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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
The food was excellent, the staff were friendly and helpful (as well as efficient) - but why is Wi-Fi so horribly expensive? and £50 each for a coach excursion is exorbitant ... On the other hand, embarkation and disembarkation were ... Read More
The food was excellent, the staff were friendly and helpful (as well as efficient) - but why is Wi-Fi so horribly expensive? and £50 each for a coach excursion is exorbitant ... On the other hand, embarkation and disembarkation were faultless ... There was very little 'mental stimulation' available - Quizzes and Bingo do not really take the place of a good talk by an enthusiastic expert - and the Port Talks were dire; reading text from a Wikipedia article is not what is needed. [Very personal opinion] Avoid (if you can) being seated at the rear of the Thistle Restaurant - the vibration when the ship switched to operating on two props (rather than the usual four) shook the cutlery off the tables, and made conversation almost impossible. I think we should have been informed that the email service via AOL is frequently not available - if you're normally an AOL user, make sure before you go that you have email access via another provider Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
Wanted to see the Hanseatic cities so this fitted the bill. Positives:- Good itinerary, but we did our own thing in ports, usually using the excellent public transport. I'm fluent in German, which helps. Food very good. Cabin ... Read More
Wanted to see the Hanseatic cities so this fitted the bill. Positives:- Good itinerary, but we did our own thing in ports, usually using the excellent public transport. I'm fluent in German, which helps. Food very good. Cabin nice. I can't comment on the entertainment, as we didn't bother with any of it; it's just not our thing. Nice to have Bridge lessons on sea days. Plenty of activities; unlike many cruise lines these did not just involve trying to get you to spend more money on rubbish. (Usually.) Plenty of space to sit and read quietly, even though, being April, it was too cold much of the time to sit outside when under way. Drink Prices very reasonable, unlike a certain large USA-based group. Ship fully refitted a few years ago, but it looked all very new. Carpets just fitted I think. Against: We had Junior Suite 5005. Every night there was noise from above. Quite intrusive, though I usually slept through some of it. It sounded like some large wheeled objects were being wheeled around; a rumbling like distant thunder. Hopeless if you are a light sleeper. I think it must be the galley. Our neighbours in 5003 said they didn't have a problem, which seemed odd, but there you are. We preferred dining in the cafe as it just took so long in the restaurant, though that is our preference, rather than a criticism. Almost all cruise ships have to do some maintenance as they go along and this was no exception but the smell of the paint was pretty horrible tbh. Embarkation pretty smooth and disembarkation VERY quick and efficient as we took our own stuff off and Dover Port Parking were excellent. Yes- lots of very old people on there; if you don't like us oldies then please stay away! So, happy to use Fred Olsen again. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
It fitted in with our busy schedule as we needed a much earned break and we received a good deal with all inclusive drinks. The ship was supposed to have had a refit but we couldn't see much that was new, carpets were still being ... Read More
It fitted in with our busy schedule as we needed a much earned break and we received a good deal with all inclusive drinks. The ship was supposed to have had a refit but we couldn't see much that was new, carpets were still being fitted, there were rolls of it everywhere, there was a smell of paint on several occasions but there were still areas that needed doing up, made it look untidy. Food and service was excellent. Husband was disappointed that he could not take his fold up bike as he is disabled and unable to walk very far, when we got on board several people had mobility scooters and someone even had a fold up bike! Would have made it much easier to get around as we had to make our own way because the tours were expensive, not really what we wanted to see and do and most of them involved a lot of walking. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We travelled by Evesway coach from Chester. Although we had 2 coach changes everything went smoothly. Embarkation went well and we boarded quickly, greeted by friendly staff and the usual photographer who took our photos as we boarded. The ... Read More
