As Port of Tyne welcomes a record number of cruise ships, we take a look at all the Fred. Olsen cruises from Newcastle this year
If, like us, you’re based on Tyneside, 2016 is going to be a great year if you’re a fan of cruises – or even considering one for the first time.
Port of Tyne revealed last week that 2016 will see a record-breaking 42 cruise ships call at its Newcastle International Passenger Terminal at North Shields. This includes both turnaround cruises – those starting or finishing at the Port – as well as transit cruises, where passengers sailing somewhere further afield get to enjoy a stop in Newcastle, and a chance to disembark and sample the region’s attractions.
One of the biggest names in cruises, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines (listed in our Directory here), has been operating regular cruise calls from Newcastle since 2006, but in 2016 it’s going a step further and making Port of Tyne the base for its flagship liner, the 1,350-guest Balmoral.
Named after the Scottish home of the Royal Family, Balmoral is the largest and newest cruise ship in the Fred. Olsen family. It’s still smaller and cosier than many other companies’ cruise liners, though, helping to create an on-board atmosphere that is relaxed, friendly and personal.
So, if Balmoral takes your fancy, what Fred. Olsen cruises from Newcastle can you enjoy in 2016? Let’s take a look at all 11 of the possible options.
(The usual word of warning – all the prices and itineraries that we mention here were correct on 21 February 2016, but be sure to visit the Fred. Olsen website for all the latest updates.)
Fred. Olsen cruises from Newcastle
Five-Night Fjords (L1609)
First up is Five-Night Fjords, departing on 21 May 2016 for (you guessed it) five nights.
If you’re looking to cruise northwards, one of the obvious advantages of a Newcastle departure over a port in the south is that you’re already partway there, giving you more time in the heart of Norway and less time on the open sea.
On Five-Night Fjords you’ll enjoy cruising through majestic, stunningly scenic fjords such as Lysefjord, Hardangerfjord and Maurangerfjord, and also fit in calls to the lovely city of Bergen (see visitbergen.com) and the tiny village of Eidfjord.
It’s affordable, too, with prices starting at £599 per person for an inside cabin. [more info]
Norwegian Festival & Fjords (L1610)
Another May departure, the Norwegian Festival & Fjords cruise is quite similar to Five-Night Fjords.
Again, it brings in Lysefjord, Hardangerfjord and Maurangerfjord, but this time you arrive in Bergen in time for the International Festival (fib.no), an annual celebration of Norwegian music, culture and the performing arts.
Prices are once again from £599 per person, making it a great choice if you’re looking to experience a cruise for the first time. [more info]
Icelandic Wildlife, Falls & Hot Springs (L1611)
If Norway doesn’t appeal, don’t worry – how about Iceland instead?
The Icelandic Wildlife, Falls & Hot Springs cruise departs from Newcastle for 11 nights on 31 May 2016, where you’ll enjoy stunning scenic cruising through fjords and across the Arctic Circle.
This cruise will give you time to explore amazing natural wonders and see if you can spot some of the elusive Arctic wildlife, including native seabirds and Arctic foxes.
In addition, you’ll get to enjoy overnight stays in Akureyri and the Icelandic capital, Reykjavik (visitreykjavik.is); visit the attractive and welcoming towns of Isafjordur and Seydisfjordur; and call at Klaksvik in the Faroe Islands on the way home.
Prices for this cruise start at £1,299 per person. [more info]
Fred.’s Favourite Fjords (L1612)
Departing from Newcastle on 11 June 2016, the 7-night Fred.’s Favourite Fjords cruise does what it says on the label – gliding you through the best of Norway’s fjords and astonishing natural wonders. Prices are from £1,599 per person for a superior outside cabin.
Among the scenic highlights are the Preikestolen Mountain Plateau, the Jostedalsbreen Glacier – continental Europe’s largest glacier – and the intriguing Kjeragbolten, a large round rock that’s wedged into a mountain crevice above an 800-feet drop. Posing for a photo on the boulder – like these daredevil tourists last year – isn’t recommended, though!
This is clearly a popular cruise, and availability at the time of writing is limited – you’re advised to give Fred. Olsen a ring to check whether any cheaper inside or outside cabins are available. Alternatively, there’s another (slightly different) Fred.’s Favourite Fjords cruise departing on 23 July (see below), which still has plenty of the cheaper cabin options available. [more info]
Britain’s Historic Sites & Scenic Delights (L1613)
As anyone who loves travelling in Britain will tell you, you certainly don’t have to go abroad to experience beautiful scenery and magical places.
So, if you’d rather stay a little closer to home, this circuit around Great Britain on the Britain’s Historic Sites & Scenic Delights cruise – departing from Newcastle on 18 June 2016 for 10 nights (from £1,099 per person) – may well appeal.
First stop is the iconic white cliffs and impressive castle in Dover (as featured in our English Heritage castles blog from last year), before sailing on to the bustling Cornish port of Falmouth via a stop in St Peter Port in Guernsey.
Then it’s on to Ireland, with time to discover Dublin’s abundance of famous sights (visitdublin.com) – or just sample the local pubs and shopping. If you need inspiration, our Places We Like article about Dublin includes plenty of suggestions for how you might fill your day.
