56 Fred. Olsen Balmoral Baltic Sea Cruise Reviews

Restaurant and staff in outside bar are offish and service for drinks slow Restaurant staff. You catch their eye and they immediately walk away Yet rush you when eating to Move you on as quickly as they can Food School ... Read More
Restaurant and staff in outside bar are offish and service for drinks slow Restaurant staff. You catch their eye and they immediately walk away Yet rush you when eating to Move you on as quickly as they can Food School dinners from the 50’s only worse We are in Orkney and Shetlands the ultimate fishing area in U K yet a huge bowl of crab sticks on buffet Kipper for breakfast. Boil in the bag with raw onion on top Milk not fresh UHT Sunday lunch. Roast pork yet not a pig in sight. We are in the land of some of the best beef and lamb in the world We paid 3k for 5 days The cabin and cabin staff perfect. Such a shame that the food and service in restaurants did not match The restaurant staff and bar staff in the outside bar was slow if you ordered drinks Food in restaurants with additional costs was acceptable but same menu every night Balcony filthy. Old ash tray on balcony from last visitors Recliners dirty We have been on 9 cruises Queen Mary. Star Clippers. Windstar Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We chose this cruise as there was a good chance of seeing wildlife. We were not disappointed. They had a naturalist onboard who spent many hours on deck looking for whales etc and then got everyone interested in looking also. The ports ... Read More
We chose this cruise as there was a good chance of seeing wildlife. We were not disappointed. They had a naturalist onboard who spent many hours on deck looking for whales etc and then got everyone interested in looking also. The ports of call were just right especially as we stayed overnight on the ship in Reykjavik. The check in at Rosyth was so easy. Pulled up in our car and had the luggage taken away, all we then had to do was park the car and check in. Quick, easy and onboard in no time. The staff on The Balmoral were fantastic, very attentive but not intrusive. Superb food, especially in the Buffet restaurant. Nice size of ship, not too big. Our cabin was a picture window cabin on deck4, plenty of room and great storage. Good mix of entertainment and we particularly enjoyed the various talks. Very reasonable priced drinks and great to have access to tea and coffee 24/7. Thoroughly recommend Fred Olsen, this was our first time with them and we hope to use them again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Having just returned from our 5th Fred Olsen cruise, this time 11 nights from Rosyth to Iceland on the Balmoral, I can say without reservation the experience was excellent in all respects, having given some "room for improvement ... Read More
Having just returned from our 5th Fred Olsen cruise, this time 11 nights from Rosyth to Iceland on the Balmoral, I can say without reservation the experience was excellent in all respects, having given some "room for improvement suggestions on our last cruise on the Black Watch", I feel it is appropriate to compliment Fred Olsen on the Balmoral, overall food was excellent, and well presented, the authentic Indian lunch buffet was extremely good, the dinner menu in the Ballindaloch restaurant was varied and provided food of consistently high quality, service was impeccable. The cabin was of a decent size, comfortable, with the TV system working well, although I would suggest some sound insulation behind the TV would have been beneficial as the TV in the next cabin was also mounted on the wall and was a bit intrusive. Stewardess was very efficient and particular in cleaning, we had a picture window on deck 6. Entertainment was fine if not exceptional. Embarkation and Disembarkation were trouble free and fast, although it was a bit of a jumble trying to extricate the suitcases from the marquee. One thing noted was there was no bar drinks menu, so one could not peruse the offerings having to ask the waiters what was available, also prices were not on show, meaning unless the waiters were asked the price was only given when the receipt was supplied. Would certainly book with Fred Olsen again, on another ship? only if the reviews were as good as the Balmoral. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Been with Fred before and loved the friendliness of the staff, the food, the service and the Balmoral is not too massive and plenty of room to sit and relax. The excursions were very disappointing. This is not a cruise for wheel chair ... Read More
Been with Fred before and loved the friendliness of the staff, the food, the service and the Balmoral is not too massive and plenty of room to sit and relax. The excursions were very disappointing. This is not a cruise for wheel chair users. Malmo had many cobbled streets which make it very hard for the pusher and very uncomfortable for the sitter. It was a bank holiday so 90% of the shops were closed and the town is dull and uninteresting. Visby was even worse and almost impossible for wheelchair users to get around. Stockholm was OK and visits to the Abba museum and the Varsa museum well worth it. \but yet again, the city is nothing to write home about. We went on the evening city tour and the guide really struggled to tell us anything of interest and the cost 04 £48 per person was ridiculous for a 2 hour coach ride. And so to Gothenberg where all museums and the fish market close on Mondays. We took a hop on hop off bus ride around the city and stayed on the whole tour as there were absolutely no places of interest. So the itiniery was very poorly arranged given the closure of shops, museums etc. The staff on the Balmoral are just brilliant. They are mainly from the Phillipines, Thailand and India. They remember your names and what you normally drink, how you like it etc within a few hours. They are always smiling and so helpful. The embarkation was quick and efficient but the disembarkation was a shambles. There were a few good evening shows and some good entertainment in and around the bars. All in all, a disappointing experience not helped by awful weather but we will sail with Fred again Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Mainly itinerary and the time of year, less crowded places. Embarkation swift and efficient at the Port of Tyne. Very lucky with the weather for the time of year apart from Gothenburg and Helsinki. The food was of good quality and ... Read More
