10 Fred. Olsen Balmoral Spring Break Cruise Reviews

I consider the price we paid for the itinerary, distance travelled, entertainment, drinks package and cabin comfort (superior interior) was far too much. The A/C in the cabin was rubbish we had the setting off the scale and still found it ... Read More
I consider the price we paid for the itinerary, distance travelled, entertainment, drinks package and cabin comfort (superior interior) was far too much. The A/C in the cabin was rubbish we had the setting off the scale and still found it stuffy and through the night it seemed to go off altogether, maybe to save money- so very poor sleep quality. Obviously we reported this and it was supposedly checked out twice and found to meet the required temperatures. It did not meet ours. We were offered another similar cabin which we examined and found to be no different as it was in same vacinity. We spoke to other people on the ship some found theirs too warm and others found theirs too cold. Never had this problem before and have cruised many times. For the price we paid I would have expected a decent pillow to rest my head on but they were obviously job lot and I I awoke every morning with a creek in my neck - there was no bounce back whatsoever. I ended up having to put towels underneath to get some sort of support. Please note you no longer get branded spirit in the basic drinks package so another cut back making FO even less value for money cruise line. Food in general was good and much better than it had been on our last Balmoral cruise, so you can't judge them all by one. Staff were excellent except for one group serving in Ballindalloch at lunch time to whom everything was a bother. Entertainment disappointing - was a bit on the scarce side and very mediocre. The places we visited were so so, except for Kiel canal which unfortunately we could not go through on the way there due to windy conditions. We found there were a lot more very elderly and infirm, disabled passengers on this occasion. Definitely the best part was meeting some very nice people and making friends. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Our dinner sitting was 6.15pm. My husband's parents were also on the same cruise but had an 8.30pm sitting. We were advised to ask at the restaurant if they could change to earlier so we could dine together. The 1st and 2nd night the ... Read More
Our dinner sitting was 6.15pm. My husband's parents were also on the same cruise but had an 8.30pm sitting. We were advised to ask at the restaurant if they could change to earlier so we could dine together. The 1st and 2nd night the matre dee said no but when we offered him a £20 note on the 3rd evening suddenly a table was available and according to the other 2 people already at the table these seats had been empty both previous nights that we'd asked. Amazing what a tip can do!! Entertainment was dire. Pretty much like a seaside resort with average dancers, singers, comedians etc. Thouroughly enjoyed the food and choice of restaurants. Cabin was good sized and clean but disappointed that we only saw our cabin steward once on the day we arrived and not at all the rest of the cruise. Plenty of sunbeds and seating round the outside deck areas. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
We chose this cruise because it was easy to get to the port from Scotland. The itinerary was good as we had never been to Bremen, Kiel or sailed the canal. The late embarkation didn't suit everybody and the first evening was a free ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was easy to get to the port from Scotland. The itinerary was good as we had never been to Bremen, Kiel or sailed the canal. The late embarkation didn't suit everybody and the first evening was a free for all. The cruise settled down and we quickly found our sea legs. After a day at sea we got to Bremen. Deciding not to take a ship tour we made our way through a huge shopping Mall to the tram stop just beyond the mall. 2.60 Euros each way into the city centre. It was easy to buy your ticket on the tram. Take some small Euros. Bremen is a quaint German town with decent sights and a vibrant waterfront market. Next day through the canal. It was a very pleasant journey. It is an amazing feat of engineering. Then onto Warnemunde another pleasant port of call. just wandered the local streets and stopped for a beer when the rain came down. We then continued back to the ship. The Captain announced that due to impending bad weather we may not go back to Kiel and the canal but instead head for Copenhagen and home via the North of Denmark. For guests who have never been to Copenhagen it may have been a better visit than Kiel. As we had been there last September for a number of days so we just took the hop-on-hop-off bus which picked us up ate the ship. Good value for those who don't want to walk for miles. Back to Newcastle where our cruise disembarked, although we decided to do back to back with the Norwegian Fjords. We went on the anchor fare for outside cabins and were given 5052 on the port side forward. It was close to lifts and stairs. The room had ample storage and plenty of room to move about. I would also like to thank the bridge class organisers for their patience and advice when we played on sea days. We paid the £2 a night to change to the first sitting for the evening meals. The service in the Ballendalloch room was excellent. The food was always good without being oversold. Here comes the complaint, the service in the Morning Lite Pub went from excellent to really poor. I didn't get the waiters name but he was very jovial and loved his work. Unfortunately the other waitresses did about a quarter of the work of the waiter mentioned and on one evening we waited 30 minutes to be served. Very poor Fred. Your sales receipts will show who was working and who spent their time trying not to work. The Lido lounge service was poor as people would go to the bar and get served by the waiters as the barmen would not take orders. This meant the waiters never really got a chance to go to tables. The all inclusive was good value. