5 Fred. Olsen Balmoral Cruise Reviews for Group and Theme Cruises to Europe - British Isles & Western

We chose the cruise for the Christmas Markets in Europe. The Balmoral crew had made a splendid effort to make the ship festive. Lovely decorations throughout.There were beautifully made gingerbread houses in some spots on the ship. A ... Read More
We chose the cruise for the Christmas Markets in Europe. The Balmoral crew had made a splendid effort to make the ship festive. Lovely decorations throughout.There were beautifully made gingerbread houses in some spots on the ship. A lovely festive dinner and very good entertainers and speakers. Enjoyed the orchestra, piano player, string quartet and guitarist, talks and quizzes. Formal nights with lovely food but good food throughout the trip. Lots of work goes on to make a voyage successful, but the crew including those we don't see are very discreet. Because of being December with unpredictable weather and fog the itinerary had to be altered but as we had been to Germany and Denmark on another Fred Olsen cruise we had been fortunate to see the Rivers and Kiel Canal in good weather ad daylight. Others may have been disappointed, but it is winter. The Christmas markets were amazing. The Tivoli Gardens at Christmas with 'snow' looked wonderful. The shopping streets in Copenhagen were full of people and lights. A lovely experience. Hamburg had a Father Christmas flying overhead on zip wires at the Christmas market. There were sprinkles of snow. Bremen is a lovely town, our third visit. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Calling this cruise Irish Markets was a joke. First stop Falmouth which I must admit I enjoyed very much lovely day & very quaint shops. Next stop Dublin not a Christmas stall in sight oh yes one. Our last stop Cobh for Cork very ... Read More
Calling this cruise Irish Markets was a joke. First stop Falmouth which I must admit I enjoyed very much lovely day & very quaint shops. Next stop Dublin not a Christmas stall in sight oh yes one. Our last stop Cobh for Cork very disappointing Christmas market consisted of fruit & veg & meat stalls oh yes & one chocolate stall so how they can call this Irish Christmas market cruise beggars believe. My cabin steward was one of the most unfriendly one's I have ever come across I have been on quite a few cruises & normally they are lovely friendly & cannot do enough for you. My friend & I were on a table with 5 other super friendly ladies our waiter was the worse I have ever come across everything we asked for took for ever to come at one point we got up & got our own wine as we had waited 25 mins for a refill but to flip the coin he had far to many tables to wait on. I would definitely have second thoughts about sailing with Fred Olsen again Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We chose this cruise as it was advertised as an Irish Christmas Markets Cruise.Unfortunately there were NO Christmas Markets.Even after submitting an E-Mail to Fred Olsen with a copy from the Office of Tourism for Ireland stating that ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was advertised as an Irish Christmas Markets Cruise.Unfortunately there were NO Christmas Markets.Even after submitting an E-Mail to Fred Olsen with a copy from the Office of Tourism for Ireland stating that there were no Christmas Markets in Dublin the company will still not accept their advertising was wrong and apologise! Apart from the lack of advertised Christmas Markets the cruise was average.The food was reasonable although I did not like being shepherded to a table at breakfast when we wished to sit elsewhere.The entertainment was good especially the comedienne who was brilliant and throughout his act made numerous references to the lack of Christmas Markets.This was the first cruise I had been on where the passengers had to pay for a shuttle bus into the town centre and the organisation for this was ludicrous!! with the queue going up and down the corridors, we eventually returned our tickets and walked into town.This was my first experience of Fred Olsen Cruises and will certainly be my last!!. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
I must start by telling readers that I am usually pretty shirt if people start moaning about perceived trivial service faults while on holiday, especially on a cruise where so much can go wrong but is usually so right. On this occasion I ... Read More
I must start by telling readers that I am usually pretty shirt if people start moaning about perceived trivial service faults while on holiday, especially on a cruise where so much can go wrong but is usually so right. On this occasion I am forced to change my position radically. I shan't bother Fred Olsen again and the following explains why. Friends, upon whose judgement previous experience had lead me on rely and who had sailed with Fred several times in the past latterly in 2012, spoke so warmly of both line and ship that I booked with confident expectations. I anticipated a lovely experience at least akin to my handful or so of previous cruises with P&O over the past 10 years. Alas disappointment was to be my reward. You board with no ships map so stand lost in the reception area not knowing where to go. After a time a member of staff approached me and directed me to my cabin. The room was pleasant enough but as I explored I found: Large bottle of water-£1.50! No fridge No shower cap, shampoo, body lotion or soap tablet (just liquid). Mattress...not to my personal liking. Dinner in the Ballindalloch restaurant on the first night was OK but not memorable. And tepid. Following a nightmare night due to Storm Katie through which we sailed in gale force winds (later recorded on the 'cruise log' as being force 6!), as a result of which most on board hardly slept at all we eventually rose for breakfast the next morning. Shambolic! Waiters rushing everywhere, looking stressed. No sugar, milk, butter/spreads or preserves on the table. I sat and waited for some 5 minutes for my order to be taken. Nothing. I eventually managed to flag down a waiter who simply said "buffet madam" and indicated the direction. I