Mainly itinerary and the time of year, less crowded places. Embarkation swift and efficient at the Port of Tyne. Very lucky with the weather for the time of year apart from Gothenburg and Helsinki. The food was of good quality and varied, breakfast lunch and dinner. Service in the bars and restaurants was excellent although a little slow in the self service cafe. The crew and staff always seemed happy and smiling, friendly and efficient. Cabin although on deck 3 was adequate with plenty of wardrobe and drawer space, comfortable beds and a good shower. The two shore excursions we took in St. Petersburg were excellent with very knowledgeable guides. All other ports we explored by ourselves and found that easy using the maps provided. We only experienced two shows , one of which was the crew show, very enjoyable. We really loved the whole experience and booked while on board for next year. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Its been 14 years since we did a Fred Olsen Cruise as we have mainly sailed with 5 Star Cruise Lines, but this cruise was from the Tyne and a short 15 minute taxi ride from our home and visiting some ports we had not visited before. So we ... Read More
Its been 14 years since we did a Fred Olsen Cruise as we have mainly sailed with 5 Star Cruise Lines, but this cruise was from the Tyne and a short 15 minute taxi ride from our home and visiting some ports we had not visited before. So we thought we would give them a try. So glad we did! Balmoral although an older ship is remarkably well maintained, far better than some lot newer ship we have travelled on. Staff service and friendliness leaves most other lines trailing in thier wake, Good food particulary in the Avon Restaurant and Made and Mark our waiters made this cruise. Weather was very good with only lght rain in Gothenburg and low lying mist in Helsinki all other ports fine a sunny and autuum colours in trees especially in St. Petersburg a real treat. We did our own thing in most ports but in Copenhagen and on the Evening in St.Petersburg we did Fred Olsen Tours, during the 2 days in St.Peterburg we did a independent small group tour with Cruising Excursions all tours were very good. Will we sail with Fred Olsen again ? YES and we will not be waiting another 14 years. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Picked this cruise as it was our three special birthdays the staff on the embarkation car parking were fantastic.We were embarked quickly and smoothly,the staff in all departments were fantastic,food was always well presented and tasty.The ... Read More
Picked this cruise as it was our three special birthdays the staff on the embarkation car parking were fantastic.We were embarked quickly and smoothly,the staff in all departments were fantastic,food was always well presented and tasty.The ship was always clean,our room was spotless.Only downside was we had to get a triple room as the single supplement was not good,it was a pull down bed with a very bad ladder which my daughter had trouble getting up so decided to put the mattress on the floor.But as i have said the service in the restaurant was first class the staff were very attentive nothing was any trouble,some times the staff on the observation deck were hit and miss if you sat away from the bar area they would come round and ask if you wanted a drink and then after being served didn’t come round for a while,the other bars kept coming round. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We always go from Port of Tyne as it makes such an easy start to the holiday. I am slightly disabled and we have two autistic grandchildren and the crew and staff on Balmoral do everything the can to make the cruise perfect. We have been ... Read More
We always go from Port of Tyne as it makes such an easy start to the holiday. I am slightly disabled and we have two autistic grandchildren and the crew and staff on Balmoral do everything the can to make the cruise perfect. We have been on three cruises and each one has been wonderful. The food is great, the entertainment first class and our rooms are so comfortable. There is plenty to do for the children, who love the quizzes and shows in the evening. My only complaint is that although we have an allocated table in the evening breakfast and lunch is a bit of a free for all, and our allocated restaurant became a bit of a nightmare for the children, who find crowds and noise quite difficult to cope with. Apart from this, I cannot fault Fred Olsen and compliment him on a really well run organisation. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We have cruised for many years but not with this line. I have to say this cruise was amazing from check in to check out. The staff could not have been more helpful, pleasant and funny. Our cabin 5141 was a little outdated, but was kept ... Read More
