I met up with my blogging pal Karen and we were immediately impressed with how polite, professional and helpful the staff the staff were during the well organised and smooth check in procedure at the port.
It is exciting climbing aboard a cruise ship and although be were only going to be on board for a few hours there was certainly that 'holiday buzz' in the air and I could definitely see myself joining the ship for a cruise in the future.
We were guided to what I imagine was a ball/dance room and given a taster of what life is like on board. We were presented with champagne and the most glorious afternoon tea (there were hundreds of freshly made delicate cakes and pastries to choose from) by the smartly dressed and attentive staff whilst listening to live music and waiting for the presentation to begin.
I only had my iPhone with me and we only had access to one room but hopefully this shot of the bar and fruit platter will give you some idea of the feeling of opulence and luxury on board.
Port of the Tyne were very enthusiastic about their long partnership with Fred Olsen and it is clear to see with all of the branding and marketing in the area that this partnership is only going to go from strength to strength in years to come.
Fred Olsen pride themselves on "Bringing the world closer to you" and sail from 10 regional ports around the UK. They estimate that 90% of the UK is within 90 minutes of a Fred Olsen port which is pretty impressive. The days of having to take the long trip down to Southampton to enjoy a cruise are certainly long gone with Newcastle and Edinburgh offering the North East a huge selection of destinations including The Baltic, Arctic and Mediterranean, Norway and Canary Islands.
One of the benefits in sailing from Newcastle rather than Southampton is that if you are heading East it will cut a couple of days off your journey which as well as being better for the environment also makes the cruise more budget friendly. There are going to be two 5 night cruises setting sail for the Norwegian Fjords aboard The Balmoral next year and prices start from just £599. This is a recommended 'first time' cruise for somebody who wishes to try cruising or isn't sure it's for them. It is very likely after this first cruise you will return with a huge 64% of people on board a Fred Olsen ship sailing as a repeat booking.
As I was chatting to my brother yesterday about cruising, we both agreed that Iceland is high on our bucket lists! I can't believe you can sail direct from Newcastle to see the amazing hot springs, wildlife and falls. Fred Olsen really pride themselves on providing once in a lifetime experiences and once you are at your destination will really go that extra mile to ensure shore excursions are unforgettable. I love that when Fred Olsen tourists stop at Newcastle they have they option to visit Alnwick castle to take part in a murder mystery and meet the Duchess of Northumberland herself.
Fred Olsen have carried out a lot of research and found that people prefer smaller ships that can reach destinations that larger ships simply can't reach. Apparantly as you sail through the Fjords is almost feels as if you can touch the sides. Smaller ships allow access to Ho Chi Minn, the Kiel canal, Seville and St Petersburg too.
After our time on board I discovered I wasn't exactly Fred Olsen's target market - apparantly the average age of their customer is 67 years old. I don't think I would let that put me off though as I can't think why people would choose an alternative way to visit Iceland or the Norwegian Fjords whatever their age.
You can find out more about Fred Olsen cruises and book here:- http://www.fredolsencruises.com