5 Fred. Olsen Balmoral Canary Islands Cruise Reviews

This cruise on Fred. Olsen’s ‘Balmoral’ (‘Canaries & Madeira Winter Sun’) was the third of a ‘three-for-the-price-of-two’ offer and followed voyages on the ‘Boudicca’ and the ‘Braemar’ – all in the space of nine ... Read More
This cruise on Fred. Olsen’s ‘Balmoral’ (‘Canaries & Madeira Winter Sun’) was the third of a ‘three-for-the-price-of-two’ offer and followed voyages on the ‘Boudicca’ and the ‘Braemar’ – all in the space of nine months. The ‘Balmoral’ compared very favourably with the other two (smaller) ships, not having the tired appearance of the ‘Boudicca’ and being more elegant that the ‘Braemar’. On all three ships we were located in a Superior Suite, but Cabin 9059 on the ‘Balmoral’ was the most ‘superior’ of the trio. The Starboard-side suite was spacious, well-appointed, and had plenty of storage space. The bathroom had a bath with an excellent shower which consistently provided plenty of hot water. The toilet, however, did not always flush thoroughly, but overall this was an excellent bathroom facility. Despite having the two ‘Scandinavian’ duvets, the double bed provided a very good night’s sleep, aided by the fact that there was little extraneous noise. The lounge area had a large table with a settee and two comfortable chairs. The adjacent balcony was of an adequate size and was equipped with a small table and two chairs. There was often a smell from the ship’s engines on the balcony and, if frequent use of the balcony is important, it would probably be better having a similar grade of cabin farther forward. The servicing standard of the cabin was very disappointing. In contrast to our other cruises with Fred. Olsen, we saw little of the stewardess, servicing levels were minimalistic and not very efficient. It may have been that the cabin staff had too much to do, as this was also the impression in the dining room where the waiting staff seemed to have too many tables to attend to – although our waiters were very courteous, attentive, and pleasant. The maitre d’ was charming and always helpful. We had requested a table for two, but found on the first evening that Table 326 was laid for four. This was a very small table, but fortunately, no other diners ever appeared and the table was subsequently only laid for two. Except for one incident when the roast beef was inedible, the food was excellent with the huge choice that we have previously experienced with Fred. Olsen. All our evening meals, and most breakfasts and lunches were taken in the Avon/Spey pair of restaurants on the Tenth Deck. These restaurants were spacious and civilised places to eat, with large windows providing an excellent ambience. In contrast, our limited use of the Ballindalloch restaurant and Palms Café proved to be crowded and noisy experiences. The standard of entertainment in the Neptune Lounge was very high, both from the Balmoral Show Company and the individual artists. The appreciation of the shows was enhanced by the fact that the stage of the Neptune Lounge was raised for these presentations – thus dealing with the poor viewing standards of the ‘Balmoral’s’ sister ships where this facility does not exist. The final night’s show (‘The Best of the Entertainment’s Team’) was excellent but it would have been better to see this at the commencement of the cruise so as to be able to appreciate what entertainment was available throughout the ship. There were also some excellent lectures and guitar concerts. Embarkation and disembarkation at Southampton were handled efficiently and swiftly, the latter a benefit of booking a suite. All ports of call were reached, in contrast to our previous cruise with Captain Victor Stoica who failed to get us to two ports on the schedule. We had pre-booked four excursions, one on each of the four islands in the Canaries. The first of these, at La Palma, was cancelled at the last minute due to lack of support. This was an eight hour tour when the ‘Balmoral’ did not get into port until about 1pm – so much of this ‘sightseeing’ excursion would have been in the dark. The other three excursions were good, and it was easy to explore independently in Madeira and Lisbon. Overall, an enjoyable cruise that would have been better if some of the staff had been able to devote more attention to providing a personal service. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
I boarded the ship at Doper which is the most convenient cruise port for me. I parked my car in the port which efficiently organised. After check-in I boarded immediately and my luggage followed only a few minutes after. It was one of the ... Read More