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We chose this cruise as it covered the destinations we wished to see. Unfortunately a Pilot strike at the Portugase ports prevented us from docking at Porto.so we only docked at 3 instead of 4 destinations. Not the fault of Fred Olson. ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it covered the destinations we wished to see. Unfortunately a Pilot strike at the Portugase ports prevented us from docking at Porto.so we only docked at 3 instead of 4 destinations. Not the fault of Fred Olson. Fred Olson passengers must be some of the most loyal and supportive of any customers in any business in the world. I never heard any compaints at all. My compaints cover penny pinching:- 1. I am diabetic so upon boarding the ship i needed a sandwich at around 4 pm to last me to 8-30 dinning. I was sent to Palm cafe and was given the most disgusting cheese and ham sandwiches. both the cheese and ham were cut so thi that you could not tast them. 2. Both my wife and I paid £150 each for the drinks package. I am diabetic so drink diabetic drinks such as Diat pepsi or diet lemonadw. the first time I asked for a pint of diet Pepsi. Answer came back you can have pints of beer or larger but only halves of diet drinks. Ok I said I will have 2 halve. No was the answer you must drink one then ask for another. . It is in the small print rules. I would have been happy to drink just the diet drinks on the full cruise but to get my own back ordered enough wine each evening to use a full bottle each night. 3. I am an International Director of Operations and use a vodafone IPAD whenever I am overseas. I paid £50 for 5 nights up front. For 2 nights I could not send emails and on the third Fred Olson lady linked me to Google to send messages. My advce to people would be purchase 1 days WIFI and check first. My advice to Fred Olsen would be to do the same as most hotels these days and give free access to WIFI on board your ships. I started my working life as an Accountant with Glaxo, British Oxygen working my way to Finance director. I then became MD and CEO of an Anglo/American company. The reason I mention this is that I started off looking for pennies to turn into pounds of saving but as an MD I learnt to make judgements on how to make savings that were not petty and would harm the company reputation. Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
Having cruised on P & O and enjoyed the experience, we thought that Fred Olsen with its smaller ships stopping at ports unavailable to larger ships would be better. There are many positive things to say about this cruise including the ... Read More
Having cruised on P & O and enjoyed the experience, we thought that Fred Olsen with its smaller ships stopping at ports unavailable to larger ships would be better. There are many positive things to say about this cruise including the very friendly atmosphere. The accommodation was fine, the staff were fantastic, with nothing being too much trouble. The entertainment was exceptionally good throughout the cruise. The shore excursions were somewhat hit and miss, but overall fine. The great let down was the food. The restaurant food was passable, however the buffet options were the worst that I have ever experienced. The menus suggest that for health reasons, passengers should make sure that the food was thoroughly cooked so as not to risk individuals health. Unfortunately I was unable to find a single egg which you would consider safe to eat or even hot. For those who ate in the buffet areas when they opened, the majority of the food was cold. A breakfast of partially cooked fried egg, cold beans and cold sausage and bacon is not ideal. One fantastic plus for this cruise were the Phillapean staff who were amazing. Despite a very busy working schedule - they smile Day and night. Their attention to detail and warm personalities provide the kind of atmosphere that can only be admired. We did enjoy the cruise - shame about the food. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
I had the Cruise booked for me by my Daughter, direct with Fred Olson. I had never been on a cruise before, except across the Mersey and to the Isle of Man once, many years ago. Arrived at Southampton to be kept waiting whilst ... Read More
I had the Cruise booked for me by my Daughter, direct with Fred Olson. I had never been on a cruise before, except across the Mersey and to the Isle of Man once, many years ago. Arrived at Southampton to be kept waiting whilst 'Green and Yellow Boarding cards were embarked first, I had a white one. One on board everything was fine, until I went to Dinner in the Ballindoch Restaurant, table 111 on second sitting. The soup was cold with a layer of grease on top, the main course was also cold (turkey with veg) although it was not supposed to be a salad. I walked out in disgust, I was on a table set for 8 only 3 of us were sat at the table. I later found out that the other 5 people (all single travellers had eaten in the Palm Cafe, after being warned). The cabin I was allocated 9034 was termed a 'Superior Inside Single' As someone whom has worked with the Hotel Industry, in Kenya, Greece, Austria and Portugal as a 'House Manager' there is NO WAY this cabin was 'Superior', it was very roomy and had 2 