36 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
We wanted to see fjords. Do not go on this ship if you are under 70 as you will feel you are in a nursing home no disrespect meant as I admire some of the older clients for attempting the trip one lady was 101 . We had to avoid ... Read More
We wanted to see fjords. Do not go on this ship if you are under 70 as you will feel you are in a nursing home no disrespect meant as I admire some of the older clients for attempting the trip one lady was 101 . We had to avoid morbility scooters even in the restaurant Frames and zimmers also. The ship was very dated old and worn and repairs welding and grinding were going on aft swimming pool steps whilst people were in pool and on loungers . Our first cabin was inside on 5 it was very depressing we did update to 8 outside which was better. At our cost, The dinning was very busy and we felt rushed and had to sit with other clients often. We have had better food in hotels We always had to que ,The 2nd sitting was too late in restaurant and portions small , The service was OK the drink waiters worked well but we did have to wait sometimes The shore excursions were like cattle markets especially when 2ships arrived together and the little places we visited were ruined by hundreds of people. Embankment was ok but we waited a long time to disembark We would certainly not cruise with Fred Olson ships again Very boring ,we would have taken the 48hr return home deal but thought it might get better it didn't . I really wish I had read some of the reviews I have reported this to hays travel with whom I booked .we did try to get a flight home on the Wednesday but nothing available from Oslo Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
Scenic cruise from local embarkation . From embarkation to disembarkation at port of Tyne could not have ask for better service.on board the balmoral the service on all levels were first class. Entertainment ,bar service dinning room ... Read More
Scenic cruise from local embarkation . From embarkation to disembarkation at port of Tyne could not have ask for better service.on board the balmoral the service on all levels were first class. Entertainment ,bar service dinning room service food very good and waiters very helpful .great fjords great port of calls many bars to choose from .live music plenty of sun beds on rear of ship to top deck. We got a room with picture window which was great to watch the fjords go by while getting ready for your night time out two formal nights which I love to see when everybody taken a effort to dress up .if you ever fancy a go at ballroom dancing they had lesson in the afternoon and at night the host were there to encourage you to get up or if you were a solo guest they would dance with you overall five satrs to Fred olsen Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
I had never been on a cruise before, this being on my Bucket List. I had a really great time, I could not fault the Ship or her Crew. The sailing was very smooth and the scenery spectacular. I would recommend this to anyone, I enjoyed ... Read More
I had never been on a cruise before, this being on my Bucket List. I had a really great time, I could not fault the Ship or her Crew. The sailing was very smooth and the scenery spectacular. I would recommend this to anyone, I enjoyed it so much I have booked to sail on another cruise next year. The shore excursions were well organised and interesting, with a local guide who knew the area well, and could answer any questions asked. The facilities on board could not be faulted and the food was well above average. In fact I might have gone just for the food. There were plenty of activities for those who wanted them, or for people like me a quite relaxing time chilling out and reading with the occasional glass or two. The evening entertainment was good and varied with different artists at various locations on board. Overall I would recommend this to anyone. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
For our Wedding Anniversary we decided to do something special and choose the Fred Olsen cruise "Easter Ireland" and booked a Premier Suite. We could not fault anything (perhaps apart from some of the weather - not in Fred ... Read More
For our Wedding Anniversary we decided to do something special and choose the Fred Olsen cruise "Easter Ireland" and booked a Premier Suite. We could not fault anything (perhaps apart from some of the weather - not in Fred Olsen's control!). As it was our 40th Anniversary we were given the complimentary anniversary package of sparkling wine, flowers, cake, card, portrait photo and gift. During the cruise it was also my birthday so we were slightly embarrassed when a cake was brought to our table on the Friday for my birthday together with the table staff serenading me and the next day another cake and serenade for our anniversary. The staff were superb and could not do enough for us. We asked if the anniversary cake could be packaged to take home to share with family and they made a special box for it and wrapped it with ribbon. The staff soon learned our names and we were often called "Sir, John and Madam, Jennifer". The food was superb both in choice, presentation and cooking. Most evenings we only managed three of the five courses due to the quantity. The ports of call were Belfast, Dublin (two days) and Cobn. All of which were interesting and we went independently rather than take the organised tours. We are not night owls and in Dublin managed to find a pub (Oliver St. John Gogerty) which had live Irish music during the afternoon. The evening shows were very good but I much preferred the live music from the string trio and pianist/singer in the small lounges. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
Some things on the cruise were terrific. The waiting staff were. The food generally was of a high standard, at times excellent. Nothing was too much trouble and in that respect the cruise was 5 star plus. When I needed my trousers ... Read More
