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I’ve received an email from Fred. Olsen about the recently-completed programme of refits to the whole of their fleet.

All four of their ships – Black Watch, Boudicca, Braemar and Balmoral – have undergone quite lengthy dry docks in Germany during which they received significant refurbishment. It sounds as if most, if not all, cabins on all four ships have been refurbished with new carpets and soft furnishings and on some of the ship at least – and possibly all four – new larger, flat-screen TVs which include interactive functionality. Then a lot of work seems to have been done in public areas around each of the ships, with the locations of some facilities being changed, new restaurants being created, and general updates being done. There’s an interesting page on the Fred. Olsen website that gives a lot of details, and includes some videos.

The perennial question about Fred. Olsen’s fleet is: are they ever going to order a new-build ship? Rumours about this possibility have been raised periodically for as long as I can remember – which would be about 10 years – but nothing has ever actually transpired. Malcolm Oliver did a post about some current rumours of a new build in his blog recently – here’s a link.

It’s worth remembering just how old the Fred. Olsen ships are: Boudicca and Black Watch are now 46 and 45 years old respectively; Balmoral is 30 years old; and even Braemar, the baby of the fleet, is 25 this year. In fact Fred. Olsen deserve great praise in keeping these older ships in the excellent condition that they are. But sooner or later they will need to be replaced. The last ship they had to relinquish, Black Prince, was let go because she wouldn’t have met the requirement of the updated SOLAS 2010 regulations, and it wasn’t feasible to make the required changes. I’m not aware of any forthcoming ‘Gotcha!’ of this type for the current ships, but it’s always possible, and Fred. Olsen might be faced with replacing one or more ships in the fleet.

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