We travelled by Evesway coach from Chester. Although we had 2 coach changes everything went smoothly. Embarkation went well and we boarded quickly, greeted by friendly staff and the usual photographer who took our photos as we boarded. The ship a traditional older style suited myself and my husband and we enjoyed the freedom of moving from deck to deck outside. We had cabin 5019 junior suite. This is the third time we have travelled o and Boudicca. We have always been on deck 5 and find it an ideal deck location for the main activities and restaurants. The entertainment was good we enjoyed a new Boudicca Show Company, although the singer was a little dated for my liking. Other entertainers and dancing hosts were very good. We also enjoyed the lectures. Cabin very comfort and our hostess looked after us very well. We went on several tours, although not included in the initial cruise price, such tours I consider excellent as you travel in a group and you are likely to visit places you wouldn't do on your own. We went as a personal choice to see Bergen Belsen, Berlin, Lubeck, and superb Brenem. We had an excellent guide in Brenem. A special thank you to the waiters. I fact the waiter David also waited on us on the ship 3 years ago when we went to see the Solar Eclipse. One point it does seem a same that when you are asked to complete a form a couple of days into the cruise Fred Olsen will donate a 1p,yes 1p to the RNLI!!!! Why so little Fred? I would certainly recommend Fred Olsen. Although I was probably in the youngest 10%on board the ship suited me and being a smaller ship ideal for River Cruising. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2018
This was my first cruise alone, first cruise in an inside cabin and first time that I didn't actually know where I was going! I travelled down to Dover with Eavesway and they were excellent as always. We had to wait about 40 ... Read More
This was my first cruise alone, first cruise in an inside cabin and first time that I didn't actually know where I was going! I travelled down to Dover with Eavesway and they were excellent as always. We had to wait about 40 minutes to embark but I didn't feel that was too bad. Boudicca was just out of a refit and I have to say that the public areas and cabins are looking great with lovely furnishings and colour schemes but some of the outside areas do still need attention. Unfortunately all of the refit work hadn't been quite finished and the pool was out of bounds but Fred had given everyone a £50 on board credit so that was felt to be a good move all around. I believe that some cabins had an issue with their hot water but I had to say that I had no problems at all and had lashings of hot water for my shower. So we set off on our five night mystery cruise which was to call at three ports. I had 'guessed' at four ports from the excursion descriptions and was pleased that I had guessed correctly. The ports were not confirmed to us until we actually arrived and everyone had lots of fun guessing where we were going. First port was Ghent where we had a whole day - lovely city with beautiful medieval buildings and canals - and lots of chocolate! I had booked a walking tour excursion and this was good, although it would have been easy to do this independently had I known the destination. Boudicca was berthed 20/30 minutes drive from the city centre and there was a shuttle bus provided for passengers not booked on excursions. On the second day we arrived in Amsterdam late morning and would stay until 8am the following day. It was an easy 15 minute walk from the berth into Amsterdam although there was a tram for people who didn't wish to walk. Unfortunately, being Easter Saturday, Amsterdam was too crowded for comfort - the streets were absolutely packed and you could only 'go with the flow' and there wasn't really a pleasant atmosphere. If only I had known, one of the pre-booked excursions was to the Kurkenhoff gardens and I think I would have enjoyed that. Fortunately I had booked a canal boat excursion at night and that was really lovely, well worth doing, and improved my impression of Amsterdam. Easter Sunday was spent largely at sea until we arrived in Rotterdam at 6.30pm where we would stay until 6pm the next day. I have to say I didn't have great expectations for Rotterdam, knowing that it is a huge port but I was pleasantly surprised. The city itself has lots of interesting modern architecture and we were berthed right by the stunning Erasmus bridge. The Markt Hall is definitely worth a visit for an amazing selection of food - not that you need any extra food when you are travelling with Fred! I also did an excursion to Gouda which was a delightful town and a place I would be happy to return to. We sailed overnight to arrive back in Dover at 6am the next morning. The passengers on Fred were a good mix with the usual large percentage of 'seniors' but all seemed to get around well and I wasn't aware of any problems - everyone was very friendly as I find is usually the case on Fred's ships and even though I was travelling alone I was never short of someone to chat with if I wished. This was actually an extra cruise for me this year so I was trying to be frugal and so booked an inside cabin - 4128. I was actually very pleasantly surprised, it was clean, comfortable and well decorated. With being an inside cabin it was actually very dark at night and I slept really well - had to set the alarm on the cabin phone to ensure I didn't oversleep! My cabin girl, Donna, was lovely and looked after me very well. This cabin did not have other cabins at either side so there was very little noise. The food on Fred was excellent as always - I think there really is something for everyone and the entertainment was good too. With hindsight, for me personally, I don't think I would do a mystery cruise again as I am the sort of person that likes to plan what I am going to do in port, but having said that, this was a really good experience thanks to the great Fred staff and crew, interesting itinerary, good food and friendly fellow passengers. I look forward to travelling with Fred again later in the year. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