Some things on the cruise were terrific. The waiting staff were. The food generally was of a high standard, at times excellent. Nothing was too much trouble and in that respect the cruise was 5 star plus. When I needed my trousers repaired, the tailor appeared in moments, disappeared briefly, and reappeared with the trousers totally repaired. A lot of the staff were actually incredibly nice. In other respects it was a bit wide of the mark. The wifi was very poor, but that is being upgraded, apparently. The communal seats were sprayed with some sort of deodorant, so every time I sat on them, I had to change my trousers because they stank of something nasty. The washing machines all injected with a washing liquid automatically into the system, so after I washed my clothes, I couldn't wear them because I need a non-bio powder, and am allergic to the chemical ones. I was left with a couple of T-Shirts and a few pairs of pants that I had to recycle manually. There is a notice in the launderetter - an A4 laminated thing in black and white ink, that was stuck behind someone who was ironing- that alerts you to the fact the washing machines are self-powdered. i never saw it. Not sure I would have seen it had the person ironing not been there either. The downstairs launderette boasted 4 machines that didn't self powder...I tried one. it also automatically injected detergent. WhenI got back to the UK, I needed 5 washes to remove the strong chemicals from my clothes so that I was able to wear them again. So 10 washes in all. I raised these issues with F.Olsen, and they replied a stock reply. I pointed out that the reply was factually incorrect, and they replied that I was wrong and they were correct. I took umbrage. I wrote to their head office. They wrote back and said they were taking my complaint seriously. That was the last I heard. I could easily have gone for a 2 star rating here, but I feel that is unjust to the 1000 staff who work very hard onboard. There were other niggly things. A major problem is what happens when you dock. In Casablanca we experienced Taxi Wars. Eventually a gun toting policeman came in and starting physically fighting with the taxi drivers. A bit eyebrow raising at the best of times, even more so when you have a disabled person with you. As I waited for the scheduled bus, I was harangued and harassed by the same culprits as before...I then got totally lost in Casablanca, and ended up in the slums; as sundown approached I realized I could have a serious problem. If I had known how louche and potentially dangerous the place was, I would have been more circumspect. A decent map would not have gone amiss. I am surprised the Cruise Companies don't work together, and have a Local Guide in major ports who can handle things like....taxis...and so on. The Southampton Port Authority is a joke. Staff are rude and hostile. Lots of people were getting very irate. Don't suppose F.Olsen care, as they would say once off the ship it is not their responsibility. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
Had a great 7 Night cruise to France our first time on Fred Oulson we have cruised mostly with P and O must say we enjoyed the smaller ship as it was very friendly.We had one and a half days in Rouen must say what a very nice place to ... Read More
Had a great 7 Night cruise to France our first time on Fred Oulson we have cruised mostly with P and O must say we enjoyed the smaller ship as it was very friendly.We had one and a half days in Rouen must say what a very nice place to visit we walked into the Town don't be fouled by paying for the bus as it is not far to walk. We took the trip the next day to Paris that was a good trip to go on must say the weather was not very warm. The next stop was Honfleur that was a most stunning place we also walked into the town would have liked to see it in the sun shine but again it was not warm and it also rained never mind still enjoyed it. The 3rd place was La Pallice for La Rochelle again DONT!!!! pay to get the bus into La Rochelle as the local bus takes you for 1 euro 30cents and people had paid £18 pounds but they don't tell you till the day before many people were not happy as they had booked it on line. The ship itself was great and we had a great time the staff were very friendly, the meals in the dining room were excellent ,we asked for a table of 2 and got it next to another table of 2 and we got on well with them. The entertainment was very good,except we didn't like the magicion but I am sure other people did you cant please everybody. The drinks package is a no brainer we had our moneys worth and I don't drink much just soft drinks alone would add up nearly to ten pounds a day. All in all we had a very great time and would go with Fred Oulsen again.   Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2014
Norway - Rivers and Railways cruise. First time cruisers so make of this what you will. Service, was good throughout though the pronunciation of English, yes, we know it is a world language, really was hard to follow sometimes - and we ... Read More
Norway - Rivers and Railways cruise. First time cruisers so make of this what you will. Service, was good throughout though the pronunciation of English, yes, we know it is a world language, really was hard to follow sometimes - and we are well-used to multicultural London. The numbers were well-managed at breakfast times when everyone arrived at 9am we thought. The all-inclusive drinks package was only just about worth it for us two though one of us was getting over an operation, the other about to have one and loosing weight. The floor shows reminded us of the end of the pier show at Cromer pier which many rave over but not us. A clean and well-painted and well-polished ship. Getting off the ship in Stavanger was not well-managed as cruisers were left standing on the main staircase for up to an hour without any expiation for the delays. The shore tours which we booked a number of and spent about £600 on were not all that well finessed with pretty disengaged entertainment staff roped in as somewhat reluctant tour leaders. The Bergen steam railway tour began as a sort of anticlimax, a pre-climax as the station (and shop?) were not opened for us. There was loose talk of coffee which never arrived and the visit fizzled out beside a busy main road, not even a group picture. The follow-on tour of Bergen city centre in a max size 3-axle coach was we thought an inappropriate way to sight-see a small city centre, in the rain. With only four elevators (lifts) for the elderly passengers when one of then broke down, as it did, there was real inconvenience. We paid extra for white glove Afternoon Tea but the staff were flustered when we arrived at the correct time and this was the only time that service standards slipped really, as far as we were concerned. It didn't help the occasion that scruffy passengers wandered in and out of the bar around us in essentially beach wear. A lot of men did not make much effort to dress appropriately for the two formal dinner nights. We are thinking of booking with Fred.Olsen again but wonder if the organisation isn't a tad blind to it shore tour shortcomings? Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2014
