Classic cruise lines explained - Cruise International

Classic cruise lines explained

By Sara Macefield | 2 Feb 2022

Fred Olsen Cruise Line’s Balmoral in Hellesylt, Norway

If you’re looking for traditional, elegant cruises that offer a timeless holiday experience, check out our pick of the cruise lines offering a classic onboard experience

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines

Fred Olsen’s four-strong fleet has seen a significant change as two of its older ships, Boudicca and Black Watch, were retired after former Holland America Line ships Bolette and Borealis joined the line in 2020.

This year will be the first time the fleet has resumed normal operations, with Borealis returning to Fred Olsen’s homeland, Norway, on Northern Lights sailings with departures around the British Isles and Nordics and flagship Bolette embarking on its first season of sailings from Southampton to northern Europe, the Italian coast, Norwegian fjords and Iceland.

Balmoral returns to service from May, sailing predominantly from Newcastle to the Norwegian fjords, Orkney and Shetland Isles and Scandinavia, while Braemar resumes from Edinburgh in July with cruises to Ireland and the Norwegian fjords. Other highlights include visiting Monaco during the motor-racing Grand Prix, calling at Amsterdam for the Floriade Expo and repeating Braemar’s record-breaking transit of the Corinth Canal on a Greek Islands voyage in May 2023.

0800 084 1532


Marquee Theatre, Ambience. Picture: Bryson Shearwood

Ambassador Cruise Line

One of a clutch of new names to surface during the pandemic, Ambassador Cruise Line rose phoenix-like from the ashes of failed Essex-based brand Cruise & Maritime Voyages last summer – the first new British cruise line in more than a decade. With former CMV executives at the helm, this newbie line plans to fill the void left by its predecessor in offering good-value, traditional cruises to British customers in the 50-plus bracket, with departures from Tilbury.

There are many similarities, but Ambassador promotes itself as a little more upscale, offering ‘premium value’. Its grand launch is planned for April with a maiden voyage to Hamburg on 1,400-passenger ship Ambience, whose facilities include five restaurants, two cafes, nine lounges, two swimming pools and a spa.

Ambassador’s first full year of operation will see 33 cruises to more than 90 ports with sailings to the Baltic, Greenland, Scandinavia, Canary Islands and the Caribbean among others.

0808 102 0129;

Picture: Greyworld Studios


The traditions and heritage of this stately line make it the closest you will get to reliving cruising’s Golden Age, especially on the transatlantic crossings of classic ocean liner Queen Mary 2, which resumed in late 2021. The voyages to New York are followed in 2022 by new European short breaks and winter Caribbean sailings.

Queen Victoria returns to sailing in April with a variety of cruises to Scandinavia, along the British coastline and the Iberian Peninsula, while between February and June, Queen Elizabeth will offer an ‘Escapes’ programme of 17 new departures. These include a voyage in search of the Northern Lights, cruises to the Canary Islands and a 43-night Grand Voyage across the Atlantic and through the Panama Canal to Alaska.

Cunard’s Event Voyages also return with four planned this year, including a London Theatre at Sea transatlantic crossing in May.

0344 338 8641;

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