7 Fred. Olsen Balmoral Cruise Reviews for Family Cruises to Europe - British Isles & Western

We live in Edinburgh, the sailing was from Rosyth, and the itinerary was very interesting. The check in went slowly but smoothly, parking procedure very good. The gangway was very steep, very narrow and entirely stepped, with wide flat ... Read More
We live in Edinburgh, the sailing was from Rosyth, and the itinerary was very interesting. The check in went slowly but smoothly, parking procedure very good. The gangway was very steep, very narrow and entirely stepped, with wide flat areas on either side. Many passengers were elderly, using sticks for support, and found it very difficult. These people make up a large part of Fred Olsen Cruises customer base, and I found this astonishing. We scanned our cards ourselves, with a crew member checking it- not a word, no eye contact from any member of the gangway crew, then, or at any time during the cruise. The ship is beautifully maintained, inside and out, with comfortable lounges and plenty of artwork and photographs. Dining in the Balindalloch restaurant was good, food excellent and waiters very smart in grey suits. The Palm cafe was lovely, with seating overlooking the pool. The food was fine, but coffee generally cold, with staff morale not too good. The cabin (3072) had been refurbished and was well equipped, with a proper full sized shower area. There was, however, no sound insulation at all. There was almost nothing in the way of engine rumble or other mechanical noises, but it was as though the occupants of the cabins on either side were in beside us! They were selfish idiots with no regard for anyone- we were also idiots for creeping about like church mice! Entertainment was pretty good- a singer/guitarist in the Morning Light lounge was very good, with a most pleasant manner. The Neptune show lounge was very smart, with a resident 6 piece band. The British song and dance group were good, as were comedy and speciality music acts. There were also 2 afternoon classical piano recitals which were wonderful. The dancing classed in the Neptune were very good, organised by a Scottish Husband and Wife team. Reception and shore excursion staff were very polite and helpful. The promenade deck had seating in several areas, but there was not enough depth to accommodate loungers. There were plenty of these round the pool, though, as well as on deck 11. Fred Olsen claim a 60% return rate, and I believe it. Many guests were treated like old friends by some crew members. We only did 1 shore trip- the Monet House and Gardens, which was excellent, but there were plenty choose from. Some people were disappointed to find the trip they wanted fully booked, so it's best to book in advance. The clientele was almost entirely Scottish, and we met some lovely people, but if you are looking for a more mixed crowd, Rosyth is probably not the best staring point. We enjoyed the cruise- the ship was very smooth and quiet, there are quiet areas to hide away in. There does seem to be a problem with staff morale- a lady at our table was actually shouted at by a waiter for not being able to understand his broken English! There were plenty of "suits" in evidence, so the problem has to be in management quality rather than quantity. We asked someone with a cabin on deck 6 about the noise from adjacent cabins, and it appeared to be no better than ours. That would probably prevent us from taking another cruise with Fred Olsen, which is a pity, as there is so much to like. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Very dated ship. Mainly elderly passengers. Nothing on during the day except bridge bingo and handicrafts. More like a floating care home. Tour operator extremely unhelpful.. Don't book flam railway through olsen it's a lot ... Read More
Very dated ship. Mainly elderly passengers. Nothing on during the day except bridge bingo and handicrafts. More like a floating care home. Tour operator extremely unhelpful.. Don't book flam railway through olsen it's a lot cheaper to do yourself and there were plenty of seats. Guest service manager very helpful as had to move cabins as extremely noisy. Noticed a lot of cutbacks. Eg no conditioner or body lotion in cabins. However food was outstanding served by Sam and Joe who were brilliant. Entertainment on a night was good. Cocktails seemed mainly fruit juice having been teatotal for 30yrs I thought a few alcoholic drinks would be a change. Strangely there was no effect. Service was fairly quick. The gym in a great position but vastly overheated to dehydration level with one small water fountain pretty hopeless when you have to leave the equipment to get a drink. We are used to having all our baggage taken off us at check in not done in Newcastle they will only take suitcase no suit bags or small cases.which were heavy. Class them as hand luggage. On leaving ship to come home Newcastle is very disjointed. This was my 4 time with olsen and very much my last. Wasn't keen before but Newcastle is near home. Southampton is worth the journey to board a better cruise line cunard is unbeatable and cheaper Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Staff – some good some bad, certainly not at the level across the board of the more expensive cruise lines but a lot of the staff where great. Drinks – the drinks package includes so little variety I ended up always paying the top ... Read More
Staff – some good some bad, certainly not at the level across the board of the more expensive cruise lines but a lot of the staff where great. Drinks – the drinks package includes so little variety I ended up always paying the top up to have different drinks however it wasn’t very pricey to top up to nicer drinks. Swimming pools and recreation activities - They have very little and much of what they have is catered to their older clients. Knowing in advance this was a smaller ship with older patrons we took a PS3 with us, on day one the reception staff refused to set the TV up for us so we could plug it in (it needed a different controller to the one supplied as they have their own system that doesn’t allow other HDMI channels) however we asked different staff on day two and they sorted it for us. As this was a Christmas time cruise we avoided pools as did pretty much everyone else as it was to cold. Quizzes and shows – you could turn up pretty much as the shows were starting and still get a seat a big change on the larger ships however the shows were very low budget versions of what you get on larger cruise ships they were mildly entertaining at best. With the quizzes we were lucky if we found one per day so we spent quite a bit of time in our room with the entertainment we brought with us. Photo's & other items to purchase – we didn’t get any pictures done really so didn’t investigate this price. Bathrobes – not available to purchase ☹ Anything extra you may want to pay for was reasonably priced. Food - Breakfast Breakfast in room was ok, not much in the way of queues for the buffet and we didn’t try