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26 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
Well first and last cruise with Fred Olsen. The staff were very friendly and helped to make a not very good experience a little better. The food was very good and there was a very good choice, something for everyone. Unfortunately ... Read More
Well first and last cruise with Fred Olsen. The staff were very friendly and helped to make a not very good experience a little better. The food was very good and there was a very good choice, something for everyone. Unfortunately the Gym was closed as were the jacuzzi's. Members of a very hard working staff were sitting outside toilets to make sure you wash your hands. 24 hours confined to cabin. Many others confined to 24/48/60 hours with stomach bugs!!! Seems this ship may have a history of this problem. Cleaners were bought on to the ship at Tallin spending day after day wiping down walls, rails etc. The ship looks very tired, needs a refurbishment throughout. Deck furniture, loungers, tables and chairs have all seen better days! I think there needs to be a very thorough look/investigation to find out why this particular ship seems to have had this same problem on at least 3-4 times in less than a year. We have been on 11 cruises and never had a problem with such infection before. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We chose this cruise because we went to Norway on the Balmoral 3 years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. We wanted to see the Baltic capitals, so when we saw it advertised in the brochure of our local tour operator (Johnsons Travel, who we ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we went to Norway on the Balmoral 3 years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. We wanted to see the Baltic capitals, so when we saw it advertised in the brochure of our local tour operator (Johnsons Travel, who we know run an excellent door to door servce) we immediately booked. The problems started within2 hours of us sailing when we had to turn back to Newcastle as someone was taken ill (I'm applauding, not criticising, this for the sake of the family affected, but it just seemed to set the scene as a bad omen for the rest of the cruise!) To start with a positive: the entertainmet was excellent. Brenda Collins is a natural comedian, Jon Moses a fantastic singer, and Chris Gee a good all rounder; plus all the onboard team provided excellent shows. The waiting and cleaning staff are all hardworking, polite and pleasant; but SO over-worked! The over-riding problem was the outbreak of a sickness bug on day 2 which, despite all efforts, remained with us throughout the cruise. Cleaning crews were brought in and the staff on board worked hard to keep public areas clean BUT THEY WERE FIGHTING A LOOSING BATTLE, WHEN TOILETS EITHER WON'T FLUSH OR IN SOME CASES OVERFLOW!!!!!! (We were lucky and didn't get the bug, but 10 out of 21 people in our party were affected - the overall tally for the ship was never made available!) Shore excursions from Olsen are expensive and would only rate them as average (we did a 2 day tour with an external operator (Alla Tours) in St Petersburgh and they were excellent!!) One of the highlights of the tour was a visit to Stockholm, which was supposed to be 2 half days, however the inefficiency of disembarkation via tender meant that we waited 3.5 hours so only had 2 hours in the port on day 1. NO-ONE SEEMED WILLING TO EXPLAIN WHY! A complete shambles -Thank goodness we weren't forced to abandon ship!!!!! Other problems included: not being able to self serve, so queues were inevitable and you didn't have chance to chose either what or how much you wanted; a fire in the middle of the night (soon put out); public address system in cabins not working. Guest services staff at the end of their contracts seemed disinterested when problems were reported. (Stock answers when problems reported "We know!" "Don't know") THAT SHIP NEEDS TO BE BROUGHT INTO DRY DOCK AND THOROUGHLY CLEANED AND OVERHAULED! and Fred Olsen needs to employ more cleaning and waiting staff as tired, overworked people inevitably take unintentional short cuts. We saw waiting staff, still wearing their waiters uniforms, pushing wheelchairs at disembarkation - bet they didn't change before the next meal! THE COMMON DENOMINATOR IS THE SHIP AND CREW, NOT THE PASSENGERS! Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
“Worse things happen at sea.” They did. BE WARNED. . . . . We selected the Fred Olsen cruise to The Baltic 1) because it coincided with our 30th Wedding anniversary and 2) We would be in St Petersburg for 2 days the ... Read More
