Suffolk cruise line confident for future despite Covid-19

Peter Deer, managing director of Fred Olsen, said he was confident passengers would feel safe onboard their vessels...

Peter Deer, managing director of Fred Olsen, said he was confident passengers would feel safe onboard their vessels Picture: PAGEPIX LTD - Credit: Archant

The boss of a Suffolk cruise line said that bookings for cruises over the next two years are “very strong” despite the pandemic.

Currently Fred Olsen's fleet is in Scotland being kept ready to sail again Pictured is Fred Olsen's ship Braemar.

Currently Fred Olsen's fleet is in Scotland being kept ready to sail again Pictured is Fred Olsen's ship Braemar. Picture: FRED OLSEN - Credit: Archant

Peter Deer, managing director of Ipswich-based cruise line Fred Olsen, said the company could continue as it is with its ships laid up in Scotland into next year.

But if it goes on until the end of 2021 he said the company would need to look at “refinancing”.

“It can’t go on forever that’s for sure,” Mr Deer said. “We can see we can go into next year. We project that we can comfortably sit into next year.

“But if it goes on until the end of next year or the following year we will have to look at refinancing our business.”

Peter Deer said bookings for cruises in 2021 and 2022 are 'very strong'. Pictured is Fred Olsen's ship Balmoral in Flam...

Peter Deer said bookings for cruises in 2021 and 2022 are 'very strong'. Pictured is Fred Olsen's ship Balmoral in Flam, Norway Picture: FRED OLSEN - Credit: Archant

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Currently Fred Olsen has around 200 staff onboard their vessels in Scotland making sure they are prepared to begin cruising again when the time comes.

The cruise line is currently scheduled to beginning cruising in around February next year.

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“I know that bookings are very strong for 2021,” Mr Deer said. “And bookings are also very strong for what is on sale for 2022.

“Some of that’s because people have cancelled for this year and they’ve moved it to next year, but the majority of people have simply booked next years holiday.”

But he said the plan for getting back on the water is constantly under review.

“It’s all about watching what is happening in the UK,” he said. “The important part for us is having a really clear plan.

“The government already support a framework which has been put together by the cruise community.

“It’s just not got to the point where the Foreign Office has felt comfortable to lift the advice on cruising at this stage.”

As part of this plan Fred Olsen is implementing a five point plan to keep passengers safe.

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Mr Deer said that the programme would take people from door to door and include taking a test at home, another rapid test before they get on to the vessel and strict protocols once aboard.

He said: “I feel pretty confident that by the time you step on board a cruise ship, you know that cruise ship will be Covid-free.

“You will be like one big bubble is the best way that I can describe it.

“Of course there’s no such thing as no risk of Covid, that’s impossible, but we’re aiming for a very, very low risk of Covid being on our vessels.

“Fred Olsen has a safe sailing charter and we won’t go back cruising until we know it’s safe to do so.”