We booked this cruise as a last minute holiday and therefore got a very good deal. (Less than half the original cost) We had never cruised before and therefore we felt that getting a last minute deal was a good way to try it out. We were ... Read More
We booked this cruise as a last minute holiday and therefore got a very good deal. (Less than half the original cost) We had never cruised before and therefore we felt that getting a last minute deal was a good way to try it out. We were not disappointed. Firstly check in was so quick and easy at Southampton. We only had a short wait in the departure longe before we boarded our ship and went to our cabin. We had a superior outside cabin but were warned that it had a fully restricted view. We were pleasantly surprised as although our view was restricted due to our cabin being opposite a lifeboat - we were still able to have some view due to the large picture window and our cabin was light and a good size with both a bath and shower. It was all beautifully clean and kept that way by our cabin stewardess Aurora. We didn't spend a lot of time in our cabin as there was so much to see and go on board. Meals were fantastic. As we booked late we could not change our sitting time but we were first sitting and this suited us as we don't like to eat late. Meals in the Ballandaloch restaurant were amazing - easily would match and in many cases excel any of the best restaurants we have dined in on land. Our waiters were very attentive and friendly and service was extremely efficient. We ate breakfast and lunch in the Palms cafe where the choice was beyond our expectations and we could have as much or as little as we wanted. Again the service was second to none. The mostly Filipino crew couldnt have done more for us and were extremely polite and nothing was too much trouble. As we booked late we were unable to purchase a drinks package but this was not a problem as drinks were in line with pub prices and a bottle of house wine was similar to what you would pay in your local indian restaurant or similar. We are moderate drinkers only so we may not have saved with a drinks package. Entertainment on the ship was of the highest standard. the Balmoral show company were absolutely incredible. Their "musicals" night would match anything seen in a West End show. Special guests were a comedien/singer, another singer who sang Michael Buble songs and a lady saxophonist who was beautiful and hugely talented. There was also 4th dimension who entertained us in a number of the lounges, other singers, a classical guitarist and a string trio. the genres were many and varied and there was something to suit all tastes. My only regret is that we didn't join in the dancing lessons early on in the cruise as we would have enjoyed dancing to Ricki and the Balmooral orchestra, although we enjoyed listening. Our cruise was to Norway and the Arctic Circle and the scenery was spectacular.The shore excursions were quite expensive but we thoroughly enjoyed the four we took and have no regrets about paying for them. On these coffee and cake was laid on for us at the main attractions. The ride on the replica viking ship was a bit hairy due to torrential rain just after we set off but is a great memory to keep. All tours were well arranged and we felt secure having great guides and drivers. We also took a couple of trips on our own and if we go again we would do our research first and probably arrange our own excursions at the local tourist offices. Virtually everyone speaks English and the Norwegian people are extremely helpful and welcoming. We were unable to visit the Lofton Islands as planned due to bad weather but the captain and cruise director arranged a stop at Kristiansand which was a perfect substitute. The facilities on the ship were excellent - treatments in the spa are to be recommended. There are two pools, masses of seating on deck, deck games, a library with games and jigsaws, quiz nights and other talks and demonstrations. If I had any criticism at all it was the cost of things in the shop and the boutiques but we didn't need to buy anything as we had everything we needed. All in all my husband and I had a brilliant time and we would say that given the standard we enjoyed it would have been worth it even if we had paid full price. We would certainly book with Fred Olsen again and would recommend them to our friends. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2012
We were encouraged to try a cruise after friends visited the Fjords last year and loved it. So as a sort of last holiday with older teenagers, us and 4 other families-17 people in total decided on a western Mediterranean trip for 14 nights ... Read More