“Worse things happen at sea.” They did. BE WARNED. . . . . We selected the Fred Olsen cruise to The Baltic 1) because it coincided with our 30th Wedding anniversary and 2) We would be in St Petersburg for 2 days the highlight of our trip. As a bonus there will be a gym, a library, self service coffee/tea bar. What more could you want? Here is what we experienced: THE SHIP - BALMORAL All painted in her new livery. I wonder what a jolly day they had at the board meeting where they made that decision. “Our highly paid team of advisers said we must update our image and repaint the fleet. Ok what shall we have? A bright blue ? A wizzy red? No let’s paint them dark battleship grey. . . “ Balmoral is a 30+ year old ship. No better nor worse than a 3 star hotel that gets well used. The cabin – deck 5 -we had was perfectly adequate. The public lounges were comfortable and plenty of seating. Piped music was everywhere. Your only escape for peace and quiet was your cabin because the public address system was not working there. The passengers were almost all elderly many with infirmities. You had to admire their pluck making the journey. All the passengers were very friendly. The ship was remarkably stable – even in a force 7 sea you were hardly aware of any big motions of the ship. THE CREW – were brilliant. Attentive, thoughtful and skilled at their job. The Guest Services team did their best but you felt the Cold Dead Hand of Head Office on all their decisions. THE TOURS TEAM - were hopeless – in fact the whole experience of booking tours on line direct with Fed Olen was a shambles from the beginning. We had to produce our own spreadsheet to make sense of times and dates of the tours. To cap it all the order confirmation of our bookings came back a complete jumble not in date order, port order, only a haphazard mess. The Tours were expensive. The tour guides however, not FOCL staff, were very good. BE WARNED: the stop overs in port were very short. For example two days in Stockholm yes but not 48 hours. We arrived around 2pm one day and left 2.30pm the next. THE CRUISE This started of with a bit of excitement, two hours out from Newcastle we had to turn round and go back into port – a passenger had had a heart attack. Among other diversions was a small fire in a cabin down from us. Our toilet flooded and pumped raw sewage all over the bath room floor. There were at least three if not four public announcements ‘Stretcher crew to the medical centre’. Sounded serious each time. All over the ship were sanitizing stations which squirted disinfectant onto your hands and twice daily reminders from the captain over the public address about hand washing and sanitization. BE WARNED – if you took advantage of the offer of a complimentary wedding anniversary or package DO NOT RELY on the Self Proclaimed Wonderful Customer Service provided by FOCL to do anything. We booked our 30th Wedding anniversary complimentary package on line in Oct 2015 soon after the time of booking our cruise– as requested we sent a copy of our marriage certificate by post as soon as it was requested. We failed to check that the Self Proclaimed Wonderful Customer Service had received it. They didn’t bother to check with us on its non arrival so again the Cold Dead Hand of Head Office did nothing. They probably thought we’d been ‘trying it on’ because we hadn’t sent the certificate.We paid over four and a half thousand pounds for this cruise didn't we deserve a phone call to check? So, on our anniversary on board, nothing happened. On querying why not were told they had no record of it. The Guest Services Manager hid in their office and would not talk to me to sort out the problem. By now the ‘shine’ on the celebration had been knocked off. After more complaints they did reluctantly honour their offer. If the Cold Dead Hand of Head Office are reading this I’m more than happy to provide evidence of our wedding 30 years ago. NORO VIRUS (projectile vomiting and diarrhoea) We weren’t 2 days out before the first cases broke out, and kept presenting throughout the cruise. The result was that the Gym was closed, the library was closed the laundrette was closed, Jacuzzis were closed. Poor crew members had to sit outside the public toilet doors (propped open) monitoring hand washing and sanitizing. Or the toilets were closed for deep cleaning at odd times so you had to rush from one end of the ship to the other to find a working toilet if you were caught short. BE WARNED - If you caught the virus you were confined to your cabin for 48 hours after the last incident. We were both confined to the cabin for over 60 hours although only one of us was affected. The result – we missed seeing Tallin and worst of all we missed St Petersburg, the main reason for the trip. We were ‘released’ with half a day to spare. We asked the Tour desk if they could find any tours we could get on. They said they’d come back to us – guess what ? They didn’t. I’m convinced they made no effort to help after our major disappointment of missing 2 important trips ashore at St Petersburg.. The cost of the ‘missed’ tours was refunded – big deal. We got a letter from FOCL offering us a ‘discount’ of around £395 off another cruise. Not good enough FOCL. If you Google Fred Olsen + Noro virus you’ll see that Balmoral has had repeated attacks of Gastro-intestinal problems. You will also see that a class action has been taken out by other sufferers and FOCL recently lost a high court appeal against not having to pay compensation. You will find the name of the solicitors bringing the action in one of the Google results. I have been in touch the solicitors and they told me a