We have cruised for many years but not with this line. I have to say this cruise was amazing from check in to check out. The staff could not have been more helpful, pleasant and funny. Our cabin 5141 was a little outdated, but was kept immaculate. We ate in the Palm Café (self service) the food was lovely and there was always a good selection. The entertainment team were amazing (Mike is a dark horse) and the comedian that came on board Brenda hilarious. I cannot say enough about the shore excursions as they were wonderful and the staff from the ship so helpful if required. We didn't do many of the activities but what we did was good fun. The crew were great and nothing was too much trouble. Would I travel with Fred again, Absolutely we've been with P and O and all the rest, but Fred Olsens is personal with very little technology and plenty of smoking areas , a ship line that doesn't make a smoker feel guilty at wanting a cigarette on holiday. Well done Fred Olsens. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
The ship was great the embarkation was good and the disembarkation was a very smooth operation and crew could not do enough for us. I could not fault the quality or quantity of food on board and the entertainment was really good. There was ... Read More
The ship was great the embarkation was good and the disembarkation was a very smooth operation and crew could not do enough for us. I could not fault the quality or quantity of food on board and the entertainment was really good. There was also a well equipped gym and many treatment rooms. There was plenty of information in the cabin and the Daily Times news letter was very helpful. The Cabin was clean and comfortable with more than enough storage for the two of us the. Great cruise only let down by what I would call the incompetence of the shore tour people, it seems the lack of communication between ship and shore made us nearly miss the transfer bus to the helicopter flight (it was driving off as we got to the gate) and at £250 each for my nephew and myself would have been very disappointing to say the least. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Wonderful holiday. Small ship compared to some but lovely. Spotlessly clean. Food amazing and Norway is just fantastic. The service for drinks and at dinner was slow and that's only criticism. I particularly enjoyed the ballroom ... Read More
Wonderful holiday. Small ship compared to some but lovely. Spotlessly clean. Food amazing and Norway is just fantastic. The service for drinks and at dinner was slow and that's only criticism. I particularly enjoyed the ballroom dancing and attended a ballroom class. Unfortunately missed one due to illness. Nigel in particular was so kind, professional and patient. Some of the roads when out on tours are scary but so glad I did them. Have never seen such beautiful scenery. I was amazed how many older people with walking problems were on this cruise as soon of the gangways were tricky. It's not all older people as we were told but to be fair there were a few. Weather was great. My favourite place was Olden. Entertainment was good. The crew did a show at short notice as one of entertainment team had been injured. It was so good they got a standing ovation. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
This was our first cruise experience and without any doubt it exceeded our expectations. Embarkation was very smooth and well organised. The staff showed great courtesy to all especially with guests with mobility problems. We had a junior ... Read More
This was our first cruise experience and without any doubt it exceeded our expectations. Embarkation was very smooth and well organised. The staff showed great courtesy to all especially with guests with mobility problems. We had a junior suite cabin with balcony and was impressed with the size and furniture. It was well decorated and felt warm and welcoming. Dining was excellent with dedicated servants to our table made it sure the we enjoy our dining experience. The after dinner entertaiment was very good with different shows every evening. For us the size of the ship was perfect were the restaurants and cafes are not over crowded. We were not just a number, but the staff knew us by name giving and feeling that personalised service. The ports of call are well chosen. Lots of intesting things to do and see. Had such a wonderfull experience that we are finding it hard to cruise with another line. In fact we booked our next criuse with Fred Olsen. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Our dinner sitting was 6.15pm. My husband's parents were also on the same cruise but had an 8.30pm sitting. We were advised to ask at the restaurant if they could change to earlier so we could dine together. The 1st and 2nd night the ... Read More
Our dinner sitting was 6.15pm. My husband's parents were also on the same cruise but had an 8.30pm sitting. We were advised to ask at the restaurant if they could change to earlier so we could dine together. The 1st and 2nd night the matre dee said no but when we offered him a £20 note on the 3rd evening suddenly a table was available and according to the other 2 people already at the table these seats had been empty both previous nights that we'd asked. Amazing what a tip can do!! Entertainment was dire. Pretty much like a seaside resort with average dancers, singers, comedians etc. Thouroughly enjoyed the food and choice of restaurants. Cabin was good sized and clean but disappointed that we only saw our cabin steward once on the day we arrived and not at all the rest of the cruise. Plenty of sunbeds and seating round the outside deck areas. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