the sit down breakfast. Food - lunch, snacks and late night food. Buffet not too busy but variety was very low although quality was very good. Food - dinner Sit down meal was largely good quality but amount of food was limited and my husband who is a picky eater struggled to find food at dinner time. Food - room service Food was pretty good and was included in the price which is unusual and nice however it was very much snacks no meals available. Fred Olsen were a good low budget cruise line where the quality is good but variety is limited however the price of this trip was similar to we paid on P&O so I don’t feel the price reflected the fact they are a budget cruise line. Would happily sail with them again but I want the cost to be dramatically lower than the mid range cruise lines like P&O and Royal Caribbean Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Although this ship was recently refurbished (newer furniture and carpeting) it lacks the excitement and character of other cruise lines we've been on (P&O, NCL, RCCL). The entertainment was so-so (think community college theater ... Read More
Although this ship was recently refurbished (newer furniture and carpeting) it lacks the excitement and character of other cruise lines we've been on (P&O, NCL, RCCL). The entertainment was so-so (think community college theater not Vegas-style), the comedian unfunny, and the average passenger age was over 60. We traveled with a well-behaved toddler. Even so most people were friendly (only had one "shushing" in the observatory lounge) and the crew was fantastic. We were bored on our day at sea. Even the older cruisers appeared bored as most just sat in the lounges reading books or iPads. The ports were excellent (Invergordon (Inverness), Kirkwall, and Lerwick) in Scotland but I highly recommend renting your own car and self-touring to save money. We overpaid significantly for a private guided tour from Invergordon. Rent a car and do it yourself (with a guidebook if you want)! You can see the standing stones of Stenness near Kirkwall by taking the public bus for less than 7 quid round-trip! We would only consider going on a Fred Olsen cruise in the future if it improved its on-board activities for families. To leave on a positive note, the drink and spa prices were very reasonable. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Never on a cruise before; staff, entertainment, food, service, hygiene and gym all superb. Cabin was excellent, well appointed and serviced. The staff were very attentive and worked tirelessly. Food options were very good with a high ... Read More
Never on a cruise before; staff, entertainment, food, service, hygiene and gym all superb. Cabin was excellent, well appointed and serviced. The staff were very attentive and worked tirelessly. Food options were very good with a high standard of presentation. It was particularly welcome that you could get a late snack and an afternoon tea beyond the time of lunch (handy if you were out). The gym was well kitted out and the weather was also good enough to go out on the top deck pool. The atmosphere was excellent in all the bars, in particular the observatory. The selection of ports was good and it was welcome that shuttle buses were on hand at Lerwick and kirkwall. Embarkation was very efficient. We got a freedom fare which made it exceptional value for money. Limited selection of beers and ciders would be a minor criticism. Overall, an excellent experience and certainly recommended. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
This is an old, dated ship that is in dire need of updating. The décor is a mix between a 70's social club and a care home and the smell in some of the corridors is nauseating. We were only on board for 3 nights but had to move room ... Read More
This is an old, dated ship that is in dire need of updating. The décor is a mix between a 70's social club and a care home and the smell in some of the corridors is nauseating. We were only on board for 3 nights but had to move room each night due to cabin problems. The staff watched us move and didn't offer any help and indeed, for the last move, our old room was cleared before we had a chance to fully pack meaning we are still missing some of our belongings. There were what appeared to be blood stains on the carpet in our 2nd room and one of the mattresses in the final room was covered in dubious smelling stains, although the staff did eventually replace this with a cleaner mattress although it took some lengthy conversations with the surly and often hostile staff on reception to achieve this). The food served was mediocre and no match for other cruises we had sailed on. Service in the restaurants (we dined in the Avon/Spey) was generally very good but there were some exceptions and plates were cleared before all guests at the table had finished their meal - indeed it was best to keep hold of your plate even before you had finished to make certain it wasn't whipped when you were not looking. Drinks were a reasonable price but service in the lounges was exceptionally slow, even at times when they were not busy. On an evening there was very little opportunity to escape the pub singers and quizzes and to experience a quiet drink and we regularly found ourselves moving table to escape raucous groups and screeching. Overall we booked this cruise with an open mind as we had heard some very positive things about the company. However we were extremely disappointed in the whole experience and will never contemplate a Fred Olsen Cruise again. There are much better operators out there for the same price and who offer far superior ships, better rooms, dining and overall experience. Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
Changed cabin after 1st night due to vibration and noise (deck 4) Changed ports of call due to bad weather, visited Santander instead of Sans Sebastian informed quicly and given the chance to book on new tours. New cabin great, both ... Read More
Changed cabin after 1st night due to vibration and noise (deck 4) Changed ports of call due to bad weather, visited Santander instead of Sans Sebastian informed quicly and given the chance to book on new tours. New cabin great, both cabins really clean; reception staff very helpful. Excellent staff and wonderful crew, good food; buffet kept open for us when the coach was late back from tour. Booked again for October 16 but on deck 6 this time Good value for money, shops on board needed to be better, shows were as expected. Welsh male choir on board very entertaining. Great visit to Bilbao very informative tour guide needed more time. In france stopped at La Rochelle and visited Courban Castle great tour informative but wanted time in the shops to buy souveniers. Great day exploring Santander on our own. Very clean city, found the bank! Travelled there and back by Eavesway coaches excellent Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
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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