The cruise was to take my wife to the Xmas markets in Hamburg and Germany. I had lived in Germany for many years and speak the language fluently but she did not fancy the drive ( my chosen option). The boarding at Tilbury was a ... Read More
The cruise was to take my wife to the Xmas markets in Hamburg and Germany. I had lived in Germany for many years and speak the language fluently but she did not fancy the drive ( my chosen option). The boarding at Tilbury was a disgrace. car parking cost £9 per day to dump your car in a disused sand dump 4 miles away from the ship. the cabin was a good size and well designed, much better than the Britannia cabin we had last summer. The air con in the cabin cannot be shut off and the fan noise is very obtrusive and kept me awake. The food in the restaurant was ok better at dinner than the other two meals. wine and drinks expensive and not very good. a wine which costs £6 in Tesco, costs you £18 on board The entertainment was pretty dire. it made up for lack of talent by plenty of volume. The best lounge was the Observatory but even this was spoiled by the shouts and screams of the carpet bowling. The dis-embarkation at Tilbury was an absolute chaotic situation. Yiou are just dumped in the terminal no FO staff in sight. This was in stark contrast to the Magellan passengers who docked at the same time and were ushered to waiting coaches and taxis whilst we were stood in the pouring rain like poor relations until a clapped out old bus arrived for its first of many round trips. all in all never again Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Plenty to do on the Black Watch, throughout the day and plenty excursions to enjoy when in port whether you choose to do it yourself or through one of the organised activities. The ship was very clean considering her age and constant ... Read More
Plenty to do on the Black Watch, throughout the day and plenty excursions to enjoy when in port whether you choose to do it yourself or through one of the organised activities. The ship was very clean considering her age and constant maintenance takes place to ensure this. Our cabin 8005 with balcony was adequate for our week's holiday and it was cleaned and maintained daily by our wonderful young lady who looked after us for that week. Dining was excellent, we requested first sitting and had a table for two, although we were in close proximity of 4 other people whom we struck up good conversation with. The waiters could not do enough to please you, along with bar staff in all the bars. Evening show was well presented and varied with some talented artists. Although there were a high percentage of elderly people on board that did not make the experience less enjoyable, in fact it was nice to see older people enjoying themselves. Trip was so good, we booked for another one next year to the fjords and the port being 5 minutes from our door. Couldn't ask for more. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We chose to cruise with Fred Olsen primarily because of the close proximity of Edinburgh to their Rosyth embarkation port. Also, we had cruised with Fred Olsen twice previously and knew them to be a solid, reliable operation giving ... Read More
We chose to cruise with Fred Olsen primarily because of the close proximity of Edinburgh to their Rosyth embarkation port. Also, we had cruised with Fred Olsen twice previously and knew them to be a solid, reliable operation giving value for money with the staff impeccable in every sense. Seven days was an ideal duration for us, too. in current circumstances. Another stop (we went to Heligoland, Hamburg and Bremen) would have been welcome but there was more than enough to occupy us on board. A typical day comprised sightseeing or Scrabble, cinema, gym., drinks, dinner and a show. Perfect. Worth mentioning in addition was the fact the Black Watch is small enough to ensure clients are more than "ships that pass in the night" and over the week we enjoyed re-engaging with various fellow travellers something that would not have been as likely on a vastly bigger vessel. Nothing is ever 100 per cent, however, and the coffee/tea served in the dining room was lacking although in the specialised coffee areas normal high standards prevailed at reasonable prices. Roll on our next Fred Olsen cruise. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2017
I booked this cruise about a month before departure date. Price and value are the most important factors when I book a cruise for myself. I booked a Single Interior Guarantee cabin for a great price. I didn't think too much about ... Read More