The prospect of seeing the Northern Lights was the main reason for choosing this cruise and, to be fair, we did see them. Unfortunately the experience was spoilt by poor itinerary planning (e.g. an afternoon call into Trondheim, where ... Read More
The prospect of seeing the Northern Lights was the main reason for choosing this cruise and, to be fair, we did see them. Unfortunately the experience was spoilt by poor itinerary planning (e.g. an afternoon call into Trondheim, where attractions are only open in the morning) and a general sense that Fred. is nowadays only out to extract as much money as possible from you. The tours were grossly overpriced (unacceptable margins over DIY for the same experience) and all over the ship there are now too many premium services. I would not recommend this trip to anyone who has more sense than money. The dinner menu had too much repetition. Over the years, a number of the little extras have been gradually phased out - the latest casualties being the Gala Buffet (now reduced to a shadow of its former self) and the drinks at the 'cocktail' parties, which now include no actual cocktails. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
We were on our 4th attempt to see the northern lights and we finally did it and it was worth the perseverance, 2 nights in succession they danced for us. Because of this alone we have given 5 stars. The ship and crew were as usual ... Read More
We were on our 4th attempt to see the northern lights and we finally did it and it was worth the perseverance, 2 nights in succession they danced for us. Because of this alone we have given 5 stars. The ship and crew were as usual first class and everything was up to Fred's usual standard, food was good, entertainment was good, cruise director was exceptional. The only note of caution was the new grill restaurant,we tried it and found it lacking , other people said they enjoyed it so perhaps it was us. The weather was very kind and the days we were scienic cruising could not have been better, it was very good itinerary. We didn't use Fred's excursions we did our own with local taxis and buses and saved a fortune. We got to the ice hotel just as the tour buses were leaving and had it to ourselves and saved approximately half of ships price( there were 4 of us). All in all a very successful trip. Even disembarkation was a doddle PS. It rained in Bergen as usual Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Excellent check in for self and car parking arrangements. Cabin a little tired. Well kept by stewardess great professional attitude and smile everyday. Food good services chaotic at times never offered wine with the meal restaurant packed ... Read More
Excellent check in for self and car parking arrangements. Cabin a little tired. Well kept by stewardess great professional attitude and smile everyday. Food good services chaotic at times never offered wine with the meal restaurant packed to the full little room to move.bar staff not that well motivated waited one hour for service in lido bar other passengers just left .theatre bar staff just as disinterested can't but feel staff morale not so good with Fred as it used to be sadly .unfortunately Fred closes at mid night not venues or eateries open entertainment finishes at 12 sharp..passengers on drinks package at 35 per day not happy be aware you may not get any value out of this deal.unfortunately staff were not that attentive to elderly guests which is a real shame as Fred would like to this is there target market .this cruise was fair value for money only not a great e experience due to the above Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Chose this as we had a special anniversary & wanted to try something new. At first we were a bit wary as there is an age demographic in Cruiseville! Actually a pretty good mix & what the hell we were on holiday. We loved ... Read More
Chose this as we had a special anniversary & wanted to try something new. At first we were a bit wary as there is an age demographic in Cruiseville! Actually a pretty good mix & what the hell we were on holiday. We loved everything about it, great food, entertainment was fun and very professional. OK no Adel but they gave us everything & made the trip! Norway spectacular. Service & staff really attentive & helpful. We went "steerage" after all we went for the sights not the room. Absolutely fine, clean & compact, everything we needed. Spent the savings on having fun! Paid our tips in advance & took full advantage of the "drinking package" a wonderful way to "empty ones head" Beats flying any day. Boarding & disembarking were the easiest things, relaxed Chilled. Looking forward to Cruising with Fred again in 2018 The only shame was our Fishing trip was cancelled. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
This was our first cruise with Fred Olsen and overall we were quite impressed with the value for money it provided. First of all the Norwegian Fjords were spectacular. The weather was a little unsettled at times, but this did not ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Fred Olsen and overall we were quite impressed with the value for money it provided. First of all the Norwegian Fjords were spectacular. The weather was a little unsettled at times, but this did not distract from the views of soaring mountains over the tranquil fjords. Service was very friendly although we did notice a couple of exceptions and Guest Services were excellent and always very helpful. Wi-fi bandwith is pretty abysmal even when in port, I would recommend saving your money and taking your phone or tablet ashore and finding a cafe or other place with good wi-fi. We found a number of the small Norwegian villages had their own