We were encouraged to try a cruise after friends visited the Fjords last year and loved it. So as a sort of last holiday with older teenagers, us and 4 other families-17 people in total decided on a western Mediterranean trip for 14 nights departing Southampton. We all booked separately through The Liverpool Cruise Club-and despite reviews I have read, they were very accommodating and helpful in that we were all sited near to each other on board, had the same time dinner sitting in the same restaurant on the same or adjoining tables with a wonderful view of the sea through huge portholes. TLCC were cheaper than booking direct and we made interim payments. We booked a year in advance due to the size of our party and are governed by school holidays, although better deals can be had if you are able to book at the last minute which many of our fellow travellers seem to have done and paid far less for better cabins. As we are a family of 5 and the cabins only sleep up to a max of 4 (there are 2 pull down wall bunks)we had the extra expense of 2 cabins so paid full price as if for 4 adults instead of just 2. Despite this and the cabins being fairly spacious it would have been quite cramped with 4/5. Prices vary on which deck you are on-the higher up the dearer it is and also varies on inside/outside cabins. We were on Coral Deck 4 in inside cabins. They are dark so lamps are needed at all times. Next time I would have an outside cabin as I did miss seeing outside, especially on waking. Embarkation at Southampton is painless and efficient. Lovely men take your luggage and the next time you see it is in your cabin. One of our cases did get damaged. We were given free parking vouchers but didn't use them as we all travelled together by coach. There was a bit of waiting around but nothing to moan about. Each person is issued with a cabin account card. When swiped this contains your personal details and photograph. This is also your room key and for getting on/off at stops. All purchases are made using this and can be viewed on your cabin interactive TV so keeping a check on your spending is useful especially with children. Mostly you just tell them your cabin number then sign the chit, but obviously you should keep it with you at all times. We had £140 on board credit for each cabin but this was used up by end of the first week. The card is also printed with lifeboat number and assembly info. You will need sterling for playing bingo £2 per board, and the dolphin/greyhound racing-£1 per bet. (They are only cardboard dolphins!) On the last day the bingo costs £5 per board but some lucky chap won £635! Cabins have huge storage space (cases fit under the beds) TV, air con, a self-combination safe, nice en suite with shower and only hand/shower gel in dispensers. There is a hairdryer fixed to the wall which is very slow so if you have long hair or get ready in a hurry, take your own. A european 2-pin plug is needed. Towels are provided as well as deck towels for sunbathing and can be changed for fresh at any time. However, you will need your own towels if you want to go to the beach at any of the stops. Beds are very comfy! There is very minimal noise from adjoining cabins. You have your own allocated hard working housekeeper who makes up your bed and turns it down each evening leaving you a chocolate on the pillow. There are tea/coffee making facilities and a large bottle of water which if you open, it is charged for. The crew and staff are mainly Philippine's, very friendly, polite and hard working although there is a grumpy waiter in Ballindalloch restaurant who we avoided. The waiters and waitresses (especially Layla in the 'observatory' and Mary in the 'Lido')are wonderful with great senses of humour and can remember your name, drink and cabin number after only a few days. Don't miss the 'crew show' at the end of your holiday. You are sort of expected to pay and charged to your account, 'tips' to your housekeeper and dinner waiter averaging £4 each per day from each person in your party which added up is quite costly (£40 per day for us which you wouldn't pay at home!) This can easily be removed by visiting reception during the first couple of days and telling them you wish to pay them directly at the end of your cruise. It's then up to you what you value their service at. On board and during the first couple of days of sailing when its still too cool to sunbathe there is plenty going on (even for teenagers). We enjoyed the nightly shows in the Neptune, the show company are talented, young and enthusiastic and also around and about doing various activities during the day. 10/10 for them! A mention also to comedian Taffy Spencer who had us in stitches. We had 3 formal evenings-black tie/evening dress, 3 theme nights which hardly anyone bothers with dressing up, hence only all our 'men' in grass skirts and coconut bra's on Hawaiian night! We had a laugh but very strange looks from others. 'Sail-aways' are fun. Informal nights still require jacket or tie, 'smart casual' you can wear jeans but no shorts/crops-this the men found tough especially when it got hotter the further south we sailed. As already mentioned an a la carte dinner is served you each night in the same restaurant, same time, same table. There is a good choice on the menu (these are posted outside during the day) and a children's menu. If you are a couple then you will be placed on a table with others. We were in Spey, Deck 10 at 8.30pm. The earlier sitting is 6.30pm or you can opt to go to the food themed evenings in Palms Cafe which is open seating. We enjoyed Indian and Chinese. All restaurants are open seating during the day. We loved supper club in Palms between 11.30pm and 12.30am. There is also morning tea/biscuits served as well as afternoon cakes/rolls and room service if you wanted it! We could not find fault with any of the food served anywhere on this ship (hence a 71b weight gain!) although talking to others they felt standards had dropped due to cost saving. Sara Sipek, the english executive chef and her team are amazing in that the same quality of food came out each time. Our restaurant waiters were Made (said Maddy) and Toddy who has the loveliest smile. They are whizzes at their jobs and Made was very entertaining with his after dinner tricks and posers. Unfortunately there was an outbreak of Gastroenteritis on Day 7 so self service was withdrawn which did slow down the process. You had to wait a while for toast or milk/sugar to go in your hot drinks. Even with the extra workload the staff were still polite and friendly. Sanitising your hands is a constant must! Stops included Gibraltar (a 10 minute walk in to town) then a 15 minute walk to the bottom of the 'rock'. We paid a