I booked this cruise about a month before departure date. Price and value are the most important factors when I book a cruise for myself. I booked a Single Interior Guarantee cabin for a great price. I didn't think too much about the itinerary, although I of course realized it would be cold. I have lived in a warm climate almost my entire life. Normally, I would prefer an extra month of summer as opposed to an extra month of winter. In this case, though, I made the reverse trade-off. I bought two pairs of heavy socks and a fleece neck warmer. I brought them and other appropriate clothing with me. While we did get lucky with the temperatures and the weather, it was nonetheless cold, although it was never an issue for me. In fact, I often went into the open-air jacuzzis and laid out on deck (as did others) when the sun was shining. The bathrobe I rented for GBP 10 came in quite handy. Because almost everything was so wonderful, areas with room for improvement were conspicuous. I simply can't mention everything that was great, but I will mention and describe the areas with room for improvement. Choosing rate types and finding the best rate on the Fred.Olsen website is one of the areas with room for improvement. In fact, because my credit card payment did not go through (see below), I called Fred.Olsen to book the cruise. Initially, the representative did not find the Anchor Fare I saw on the website and I had to describe how and where I saw it. Another note is that the cruise line only has a UK office and phone numbers. Those were intercontinental calls for me. As noted, I was unable to use my non-UK credit card to book the cruise. I was also unable to use it to purchase travel currency through City Forex, Fred.Olsen's partner. It eventually turned out that I did not understand the relationship between my credit card limit and my bank account credit limit, but I did see, read, and hear misleading information on the Fred.Olsen website, the City Forex website, in emails and during phone conversations. For example, an email from City Forex informed me that their website does not accept MasterCard, contradicting an error message I had seen. The fact is the website does not accept non-UK credit cards, so an expensive bank transfer was necessary. Fred.Olsen was eventually able to charge my credit card for the cruise, albeit manually over the phone. After I had resolved the credit limit issue, it is likely I would have been able to use the card on the website. Back to the cruise itself. I was assigned Single Interior cabin 5085. For more information about the cabin, see the associated cabin review. The one organized tour I took was also an area with room for improvement. Up until this cruise, I never booked or participated in an organized tour or shore excursion. A day or two before we docked at Reykjavik, I decided to book The Golden Circle tour, which included Gullfoss (the Golden Waterfall), the Geysir area, and Thingvellir National Park. The tour was one of three throughout the cruise line designated Must Do, and it was a popular one, with passengers filling up six buses, I think. My bus drove first to Thingvellir National Park. Unfortunately, we were only provided 30 minutes to walk from one parking lot to another. I would have liked (a lot) more time there. We then drove to Gullfoss. We were given about 35-40 minutes to walk to the waterfall before lunch at the visitors center. Again, I felt it was not enough time to walk both available paths. Breathtaking waterfall, though, and the sit-down lunch was very good, too, with soup and fish (salmon?). After lunch, we drove to the Geysir area. Again, we were given about 30 minutes to walk around before we had to be back on the bus. The tour was advertised as lasting 8-8 1/2 hours. The tour started at around 10:00. When we got back on the bus at 15:00 in the Geysir parking lot, we had already seen the Big Three. The only other item on the tour description was a short comfort stop at the village of Hveragerði. As far as I could tell, the ship was no more than an hour's drive away from the Geysir area. So, besides driving, what would we be doing for the next three hours that didn't appear in the tour description? Well, the bus took what I think is the long way back to Reykjavik. We saw some nice scenery, with commentary from the tour guide. Not bad, but I still would have traded that time for more time at the Big Three. Then, we actually drove past where the ship was docked and went to the Perlan (Pearl) Museum. The museum is made up of former water tanks, sits on a hill, and has a fourth-floor observatory that provides a 360-degree view of Reykjavik and the surrounding area. Nice. However, the guest elevator/lift was out of service, and I decided not to walk up and down via the stairs. We were only given 20 minutes there, anyway. So, instead, I walked around the building, which I enjoyed. Nonetheless, I again would certainly have been happy if we had not gone to a place that did not appear in the tour description. I would have gladly traded the time there and the time it took to get there and back to the ship in favor of more time at the Big Thee natural phenomena. Even though this tour allowed me to see these stunning natural phenomena, it was nonetheless an area of the cruise with room for improvement. Another minor area with room for improvement were discrepancies in the daily newsletter. For example, one night, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was supposed to be screened in the Marina Theatre. They screened The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by mistake. A few days later, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel appeared in