hotspots. Although we did not attend all the shows, entertainment and activities were varied and of good quality. Food was however inconsistent ranging from very good to quite poor and often a little cold. We ate dinner each evening in the Avon restaurant which was very comfortable, although they could think about changing the art work on the walls which is quite weird. Breakfast was pretty poor quality and it always seemed rushed. Also, unlike most cruise lines they did not have a place where you could get a light meal such as a hamburger or pizza at lunchtime. We signed up for the all inclusive (AI) drinks package was very good value, although I believe it has been increased from £10 per day which we paid, to £15. AI wines were acceptable as was the gin, although I don’t know where the whiskey came from, perhaps not Scotland! The biggest negative for us was the constant chit signing to authorise payment for drinks and coffee. Quite a ridiculous system and technology options must be available to make this a more efficient and seamless process. The time wasted on the Olsen side must be significant. We only booked one excursion which was a 4 hour Great Ocean Road excursion in Kristiansund. This was because it would have been difficult to arrange ourselves. Other tours we did arrange ourselves and saved quite a bit against similar tours promoted by Olsen, all of which seemed very overpriced. We took a Seabourn cruise the previous year and although we did not expect (or get), the quality of food and service on Fred Olsen, it was much better value for money. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
As a present for a special birthday, we chose Fred and the Fjords. We always read reviews before booking and after eliminating the best and worst decided to sail with the Balmoral from Newcastle. Embarkation went smoothly after leaving ... Read More
As a present for a special birthday, we chose Fred and the Fjords. We always read reviews before booking and after eliminating the best and worst decided to sail with the Balmoral from Newcastle. Embarkation went smoothly after leaving our luggage with the handlers, checking in to receive our pass cards and taking a short bus ride to the ship. Our luggage arrived soon after we found our cabin and we made the mistake of unpacking immediately which meant we had to wait until after the emergency drill to get a drink. It became obvious to us that there were many Balmoral returners and we began to see why. The entertainment was excellent with shows twice nightly to accommodate both sittings and the entertainment staff are involved in running activities during the day. There was a Daily News paper left in the cabin each evening outlining the next days activities and excursion times and dining dress code. Cleanliness of the public areas was emphasised at every opportunity with hand sanitizers everywhere and the waiters providing more sanitizer before we entered the dining rooms. The Ballindaloch dining room was waiter service in the evening but most of the restaurants were either waiter or self service during breakfast and lunch. We took advantage of the drinks package and found it a good deal, with only having to add to the bar bill for special cocktails. We didn't take advantage of the 2 pools, 4 jacuzis, fitness room, etc. but did the mile walk 4 times round the deck. We went on 3 organised excursions and did our own thing for the other days in port. Our guides on the excursions were very knowledgeable and spoke very good English. At Eidfjord we went on the excursion to Voringfoss waterfall and the nature centre where there was an excellent film on 5 screens taking us on a helicopter ride over the fjord and valley. At Geiranger we had a coach tour up the hairpin bends to a viewpoint where we could see the Balmoral in the fjord below. At Olden we went on the excursion to the Briksdal Glacier taking the troll car for some of the climb. We visited Flam and went out before breakfast to buy our own tickets to ride on the famous railway which is very close to where the ship was docked. In Kristiansund we went walkabout and found a viewpoint on a public footpath before walking round the port. Hellesylt has a very beautiful waterfall in the centre of the village and a walk to the church which unfortunately wasn't open the day we visited. We finished our cruise with a day in Bergen which was a disappointment because the city was preparing for a World Cycling championship and was erecting barriers along the roads and marquees and gazebos blocking any good views of the port. However, the Floyen funicular railway takes you to the top of Mount Floyen with incredible views of the city below. On the evening of disembarkation we had to leave our luggage outside our cabin with labels showing our homeward journey details. Breakfast was served earlier than usual and disembarkation began soon after 7.30am. As we had travelled with Saga organised transport, our luggage was left close to the ship for our collection to meet with our taxi driver. I do feel that luggage wasn't handled very well as I had packed bottles and a mirror with plenty of packing round them but found them broken when unpacking. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
I did not think a holiday could be this good & relaxing. 100% effort from every body, we arrived at Port of Tyne and baggage handlers descended to take our luggage, very easy & simple check in, & of to the ship after a short ... Read More