number of others from this cruise have been in touch with them – we may, and I say may, have a cause for action. BE WARNED : While Balmoral has a poor record of Gastro-intestinal problems I am reliably warned ALL Cruise ships suffer to a more or less degree of infestation and none of them seem to be able to get rid of the problem. SUMMARY On line booking was not a happy experience. Suggest you book via a travel agency The cruise offered a good selection of ports (if you got to see them), exceptional service from Crew, food good, accommodation OK. On board entertainment was very professional. The rest of the trip for us was an expensive disappointment in the extreme. We have no intention of taking up an offer to spend more thousands of pounds to get what we had been promised by this cruise and to be put at risk of being ‘poisoned’ again. I urge anyone contemplating a cruise – Google Cruise ships + Norovirus or gastrointestinal problems and you will see what a major problem it is. Think twice. . . . Read Less
43 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
We selected the Fred Olsen cruise to The Baltic 1) because it coincided with our 30th wedding anniversary and 2) We would be in St Petersburg for 2 days - the highlight of our trip. As a bonus there will be a gym, a library, and self ... Read More
We selected the Fred Olsen cruise to The Baltic 1) because it coincided with our 30th wedding anniversary and 2) We would be in St Petersburg for 2 days - the highlight of our trip. As a bonus there will be a gym, a library, and self service coffee/tea bar etc. What more could you want? Here is what we experienced: The Ship: Balmoral- Balmoral is a 30+ year old ship. No better nor worse than a 3 star hotel that gets well used. The cabin we had on deck 5 was perfectly adequate. The public lounges were comfortable and plenty of seating. Piped music was everywhere. Your only escape for peace and quiet was your cabin because the public address system there only worked occasionally. The passengers were almost all elderly with many infirmities. You had to admire their pluck making the journey. All the passengers we encountered were very friendly. The ship was remarkably stable – even in a force seven sea you were hardly aware of any swaying movements of the ship. The Crew – were brilliant. At all times they were attentive, thoughtful and skilled at their job. The Guest Services team did their best but you felt the Cold Dead Hand of Head Office on all their decisions. The Tours Team - were hopeless – in fact the whole experience of booking tours online direct with Fred Olsen was a shambles from the beginning. We had to produce our own spreadsheet to make sense of times and dates of the tours. To cap it all the order confirmation of our bookings came back a complete jumble, not in date order or port order, only a haphazard mess. The Tours were expensive. The tour guides however, (not FOCL staff) were very good. Be Warned: the stopovers in port were very short. For example, ‘two days’ in Stockholm, yes, but not the full 48 hours. We arrived around 2pm one day and left 2.30pm the next. The Cruise This started of with a bit of excitement, two hours out from Newcastle we had to turn round and go back into port because a passenger had a suspected heart attack. Among other diversions was a small fire in a cabin down from us. Our toilet flooded and pumped raw sewage all over the bath room floor once and two blockages later. Other cabins had similar problems. There were at least three if not four public announcements ‘Stretcher crew to the medical centre’ which sounded serious each time. All over the ship were sanitizing stations which squirted disinfectant onto your hands and twice daily reminders from the captain over the public address about hand washing and sanitization. Cabins Deck 5– we had a picture window. The cabin was adequate – lots of storage space. We had our cases taken away which freed up floor space. The constant air conditioning was very dehydrating. Our cabin steward was very obliging but for some unexplained reason the cabin wasn’t hoovered any of the time we occupied it. Beds were comfortable. The bathroom was small but adequate with a bath/shower. Be Warned – if you took advantage of the offer of a complimentary wedding anniversary or other package do not rely on the Self Proclaimed Wonderful Customer Service provided by FOCL to do anything. We booked our 30th wedding anniversary complimentary package online in Oct 2015 soon after the time of booking our cruise– as requested we sent a copy of our marriage certificate by post as soon as it was requested. We failed to check that the Self Proclaimed Wonderful Customer Service had received it. They didn’t bother to check back with us on its non arrival so again the Cold Dead Hand of Head Office did nothing. They probably thought we’d been ‘trying it on’ because we hadn’t sent the certificate. I would have hoped that a customer spending nearly £5,500 (Cruise + Trips) with them was worth a phone call. So, on our anniversary on board, nothing happened. On querying why not we were told they had no record of it. The Guest Services Manager hid in their office