local guide 20E each for the tour up to the top, this included the 'cave' tour. Taking the cable car costs 18E excluding the cave tour. The views are amazing but watch don't touch the apes! Barcelona, catch the free courtesy bus from the port. We did the open top city tour which takes 1-2hrs and costs again 20E each. Palamos, the beach is a 5/10 min walk from the ship. Mahon-you dock right on the edge of the town, alas sunday so very few shops open but a small market at the port. Saw lots of dolphins and 2 small whales between here and Portimao-This is an anchor port and you are tendered in which if there is a strong swell takes an age. Not a lot to entice you here though some did get a taxi to the beach. Lisbon is lovely, loads of shops and we went up the tower with fantastic views over the city. Cost 5E pp. We did not pay for any of the organised ship excursions. There is lots of info in your cabin about each stop and The Daily Times delivered each evening is essential to what's going on next day and where, dress code, entertainment etc. Cruise director Joanne Haley and deputy Jamie Clarke are great assets to the Fred Olsen company. We really enjoyed hearing the ship's Master, Robert Bamberg's daily announcements from the Bridge. On board there is a Spa with many treatments, beauticians, hairdressers, fully equipped, popular gym overlooking the ocean, launderette Deck 3(tokens £2 from reception, just press the button on the front for 5 secs for automatic liquid detergent dispensing)also free tumble dryers/ irons etc. There is a disco nightly in the observatory, Deck 11, which goes on quite late if your cabin is on or below that forward deck. There are also a jewellers (free to look and wish), a shop if you forget essentials or fancy a bit of choccy, a boutique and duty free with daily offers. Library and card/games room. Reception is expertly manned or I should say womanned and euro's can also be purchased here. Cabin accounts can be settled the day before by cash or euro's and the remainder taken automatically by credit card (this is registered when you board). Smoking is allowed in several places and on cabin balconies. You can use the free telephones around the ship to phone your's or other cabins. Loads of toilets on the decks and in all the right places. Disembarkation. Suitcases are left out the night before-take a holdall for overnight. This is done by Deck, starting at the top, but is quick and stressless, don't pack your cabin card as you need this. Cases can then be found in a set area by deck number. A few warnings: Loungers get snapped up very early around the pools on Deck 7 and 11. The pools are salt water and several times had to be emptied twice daily due to children being sick in them. The photographers are everywhere and catch you at your worst and best and not particularly bothered if they get somebody else in them too. We soon learned to always stand as a family rather than individually. They then charge you £6.50 for the small and £14.95 for the large prints. You are under no obligation to buy them. There was a mixed age range on board from a group on a lads only holiday, youngsters and elder teenagers with parents, up to the quite elderly. We did hear a few grumbles in passing from them about how many children were on board (only 77 up to age 16 out of 1350 passengers!)but hey ho our money is as good as theirs and they can go any time out of school holidays! In general we found most friendly, chatty and fun. Duty Free is limited to 1 ltr strong liqueurs, or 2 ltrs of fortified wine or 4 ltrs of still wine, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco. Customs staff are vigilant and were stopping many going through the green channel. It's your risk! For our maiden voyage, Balmoral was everything we hoped for and more, we thought this was a last holiday with our boy's but they and the friends we travelled with loved it and all want to go again....guess we'd better start saving! And from the Bridge......'All is well'. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
Various friends keen on cruising had suggested that we try it and so, after years of travelling abroad by plane and car, we chose Fred Olsen's Christmas and New Year trip on the Balmoral to Madeira and the Canaries to dip our toes in ... Read More
Various friends keen on cruising had suggested that we try it and so, after years of travelling abroad by plane and car, we chose Fred Olsen's Christmas and New Year trip on the Balmoral to Madeira and the Canaries to dip our toes in the water, as it were. In short, I have to say we both found it simply excellent. We stayed at the De Vere New Place hotel, 10 miles outside Southampton, the night before our embarkation and found their cruise package very good. It included dinner, bed and breakfast, 16 nights car parking and taxi transfers to and from the terminal before and after the cruise and we would certainly stay there again. At the terminal the check-in and embarkation process was trouble-free and we were delighted with our Superior Suite on deck 9. Our cabin stewardess, Ellen, was a delight, as were our two evening waiters. The food and entertainment was suitably varied and of high quality throughout our time onboard and what struck us most was just how friendly all staff were, from the Master down. It really was a happy ship. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day were simply superb thanks to the staff's efforts. We, in our mid 50s, were probably some of the youngest passengers aboard, but the age mix was not a problem for us as we made some good friends along the way. We tended to do our own thing whan ashore, but found the mix of land and sae days fine. Disembarkation was just as impressive, particularly compared to passing through airports. We enjoyed this trip so much that, whilst we will still look forward to other forms of overseas holidays, we will definitely look to cruise again and more than likely with Fred Olsen. In short, Fred and his team on the Balmoral made this the best Christmas and New Year we have ever had, and we are already eyeing up a trip for the same time this year. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2011