I did not think a holiday could be this good & relaxing. 100% effort from every body, we arrived at Port of Tyne and baggage handlers descended to take our luggage, very easy & simple check in, & of to the ship after a short wait. Our cabin was spotless & the cabin stewardess kept it that way till we left, calling 2 or 3 times a day. The crew were all happy & smiling & this rubbed off onto the passengers, who all seemed to love the cruise. The entertainment was fantastic, especially the Ministry of Rock Show, performed by the Balmoral Show Company, led by Charlie Legg, faultless performance by them all. If I had to fault anything it would be the toast at breakfast, white bread toasted was still white!!! & if that is all I can find to complain about, it shows what a great time we had. Once again Thanks Fred. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Chosen as embarked Newcastle.Embarkation first class suitcases outside cabin on arrival.Stayed in oceanview deck 4 quiet cabin 4116 first time in many years of cruising there was a bath if you had time to wait for it to fill.The cabin was ... Read More
Chosen as embarked Newcastle.Embarkation first class suitcases outside cabin on arrival.Stayed in oceanview deck 4 quiet cabin 4116 first time in many years of cruising there was a bath if you had time to wait for it to fill.The cabin was a good size kept very clean with plenty of wardrobe space.No noise from adjacent cabins We chose second sitting the meals where palatable but similar to pub meals the dining time was 8.30 but we always waited til at least 9 to be served on some occasions faulty towers comes to mind.The best meal of the week was a fish buffet which was excellent.Eating in the palm court at breakfast and lunch was very busy and the same choice everyday Entertainment by the cruise team was the best we have seen on any ship energetic and professional west end quality.We are ballroom dancers and did find a small dancefloor with dance hosts sadly the singer of the band kept changeing tempo mid dance and was very slow dancing to prerecorded music was better.There was a variety of entertainment around the ship on an evening. Unfortunately any entertainment during the day is poor and geared at older passengers but on this cruise there was a good mixture of all ages. We visited 2 ports and had a kayak trip outstanding and breathtaking hard work but worth it highly recommended if you are fit led by an excellent guide there is a fully equipped gym with fa bulous views but £5 for a 30 min class is steep . The service from barstaff was a massive let down as there are very few.Olsen seem to have promoted all inclusive drink packages so I assume to save money waiters are few and far between we waited up to 30 mins for drinks and several occasions we gave up waiting pleased we hadn't the package Disembarking was easy as we carried own luggage and we were home within an hour We would travel on the balmoral again but would be prepared by ordering several drinks and carrying a water bottle as there are no drink stations open all day .Compared to their sister ship boudica which we would certainly not travel on again we feel giving them another chance worked but in comparison to Cunard or celebrity they have to raise the bar substantially Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
Well first and last cruise with Fred Olsen. The staff were very friendly and helped to make a not very good experience a little better. The food was very good and there was a very good choice, something for everyone. Unfortunately ... Read More
Well first and last cruise with Fred Olsen. The staff were very friendly and helped to make a not very good experience a little better. The food was very good and there was a very good choice, something for everyone. Unfortunately the Gym was closed as were the jacuzzi's. Members of a very hard working staff were sitting outside toilets to make sure you wash your hands. 24 hours confined to cabin. Many others confined to 24/48/60 hours with stomach bugs!!! Seems this ship may have a history of this problem. Cleaners were bought on to the ship at Tallin spending day after day wiping down walls, rails etc. The ship looks very tired, needs a refurbishment throughout. Deck furniture, loungers, tables and chairs have all seen better days! I think there needs to be a very thorough look/investigation to find out why this particular ship seems to have had this same problem on at least 3-4 times in less than a year. We have been on 11 cruises and never had a problem with such infection before. Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We selected the Fred Olsen cruise to The Baltic 1) because it coincided with our 30th wedding anniversary and 2) We would be in St Petersburg for 2 days - the highlight of our trip. As a bonus there will be a gym, a library, and self ... Read More
We selected the Fred Olsen cruise to The Baltic 1) because it coincided with our 30th wedding anniversary and 2) We would be in St Petersburg for 2 days - the highlight of our trip. As a bonus there will be a gym, a library, and self service coffee/tea bar etc. What more could you want? Here is what we experienced: The Ship: Balmoral- Balmoral is a 30+ year old ship. No better nor worse than a 3 star hotel that gets well used. The cabin we had on deck 5 was perfectly adequate. The public lounges were comfortable and plenty of seating. Piped music was everywhere. Your only escape for peace and quiet was your cabin because the public address system there only worked occasionally. The passengers were almost all elderly with many infirmities. You had to admire their pluck making the journey. All the passengers we encountered were very friendly. The ship was remarkably stable – even in a force seven sea you were hardly aware of any swaying movements of the ship. The Crew – were brilliant. At all times they were attentive, thoughtful and skilled at their job. The Guest