and it would be the same ports.

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We have cruised with P&O once and will not cruise with them again. We have cruised on Fred Olsen Braemar many times and although we try other cruise lines we always end up going back to Fred. If you like a more traditional cruise experience catering for older passengers you will not be disappointed with Fred. 

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The P&O ships are bigger and have many more facilities than the Fred ones. As a result there is much more choice of entertainment.

 

More choice of extra pay restaurants, there is nothing like the Epicurean or Glasshouse on Fred. We did do the extra pay restaurant on Fred and it was extremely basic.

 

Cabins prices on Fred are much more expensive with a balcony on P&O being available for the price of a basic inside on Fred.

 

Fred has the advantage of having a sort of country house feel to it. The smaller ships mean a lot less queues for everything from embarkation to tenders. I get really fed up with the queues on Pandora so it makes a nice change.

 

Food and service on Fred is generally better, particularly the lunchtime buffets some of which are quite impressive eg the Neptune buffet. Food is not however available all day as it is on p&O so if you are late back from a trip there is only afternoon tea.

 

Drinks prices on Fred are very reasonable, particularly if you buy the all inclusive which is great value.

 

The biggest difference is the age profile with Fred definitely being targeted at and populated by a very much older demographic than pando and everything is geared to this older age group.

 

Let me know if there is anything specific you need to know.

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We have just returned from our second trip on the Braemar, having also cruised twice on the Balmoral. We have not cruised with P & O, but this time we have met several people who have moved from P&O to Fred. Olsen and much preferred Fred, seemingly for the better food,  atmosphere, pleasant decor and excellent service.

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14 hours ago, Eglesbrech said:

Food is not however available all day as it is on p&O so if you are late back from a trip there is only afternoon tea.

 

 

Yes we find that the sweetness of the afternoon teas a bit annoying, something a bit more savory could easily be added.  To be honest though, it is not Fred's only food offering as you can get room service throughout the day (until 11pm I think).  A soup and a one of their platters is a very good late lunch and it usually only takes about 20 mins which is easily spent in your cabin freshening up and having a drink after a trip ashore - then it miraculously appears 🙂

 

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26 minutes ago, tring said:

 

Yes we find that the sweetness of the afternoon teas a bit annoying, something a bit more savory could easily be added.  To be honest though, it is not Fred's only food offering as you can get room service throughout the day (until 11pm I think).  A soup and a one of their platters is a very good late lunch and it usually only takes about 20 mins which is easily spent in your cabin freshening up and having a drink after a trip ashore - then it miraculously appears 🙂

 

I could not remember if they did a room service offering and if they did what it was so thanks for that clarification. For information P&O now charge for all room service except a basic breakfast. 

 

Room service is an option if you are in a decent cabin but not much use for an inside for example, like eating in a cupboard 😀

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We were on Boudicca early April and no charge then, but always a possibility in the future I suppose.  The only thing they charge for is party trays of canapes.

 

Even some outside cabins are not that easy to eat in either, but even if we take turns to eat it is worth having something savoury at times - can also be quicker to get out on deck for the sailaway.  We also use room service at times if docking about lunch time - saves battling our way into the restaurant.

 

Only cold food options on room service apart from soup.  You can ask for a roll with it though and orange juice.  

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We cruise frequently with Fred and consider them superior to P&O in most respects.  We did also cruise fairly frequently with P&O in the past but haven't since 2015 because of falling standards [although this is reflected in the cheaper fares].  However, after 5 years absence we now have two cruises booked with P&O.  The first is a short New Year cruise with friends on the Ventura.  We want to be at home this year at Christmas to spend time with grandchildren and, as far as I can see, P&O is the only cruise line that offers a short New Year only cruise.  The second P&O cruise we have booked is also on the Ventura next year and is a "Strictly come Dancing" cruise.  Again only P&O offers this option.[And I was under Strictly instructions to book this!]

So, to sum up, itinerary will always come first with us but, all things being equal, we would always choose Fred over P&O.