asked for tea. He disappeared. So I found the buffet scrum and helped myself. The eggs had languished for too long on the hot plate and had set. The fruit was all from a tin. The cereals dispensed from machines which crush everything. The bacon tasted of chemical treatment and had long since been a stranger to the pan. You could get no toast at the table until you got lucky with the scuttling Toast Waiter and then you had to find and flag down the One with the Butter/marmalade. Tea/coffee took an age then you had to keep watching for the Man with the Milk, or the Waiter who could get you a Fork/teaspoon/butter knife - in some cases even a cup and saucer. A complete, shambolic nightmare of a meal spent mostly trying to achieve some sort of service instead of enjoying a conversation with fellow passengers, all of whom were struggling with the same issues. It seems that the clear table policy was an exercise to avoid Noro virus. Why then were we all forced to get our own food requiring every passenger to handle every serving utensil at the buffet rather than have it plated and delivered by the staff who we assume we're Noro-free? I don't take lunch, but understood from many conversations with similarly shell-shocked travellers that it was the same mess as at breakfast. Let's get positive. The Balmoral, once you have a map which was finally located in the 'welcome in board' pack, is easy to navigate and all public areas easy to locate. They were pleasant and the staff extremely attentive. I'd have liked to have finish one drink before being asked if I would like another but perhaps they are on commission, hence their persistence. Dinner on night two. The starters were very beautiful, 'nouvelle cuisine' sized offerings. The soup, for which I opted, was pleasant - but tepid. The main course was a perfectly cooked Filet Mignon, quite possibly the nicest I have been served in many a long day, accompanied by delectable spinach in a gorgeous sauce and a small portion of fondant potato. It was all tepid, but tasty. I shan't bore you further except to say that the main course of dinner each night was definitely the stand-out of the cruise food. Breakfast, in every restaurant (I didn't try the Cafe which was a self-service buffet), even after it seemed that their precautions against Noro virus eased to permit milk, sugar butter and preserves back on the table, remained a shambles every morning. I also found that if you could get a waiter you could order and omelette, fish, or my choice of poached eggs which I ordered with bacon. The eggs arrived on a plate swimming in water with the rim of the plate smeared greasily round with a hint of previous use suggested by a hint of dried egg yolk... No bacon. Notwithstanding, assuming it was a one-off glitch but no. The second time I tried the bacon did too, thus making the watery bath greasy. The smears and finger marks on the rim remained as before. The entertainment was, with one exception very good. The musical shows put on by the in-house troupe were outstanding. (P & O please note. Your Headliners are becoming entirely predictable and missable). There was an extremely versatile and entertaining musician in the Morning Light bar and a very pleasant Trio elsewhere whose gentle, well balanced repertoire was ideal music to listen to or as a background for a pleasant chat. The magician was excellent. The 'comedian' an embarrassment. I know, humour is personal. Well, this one managed to entertain only a small handful of the audience the rest of whom were somewhere between bored and down-right embarrassed at his ineptitude. The excursions were excellent. We were after all in Ireland and the tour guides, and often drivers too, were uniformly entertaining as well as informative. The port talks were only available pre-recorded on the in-house TV. The 'presenter' was abysmal. We were encouraged to see see the 'murials' on the walls in Belfast. I am sure as I made myself re-listen twice to be certain. He tripped, stammered, and coughed his monotonous and unenthusiastic way through painfully unexciting scripts. Oh, and there was no TV channel guide in the cabin and when you could find a programme other than a film or Fred Olsen promotion channel it was of out of date Australian television programmes. Why? One last warning to all O2 mobile users. On enquiry at Guest Services as to why it might be that I could not send or receive on my mobile phone shortly after departureI was advised that FO had signed a contract with a new mobile network service provider at the beginning of the year and that the new company did not currently have a contract with O2. Heaven help any passenger leaving home with a pressing need to keep in touch. You can't until you are within range of land. I am so truly sorry that this, my first cruise blog should be so negative but I have tried to be honest, accurate and unexaggerated in this report. I hope never to have such a negative experience ever again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We went on a mini cruise and were upgraded. However the bathroom in the cabin was awful cracked tiles and vanity units. Don't what we would have had if we weren't upgraded!! The door of the cabin had to be checked when we left ... Read More
We went on a mini cruise and were upgraded. However the bathroom in the cabin was awful cracked tiles and vanity units. Don't what we would have had if we weren't upgraded!! The door of the cabin had to be checked when we left the cabin as it did not close properly. Every morning there was noise outside our cabin I think they were cleaning the outside of the Ship!! Could this not have been done before we boarded. The chamber maid acme in to do our room while we were getting ready for dinner which was strange. The staff were friendly and food good but the Ship needs a major overhaul. Our luggage should have been taken off and put together as we were travelling in a group. However my cases were lost for a while and were scuffed and dirty when found (annoying because they are new). Read Less
Sail Date December 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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