and would not talk to us to sort out the problem. By now the ‘shine’ on the celebration had been knocked off. After more wrestling with Customer Services they did reluctantly honour their offer. If the Cold Dead Hand of Head Office is reading this I’m more than happy to provide the evidence, again, of our wedding 30 years ago. Norovirus (projectile vomiting and diarrhoea) We weren’t 2 days out before the first cases broke out, and kept presenting throughout the cruise. The result was that the gym was closed, the library was closed, the laundrette was closed, the Jacuzzis were closed. Poor crew members had to sit outside the public toilet doors (propped open) monitoring hand washing and sanitizing. Or the toilets were closed for deep cleaning at odd times so you had to rush from one end of the ship to the other to find a working toilet if you were caught short. Be Warned - If you caught the virus you were confined to your cabin for 48 hours after the last incident. We were both confined to the cabin for over 60 hours although only one of us was affected. The result – we missed seeing Tallin and worst of all we missed St Petersburg, the main reason for the trip. We were ‘released’ with half a day to spare. We asked the Tours desk if they could find any St Petersburg tours we could get on. They said they’d come back to us – guess what? They didn’t. I’m convinced they made no effort to help after our major disappointment of missing two much anticipated trips ashore at St Petersburg. FOCL didn’t charge us for the medical ‘attention’ we received (but left us to provide our own medication). Is this an admission that it is not entirely the passengers to blame as FOCL try to make out? The cost of the ‘missed’ tours was refunded – big deal. We got a letter from FOCL offering us a ‘discount’ of around £395 but only off another cruise. Not good enough FOCL, not good enough at all. If you Google Fred Olsen + Norovirus you’ll see that Balmoral has had repeated attacks of Gastro-intestinal problems. You will also see that a class action has been taken out by other sufferers and FOCL has just lost a high court appeal against not having to pay compensation. You will find the name of the solicitors bringing the case in one of the Google results. I have been in touch the solicitors and they told me a number of others from this Baltic Cruise have been in touch with them – we may, and I say may, have a cause for action. I urge you to do the research and join in with other sufferers from this cruise. Be warned: While Balmoral has a poor record of Gastro-intestinal problems, I am reliably informed that ALL Cruise ships suffer on-board infection to a greater or lesser degree and none of them seem to be able to get rid of the problem. Summary : Online booking direct with FOCL was not a happy experience. Suggest you book via a travel agency. They had all our details, email and postal, but seem to find it necessary to keep us up to date. We had to phone them several times to find out about tours, tickets, cabin facilities, port parking, etc. The cruise offered a good selection of ports (if you got to see them), exceptional service from the Crew, food was good, accommodation OK. On board entertainment was a good professional standard. The rest of the trip for us was an expensive disappointment in the extreme. We have no intention of taking up an offer to spend over £ 5,500 again (less the paltry discount) to get what we had been promised by this cruise and to be put at risk of being ‘poisoned’ again. I urge anyone contemplating a cruise to check out on Google - Cruise ships + Norovirus or gastrointestinal problems and you will see what a major problem it is. Think twice. . . . Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2016
We were on the same cruise as lynandjohn below and basically agree with all their comments, although not so keen on the entertainment apart from Chris Gee who did a couple of very good talks. We also did the Alla Tours two-day excusion ... Read More
We were on the same cruise as lynandjohn below and basically agree with all their comments, although not so keen on the entertainment apart from Chris Gee who did a couple of very good talks. We also did the Alla Tours two-day excusion in St Petersburg which was really excellent with a superb guide. The previous post has highlighted the limited time we had in Stockholm which meant we couldn't get to the Vasa museum. Also in Copenhagen, we were supposed to leave "late pm" but we actually had to be on board by 15:30 Maybe this was so they could get back to Newcastle earlier and try to clean the ship. Just a comment about the cabin carpet not being vacuumed, we were advised that this was a health measure because of the virus on board. Apart from the problems encountered, the staff were mostly very good, particularly the waiters and the food was also very good. Cabin was relatively spacious and comfortable. Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
Britain's Historic Site's & Scenic Delight's June 18th - 10 nights cruise from Newcastle Booked only 3 weeks before got a good deal half the original price - seemed to be lot's of guest's doing this We were classed as Anchor ... Read More