Talking about afternoon tea on Fred why or why do most of their sandwich fillings include chopped onions?  Ugh!

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I preferred Fred last time we were on, but have booked a balcony this time and we are concerned because all balconies allow smoking. That colours if we will use them again, unlikely to do so, because we have now enjoyed balconies on other lines and would want to have one on all of our cruises.

 

Food on PO was not as good, not as friendly, better but poor entertainment in evenings.

 

Sadly I would now direct you elsewhere for prices and smoking policies if you want a balcony.

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Having Cruised P&O and Fred, we have also cruised with Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Costa and Marella, so have a varied view of the cruise lines. We prefer to find a place to visit and then find a cruise line that will visit on the dates we want. Fred is low down our list due to the massive price increases and the drinks package doesn't give you value for money (unless you get it for free on an offer), we drank what we wanted, when we wanted and paid for each drink and still paid less than £15 per day each. The drinks package is very limited in what you can have and if you then think you get other drinks half price, ad £15 to that half price, cause that is what you are truly paying. I worked it out as a 7 drinks minimum per day to just break even. 

 

For a prime example, Boudicca in a Terrace Balcony Suite (5th top tier) is 25% more than a Butler Suite on Ventura (2nd top tier). 

Our prefered cruise line was Royal Carribean for the ships and fun and games, but for a wonderful cruise experience and entertainment and ports of call, for value for money, we love Marella. We got an Owners Suite with flights (to the Med) and drinks package and Grats included for less than a Junior Suite Only on Royal. And now Marella has decent sized ships (2 old Royal and 2 old Celebrity), we are looking forward to August this year to experience the best of both.

 

Fred did upgrade all of their ships recently and it's not so much like staying at Grannies house and more a country hotel, but the increase in price has pushed them out of the market for me. The only cruise line I would say to avoid is Carnival, really hated them. That's a long story and not for here. See me on a ship, buy me a rum and I'll tell you all. 

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We have done several cruises on both P&O and Fred.   We love the friendliness of Fred...it’s like being in a country hotel. The food and entertainment was very good. The only downside was the old-fashioned cabins but heyho you only use them to sleep in.  Out recent cruise on P&O Aurora....50 nights to Amazon...was actually one of the best P&O holidays we have had with them...and we have been cruising with them since 1978..... So it’s difficult to say but we have a 70 night booked on Balmoral for `Jan 2020 and are really looks forward to it...and the great price drinks package!  Whatever you chose, Imhope you have a great time.

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I we have cruised with both P&O and Fred. I think they both have their pros and cons. On P&O we like the fact we are not the last 2 in the bar at night. They both offer excellent service, but Fred’s food is better. We also like the lectures and sea days entertainment on both. Far superior to Celebrity.

 

Fred do offer some slightly different itineraries, but their pricing has gone through the roof.

 

for food we prefer Cunard, though. Think we may try Princess next.

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I have sailed with P & O and Fred and much prefer the smaller ships Fred has. My cruises with P & O were on the Oceana twice, and the best ship P & O had, the Artemis. I have sailed on all 4 of Fred's ships, Braemar being my favourite. I have not sailed on any of P & O big new ships.

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We did many Fred cruises years ago - never P and O.  I have been doing a comparison between Fred and Saga.  A Canaries trip this autumn ,same length, from Southampton, works out at £500 p p more on Saga Sapphire.  However, this includes door to door transport, insurance even if you are old, all tips, and all drinks.  I think there is then not much to choose financially, and on Saga you have open dining, from 6.45 to 9 each evening, though you can opt for a regular table each evening, and can obviously go in whenever you want in these hours.  To my mind, much preferable to two sittings.  Also very restricted smoking.

 

If you are over 50, worth a thought?   Sapphire is in her last season, and the new ship is lovely, but currently more expensive per day.  I feel that Sapphire resembles the Fred ships in many ways, being elderly, but she is beautifully kept and with friendly caring staff, who remain with the company for years and years.  And of course has a very British ambiance.

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