we were a bit nervous of booking a cruise with Fred Olsen, we normally use more casual cruise lines (Ocean Village, Island star, Royal Carribean) and also we thought we might be a bit young, as it turned out our concerns were unfounded. so this is how it all went. We embarked at Southampton after using the meet and greet valet parking, this together with the bag drop off went very smoothly. the ship is charming, not too big that you get lost but big enough not to feel cramped. plenty of public areas to sit with a drink or a book when at sea. our cabin, a superior outside with what was described as a fully restricted view, was great and was not fully restricted at all, we could see pretty well. very comfy beds.
after a day at sea, the weather was heavy going and delayed us getting to Bergen the following day resulting in our only having a couple of hours there, it couldn't be helped, and it was raining anyway! next was Olden, beautiful, sparse, quiet, lovely fro walking. a few little souvenir shops and small village. completely charming. not an awful lot to do or see but great if you enjoy a walk in beautiful scenery,we loved it. next day was Alesund, not particularly exciting and again very quiet. Next was Flam, we docked at a small area where you can pick up fjord cruise boats or the mountain train. we opted to cruise Norways narrowest fjord (a Fred Olsen trip) which was great, wonderful scenery and views of parascenders who came down and waved at us! you can do the train independently when you arrive, which is a bit cheaper. worth going on some ind of trip or train as there is very little to do at the dock area. finally port of call was Stavanger which , being a Sunday, was mostly closed which was a real shame as here were some really nice shops. aside from that Stavanger is a lovely place and good for a wander. Fred Olsen offer lots of trips but we prefer to do our own thing. Our general view of Norway is that its beautiful and unspoilt with a much simpler slow pace of life to that which we are used to. very relaxing. As for the Balmoral and its staff, well we could not fault them. the food was excellent, the staff were smiley, the entertainment was varied and entertaining ( not always the case on previous ships), the Captain was charming and informative. although our age group was in the minority, it was fine. really cannot recommend Fred Plsen enough and we are already looking where we can go next with the group! If you aren't very mobile its probably worth booking trips as there is not that much to do at any of the ports unless you are reasonably mobile. go and enjoy!!