Britain's Historic Site's & Scenic Delight's June 18th - 10 nights cruise from Newcastle Booked only 3 weeks before got a good deal half the original price - seemed to be lot's of guest's doing this We were classed as Anchor Fare - so we couldn't eat in Avon or Spey for dinner (could for b fast & lunch) we couldn't request a dinner sitting unless we paid £2 pp per night which we did we couldn't request a specific cabin or table for dinner we booked AI package £10 per day pp - excellent value Check in - very civilised no long queue - sat until we were called to embark (45mins) we were pleasantly surprised to find we were in cabin 8062 (twin) - deck 8 - midships - on Lido deck the layout of cabin could have been better - bathroom - walk in shower which had surprisingly 2 windows with vertical blinds - one facing wardrobe & the other facing the bed strange!! 2 sinks & a toilet which was inside the bathroom with a glass door another strange thing (better if a smaller bathroom would give more room in cabin) as we leave the bathroom light on during the night the cabin was always semi lit up via 2 shower windows- we had twin beds but the arrangement could have been better - difficult to negotiate (around tv on wall at bottom of beds) - 2 tiny bedside cabinets - 4 small drawers in wardrobe - 2 narrow wardrobes one of which had the safe & tray with kettle etc - the other with the lifejackets -& pool towels - a small dressing table shelf with no drawers & 2 chairs - there was nowhere to put the kettle so we put it under the small dressing table on the floor - lots of 2 pin plugs round & flat Deck plans - take your own from the brochure as the plans provided (if you ask for them) @reception are illegible Dining - Palms buffet - b fast food nearly always cold - only ate lunch once - food - no semblance of order Spey - ate lunch here most days much better than Palms buffet & a menu to order from the same as main Restaurant (Ballindalloch) Dinner - Ballindalloch booked 1st sitting - 6 15pm - table for 4 beside a table for 2 - might as well have been a table for 6 - very close - but we had excellent dinner companions Lounges - most had piped music daytime except Bookmark Cafe (coffee shop) night time - when 1st sitting guests were watching the show there was only piped music throughout the ship - not good most lounges at night always plenty of seats - VG Bars - AI included wines & cava £4 05 - stella £3.30 - cider £3.10 - white rum & pepsi £3.60 Show Lounge - Neptune - only 5 shows by resident show team - comedian/magician - then a comedian - then a bbc radio guy - then the crew show - we only watched one show right through not our scene Trips - we thought expensive especially Dover Castle £60 - (a rip off) which we didn't book fortunately because the weather was awful & much cheaper to DIY as there is a bus which will drop u off at the castle (£5) & entrance is £20 or concession's £16 50 Ports of call - some ports you could not walk off you had to get on a port shuttle bus - you had to get a coloured card with a number on it - wait until you were called - this went on for so long- up to 3 hours that sometimes it wasn't worth going ashore - trips obviously got priority - SO SLOW - one man complained to cruise director & was told to stop complaining or he would be removed from the ship Lack of information - at ports etc no info given re hop on hop off buses - noddy trains & local transport sailed around western isles no info given at all as to where we were Cruise Director - absolutely hopeless - I don't think he got 1 announcement correct - dates - days - gangway to disembark - often changed ended up at incorrect place - too many mistakes Taxi transfer - we booked a private transfer as advertised by F O with Ports Direct which was hopeless - we thought that it would be better organised than booking our local taxi company but it was not - it was much more expensive & nothing went right outgoing - taxi supposed to pick us up @ noon - phoned @ 12 15 - they had 1 pm pickup - taxi came @ 12 45 - what a white knuckle ride that was! Homeward bound - pick up @ 8 30am - off ship @ 7 45 - left voicemail to say we were ready to be picked up @ the brick building - still waiting - didn't even know which company was picking us up - so disorganised - hubby went to main building to see if our name was showing by taxi company but nothing - kept trying phoning & eventually got through & explained where we were - after numerous phone calls a taxi finally arrived - had been waiting at the main building - got in & he said Mr Anderson - we said no so he phoned company & eventually took us home - I have complained to Ports Direct & they have temporarily suspended this company - FLEETLINE I don't know whether Fred Olsen should have notified taxi company or Taxi company should have contacted Fred Olsen - but there was no taxi with our name at this terminal There were other people waiting as well some very elderly - (a lot older than we are) as well which wasn't good - so I would advise not to choose Ports Direct in future - use your local company & phone when you know where to pick you up from or arrange with F O to go to the main building I doubt very much if we will go on another F O cruise as this was our 20th cruise with other companies as well as F O & we have never had problems like this before - there were an abnormal numbers of passengers with walking difficulties - sticks - walkers & wheelchairs which we have never encountered before - whether it was because it was around Britain I do not know but this has also put us off booking with F O again Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