wardrobes, the Bathroom had a shower over the bath, I could forgive the chipped mirrors on the vanity unit doors. BUT there was no reading lamp over the bed, No Radio (BBC World Service) There was BBC World News T.V., Sky News and ITV Choices. But no Radio only 3 channels of low end supermarket pipped musac. To turn OFF the bedside light was a challenge, that I lost, I had to unscrew the two bulbs to get some darkness in the cabin There was only 1 thin pillow, when I asked for a second, the reply was 'You are a single - no, so why need 2 pillows. The second day I went to the singles coffee morning it was there that I was informed of the Palm Cafe, where I had taken breakfast that morning. The Palm Cafe is the jewel on this ship without any doubt, by Third day I had to queue to get a seat in the Palm Cafe, it was so popular, even my two table companions from my first night ended up eating in the Palm Cafe. Not only was the food excellent and there was always a make up your own salad every lunch time and evening, the Chef would cook omelets, on demand for breakfast lunch and even dinner, each Sunday there was a carvery. This Palm Cafe became my home on the Balmoral, so much so that the waiters all knew me and the headman reserved a table for a party of us at each meal time. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
The journey to Southampton was delay-free and the parking arrangements at the port were, as usual, efficient. It was good to see the new external livery of the "Balmoral" that Fred. Olsen have introduced. The check-in was quite ... Read More
The journey to Southampton was delay-free and the parking arrangements at the port were, as usual, efficient. It was good to see the new external livery of the "Balmoral" that Fred. Olsen have introduced. The check-in was quite swift and, as an Oceans Gold member, I boarded as soon as the ship was ready. I had a double cabin with single occupancy on the main deck (deck 6) which was well placed for all the ship's facilities. It was in good condition with plenty of storage, good air conditioning and a picture window. Of course it had a safe and tea/coffee making equipment and a television. It was well serviced twice daily. I dined in the Spey restaurant which is situated on deck 10. The food was excellent as was the service. I normally took breakfast and lunch there but occasionally used the Avon or the Ballindalloch restaurants. The Palms Cafe was useful for coffee, afternoon tea and snack meals before or after excursions. As this was very much a sightseeing cruise the daytime entertainment was more limited than on longer cruises but there were some excellent lectures on Norway. The evening cabarets were very good indeed better than many I have seen on recent cruises. Especial mention must be made on the "Balmoral" Show Company who put on some great shows and the talented, enjoyable and emotional Crew Show. The ports of call were all in Norway. We visited Molde, Tromso, Alta (with an overnight stop)., Bergen and Stavanger.. In addition, we cruised through many beautiful fjords some of which are inaccessible to larger ships. Most of the shore tours I took were first class. The best of all was, of course, the late night visit at Tromso to a snow camp to see the Northern Lights. We were extremely lucky and saw, according to the locals, one of the best displays for a long time. Despite the cold I didn't want to leave although it was past midnight. Another well worth mentioning was the all-day excursion from Bergen to explore the Hardangerfjord. The scenery was stunning. The North Norwegian snow scenery was really beautiful and the weather was glorious. On most days we has blue skies and sunshine. As we moved South the weather became very mild and in Bergen and Stavanger it was more like early Summer. As usual on Fred. Olsen the things that makes all cruises with them are the crew and the staff. They are friendly, cheerful and cannot do enough for you. It was yet again a most enjoyable cruise. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Fred Olsen ships go to really interesting places so we wanted to like cruising with them. The cruise we went on was a last minute booking as we needed the break and it was one of the few going from the UK to anywhere warm, and back again. ... Read More
Fred Olsen ships go to really interesting places so we wanted to like cruising with them. The cruise we went on was a last minute booking as we needed the break and it was one of the few going from the UK to anywhere warm, and back again. We booked on a guaranteed cabin basis and a few days before sailing received the documentation which had a cabin number - but not the grade we had booked. Promptly got in touch with Fred Olsen and came back with a new cabin of the right grade, but we didn't get any documentation as there was no time. At check in Fred Olsen only had the original cabin for us - which we were not going to accept. After some time we were given our correct cabin - but as if this was a favour, rather than our right - and we boarded. The cabin was fine with lots of storage space. When we unpacked we went to get something to eat (not having eaten since the night before as we don't do breakfast) and were very surprised that there was nowhere on the ship to get any food apart from a few biscuits at 4.00 - this is the first ship we have been on where no food was available in the buffet restaurant for fairly long periods of time during the day. We were on late sitting so were quite peckish by that time! There was no real daily program for the day of embarkation so no activities - we spent the time exploring the ship, which didn't take long as it is quite small. All seemed fine - clean and well