Went on a sector of a World cruise as interesting itinerary. Embarkation was a total mix up as we were taken to wrong terminal at Dubai and left to almost check in on the wrong ship whereby we had to then walk along with everyone else from our coach down the dock with our had luggage to the Balmoral tent where we were met with "Are you looking for the Balmoral". We then proceeded to the ship where no friendly welcoming was waiting just "your cabins are waiting.
Ship was a dated rust bucket whereas we expected high quality sedate cruising since it is advertised as home from home . The cabin, food were 2nd class guest house standard and the entertainment Leeds Music Hall/Blackpool Pier. The bedlinen was nothing short of shabby, bobbley duvet cover which if it was ever changed in 25 days then the same quality was put back on. Bed was 2 small singles with no headboard placed under the picture window rather than on the side so you could actually see out of the window and you couldnt sit up in bed because of the window sill jutting into your neck. Examples of food, sausage and mash/steak pie and fish and chips at DINNER! Mostly accompanied by frozen peas and carrots. If you wanted vegetables you had to pile your plate up lunchtime at the self service. Supposedly 5 course dinner. 2 mouthfuls of salad on a large plate does not constitute an appetiser, followed by watery soup with virtually no content, 3rd course more salad, choices of main variable and then the smallest desserts you ever saw. Cheese and biscuits never offered because this was available on the 11pm buffet. Our waiter was surly all cruise. He was given our table as an extra and every night almost threw the menu at us and wanted to know your order before you had a chance to see what was available. He made it clear he wanted you out by taking cruet off table every night half way through the meal. If you picked something other than main course choices which you were entitled to do as detailed on the menu ie omelette or chicken he made it clear he was not happy. Your plates were almost thrown at you. First cruise where I hadnt had mix of female and male waiters. Girls are more chatty and friendly. This man never once in 4 weeks asked our names, what sort of day we'd had, had we enjoyed our sightseeing etc. Dinner should have been an experience on a long cruise.
The ship had a coughing virus when we got on in Dubai which spread like wildfire throughout the ship. Despite my best hygiene precautions I was one of those who succumbed and had to spend 2 hrs one night on deck to give my neighbours and husband relief from what was described as a 40 a day smokers bark. The virus spreading wasnt helped by the restaurant staff insisting at breakfast and lunch that tables were filled so healthy people (me) were placed next to coughers and then I was one of those coughing placed next to healthy people. With the best will in the world and coughing only into hankies, you are touching communual tongs, butter dishes and milk jugs with hands that have been anti-bacterialised going into the dining room but they should have allowed people to sit apart if they choose. We witnessed a member of he catering staff in what could only be described as the canteen (called the Palms Cafe) sneeze all over a tray of cups and saucers and then had them out to passengers. The ship needed a thorough deep clean, the public toilets particularly by the Palms cafe were often smelly and the edges of the floor tiles were filthy. The ship was clearly unstable in rough weather but passengers might have been able to take extra precautions if the captain had indicated that we were in for an extremely bumpy ride out of Singapore. I've been on bigger ships in a Force 11 and never had a problem. This time in what the Captain described as a Force 7-8 I was extremely seasick before taking seasickness pills along with many others on board. This was our first time with Fred Olsen but never again. It seemed that all rounders as they called themselves took priority and the 400 or so who joined in Dubai were just making up the numbers. The ship rarely docked on time so port time was limited. There was something extremely wrong with the gangway so getting on and off the ship was slow. In Myanamar due to traffic the coaches had to be escorted and therefore were in convoy which meant 20 full coaches arriving back to the ship together. Disabled people were left with no canopy for shade on the dock for long periods in temps of 34degrees because the only gangway was a makeshift thing balanced on wooden pallets which for health and safety could only allow 3 to board at a time. Every night the seating on all aft decks were covered in soot from the funnel and one one morning the aft top sun deck was so badly covered in soot and debris from the funnel that you couldnt avoid walking through it and the soot was then taken into the carpeted areas giving the cleaners more work shampooing them but the actual deck remained covered in soot even when sunbathers were assembling after 9.30am. I consider this entire cruise was poor value for the money invested. The jingoism of "British Night" union jack waving and singing of nationalistic songs was so over the top I was embarrassed on behalf of the few foreign nationals on board as Brits are obviously 90% of the clientele of this cruise line. If you are of sound mind physically active and wish to experience rather than criticise other cultures this is not the ship for you. On a positive note we understand the chef left in Hong Kong when we did so perhaps the quality of the food has improved and the majority of fellow passengers were very friendly..