Services team did their best but you felt the Cold Dead Hand of Head Office on all their decisions. The Tours Team - were hopeless – in fact the whole experience of booking tours online direct with Fred Olsen was a shambles from the beginning. We had to produce our own spreadsheet to make sense of times and dates of the tours. To cap it all the order confirmation of our bookings came back a complete jumble, not in date order or port order, only a haphazard mess. The Tours were expensive. The tour guides however, (not FOCL staff) were very good. Be Warned: the stopovers in port were very short. For example, ‘two days’ in Stockholm, yes, but not the full 48 hours. We arrived around 2pm one day and left 2.30pm the next. The Cruise This started of with a bit of excitement, two hours out from Newcastle we had to turn round and go back into port because a passenger had a suspected heart attack. Among other diversions was a small fire in a cabin down from us. Our toilet flooded and pumped raw sewage all over the bath room floor once and two blockages later. Other cabins had similar problems. There were at least three if not four public announcements ‘Stretcher crew to the medical centre’ which sounded serious each time. All over the ship were sanitizing stations which squirted disinfectant onto your hands and twice daily reminders from the captain over the public address about hand washing and sanitization. Cabins Deck 5– we had a picture window. The cabin was adequate – lots of storage space. We had our cases taken away which freed up floor space. The constant air conditioning was very dehydrating. Our cabin steward was very obliging but for some unexplained reason the cabin wasn’t hoovered any of the time we occupied it. Beds were comfortable. The bathroom was small but adequate with a bath/shower. Be Warned – if you took advantage of the offer of a complimentary wedding anniversary or other package do not rely on the Self Proclaimed Wonderful Customer Service provided by FOCL to do anything. We booked our 30th wedding anniversary complimentary package online in Oct 2015 soon after the time of booking our cruise– as requested we sent a copy of our marriage certificate by post as soon as it was requested. We failed to check that the Self Proclaimed Wonderful Customer Service had received it. They didn’t bother to check back with us on its non arrival so again the Cold Dead Hand of Head Office did nothing. They probably thought we’d been ‘trying it on’ because we hadn’t sent the certificate. I would have hoped that a customer spending nearly £5,500 (Cruise + Trips) with them was worth a phone call. So, on our anniversary on board, nothing happened. On querying why not we were told they had no record of it. The Guest Services Manager hid in their office and would not talk to us to sort out the problem. By now the ‘shine’ on the celebration had been knocked off. After more wrestling with Customer Services they did reluctantly honour their offer. If the Cold Dead Hand of Head Office is reading this I’m more than happy to provide the evidence, again, of our wedding 30 years ago. Norovirus (projectile vomiting and diarrhoea) We weren’t 2 days out before the first cases broke out, and kept presenting throughout the cruise. The result was that the gym was closed, the library was closed, the laundrette was closed, the Jacuzzis were closed. Poor crew members had to sit outside the public toilet doors (propped open) monitoring hand washing and sanitizing. Or the toilets were closed for deep cleaning at odd times so you had to rush from one end of the ship to the other to find a working toilet if you were caught short. Be Warned - If you caught the virus you were confined to your cabin for 48 hours after the last incident. We were both confined to the cabin for over 60 hours although only one of us was affected. The result – we missed seeing Tallin and worst of all we missed St Petersburg, the main reason for the trip. We were ‘released’ with half a day to spare. We asked the Tours desk if they could find any St Petersburg tours we could get on. They said they’d come back to us – guess what? They didn’t. I’m convinced they made no effort to help after our major disappointment of missing two much anticipated trips ashore at St Petersburg. FOCL didn’t charge us for the medical ‘attention’ we received (but left us to provide our own medication). Is this an admission that it is not entirely the passengers to blame as FOCL try to make out? The cost of the ‘missed’ tours was refunded – big deal. We got a letter from FOCL offering us a ‘discount’ of around £395 but only off another cruise. Not good enough FOCL, not good enough at all. If you Google Fred Olsen + Norovirus you’ll see that Balmoral has had repeated attacks of Gastro-intestinal problems. You will also see that a class action has been taken out by other sufferers and FOCL has just lost a high court appeal against not having to pay compensation. You will find the name of the solicitors bringing the case in one of the Google results. I have been in touch the solicitors and they told me a number of others from this Baltic Cruise have been in touch with them – we may, and I say may, have a cause for action. I urge you to do the research and join in with other sufferers from this cruise. Be warned: While Balmoral has a poor record of Gastro-intestinal problems, I am reliably informed that ALL Cruise ships suffer on-board infection to a greater or lesser degree and none of them seem to be able to get rid of the problem. Summary : Online booking direct with FOCL was not a happy experience. Suggest you book via a travel agency. They had all our details, email and postal, but seem to find it necessary to keep us up to date. We had to phone them several times to find out about tours, tickets, cabin facilities, port parking, etc. The cruise offered a good selection of ports (if you got to see them), exceptional service from the Crew, food was good, accommodation OK. On board entertainment was a good professional standard. The rest of the trip for us was an expensive disappointment in the extreme. We have no intention of taking up an offer to spend over £ 5,500 again (less the paltry discount) to get what we had been promised by this cruise and to be put at risk of being ‘poisoned’ again. I urge anyone contemplating a cruise to check out on Google - Cruise ships + Norovirus or gastrointestinal problems and you will see what a major problem it is. Think twice. . . . Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
