3 Fred. Olsen Balmoral Arctic Cruise Reviews

Chose this cruise because the Newcastle port is near home. Awkward embarkation because you go through check-in in the terminal and, after security check, are then back outside catching a bus to the quayside. Getting off the bus, ... Read More
Chose this cruise because the Newcastle port is near home. Awkward embarkation because you go through check-in in the terminal and, after security check, are then back outside catching a bus to the quayside. Getting off the bus, there's a further walk to the ship. If it's raining, you'd get soaked just getting to the ship. The cruise itself was fine - nice ship - fairly small by today's standards, but that worked in its favour. Got to know lots of other passengers: mainly couples/singles over the age of 50. Reasonable entertainment (a couple of very good performers, especially singer/pianist Lisa Harman). The restaurants were excellent with very good choices on offer. The staff were very pleasant and helpful. Very pleasantly surprised by the premium outside cabin - bigger than expected with large-sized shower. The ports of call and excursions were good and not too expensive, except the whale watching trip costing £70 for seeing one small whale, which apparently is normal. The previous cruise on this ship had a norovirous outbreak but have to say everything was spotless and great emphasis was placed on personal hygiene with hand gel everywhere on this cruise. Would have cruised again on this ship and given it a 4-star rating had it not been for the following incident. The good feeling was spoilt by a ship's officer sneakily taking a photo, with a small digital camera, of me and another passenger having a treatment in the spa. We were never asked if we minded having our photo taken or anything like that - just stuck himself in the doorway of the spa and snapped the picture. On raising a complaint on board, the officer who took the photo dealt with the query! On returning home, I wrote to Fred Olsen and was surprised to receive the following response: "...it is company procedure for senior members of crew to photograph everyday activities taking place on board. This is then sent ashore to Head Office for senior management to review. It is a daily pictorial, controlled document that is only viewed by the most senior staff at Head Office. It is used to ascertain life on board, something which those of us shore side cannot experience day-to-day........Please be assured that the photographs are not made public in anyway [sic], they are stored securely at Head Office and deleted from the camera following the report being compiled." Surely those at Head Office can pay for a cruise if they wish to see what life on board is like. I find this behaviour/policy abhorrent/very unsavoury and don't know of any other cruise line that breaches passengers' right to privacy in such a cavalier manner. If Fred Olsen wishes to take photos of guests they should be completely open and honest about it and at least advertise the fact that they will do this in their brochures, so that passengers are fully aware of their policy prior to booking. If you don't mind having photos being taken of you without your knowledge or permission for faceless personnel to pore over [note FO didn't say what happens to the pictures after Head Office is finished with them - just that they are stored securely], then you could have a good cruise on this ship. If you do mind the sneaky picture-taking, try another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
This is the 2nd Fred Olsen cruise for me 1st from Southampton and latest from Newcastle which is only a 2hr drive or less from my home town Doncaster. The ship Balmoral is fantastic, a Premier Suite cabin very very good, dining superb, ... Read More
This is the 2nd Fred Olsen cruise for me 1st from Southampton and latest from Newcastle which is only a 2hr drive or less from my home town Doncaster. The ship Balmoral is fantastic, a Premier Suite cabin very very good, dining superb, entertainment especially Lisa Harman who is an excellent pianist and superb singer/activities very good/ service with smiles from the waiters and excellent choice of food. Ports excellent,did 3 tours which were excellent. Yes I would and have booked a cruise for 2017 with Fred Olsen on the Balmoral. My husband & I cruised on the QE2 and I have cruised with Cunard alone twice and with my 98yr old Aunt (who was in a wheelchair) on the Balmoral in 2013, help was given at every stage. My last cruise from which I recently returned, I took my friend for whom it was the first time cruising and everything came up to expectations. I would highly recommend a cruise with Fred Olsen. Norma B. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
The cruise headed north to Alta in northern Norway seeking the Northern Lights and offering scenic cruising and port calls en route. Despite a few minor niggles the cruise was successful, enjoyable and generally well-run. The ... Read More
The cruise headed north to Alta in northern Norway seeking the Northern Lights and offering scenic cruising and port calls en route. Despite a few minor niggles the cruise was successful, enjoyable and generally well-run. The itinerary was suited to the nature of the cruise; the ports of call were appropriate and the scenic cruising in the fjords was magnificent. Embarkation was slow. We queued standing for almost an hour but once checked in we were on board without much further delay. I was part of a Mr Bridge party so spent much of my time on board at tutorials on bridge or playing the game. My attendance at other talks was limited but those I was able to attend were good. The Arctic weather limited deck games but I participated in a couple of quizzes and other activities which were generally well organised. Evening dining in the Ballindaloch restaurant was very good and a couple of evenings in the Palm Buffet were also good. Breakfast and lunches were also of a good standard; not much variety at breakfast but the lunch menus had good selections and the buffet food was better than on other cruises. Entertainment was varied and of variable standard but there was usually something to enjoy each evening. Daytime entertainment included quizzes, at which I failed miserably, and other activities which I did not have time to try. Talks on Norway were amusing and informative but the port lectures, as often, seemed to feature more on the excursions (many of which were already sold out) than any background to the ports themselves. Other lectures were available but I was not able to attend or not interested in them. Excursions were generally well organised and available at typical cruise prices. One excursion on which I participated left the ship late and was curtailed but my comments to the Excursions Manager resulted in a partial refund and apology, which I considered a reasonable response. Disembarkation was swift and efficient (I was amongst one of the first groups to leave) and the valet parking service was efficient. Overall a very good cruise which has left me happy to sail again with Fred Olsen when a solo cabin is available at a reasonable price. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Balmoral Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 3.9
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.6
Family 2.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 5.0 3.4
Service 5.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 3.8

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