We joined the ship in Liverpool which is very convenient for us as we live locally, so as we only needed luggage for one week, we were able to get the bus into Liverpool. Apart from the proximity of the port we always like to sail from ... Read More
We joined the ship in Liverpool which is very convenient for us as we live locally, so as we only needed luggage for one week, we were able to get the bus into Liverpool. Apart from the proximity of the port we always like to sail from Liverpool as the terminal is in the city centre so there is no need to sit and wait for embarkation. As usual we went over fairly early in the afternoon, dropped off our cases and checked in and asked about what time we would be able to board the ship. Then we went off into the town to buy some bottled water for the cruise and have a stroll around. On our return we were able to go straight on board and our cases were ready waiting for us. This cruise was around Ireland and had four ports, with two days in Dublin, so there was just one sea day, which was good from our perspective. We had an outside cabin on deck four which I will review below, though I must say here that we had a lot of problems with the air conditioning which was not able to make the temperature any lower than 23C at a minimum and was frequently higher than that even when turned down to the lowest temperature setting. It was also very noisy. We complained, but they could not improve the situation, so we decided to cope with it as the ship was fairly full and there were no other problems with the cabin and it was well placed. We have found that there have been problems with inefficient air conditioning on our last three Fred cruises. Our cabin stewardess was excellent (cabin 4044) The ship was in fairly decent condition for it’s age, but we do not like some aspects of the design, particularly the position of the pool deck, as it was necessary to go through the Neptune lounge to get there and If something was happening in the Neptune the only access to the rest of the ship was via the deck above or below. There was also no outside bar on pool deck, so bar service could be slow. Also the Secret Garden self service restaurant is not big enough for the number of passengers. This is important as the only alternative for dinner was a set early or late sitting and also they closed the main restaurants for breakfast at 9.30am some days, leaving a queue outside The Secret Garden, even coming up to its closing time of 10.00am. The service from the staff was excellent as usual, both in the restaurants and the bars. We do not often go to the shows or use the daytime activities, but enjoy the lounge musicians. On this cruise there was a very good Rosario trio in the Secret Garden Lounge and a good pianist in the observation lounge. On the first night we stayed up for what was billed as the late night disco, starting at 11pm in the Lido lounge and a good atmosphere was obtained there, though at one stage it did look as though the ballroom dancers were going to take over. That did seem very unfair as they had had the chance to dance during much of the earlier night in the Neptune lounge and The Lido had featured 50’s music prior to 11.00pm. Various requests, put what was billed as a disco back on track. For the rest of the cruise the late entertainment in the Lido was often things like Karaoke or game show type entertainments, so there was no further opportunity for disco dancing unfortunately. The musicians in the Lido, where the Mardi Gras Duo, who were not very good and Colin James, who was good, but who tended to do nothing more modern that rock and roll. We do find Fred’s entertainments very disappointing in that respect, especially when you consider that people who were in their teens in the fifties are now well in their mid seventies. I am not suggesting that they should not cater for ballroom dancing and rock and roll, but do not see why that should be to the exclusion of anything more modern. Fred’s passengers are older than average compared to other cruises, but many are below seventy five! The cold food buffets for breakfast and lunch were quite good, but the dinner’s (particularly the hot food) was quite poor at times. The soups were largely tasteless and, for instance, carrot and coriander showed no sign of either carrot or coriander. A chicken curry turned out to be a piece of hard, previously cooked chicken with a curry sauce spooned on top and a salmon pasta was pasta with a sauce and an extremely hard, dry almost crispy, overcooked piece of salmon just put on top. Some other things were OK, but I would not have called anything I had particularly good, which is a great shame as one thing Fred could always be relied upon for was good food. Overall, I would say we enjoyed the cruise, but largely because of the ports, rather than the cruise experience. At least Fred still go to less visited ports which we appreciate. Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
