Having booked this cruise over a year ago at what we were told was a very advantageous price and then having been hit by a fuel surcharge we were not amused to see the cruise being heavily discounted to less than two thirds of what we paid. When we complained they reluctantly gave us a free upgrade from an inside to an outside cabin with a porthole, others who didn't complain did not get any upgrade! It was very annoying to see other people getting superior cabins to us for far less than we had paid.
The Thomson flights were good and it was great that the luggage was delivered straight to the cabin from the boat. However, the embarcation at Barbados was dreadful. We waited over two hours to get on the boat.
Our cabin was very small, it could only really be described as just about adequate. Other cabins we saw were no larger. It was great to have a teatray in the cabin especially as both the tea and coffee on the boat were terrible - you couldn't really tell the difference between them. The waiting staff obviously couldn't either as on one occasion when I asked for a refill they poured coffee on top of my tea!
Our cabin stewardess was excellent and very unobtrusive. Our room had always been done by the time we came back and it was kept very clean. I have to say that the standard of cleanliness and hygiene on the boat left something to be desired. There was no one to ensure that you sanitised your hands before going into the restaurant or getting back on the ship. The staff didn't manage the buffet either. On numerous occasions I saw guests picking up the food with their fingers and not using the tongs provided. I also didn't really see anyone cleaning the railings on the ship and on several occasions I noticed that the toilets were not clean and/or the automatic flushing system didn't work.
The quantity and quality of food on offer was good and there was a good variety to choose from. The main dining room was however very noisy. Both the restaurant and bar service were a bit hit and miss, sometimes you were served well and sometimes you weren't. I have never experienced this on any other cruise line.
Fred Olsen are obviously having difficulty in filling their ships and are having to cut prices to do so. It would then appear that they are cutting corners on service, cleaning etc. They appear to have a loyal following but in my opinion the service we received on this cruise was not up to the standard we have experienced on other lines.