Adventurous Oddies sail north

Updated: 13 Nov 2023

A review of a recent Oddfellows Travel cruise trip to the islands north of the Scottish mainland.

19 oddfellows pose for a photo on the cruise
Oddfellows members (and Lenny the Lemur) set sail from Dover

Setting sail

In August 2023, 19 Oddfellows from up and down the country boarded Fred. Olsen's Bolette for a six-day trip north from Dover to visit the islands of Shetland, Faroe and Orkney.

Hosted and coordinated by Ipswich Branch member, Wendy Atkins, the group were met with an initial bout of poor weather. Gale force winds and high seas were no match for these intrepid explorers however, as they braved the conditions to take part in many of the on-board activities available.

We danced the night away!

Despite the stormy weather, Karen Rose from our Tunbridge Wells Branch had “such an enjoyable cruise”, adding: “The crew were so friendly and always eager to help.

“I really enjoyed the company of my fellow Oddfellows members who I met up with at dinner time to exchange stories about our days.

“Also, the entertainment in the evening and dancing the night away in the Observatory bar!”

Pam and Gordon Sutton from our Brownsea Branch agreed with Karen, saying: “It was our first cruise with Fred. Olsen and we were delighted with all aspects of it, from the friendliness and politeness of the crew, to the very professional entertainment and variety of the food on offer... and especially the totally unexpected visit to the bridge!”

A ship employee shows people around the Bridge
A lucky few were given a tour of the Bridge

Trips and excursions

The first port of call was Lerwick in Shetland. Some wandered the town, walked the headland and photographed some of the locations of BBC’s police drama, ‘Shetland’, while others went on organised excursions to see the local wildlife at Sumburgh Head bird cliffs.

The remainder took the local bus to visit the Scalloway Museum to learn the story of the Shetland Bus. Wendy explained: “What an extraordinary story of courage and daring during the Second World War when Shetlanders sailed the dangerous waters to Norway to take supplies and rescue secret agents.”

The next stop took the group to Tórshavn on Faroe, the islands’ capital city. “These island belong to Denmark and was in great contrast to the Shetlands. It definitely had a Scandinavian feel,” said Wendy.

Again, members were free to wander the picturesque setting at their leisure, or take part in the organised outing, which included a boat trip to view the famous sea cliffs near Vestmanna.

The final stop was Kirkwall on Mainland, the largest island in Orkney. Some visited the cathedral, described by Wendy as “a wonder of architecture”, while others visited the Bishop’s and Earl’s Palaces.

Wendy added: “Little shops enticed us in with Orkney treats of fudge, cookies and the usual mix of souvenirs.”

A collage of images from Shetland, Torshavn and Mainland
LEFT: Sailors were welcomed to Shetland
TOP RIGHT: Architecture on the Danish-owned island of Torshavn
BOTTOM RIGHT: The Rings of Brodgar - a Neolithic henge and stone circle on Mainland

Satisfied sailors

Member of our Mitcham, Reigate and Crawley Branch, Diana Wee, said: “I enjoyed the cruise with the Oddfellows group for dinner and at the fantastic entertainments. The last night at the Observatory was unusually enjoyable, entertained by the singing of the young performers. Amazing!”

Lynn Bradbury from our Brighouse and Huddersfield Branch, added: “I really enjoyed the opportunity to dance again with the dance team, available most evenings.”

And Bury St Edmunds Branch members, Tony and Jackie Nunn, said: “It was good to be able to spread the word of Oddfellowship to other guests that were unaware of who we were – from the responses we had, hopefully, we may have some new members!”

Oddfellows Travel hosted group holidays

If this trip has got you in the mood the cruise, here's what's planned for 2024: 

  • Maritime Cities and Sailing Events of the Baltic with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines: 27 June (14 nights). From £1,949 per person based on two people sharing an interior cabin. Full board. Sailing from Dover on board the Borealis.
  • Discovering Normandy and the Channel Islands with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines: 23 August (five nights). From £799 per person based on two people sharing an interior cabin. Full board. Sailing from Southampton on board the Borealis.
  • Mystery Cruise with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines: 12 November (11 nights). From £1,209 per person based on two people sharing an interior cabin. Full board. Sailing from Southampton.

Please note that all Oddfellows Travel group holidays are only open to members and their guests and are operated by a third party. We recommend that you look at their terms and conditions before booking.

Further information is available at by visiting the Oddfellows Travel page.