Fred Olsen is a Norwegian-owned cruise line based in the UK. As far as I am aware, they have three ships - Black Prince (Berlitz rating 2-star+), Braemar (3-star+) and Black Watch (4-star), with a fourth ship coming soon, Boudicca. I have not sailed on any of the ships, so can't give you any information as to what they're like.
We sailed the Braemar twice when she was called the Crown Dynasty and both cruises were fantastic for us, but she is a very small ship and everything is scaled down. It depends on what you want, she is very intimate carrying about 600 passengers, weighs about 20000 tons, so it would take about 7 of her to equal a ship as big as the Voyager. Go for it!!!!!
You may already have seen this, but I got the following from the Fred Olsen website:
The foundations of the present Fred. Olsen organisation were laid in the middle of the 19th century by the three brothers, Fredrik Christian, Petter and Andreas Olsen, of Hvidsten in Norway. After the repeal of the Navigation Act, and during the subsequent expansion in shipping caused by the Crimean War, these vigorous and experienced brothers (they were all shipsí captains) took advantage of the favourable times. Fredrik Christian Olsen bought his first two sailing ships, the schooners Johanne Christian and Elizabeth in 1848. He died in 1875 having owned 22 sailing ships.
Petter Olsenís ship-owning career began in 1852 with the brig Thilda. In his lifetime, he owned a total of 16 sailing ships, besides part interests in several steamships. Andreas Olsen bought the barque De Tre Venner in 1860 and subsequently owned five other sailing ships.
Petter Olsenís son Fredrik was thus continuing an established tradition when, in 1886, he took over the management of two of his fatherís ships. By then the Olsens had owned 40 vessels.
Fred. Olsen owned businesses in England and France. He had taken his Masterís Ticket at the age of 23 and had held command of several of his fatherís ships when he started his career as a shipowner. From the very beginning he had a definite aim: to create a network of regular lines, firstly on the North Sea and later, further afield. He believed that the way to success was to build up a reputation fro service and dependability. He well understood the need to transfer from sail to steam in spite of the fact that sailing ships still remained cheaper to operate. In 1896 he ordered his first steamship, the Bayard.
Four generations later, the family operates companies skilled in various aspects of the tanker, shipbuilding and offshore industries. Aside from the transportation industries, the Fred. Olsen companies also have interests in the luxury hotel sector, estate management, property development and the electronics industry.
Offices for the company are spread throughout the world, although the company headquarters remain firmly in the familyís hands in Oslo, Norway.
Fred Olsen himself just passed away in the last year. While I have never sailed with the line a good friend is on board the Braemar as we speak. He emails me daily. He feels they are very British and he enjoys the small size and unusual ports.
In his last email he told me that he just booked a single for Sept 2006 on thier new Boudicca which was a Royal Viking ship.
Everyone has their likes and dislikes when it comes to cruising. My partner and I enjoy them all. We'll book a large megea ship or a smaller European line like Fred Olsen.