This was my first cruise on the "Balmoral" although I have taken many cruises with Fred. Olsen. Although small (43537 grt) compared with today's superliners it is large in comparison with the rest of the Fred. Olsen fleet. It is good looking ship which appears to have been well-maintained. We sailed from Dover to the Caribbean via Madeira and Teherife. This entailed a six-day Transatlantic voyage. The weather was reasonably good and the seas not too rough. The ship is very stable and rode the weather well.
We called at Barbados, Grenada, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten and Tortola (BVI) in successive days. The weather was glorious and I managed to enjoy a combination of sight-seeing and relaxing on small boats enjoying swimming and snorkeling. We had another six-day sail to the Azores where I enjoyed an interesting island tour. Once again the weather and sea conditions were kind. The last three-day voyage back to Dover was untroubled by rough seas. The Bay of Biscay was flat calm!
The food and service on board was excellent. The Filipino/Thai/Indonesian/Indian domestic staff were, as usual, excellent. They always deliver very good service with a smile. The entertainment was good. The visiting lecturers were excellent. The cabaret acts were mixed, some good other rather run of the mill. They changed in the Caribbean so at least we had variety. The ship is comfortable and is a good acquisition to the Fred. Olsen fleet. The only downsides of the cruise were the restrictions caused by the Norovirus bug which had played havoc with the ship's previous voyage around the UK. These well justified infection controls were very limiting in the various restaurants but I am glad to say that they were able to lift these just before we reached the Caribbean and normal services were quickly restored. Overall it was a relaxing and enjoyable cruise. I look forward to my next cruise on board this ship next Spring.