Fred Olsen Cruise Lines is looking to increase sales through the multiples and from the US as it prepares to welcome a fifth ship to its fleet in 2008.

The operator believes that, with the 1,000-passenger Balmoral due to become the largest ship in the fleet, it is now big enough to work more closely with the multiples and is recruiting for a new role of national account manager.

General sales manager Lol Nichols said this new position will also cover Triton, relieving pressure on existing managers so they can give more time to smaller, independent accounts.

Nichols said: “The problem we had with working with the multiples in the past was they are very demanding in that they want high commissions but we have not had the volume of product that they need.  We are now at that stage where we do have that volume.

“We have good relationships with all the multiples but at the moment their share of our business is minimal and our share of their business underperforms our national share of the cruise market.”

Balmoral will be positioned in Miami during its first winter programme and Fred Olsen is expecting to see an increase in US passengers on the back of a large delegation it will send to Seatrade in Miami this year.

Non-UK customers account for just 5% of Fred Olsen’s business but US customers have been showing more of an interest in the smaller ship British-style of cruising, with ex-Rome sailings proving particularly popular.

Fred Olsen will continue its sponsorship of the ABTA Travel Convention in 2007 for a third successive year, although Nichols said he was disappointed with the small number of people from the retail trade at last year’s event.

New routes for 2008

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines will have two ships sailing round the-world voyages in 2008 for the first time.

An advance 2008 brochure will be released in March featuring two Grand Voyages, the first leaving early January on Boudicca that will circumnavigate the globe in a westerly direction on a 97-night southerly itinerary, taking in Australia and Africa.

Meanwhile, Black Watch will leave the UK in February and follow a more northerly route in an easterly direction timing a first-ever call to Japan for the spring bloom on a 104-night voyage.

Also new for 2008 will be a flycruise programme in the Mediterranean out of Rome on Balmoral until June and then Braemar, with charter flights confirmed from Manchester and London. Boudicca will replace Braemar on cruises out of Newcastle and Leith.

General sales manager Lol Nichols said the cruiseline is looking to push cruise-only.