I boarded the ship at Doper which is the most convenient cruise port for me. I parked my car in the port which efficiently organised. After check-in I boarded immediately and my luggage followed only a few minutes after. It was one of the quickest start to a cruise I have experienced and I have taken 40+ cruises. Our cruise took us to three of the islands in the Azores, Madeira, Lisbon and Oporto. The "Balmoral" is a fine ship and looks to be in a very good condition. I still have some difficulty in recognizing the the grey hull livery. I expect I will accept it in due course. I had a single outside cabin on deck 4 which is ideal fro my needs. It had a picture window, effective air conditioning and was spacious. There was plenty of storage, in fact enough for two on this relatively short cruise. The safe and the tea/coffee facilities was additional benefits. The cabin was serviced twice daily and kept in good condition. I dined in the Avon restaurant on deck 10 which is an ideal place. The food was very good as was the service. I ate in the Spey and Ballindalloch restaurants for the occasional lunch and breakfast. The Palms Cafe was ideal for coffee, afternoon tea and the occasional speciality night, sadly only one on this cruise. The daytime activities followed the normal pattern. Some of the lecturers were very good indeed. The occasional classical concerts were first class. The evening cabarets in the Neptune lounge were very good with the Balmoral Show Company performances and, of course, the Crew Show outstanding. One of the strong points of Fred. Olsen cruising is the high quality of their staff.They are efficient, friendly and cheerful. I booked excursions for all ports of call. Those in the Azores and Madeira were excellent mainly because I chose take 4x4 (Land Rover) trips which meant there was a driver cum guide and 3 or 4 passengers. We visited sites which were inaccessible to coaches and taxis so we saw something of the real life of these islands. We sailed from the UK in warm sunshine but sadly on the voyage South the weather was disappointingly damp, grey and windy. The sea was occasionally choppy but nothing to upset all but the inevitable few. The weather in the Azores was mixed but didn't spoil the visit. In Madeira, Lisbon and Oporto we rediscovers the sun. The return voage to dover was on calm seas. Overall, it was a good cruise on my favourite ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We sailed on the "Balmoral" on 21 December. The "meet and greet" parking at Southampton was very courteous and efficient. Although the City cruise terminal was being renovated the temporary departure lounge was ... Read More
We sailed on the "Balmoral" on 21 December. The "meet and greet" parking at Southampton was very courteous and efficient. Although the City cruise terminal was being renovated the temporary departure lounge was satisfactory. Boarding was very swift (aided greatly bt membership of the "Oceans Gold" club). The ship looked in good condition as it had only come out of dry-dock two days earlier. We has accommodation on Deck 6 (main deck) which was fine. There was sufficient storage space and the air-condioning was effective. The picture window added to the overall aspect of the cabin. Overall it was in good condition. We were fortunate enough to have calm seas throughtout the whole cruise save on the final day when it was a little choppy. The weather was good which is not always the case in these climes in mid-Winter. The ship was beautifully decorated for Christmas and the "gingerbread town" was a triumph. We selected the Spey restaurant for dinner and the food and service was up to Fred. Olsen's usual standard. We took other meals in the various other restaurants and the standard of food was equally good. The Chinese and Asian speciality nights were particularly enjoyable. The staff and crew on board Fred. Olsen's ships are a key selling point and on this cruise it was no exception. We had port calls in Lisbon, Funchal, Santa Cruz (Tenerife), Las Palmas (Gran Canaria), Arricife (Lanzarote) and Gibraltar. All had their good points but the boat trip in Lisbon and afternoon tea at the gorgeous Reid's Hotel in Madeira were perhaps the best. Christmas Eve was was celebrated with a cabaret show, carol singing and a Holy Communion service at midnight. Christmas Day was also well celebrated althought afternoon was a bit lacking in entertainment and a little flat. Dinner that night was traditional and excellent. New Year's Eve was most enjoyable with an excellent dinner (including haggis and a "wee dram") and a deck party. Although the fireworks in Gibraltar were ok they didn't compare with Madeira. Also it was rather chilly. I don't think this is the ideal port for a New Year call. Although this was a pretty good cruise I do have a few gripes, 1. The ship was just out of dry-dock but there was a great deal of maintenance and painting going on which was, at time intrusive. When the reception was asked why this was necessary we were told that the ship had to be in good condition for the upcoming "long cruise". This is quite unacceptable. 