We chose this cruise because we went to Norway on the Balmoral 3 years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. We wanted to see the Baltic capitals, so when we saw it advertised in the brochure of our local tour operator (Johnsons Travel, who we ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we went to Norway on the Balmoral 3 years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. We wanted to see the Baltic capitals, so when we saw it advertised in the brochure of our local tour operator (Johnsons Travel, who we know run an excellent door to door servce) we immediately booked. The problems started within2 hours of us sailing when we had to turn back to Newcastle as someone was taken ill (I'm applauding, not criticising, this for the sake of the family affected, but it just seemed to set the scene as a bad omen for the rest of the cruise!) To start with a positive: the entertainmet was excellent. Brenda Collins is a natural comedian, Jon Moses a fantastic singer, and Chris Gee a good all rounder; plus all the onboard team provided excellent shows. The waiting and cleaning staff are all hardworking, polite and pleasant; but SO over-worked! The over-riding problem was the outbreak of a sickness bug on day 2 which, despite all efforts, remained with us throughout the cruise. Cleaning crews were brought in and the staff on board worked hard to keep public areas clean BUT THEY WERE FIGHTING A LOOSING BATTLE, WHEN TOILETS EITHER WON'T FLUSH OR IN SOME CASES OVERFLOW!!!!!! (We were lucky and didn't get the bug, but 10 out of 21 people in our party were affected - the overall tally for the ship was never made available!) Shore excursions from Olsen are expensive and would only rate them as average (we did a 2 day tour with an external operator (Alla Tours) in St Petersburgh and they were excellent!!) One of the highlights of the tour was a visit to Stockholm, which was supposed to be 2 half days, however the inefficiency of disembarkation via tender meant that we waited 3.5 hours so only had 2 hours in the port on day 1. NO-ONE SEEMED WILLING TO EXPLAIN WHY! A complete shambles -Thank goodness we weren't forced to abandon ship!!!!! Other problems included: not being able to self serve, so queues were inevitable and you didn't have chance to chose either what or how much you wanted; a fire in the middle of the night (soon put out); public address system in cabins not working. Guest services staff at the end of their contracts seemed disinterested when problems were reported. (Stock answers when problems reported "We know!" "Don't know") THAT SHIP NEEDS TO BE BROUGHT INTO DRY DOCK AND THOROUGHLY CLEANED AND OVERHAULED! and Fred Olsen needs to employ more cleaning and waiting staff as tired, overworked people inevitably take unintentional short cuts. We saw waiting staff, still wearing their waiters uniforms, pushing wheelchairs at disembarkation - bet they didn't change before the next meal! THE COMMON DENOMINATOR IS THE SHIP AND CREW, NOT THE PASSENGERS! Read Less
Sail Date July 2016
The worst cruise of our lives. I became sick on the second night and was confined to cabin with my husband for 48 hours, it would seem that we came off lightly, some people had longer confinement, o e lady told us it was 4 days. the ... Read More
The worst cruise of our lives. I became sick on the second night and was confined to cabin with my husband for 48 hours, it would seem that we came off lightly, some people had longer confinement, o e lady told us it was 4 days. the cabin was nice but the floor was never hoovered ,there was dirt on the inside of the wardrobe doors, there ware no handles just a groove to open the door. The toilet had a flushing system of its own, you pressed the flush button left the bathroom got out a book and oh, it suddenly flushed. One morning most of the toilets didn't flush for about three hours Twice a day captain was banging on about washing hands In hit water for at least 20 seconds, good idea, it took 45 seconds for the water to rungot in our cabin and in the public toilets it was almost impossible to get hot water unless you used it immediately after someone else, I wrote and told the captain, and someone came while we were out to fix the water, it still took 45 seconds toget hot Laundry,gym,jacuzzi, library, all closed, they were not getting to grips with the sickness and dhiorhea at all. We were woken by a fire announcement, the ta boys stopped working in our cabin. Essential work on the water supply woke us at 2 a, sounded like someone drilling in our bathroom, and no water.must have been please t for the vomiting people We were offered money off another cruise, no chance, I could bang on a lot more but to be honest it's an experience I would rather forget Read Less
Sail Date July 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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