the daily newsletter, and they screened that movie again. Finally, at Tromsø, Norway, the cruise line's port agent provided a paid shuttle bus to the city center. When I asked Guest Services whether there is public transportation nearby, the woman told me there isn't. Therefore, I bought a ticket for the shuttle bus. However, in a tourist information tent on the pier, I saw information about public bus services and the nearby stop. So, I went back onto the ship, returned the shuttle bus ticket, got a refund, and used public buses for the day. Again, let me stress that these areas with room for improvement are conspicuous because of how great everything else was. Even after paying a low price for the cruise and only GBP 4 per day gratuities, I discovered more and more ways the cruise line provides value as the cruise went along. One example is the GBP 10 bathrobe. Another example: Alcohol. In addition to reasonable alcohol prices at the ship's bars, a couple of days into the cruise, I noticed a form and a display for ordering alcohol for on-board consumption. The prices were higher than duty free, but you can't consume duty free alcohol on board. Over a four-week cruise, I ordered a few bottles of whisky and that's what I drank on-board except for the first couple of days and a few drinks with glacier ice (!). So what that I had to ask bartenders for glasses of ice a couple of times a day? A few of them soon remembered my "regular" drinks of either glasses of ice or water and offered one or the other when I approached the bar. Final example of value for money: Self-service laundry for GBP 2 per load, and free use of the dryers. Many ships don't even offer self-service laundry. This was a phenomenal cruise in almost every way. Only a few weeks after this one ended, I booked myself on another four-week Fred.Olsen cruise! Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
We chose this cruise because of the river features. It was more expensive but we wanted a luxury cruise. We found out from this site it was a flat bottom boat. We would never have booked as my husband is a poor sailor. He was sick for 2 ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the river features. It was more expensive but we wanted a luxury cruise. We found out from this site it was a flat bottom boat. We would never have booked as my husband is a poor sailor. He was sick for 2 days and drugged (sea sick tabs make him very sleepy) for a few more. Many people were unwell for first few days. Embarkation was quite smooth even though a man employed by southampton dock yard was very rude. Unwashed in dirty clothes unshaven. Shouting at us with out telling us what we were doing wrong. We heard him being equally rude to other passangers. Porters were apologetic. The ship is tierd past its best alot of noise from engins while dinning. Sometimes we couldn't hear other passanges on same table.engin noise bad in cabins. Others struggled as well. Ship broke down on way home. With engin trouble. But we still arrived back on time.WIFI VERY EXPENSIVE £13 for half hour this is just daylight robbery. Fred olsen should be ashamed. Is this even legal. The cakes and puddings were amazing. The rest of the food ranged from lovely to uneatable. Palms cafe not very good breakfast was difficult to get anything hot. Afternoon tea best meal. Alot of penny pinching small amounts ie half a quails egg. Having to buy coffee if not in restaurants or in room. Could not understand three formal nights one would have been more than enough. As the only reason for them seemed to be selling you photos. We did not go to the entertainment as we looked at it on telly and it looked very low key. Also we weren't interested in talks about 2nd world war. Husband enjoyed table tennis. Trips were good. Most expensive same on all cruises. All staff very good very egar to please. YaYa our cabin stewardess was very thorough. The best thing about the cruise was the other passengers. Really friendly and chatty. No bad language or drunkenness. Majority were quite a bit older. But had to admire the determination to have holidays dispite health issues. No children and this is not a cruise for them or really anyone under 40. Overall this cruise was not for us we were bored. Its put us off cruising. Many people loved it. They were very faithfull to the Fred lable. We thought fred olsen were taking advantage of their loyal customer base. This was not a luxury cruise. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
We chose this cruise because of departure from Greenock. Embarkation went smoothly and our luggage was in our cabin before us! We sailed out on the five night cruise up the Scottish coast our itinery was Fort William, Ullapool and ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of departure from Greenock. Embarkation went smoothly and our luggage was in our cabin before us! We sailed out on the five night cruise up the Scottish coast our itinery was Fort William, Ullapool and Invergorden before sailing back to Greenock. On board the entertainment was excellent with a very talented group of singers and dancers. Food was very good and drinks very reasonably priced. All staff were excellent in restaurants and bars. Our only gripe was lack of information as to where we were when sailing through the Western Isles. It would have been helpful to be kept informed as to where we were. The lack of communication was responsible for most of the passengers not being informed while passing by Fingals Cave this should have been a highlight of the cruise. We missed out on a trip due to not booking early enough I would advise book a trip as soon as possible or risk missing out. This was the first time we have sailed with Fred Olsen and we were impressed with the staff and the various lounges, bars and eating places. We would certainly consider using Fred Olsen for any future cruise. Read Less
