Balmoral Cruise Review by tyneside foyboatman: Balmoral Experience
We have experienced 12 cruises previously, with a variety of cruise lines at different times of the year in different locations and have got together a reasonable understanding of what to pay and what to expect.
This Fred Olsen cruise came in at £499 for 10 days (inside cabin) which meets the target of <£50/night. This looked good!
We embarked at Southampton having taken the National Express coach the previous day and 'overnighting in Southampton' . Check in was smooth at around 3pm.
We had a cabin 4049 inside and can honestly say this was the largest inside cabin we had from all of our previous cruises. Everything was clean and tidy with relatively large wardrobes. There was a problem with the lack of skirt hangers which was quickly overcome with a request from reception with about a dozen skirt hangers arriving within 15 mins or so.
Our evening meal was first sitting at 6.15pm in the Ballindaloch restaurant. We were allocated a table for 6, being a party of two More
ourselves. Now we have had previous experience of being seated with dull people we you been with before, whose conversation was of the line - 'Which ships have been with before, how big is your cabin(we have a balcony), we live in Yorkshire and its the greatest place on earth, and happens to be centre of the universe!- so we had some intrepedation on going to our first evening meal.
What a bonus was waiting there for us. We were placed with a wonderful family consisting of father, son and daughter and an instant rapoure was established. A friendship developed between all 5 of us which lasted during the cruise and hopefully for many years to come.
First stop was at Kristiansund on a dull overcast day. Fridge magnets at £6 each set the spending level immediately. Much of an uninteresting place so we were back on ship for lunch .
. Next stop was Oslo on Norwegian Independence day. Unfortunately my partner wasn't feeling too well after a rough nights sailing (or perhaps some food issue) So we missed Oslo on a wonderfully warm day.
Days sailing led us to Flaam. Actually we were suppose to dock at Alusand but apparently there was an issue with the pilot and we went further up the Fjiord to Flaam. This turned out to be an added bonus as the background meeting us in the morning was nothing short of stunning! We were positioned at the head of the Fjiord with magnificent views all around. Some took the Flaam railway (ships cost £120 ) whilst we took the little red road train which took us round the farms and drew in a few waterfalls. We the had a beer in the town restaurant, - don't - £26 for two halves! Sailed out of Flaam in the evening, of course with interesting conversation at the dining table, to a backdrop of wonderful waterfalls throughout the dining. A point of note is that the location is so further north and evening darkness so far behind uk. It was daylight well after 10.30pm. This was certainly a night to remember.
Next port of call was Bergen. Here we walked into town on a dull morning, about 750m to town and quayside market. Bought a reindeer skin at 650 Norwegian Kroner (£70) for which you get tax back of 9£ on board. Nice walk but it rained all afternoon as it has a habit to do in Bergen.
Next, and final port was Hagusund . Very cold and windy conditions saw us taking the free town shuttle bus there, staying 15mins, and hastily retreating to the shipback to the ship! Nice town in better weather.
That was the trip and now the ship
Firstly I want to say that the services on Fred Olsen are highly rated in my opinion. All service staff are trained to the professional level that one would expect from this company. Entertainment was of the usual cruise ship standard of having 6-8 youngsters on a learning curve. The was a presentation of 'LES Miserables' which was quite outstanding. A good comedian was there for two shows and did a good show each time. The highlight of the entertainment however was that from the crew itself! Two shows saw some great raw entertainment and the final show with those engine room lads was so funny! Never will we look upon orange overalls without our thoughts of that night.
Restaurant food was of a good standard as was the food throughout. WE visited all restaurant and all were good
There were two sets of presentations given during this cruise. Olav Halsvard gave excellent shows based on Viking and British Army themes - excellent!
Adrian Huston gave an in depth tax collect points of interest as well as humorous history of celebrity tax misgivings !
Disembarkation was well handled and smooth
Definitely will sail with Fred Olsen again.
In summary I would say that Fred Olsen have provided the best services to date, our best cruise, which was more enhanced by our dining family companions. Less
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