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: July 2011
We booked an 8 night cruise to the Norwegian Fjiords and I was really looking forward to it and my husband was going to "make the best of it" We found boarding at Southampton a relatively easy proceedure with care being taken to ... Read More
We booked an 8 night cruise to the Norwegian Fjiords and I was really looking forward to it and my husband was going to "make the best of it" We found boarding at Southampton a relatively easy proceedure with care being taken to ensure that passengers did not all rush at once causing log jams. Our cabin was as expected a BA grade with balcony and had masses of storage room. The bathroom was a little dated but everything was spotlessly clean and well equipped. We went to our first dinner on a shared table for 6 there was one man on his own so we were only 5 and luckily we all got on famously and are still in touch. The food was excellent throughout and the waiters wonderful we both only drink de-caf coffee and he never forgot to bring it for us. There was an excellent choice every day and we alternated the cafe for breakfast with the Spey dining room and having it in our cabin. How anyone could complain about the food on this ship is quite beyond me! It was my birthday during the trip and we had booked the celebration package at £65 which included breakfast in the room of Lobster, champagne, fresh fruit a card and a present and in the evening we noticed there was a curry night in the Palms cafe and decided with our table mates to go there instead of the dining room and they insisted I should still have my cake which was brought along with guitars and singing waiters and candles. I visited the spa once and found it delightful it is necessary to book early as they are very popular. We intended to visit the gym and didn't but will next time as with all this wonderful food it is really necessary! Disembarking was also made easy and done in stages and I can't wait to go again. Highly recommended to those who want a cruise that has no gimmicks just good old fashioned service done with style. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
After considering many options decided to go for Fred Olsen as it has a reputation for old fashioned British style cruising. We took the mini-cruise as taster - just in case - as not been on anything more than a channel ferry in the past. ... Read More
After considering many options decided to go for Fred Olsen as it has a reputation for old fashioned British style cruising. We took the mini-cruise as taster - just in case - as not been on anything more than a channel ferry in the past. Found the booking process - direct with FO at the Telegraph Cruise show quick & easy. All documentation & tickets arrived on time. Booked parking through APB - again quick & easy. Didn't get the email from FO about the delay - so rolled up at Soton about 1230 - where the car was taken away before we we told there would be several hours to wait. would have been nice to know before we handed over the keys. The staff seemed in total disarray - got different stories about check in times depending on who you spoke to. Once through security spent 3 hours or so in a warehouse type lounge with one small expensive cafe/bar. Would have been a good gesture if FO had laid on some free refreshments at this stage. Not a good introduction. Once onboard things improved. Being on deck 9 had it's advantages - as we were amongst the first to board. Having got through the ID photo but we were told the cabins were available so we went straight there. All but one bag was waiting for us. Cabin was roomy, clean & bright. Dumped the stuff and headed for the Lido bar for a drink - service was polite & quick. Last bag was waiting at cabin on our return. Balcony cabin was as spacious and well equipped as many hotel rooms - could easily have spent a much longer cruise in there. Everything worked - although TV channels a bit limited and reception poor. Tends to vibrate a bit when ship is docking - probably as right at the back. However view (side&rear) from balcony compensates for this. Staff in general very polite & attentive. Found all bar staff to be helpful and unlike other reviewers never had to queue or wait for drink. Agree Lighthouse pub not very inviting. Dined in Ballindoch on second sitting. Food was good - some dishes better that others - served quickly and efficiently. Not piping hot - but plenty warm enough. Pre-ordered wine was waiting on the table. Took breakfast in the Palms - once again never had to queue and buffet was plentiful and of good quality. Only lunched on board once - went to the Spey restaurant - where we were ignored by the staff! Left after 5 mins - went back to Ballindoch were we greeted and the buffet layout explained a soon as we sat down. Afternoon tea in the Palms of same standard as breakfast. Shows/entertainment were as you would expect but good fun when taken in context. Didn't have cause to use the gym or other public rooms but all looked well equipped. Pool areas were nice if small - but noticed prople did tend to hog the jacuzzis. Daily news was very helpful. Going ashore a very organised process. On the last day we barely had time for breakfast before disembarking - all bags waiting for us, car just round the corner, so we were away from the dock in no time at all. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2011
Myself and my husband are brand new to cruising and thought we would try a mini cruise to 'test the water'. Fred Olsen was recommended by (an older) relative, as it is a smaller ship and not overun by kids.Perhaps our ... Read More