41 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
I was brought up to say nothing, if I couldn't say something good about someone or something. So I will not have much to say about this ship. Built 28 years ago by the German builders Meyer Werft as one of the most luxurious ships of ... Read More
I was brought up to say nothing, if I couldn't say something good about someone or something. So I will not have much to say about this ship. Built 28 years ago by the German builders Meyer Werft as one of the most luxurious ships of its day. It certainly is not that now.. It was very early in the year to travel north. Too early. The daylight hours are very limited. The weather is often very poor. As indeed it was. That does make a difference. We had chosen a Junior Suite. A rather too grand description for a standard balcony cabin. Pleasant enough. Except the bathroom. No soap. Just two bottles with plungers which sent out a thin stream of coloured fluid. The bath would have disgraced the average budget hotel. The bathtaps were bent so that water sprayed onto the floor. The mirrored cabinets doors showed rust and opened when the ship rolled. Which it did. The most irritating: a notice on the swimming pool towels, that they were to be returned, used, to the cabin. If not, a £10 charge added to your account. The room was looked after adequately by the stewardess whom, after the first day, I never saw again. She may have been overworked. The ship's public rooms are quite without any character. On one deck, they stretch between the buffet restaurant and the showlounge, itself plain, with shallowly tiered seating, with higher buckets seats placed in front of the bench seats. The entertainment in this undistinguished room was unremarkable. A comedian. A singer. A dance duo. In between these, the ship's singer/dancer group. They certainly worted hard. But nothing new. Nothing innovative. There were three speakers, who gave talks. One of them, splattered with little jokes. Not good. Certainly not enlightening. The dining. We asked through our agents, for a table for six or eight. We were assigned a table for four. Our fellow diners, committed Fred Olsen cruisers. They explained at length how pleased they were that a steward had recognised them and was to show them his personal pictures. We were pleased for them. The assigned restaurant, set on one side of the ship, was very noisy. One of the two redeeming features of this otherwise less than run of the mill voyage: the buffet. On the whole good food and good service. In the restaurants service we found patchy sometimes downright bad. But the buffet seemed to have an entity nof its own. Pleasant, never too crowded, cheerful staff. The best of this ship. Outside was a good teak deck. But it was cluttered with stored chairs, so walking was often single file. Perhaps there was nowhere else to put them. Perhaps that was why the unbendable lounger on our balcony could not be removed - it blocked half of it. It was a nuisance. Shore excursions were expensive. But we found them well organised by the tour operators. Fred Olsen prides itself on having a very high repeat booking level. I cannot understand why. This is a tired old ship with less than good service. I was told by a guest relations manager that it is due for a £50 million refit later this year. Not much of a compensation for those of us travelling on it until then. The other good thing: the captain. The weather was bad sometimes very bad. We had Force 11 winds. On the way back from Bergen he reduced speed to 5 knots which made us eight hours late into Southampton. That takes courage I think. Would we travel on a Fred Olsen ship again? No. The worst thing for me: my wife feels that it was a waste of money. I feel very bad about that. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2017
We chose this cruise because we wanted to enjoy the experience of the arctic in winter from the comfort of a cruise ship and hoped to see snow covered, breathtaking scenery and the northern lights. We also wanted to eat well, have a ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to enjoy the experience of the arctic in winter from the comfort of a cruise ship and hoped to see snow covered, breathtaking scenery and the northern lights. We also wanted to eat well, have a comfortable cabin, socialise with like minded folk and to be entertained. Sounds a lot to ask for... but we were paying £270 a day plus excursions, plus drinks, plus a "gratuities charge" of another £8 a day on top.... we thought that our expectations should be met. Embarkation was good.... we walked straight in. The only frustration was that photographers had blocked the entire corridor and were forcing everyone to wait