2. The "Balmoral" orchestra plays at every possible occasion eg cocktail parties, receptions and "shows". The volume is so hight that normal conversation is virtually impossible. Thsi is an on-going problem which FOCL really should investigate. 3. As the weather was pretty good it was a pity that the swimming pool on deck 7 was so often closed. 4. The lecture weren't very good with the exception of those concerning millionaires. I would describe most as "minority interest talks. They was certainly not up to the normal standard.   Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
After a care free embarkation at Southampton and a prompt delivery of our cases to our cabin we were prepared for another excellent cruise with Fred Olsen, having sailed on the Boudicca and the Black Prince and never disappointed. The ... Read More
After a care free embarkation at Southampton and a prompt delivery of our cases to our cabin we were prepared for another excellent cruise with Fred Olsen, having sailed on the Boudicca and the Black Prince and never disappointed. The cabin size is good on the Balmoral and there is more than enough cupboard and draw space to allow for a 19 day cruise. Stewardess was lovely and couldn't be more helpful. The ship is well laid out with easy access to all areas except for decks 11 and 3. For some reason the forward lift is the only one which accesses these 2 decks. This means that if you are midships our forward you had quit a long walk to the lifts. 11 is the sun deck and 3 has the Medical centre on it. The itinerary was very good as it included the Verde Islands, a one-off visit is recommended. The £10 all-inclusive charge is well worth it if you drink more than 2 glasses of wine each day. Our disappointment came when it came to dining. No problem with breakfast but lunch and dinner, a different story. Selection on menue and at the buffet was very limited. The portions and selections at dinner were limited in size and choice. The average age was in the 70's and the chef must have thought we were all on restricted diets. Veg served was usually carrots and brochlili. Potatoes served cold. I was confined for 3 days and food served to the cabin was always cold.The medical staff were excellent. The staff on board were excellent, as they have always have been on Fred Olsen ships. Shame about the chef. Will check to see who is Chef next time we sail with them.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
After extensive research I chose Fred Olsen and the BALMORAL Canaries Cruise departing Southampton 17.11.11 due to it being our first cruise and being advised to go on a smaller cruise ship so as not to be overwhelmed with too many ... Read More
After extensive research I chose Fred Olsen and the BALMORAL Canaries Cruise departing Southampton 17.11.11 due to it being our first cruise and being advised to go on a smaller cruise ship so as not to be overwhelmed with too many passengers. What my research did not tell me was that the average age would be 75+ or so it would appear. Never have I seen so many walking sticks, frames and mobility scooters in such an enclosed environment before! The cruise was advertised as Music and Laughter - I must have missed the bit about the sequence dancing and bingo. Every day prior to the shows x 2 there was approx an hour whereby Gentleman Hosts danced with single ladies both ballroom and latin - these ladies booked the cruise solely for this entertainment but as stated I must have overlooked this snippet of info. There was nothing on the cruise during the day for my husband and I to do whilst at sea - we are in the age bracket 50 -59 and felt totally out of place. We are not interested in patchwork, card making, bingo etc and the resident guest speakers were of no interest - only giving info on places we were to visit which had already been researched. That said, the cabin, food, service and prices at the bar were more than satisfactory. What was needed from our point of view was a sports bar where we could watch European/Domestic Football Cricket Tennis Golf etc or a Cinema/Theatre. The evening entertainment was sufficient but would have been better has second sitting guests, 8.30 been able to watch the show prior to eating maybe the shows starting at 7.00pm rather than not being able to see the shows until 10.45 whereby we were never able to go to bed until midnight as did not want to miss evening entertainment. Read Less
Sail Date November 2011
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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