Fred. Olsen vs. Marella Cruises

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Offers a traditional "British" (despite being Norwegian-owned) cruise experience for adults

Marella Cruises

Offers a British cruise experience somewhere between upmarket and traditional, attracting families, first timers and couples in equal measure

Fred. Olsen and Marella Cruises are two cruise lines offering a "traditional" British cruise experience, but in different ways. Hailing from Norway, Fred. Olsen operates older ships with limited facilities, which appeal to older passengers looking for a classic cruise experience. (Think set-time dining, formal nights, shuffleboard.) Marella Cruises, on the other hand, appeals to a much younger family crowd that still wants a British feel (Indian cuisine, tea- and coffee-making facilities, bingo) in a relaxed, fairly informal setting. To help you decide between Fred. Olsen versus Marella Cruises, we've set them up side-by-side so you can make an informed decision.


Compare by: Demographics | Itineraries | Cabins | Dining | Onboard Fun | Entertainment | Family Focus | Pricing | Bottom Line


Fred. Olsen Bar

Who are you going to meet?

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

  • Elderly Brits, with an average age of 65+

Fred. Olsen Cruise Line Forums>>

Marella Cruises

  • Mainly families during school holidays
  • Couples, aged 55+ the rest of the year

Marella Cruises Forums >>

Port of Nassau

Where are they based, and where do they go?

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

  • The four-ship fleet is based in Southampton, and calls at more UK ports of call than any other cruise line.
  • Itineraries are many and varied, with ships travelling all over the globe, including up rivers (Amazon, Guadalquivir), to the Baltic, Canary Islands and the Caribbean, including Cuba, and even the occasional "Mystery Cruise".

Marella Cruises

  • The ships are primarily Mediterannean, Adriatic and Caribbean-based (in the winter months); though Explorer will be in Newcastle this summer (2019).
Cabins

What's the accommodation like?

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

  • Ships are old -- averaging 40 years -- and thus cabins tend to vary slightly in measurement and layout, as there was no pre-fabricated ship construction when these ships were built more than 40 years ago.
  • Rooms have an old-fashioned feel with dark woods and thick carpets.
  • Limited higher-grade and balcony cabins

Marella Cruises

  • Marella's fleet is really in two halves -- the older, smaller ships -- Dream and Celebration -- and the bigger (relatively) newer ships -- Marella Discovery 1 and 2 and Marella Explorer 1 and 2 (which launches in May 2019).
  • The line has done a great job transforming the newer ships, and their addition has seen a large number of balcony cabins added to the fleet.
  • The larger ships have also meant a wider variety of cabins, including suites and interconnecting rooms
Dining

What are the dining options?

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

  • Fixed-time seating in a single main dining room and a casual buffet option
  • On some ships, an outdoor grill area is converted into an alfresco "pop-up" alternative restaurant.

Marella Cruises

  • Varies by ship: Some offer open seating in a main dining room, others fixed-time dining only with a casual buffet option.
  • The line has significantly improved its dining quality and options, both for fee and for free, including a pan-Asian restaurant -- Kora La; a surf and turf restaurant, the main dining room and a sushi bar.
Dancing

What's each line's idea of fun?

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

  • Onboard pastimes include Bridge, shuffleboard and quoits.
  • Onboard enrichment program including such activities as participating in a radio broadcast, gardening, wine appreciation, history classes, wildlife-watching and painting classes
  • All ships have two pools and spa facilities.

Marella Cruises

  • Onboard sports options include paddle tennis, five-a-side football and basketball. All ships have outdoor pools and spa facilities, and the newer ships even feature climbing walls and outdoor cinema screens.
  • Lido Deck fun includes impromptu sessions of "Mr & Mrs" and "Family Feud".
  • Indoor fun includes bingo and quizzes.
Entertainment

What's the nighttime entertainment like?

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

  • Theater entertainment includes revue shows and comedians.
  • Lightly attended after-hours discos

Marella Cruises

  • Theatre entertainment on the newer ships includes outstanding variety and quality of shows; as well as comedians, ventriloquists and magicians.
  • Nightly entertainment, including live music, quizzes and karaoke, is centred on pubs and lounges.
family

How well are families catered for?

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

  • No activities or kids venues except during holiday time when the ships offer a small kids club with limited facilities and programming

Marella Cruises

  • Newly-launched M Club includes activities for children up to 11 and for teenagers
  • Daytime kids activities include arts and crafts, superhero theme parties, treasure hunts and behind-the-scenes tours that even pay visits to the bridge.
  • Evening kids fun includes talent shows, mini-discos and pyjama parties.
Pricing

How does pricing compare?

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

  • Good value fares reflect the size, quality and age of the ships.
  • Daily tips are £5 per person, per day.
  • Bar prices are the same as or less than you'd pay on land.
  • You can buy a drinks package, which includes a variety of soft and alcoholic beverages for £10 per person, per day.

Marella Cruises

  • Prices tend to be lower than those from the bigger US-based cruise lines with airfare included as Marella is part of the giant TUI holiday company which has its own airline.
  • No daily tips are required or expected. Onboard drinks prices are the same as in pubs at home.
  • All ships are all-inclusive for drinks and tips from 2019.
family

Fred. Olsen vs. Marella Cruises: the bottom line

If you are of a certain age (60+), British and enjoy tradition, a variety of onboard activities and destinations, then Fred. Olsen is the cruise line for you. If you are a family or a 30-something couple ready to give cruising a try, go for Marella Cruises.

--By Adam Coulter, Managing Editor, UK

Find a Cruise