maintained, but very dated. Maintenance was an on-going activity with crew painting or replacing windows at all times of the day and night. As the sea days went on we became bored - again, a first for us on a cruise. We play bridge so went to the Improvers classes at 11.00, which were excellent, and therefore missed the one guest speaker who was a military historian. Apparently he was very interesting but the topic is a bit limiting. The only other 'speaker' was a photographer who taught photography - again, interesting if you want to learn all about photography, but limiting. In the afternoons we played bridge until about 4.30 at which point we had missed the one opportunity to get any food after lunch and before dinner. We were late arriving in Madeira for some unknown reason. The Bay of Biscay had been 'exciting' but no more than usual. We had been followed out of Southampton by Black Watch which went into Lisbon for a day and arrived in Madeira not long after we did. The ports visited were on a variety of islands with excursions offered in each one. For do-it-yourself travellers there was no transport to the towns at any of the ports visited. Given the average age of the passengers this was a surprise - the towns were some distance away for anyone with walking difficulties. Yet again, a first on a cruise for us not to have a shuttle bus available, even if not free. There was a bit of excitement during a crew drill when a lifeboat made a bid for freedom and hung nose down from the davits. That side of the ship was closed to passengers while the crew worked out how to get it back. Eventually it was lowered into the sea, scraping the side of the newly painted ship as it went, and eventually found its way onto the front of the ship. The front of the promenade deck was out of bounds for days so it couldn't be seen, except via the ships camera on TV! Generally there was a feeling of penny pinching everywhere. A cafe (with specialty teas and coffees which were not free) had been put into the Library, which became a rather noisy cafe with a few books rather than a quiet place for reading and contemplation. As a result tables for people to do jigsaws or play boardgames were not available anywhere except the Card Room, which was fine if there was no lecture/class going on or a bridge session - all of which were on the daily programme. It seemed rather odd to bother to engage a specialist to teach bridge and to conduct bridge sessions but not provide a dedicated area for them to do so. Some of the people playing games while lectures were being conducted were extremely rude and made no effort to lower their voices. I doubt if they would have talked and laughed through a lecture in any other venue of the ship - but maybe I'm wrong about that. There was a 'Specialty' restaurant available on a few nights - The Grill, with a steak and seafood menu - but in a cordoned off area of the Palms Cafe. Not very inspiring and at £20 a head somewhat expensive. Not a patch on the Specialty restaurants on other ships we have been on which are generally cheaper and in dedicated rooms with some atmosphere. We tend not to go to the Shows on cruises - just not our thing - but as there was nothing to do after 10.30 in the evenings except the Shows or a disco we did go to some of them - generally not brilliant and too many crew shows - very cheap. More penny pinching. The one thing I can praise was the food in the main restaurants - usually excellent with a good choice, both at lunch and dinner. The Palms cafe food was sometimes lukewarm and the staff not as friendly and helpful as in the main restaurants but the specialty nights such as the Indian buffet were good. Generally we were so disappointed with the experience and are very unlikely to cruise with Fred Olsen again. They have a group of very loyal passengers who seem to love everything Fred does but we are not among them. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
We like the "Balmoral" as it is large enough to have all the facilities but small enough to remain personal and friendly. Embarcation was the only poor point on a 5 night mini cruise taking almost 2 hours from arrival to ... Read More
We like the "Balmoral" as it is large enough to have all the facilities but small enough to remain personal and friendly. Embarcation was the only poor point on a 5 night mini cruise taking almost 2 hours from arrival to boarding ship. Everything else was a major plus point making this the most enjoyable cruise we have taken. The cabin was well appointed, immaculately clean and maintained so,comfortable beds and with a good roomy en suite with shower. The food was superb with an excellent choice in the breakfast, lunch and late supper buffets we used, with efficient and friendly service in the main dining room. The bars and lounges supplied drinks at normal Uk pub prices,without pressure and NO service charge. The entertainment was by far the best we have experienced with excellent quality shows in the theatre from the Balmoral company plus great shows from comedian Lloyd Davies and fine singer Bruce Anderson. The entertainment team were also excellent throughout the ship with fine singing and entertainment from Jamie Clark, lovely vocalist Jessica Samuel and good music from Frankie Jones and the Q-Tones. On the sea days there were excellent well supported lectures. The fitness and beauty salon are attractive and well equipped. Overall a great holiday break and great value for money. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
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
Sail Date May 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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