Myself and my husband are brand new to cruising and thought we would try a mini cruise to 'test the water'. Fred Olsen was recommended by (an older) relative, as it is a smaller ship and not overun by kids.Perhaps our expectations of a cruise were too high, but speaking with other new cruisers who were doing the same as us on this 'taster weekend', I don't think so. This was Fred Olsen's opportunity to capture a new market and they failed miserably.Firstly admin: I had to call Fred Olsen twice to tell them that we hadn't received our tickets and in the end were issued with an e-ticket. They managed to send the bill to the right address so why not the tickets?The ship was delayed getting into port so embarkation was delayed by 3 hours. Fortunately we were emailed by FO to alert us to this so didn't leave home until later in the day, but many passengers didn't or couldn't. Needless to say check in was horrendous - lengthy queues and disorganisation ruled the day. This set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Queues and lengthy waits for everything including breakfast seating and drinks just made what should have been a relaxing break into alot of frustrating hard work.We booked a superior outside cabin which was reminiscent of a ferry cabin, and though it was clean, was very shabby and in much need of decoration and a new bathroom.We were booked into the Spey restaurant for dinner and even though on second sitting, we felt rushed all the way through. Waiters were surly and it was very difficult to attract their attention particularly at breakfast time when it was hard to get coffee and toast served in time to go with the rest of the meal.On the third morning we went into the Ballindalloch restaurant for breakfast and have to say that service was marginally better in there.Food could hardly be called 'fine dining'. It was adequate 'function catering' if rather boring - alot of it was based on roast meat and veg, starters and desserts were OK if generally tasteless. It's a pity that 'hot' food arrived at the table tepid, and cold food really was very chilled. We ate once in the Palms cafe - afternoon tea on the day of embarkation - after that we avoided it like the plague. It was noisy, tables were dirty, glass seating dividers were smeared with grease and upholstered seating was badly stained... not nice.The Captains Welcome Cocktail party was a joke - more rugby scrum mentality and shockingly bad service. The party took place in the Neptune lounge. It took us 30 mins to get a drink and no canapes got as far as the area in which we and 40 others were sitting. To us, it just felt like a 'hard sell' for tours, future cruises and of course the obligatory photo with the captain.Outside sitting areas were generally tidy and there appeared to be enough loungers and chairs, but then it was a bit breezy so maybe not everyone wanted to be outside. It did became quite difficult to move around when everyone sprawled out on loungers and grouped them together. It was also worrying to see passengers sitting in jacuzzis holding drinks in glasses, despite their being notices displayed forbidding it. Staff didn't seem to care. We will probably try cruising in the future, but definitely not with Fred Olsen. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2011
Although first impressions are good I was very disapointed overall in my experience as a first time cruiser on the Balmoral. My cabin, a superior single on the Lido deck, may be described as 'tired'. Surfaces worn, a drawer ... Read More
Although first impressions are good I was very disapointed overall in my experience as a first time cruiser on the Balmoral. My cabin, a superior single on the Lido deck, may be described as 'tired'. Surfaces worn, a drawer chipped and the bathroom poorly patched up (when I entered the cabin there was a rust hole at the bottom of the metal bath panel which was dealt with at some time during the voyage). I was particularly concerned about the position of the television and its tangle of wiring in relation to the only possible place to use the electric kettle.I may also say that the position of the bedside light in relation to the way the bed was laid out (pillows at the far end of the bed adjacent to the outside door) meant that the bed was fine during the day for lounging or watching television but in order to read in bed I had to set the bedding out the other way round at night.The door to the balcony wouldn't remain completely closed since, even though locked, the catch would slip and there was considerable wind noise, which was rather disturbing.I had expected excellent food in the Spey restarant, this surely is one of the high spots of any cruise. I have to say that in some cases it was hardly better than superior school dinners! Neither pork nor the chicken tasted of anything. I did have some acceptable meals there but the quality was very uneven. The Palms Cafe was better, at least one could see in advance what was on offer and choose accordingly. In addition the service at times was rushed. On the penultimate night plates were being removed from our table and the next course brought while some of us were still eating. The waiters also clearly forgot to ask for our orders for pudding. The restaurant was also very noisy. I have good hearing but at times it was difficult to have a conversation because of the noise from other tables. My elderly father who is rather deaf (I was travelling with my parents) found it impossible.I also have to say that the whole dressing up in DJs for men on four evenings was completely unnecessary and pretentious. I just looked in on the entertainment since nothing appealed. The ports' lecturer was terrible. I could have done better with a quick look at Wikipedia and other internet sites. He was really just advertising the excursions. The guest lecturer, a retired MEP was a bit better. Excursions were generally ok but highly priced and most satisfactory were the trips out I made on my own in Tallin and elsewhere. It was a waste of money to do both the coach panorama trip around St Petersburg and the Waterways tour but the trip to the Palaces of the Romanovs with the opportunity to see the suburbs and countryside around St Petersburg was good and the restoration work after the destruction by the Germans, extremely impressive.I was surprised by just how elderly and infirm many passengers were and at 65 I was one of the younger ones. It is clear that this ship or this cruise line appeals to the Daily Mail reader. That was the daily internet produced newspaper paper available and the paper that headed the list in the survey of passengers. I left the comedian's performance when he started telling jokes about immigrant benefit scroungers.This trip was my first experience of cruising. There were many things that I enjoyed about the experience but most of those are not related to the ship or its facilities. In all this cruise cost me getting on for £4,500 including the fuel surcharge. I don't regard that as good value for money and I will certainly not be recommending Fred Olsen cruise lines to friends.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2010