Because my friend and I wanted to go to the places this cruise visited. I have cruised a few times and this is the first Fred Olsen and best one I've been on. Everyone was very friendly and helpful, I particularly liked the way you were ... Read More
Because my friend and I wanted to go to the places this cruise visited. I have cruised a few times and this is the first Fred Olsen and best one I've been on. Everyone was very friendly and helpful, I particularly liked the way you were given a table at lunch time, the food was presented and cooked well and a good variety. The ship was smaller than I been on before and I felt it was much better and more friendly. The entertainment was superb, also the activities. The night where the staff entertained us was brilliant it was good to see the different customs and dances. I went on a number of excursions which were brilliant with the exception of St Petersburg city visit which I think you need to go on foot (I couldn't walk well that's why I chose this excursion) The whole of the holiday from embarkation to disembarkation went like a dream and most enjoyable. (Thank you Braemar for a lovely cruise) Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
My mother - mid 70s - and I in my late forties sailed from Belfast, for the Scandanavian capitals cruise, including Talinn and St Petersburg. Cabin: Deck 3 outside, twin bed cabin. Totally satisfied with our cabin. Plenty of room, kept ... Read More
My mother - mid 70s - and I in my late forties sailed from Belfast, for the Scandanavian capitals cruise, including Talinn and St Petersburg. Cabin: Deck 3 outside, twin bed cabin. Totally satisfied with our cabin. Plenty of room, kept beautifully clean by Vanessa our cabin steward; who also performed in the crew shows. And plenty of storage space for our clothes and bits and pieces. Dressing table, chair; table and tub chair - large shower; hair drier and tv. Hospitality tray, though we never used it once, so much food on offer, plus a permanent tea and coffee station outside the restaurant. Being low down in the accommodation we were little troubled by deck maintenance and sea movement. Beds very comfortable with beautifully laundered linen and great pillows. Having some experience of travelling on cargo ships over the years, the occasional ship smells of bunkering, and the inevitable hum and vibration of the engines disturbed us hardly at all, as we reckoned it was hardly possible to avoid these things altogether. We slept well, and loved our cabin and found Vanessa efficient and cheerful. One morning we noticed our tap was squirting a bit strangely and thought we'd have to report it at some time. When we returned to the cabin a few hours later it had been fixed without the need for us to mention it. Food: excellent. A real treat. I tried lots of things I wouldn't normally have had access to, and enjoyed virtually everything. Breakfast and lunch have both buffet and service options; and there are other options apart from the restaurant for dinner, as well as the supper club for late night snackers. These early meals are open sitting so waiter service for those not doing the buffet option is a little looser than at evening meals. And tea and coffee after lunch is provided at the drinks station outside the restaurant door rather than at the table. Can't say it was a problem though. My mother is a very plain-food and picky kind of eater, and after chatting with the Maitre D - Jefron - was accommodated perfectly. They couldn't have tried harder to please her. Superji and Apirat our waiters were friendly and attentive. Fabulous food. We had the all inclusive package so our drinks were 'free' for an extra £10 per day per person. So unless you're only interested in premium brands, we'd recommend this. Well worth it. Being able to say 'yes' to a gin or glass of wine or fruit juice as often or whenever we fancied was brilliant. Fellow passangers: most of the folk we spoke with seemed to really enjoy their cruise. Heard a few moans eg, wifi problems. There where a few wheelchair users, and many people using sticks and wheely-frames. They seemed to receive good assistance from ship's crew. So I would say - only from appearances, I hasten to add - that Fred Olsen is welcoming and good for passengers who are less mobile, or have particular mobility needs. Most folks were friendly and it was easy chatting with others. Facilities: pool and jacuzzis were used, even in Baltic waters. Lifts worked very well. There wasn't a full passenger capacity on board so maybe lift congestion was relieved a little that way. Activities were good; aimed mainly, I suppose, at the older cruiser. Bingo, quizzes, quoites, bowls, putting etc. The evening entertainment was great: the show company dancers and singers very good indeed. The musicians also very good either in the showband or around the ship