Sailing on via Anglesey, the astonishing Fingal’s Cave on Staffa, and Invergordon – the gateway to Loch Ness – your final stop is Edinburgh (thisisedinburgh.com), whose rich history and famous castle barely require introduction – though if you still need help, we do have an excellent Places We Like article about Edinburgh as well. [more info]
Spain, Portugal & Guernsey (L1614)
If sun, sea and shopping is your thing, this 11-night summer cruise to Spain, Portugal and Guernsey – departing on 28 June 2016 – could be just the ticket.
There’s a chance to pick up some tax-free bargains in the shops and boutiques of St Peter Port (visitguernsey.com/st-peter-port) before enjoying the relaxing cruise onward to Lisbon (visitlisboa.com), the vibrant Portuguese capital.
It would also be rude not to enjoy a tipple or two in Oporto – famous, after all, for its fortified wines – before travelling on to the Spanish towns of El Ferrol and Vigo.
Prices for this cruise start at £1,149 per person. [more info]
The Wonders of Spitsbergen (L1615)
It’s back to the Arctic for Balmoral on 9 July 2016, as it departs for a 14-night cruise to Spitzbergen, in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. If you love natural wonders, this cruise is full of them – from jaw-dropping waterfalls to imposing mountains, with plenty pf Arctic wildlife to enjoy along the way.
Over the fortnight of The Wonders of Spitzbergen cruise you’ll enjoy unforgettable scenic cruising along the magnificent Norwegian fjords as you head towards the Arctic Circle, with stops in colourful Alesund and the stunning situated town of Tromsø.
Via Norway’s North Cape – home to thousands of reindeer at that time of year – you’ll then arrive on Svalbard (visitsvalbard.com), with plenty of time to explore the breathtaking Arctic wilderness of Longyearbyen, the islands’ biggest settlement.
Prices for this cruise are from £1,799 per person for an inside cabin. [more info]
Fred.’s Favourite Fjords (L1616)
Missed the Fred.’s Favourite Fjords cruise in June? Not to worry – you can do it all again for 7 nights from 23 July 2016.
The itinerary for the July Fred.’s Favourite Fjords cruise isn’t in quite the same order as the June one, but from what we can see it covers the same destinations.
At the time of writing there are also still inside cabins available from £899 per person, so if you’re looking to do the fjords on a more compact budget this might be the one to go for. [more info]
Baltic Capitals & Stockholm Archipelago (L1617)
Departing on 30 July 2016 for 13 nights, Fred. Olsen’s Baltic Capitals & Stockholm Archipelago cruise is the perfect option if your preference is for bustling cosmopolitan cities over wildlife spotting in the middle of nowhere.
On this cruise you’ll sail through the stunning islands of the Stockholm Archipelago on your way to experience the amazing architecture, rich history and vibrant culture of the beautiful cities of the Baltic.
Highlights include overnight stays in both the Swedish capital, Stockholm (visitstockholm.com), and in St Petersburg – the so-called ‘Venice of the North’.
As if that’s not enough, you also get to explore three more historic Baltic capitals – Tallinn in Estonia, Riga in Latvia with its UNESCO-listed centre, and Copenhagen in Denmark.
Inside cabins on this cruise start at £1,699 per person. [more info]
Spain, Portugal & the Canary Islands (L1618)
It’s back to (a hopefully) sun-drenched southern Europe for Balmoral’s next cruise, heading off to Spain, Portugal and the Canary Islands for 15 nights of rest and relaxation on 12 August 2016.
Sailing via La Coruña and Oporto you’ll then spend a day on the beautiful island of Madeira (visitmadeira.pt), with chance to admire the charming architecture that reflects the island’s Portuguese and Spanish influences.
On to the Canary Islands (hellocanaryislands.com), you can soak up the glorious sunshine on Santa Cruz’s golden beaches, appreciate Gran Canaria’s year-round warmth in Las Palmas, and explore Lanzarote’s impressive lunar-like landscapes from your based in Arrecife.
On the return journey, enjoy a day in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon, and a chance to explore its colourful historic centre.
Prices start at £1,499 per person for an inside cabin. [more info]
The Phenomenal Fjords of Scenic Norway (L1619)
The Norwegian fjords are perennially popular with Fred. Olsen’s customers, so it’s little surprise that Balmoral is heading back up north for its final Newcastle cruise departure of 2016, leaving for 7 nights on 27 August.
On this epic adventure to ‘The Phenomenal Fjords of Scenic Norway’ you’ll spend hours cruising among some of the most impressive natural landscapes not just in Europe but anywhere in the world.
From Flåm you can journey on the famous Flåmsbana railway into the heart of an incredible natural landscape, where highlights include the spectacular Kjosfossen waterfall.
The cruise also includes a chance to explore the charming Hanseatic city of Bergen and a stop-off in busy and beautiful Molde (visitmolde.com), “the town of jazz and roses”. [more info]
Special offers until 2 March 2016
If you need a little extra persuasion to get your 2016 cruise organised, anyone booking by 2 March 2016 can take advantage of ‘Fred.’s Cruise Sale’, with all the cruises that we’ve described above benefitting from either ‘Free drinks and your tips paid’ or ‘3 cruises for the price of 2’, plus ‘Free on board spend – up to £300 per twin cabin’.
Check out the Fred. Olsen website for the full details and Ts&Cs, and to get your booking underway!