We have visited the Canaries before in early 2009 and due to the good offer in the press in October we decided to have a repeat performance albeit with a change to a Fred Olsen ship.
Our inside cabin was comfortable and had the benefit of a tea maker which is not generally available on other ships. The shower as on the Black Watch was the most powerful and enjoyable we have experienced. All the staff we encountered were superb-courteous-efficient- hardworking and friendly. We were fortunate to have excellent waiters, Carlos and his assistant Ronnie and our cabin stewardess Liah likewise.
The food was excellent and the hot food came "hot" to the table unlike some so called premium ships we have used. The lamb shanks (kleftiko) were the most enormous we have had anywhere.
The chairs in the restaurant were comfortable and had arm rests, the tables were not too close together so it was pleasant to eat without disturbance.
The suggestion £4.00 per day gratuity charge was the most reasonable on any of our cruises, but we opted out in order to give instant cash to our waiters and stewardess.
Another point my attention was drawn to was the reasonable prices for soft and other drinks ie 75p for 150ml can or £1.25 for the 330ml can of Coke, unlike the Italian ships we have used at double this price with 15% service charge which does not apply on Fred Olsen ships.Overpriced drinks on cruises is an "own goal".
The clientele of the cruise was nearly like ourselves the opposite of an 18 - 30 group and was 90% British. There was one little girl and one little boy on the cruise.
The weather was mixed not much sun and the ship rode well in the force 9 seas. Our cabin was mid ships low down on deck 4 and was in fact calmer I understand than the more expensive cabins high up in the ship, and we did not have the noise of crashing waves as on some outside cabins.
We enjoyed theme nights,especially the British one.The entertainers were really hard grafters. We also enjoyed the port lectures and the visiting History talks about the Victorian age. The captain gave concise and clear information at 9 am and noon every day in a cheerful manner.
We missed out by not being able to have a little flutter on the one arm bandits, we feel that a small batch of these would not offend the respectable guests. We did one ships tour is Casablanca and were most impressed by the huge Mosque. This is the one guided tour we recommend.
We had a atrocious weather in Maderia on December17th and were able to dock in the very rough seas, unlike the Queen Elizabeth which stayed off shore all day.
There was a nice pre xmas atmosphere on the ship. The Balmoral is a fine ship and is kept very clean. It has given us great pleasure to write this positive review unlike the negative one we made three months ago about another cruise line. We most certainly would use this ship again like its loyal following.