in different places and at different times. The comedian was popular, as was the singer; and the featured artists - guitarist and harpist very good in their own way. Nice selection of movies, too. Speakers for the port talks and the enrichment lectures also quite excellent, and really did add to the experience of taking the tour excursions, which were brilliant. Great guides, great destinations - not at all harmed by the generally wonderful weather. I don't know what Fred Olsen could provide by way of children's provision, but there was only one tiny infant on our voyage, with its young family. It has to be said that a lot of otherwise doting grandparents who would normally worship their youngsters were very happy to be in a basically child-free holiday atmosphere of quiet peacefulness. Maybe this line isn't geared up for children's clubs, and disney-esque activities to keep large groups of children of all ages entertained while parents while away the hours doing other things - it's not a big ship - but there's obviously a place for older, slower folks wanting something a bit more gentle-paced without the fear of trampling down or being trampled by kids, much as they might be adored in other contexts and at home. Mileage will vary! There was provision for a late-night crowd however in the Lido deck after the evening entertainment; singing and dancing. This was an excellent cruise, overall. Worth noting: we did the Boudicca voyage from Belfast two (or three?) years ago and really enjoyed that. But the embarkation, disembarkation was much much better this time round. Big improvement. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
Having read some of the reviews on this site about cruising on the Black Watch we were a little concerned about the holiday we had booked. Contributors commented about noisy cabins and about the quality of the food. This was our 4th ... Read More
Having read some of the reviews on this site about cruising on the Black Watch we were a little concerned about the holiday we had booked. Contributors commented about noisy cabins and about the quality of the food. This was our 4th cruise, one previously with Fred, one with Celebrity X and one with P and O. We enjoyed them all in different ways, but have returned from the Baltic completely satisfied both with the cruise company, the ship and the destinations. We chose a superior outside cabin and were allocated 5095 towards the aft of the ship and on the same deck as reception and the shops. It turned out to be perfectly placed with easy access to dining, entertainment and the heated outside swimming pool. The only improvement we could have wanted would have been a double bed but I understand these are less plentiful on the Black Watch, compared to the Boudicca. The cabin was spotless and Joanne, our housekeeper, was friendly and always smiling. The quality of the food was terrific and we felt fortunate to have been allocated a table in the Orchid dining room, with two other personable and interesting older couples. We particularly enjoyed the three formal evenings and noticed that the chef made a special effort on these evenings. For example, half a lobster as a starter choice, what's not to like? We are ballroom dancers and we're delighted by the beginners classes run by the three dance hosts, Alan John and Lynn whom we got to know quite well over the course of the holiday. I guess our only disappointment was the organisation of the Tea Dance when afternoon tea was not based in the Neptune Lounge. As a result, very few joined in the Tea Dance. The lectures on St Peterburg were informative and well presented and I liked the talk on Russian Miniatures. As for the entertainment, the young company of 'Black Watch' singers and dancers were outstanding with shows full of energy and colour, comparable with anything we had experienced on larger ships. The guest entertainers were likewise very good and catered for a variety of tastes. The crew show was uplifting and insprirational. The panel discussion with the Black Watch company, chaired by Antony, was very interesting. The artists answered questions about how they got into show business and what life was like onboard ship for months on end. The life of a performer is both precarious and maybe short lived. The destinations were outstanding. I guess St Peterburg and our visit to the Winter Palace was the highlight, and everyone agreed that we would have liked more time in Russia. Next time. However, all of the other destinations had something different to offer; the ABBA museum in Stockholm, a husky ride in Helsinki, the three Explorer museums in Oslo, were all quite special.The guided shore excursions were good value. On our previous cruise with Fred Olsen on the Boudica we were fortunate to be upgraded to a junior suite and, astonishingly, were invited to dine at the Captain's table. We never expected to beat that, but our cruise to the Baltic on the wonderful Black Watch was the best yet. As a postscript, a bus to Great Victoria and Central stations in Belfast might have relieved the long queue for taxis on disembarkation. Read Less
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