Balmoral! Where do I begin,!? My husband and I had never done a cruise till this one.We had booked another one due to sail with another company in August,but had to cancel due to Trev my husband having suffered a heart attack.Once we got ... Read More
Balmoral! Where do I begin,!? My husband and I had never done a cruise till this one.We had booked another one due to sail with another company in August,but had to cancel due to Trev my husband having suffered a heart attack.Once we got the all clear for Trev we booked Balmoral,we were not dissapointed. I had always wanted to cruise but nerves always got in the way,now we were to taste the water (so to speak )! When the day arrived I stood at the gangway as Trev said to me look at Balmoral she will be your home for the next 22 days,I was shocked at her size,speechless and motionless for quite a few moments until I caught my breath ,Nervous very,Amazed Totally but once I embarked Balmoral I knew she would keep me safe.She was warm inviting and very very elegant.She gave Trev and I a joyous time sailing and when our cruise was over we were elated with the complete experience. The Crew were second to none our cabin was kept spotless every day,the food was excellent ,the entertainment fantastic ,and the other cruisers who were all more experienced than us were truly nice people.We did have a fellow cruiser who had to airlifted off Balmoral due to the fact this chap was ill,we also lost an engine which to be quite honest didnt make a lot of difference to us as we had everything on Balmoral that you could want,ok we did miss 2 ports of call but at the end of the day it is not the end of the world.We are saving as fast as we can to get booking our second cruise on Balmoral.ROLL ON . Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
Our first cruise was almost four weeks long and covered ten ports in the Mediterranean. Our cabin was clean, roomy and comfortable with ample storage space in both wardrobes and drawers. The bathroom was spotless and toiletries were all ... Read More
Our first cruise was almost four weeks long and covered ten ports in the Mediterranean. Our cabin was clean, roomy and comfortable with ample storage space in both wardrobes and drawers. The bathroom was spotless and toiletries were all supplied. We didn't actually book any of the ship's tours on shore as this was an Ancient Wonders of the World cruise and being in our sixties we see enough ancient wonders every day when we look at each other. However, we did go ashore and do our own thing in every port, walking for miles and finding plenty of interest locally. These ports included Almeria, Spain; Villefrance, France; Katekolon and Pireaus in Greece; La Goulette and Sfax in Tunisia; Limassol, Cyprus, Cittiavechia, Italy and Lisbon, Portugal. The only place we stayed on deck was in Alexandria, because by the time we had sunbathed for a while and done a bit of reading, coffee drinking and cake eating, earlier passengers were already returning to the ship saying "Don't Do It". They were apparently all being accosted at the port gates not only by sellers of Egyptian "antiquities" (mostly stuffed camels) but the taxi drivers were severely harassing passengers and one elderly lady was lifted off her feet and placed inside a taxi, having to be rescued by other British guests. The ships officers had to call the police to remove the offenders from the port gates. The entertainment on board surpassed our expectations. The Show Company were brilliant, putting on excellent shows which we really enjoyed. We also had a comedian, Don Reid, who is a very funny man with clean humour, and in addition a Magician. We very much enjoyed going up to the Crow's Nest at the end of every day where Jackie, a lovely pianist with a beautiful voice played soft jazz songs and ended our day on a very pleasant note. There was also a jazz band on board who performed in their own shows, but often joined Jackie in the Crow's Nest and played some impromptu numbers accompanying her singing. The whole of the top deck of the Balmoral is devoted to swimming pool, spa pools and sunbeds, so there is plenty of room for everybody to get a suntan and there was an additional pool and large sunbathing area at the back of the ship on Deck 9. The cuisine on board was probably not what I would call 4* and was a little repetitive, for example after the Tropical Night, when we had coconut deserts etc, we then had several days where coconut appeared at every meal in some disguise, even once appearing as pink coconut soup! The meals could definitely be improved, but we certainly didn't go hungry and there was plenty of choice. The buffet restaurant, Palms Cafe, was excellent, serving delicious breakfasts, wonderful lunches and themed evening meals (eg. curries, or chinese). Virtually all the staff on board were Philippino and were wonderful. Cheerful, charming, funny, helpful, hardworking and tireless. There isn't a huge shopping area on the Balmoral, but then we weren't looking for Regent Street. Our Captain was Norwegian and he was a real treat of the day. He often walked around the ship, mixing with the guests, he ate his lunch in the Palms Cafe, he was approachable and entertaining. Each morning at 9.00 am and each evening at 6.00 pm, he would address the passengers over the tannoy and his little speeches were a delight. Everyone went quiet in order to listen to him and he was a very well respected man. We would recommend the Balmoral to anyone looking for a pleasant, relaxing cruise and would certainly cruise with Fred Olsen again when the opportunity arises. Read Less
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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