while they took snaps. Really annoying when we were keen to get on board and find a loo after a long journey. Really sad for those with medical conditions and mobility problems as well. Just gave the impression of no consideratioin. The food was generally good but not as good as on previous cruises and we did feel that it had gone down over the years. Highlights were a sirloin steak cooked to perfection and a rack of lamb. Waiters were pleasant but were rushed with little time to talk. We found that the house wine was ghastly, overprice stuff.... smelling of drank tar, disinfectant and drains. It tasted better.... but not much. For their age and quality.... other wines were seriously overpriced and were more expensive than we would pay in a gastro-pub in the London area or a four star hotel with a couple of stars in the home counties.. Our cabin was clean and fresh but our stewardess was a bit surly and seems to be rushed off her feet. We found other passengers friendly, sociable and we made some really good friends. Despite storm after storm, very rough seas and a force 11 gale... we did see the northern lights on four nights. We had good sightings for several hours on two of those nights and were able to take good pictures. We also saw amazing landscapes but not as much snow as we would have liked. Speakers on board varied from the brilliance of a Norwegian specialist who was amazingly entertaining to the monotonously slow monotone of a port speaker and the condescending efforts of a photographer who was living in the distant pre-digital past and who was still advising people to tape a magnifying glass to the front of their cameras to take close-up photos. Shore excursions were good but really expensive. We could easily do some of the same things for free or for a fraction of the excursion cost. The ship's show company were excellent, Elaine Grey, the Scottish soprano. was wonderful, the inappropriately named "comedian" Micky Zany attempted to browbeat the audience who were unresponsive to his "jokes" He accused the audience of having no sense of humour! Epic Moves, styled as a comedy dance act, weren't funny. Their quick change routine was tacky.... like something from the era of black and white telly... and the bloke's invitation to women in the audience to help to undress him... made him more like a male stripper than a sophisticated dancer. Embarrassing. The really sour note came on our last evening when the professional show was replaced by bits and bobs cobbled together by the cruise director... it all ended with him on stage in his vest and underpants, and a mini tutu which hid nothing... dropping ping pong balls two at a time. It was nasty, embarrassing and condescending. He would have been arrested had he tried the same stunt in a local park! Fred Olsen used to put on a spectacular show on the final evening of a cruise to send passengers away with a fell good factor that they had been privileged to enjoy a luxury cruise... on this occasion our finally impression was that the Balmoral was attempting to ape a tawdry, cheap, nasty, second-rate 1970s holiday camp. Read Less
26 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We regularly cruise with Fred and would normally give an excellent rating but not this time. The food was excellent as were the waiters and the staff, the cabin was to the usual comfortable standard but from there on it all goes ... Read More
We regularly cruise with Fred and would normally give an excellent rating but not this time. The food was excellent as were the waiters and the staff, the cabin was to the usual comfortable standard but from there on it all goes downhill. The ship is very much still a "work in progress". The TV system kept giving the information "LAN lost" and closed down, even in port, so the problem with satellite explanation does not wash. We reported this regularly to reception and even missed part of the Queens Christmas speech because of it,but it was no better at the end of the cruise. Because of the weather, or so we were told, the itinerary regularly changed. The announcements were made on the ships system but did not sound in our cabin. This was regularly reported to reception. We were told how it should be set. In the end someone came to our cabin, set it differently to the instruction given to us at reception. On Boxing day we were supposed to enter the Port of Tyne early in the morning. We did not, instead we went to breakfast with the boat turning in a tight circle and the restaurant floor some degrees from horizontal. Later, up in the aft lounge, deck 7 it was noted that the new glass doors no longer stayed closed. By the evening it was realized that wooden wedges would solve the problem. They were still there at the end of our cruise. How could this possibly happen. The simple fact is that the ship should not have been put to service until after it had been thoroughly tested and any snagging required carried out. This was obviously not the case as other cruisers, on the first cruse have confirmed. It is now on a world cruise I wonder if the snags have been dealt with yet. The director of product and services has sent me a letter, full of apologies, but the only compensation she will offer is the equivalent of 20% of this cruise price off of a future booking made before 30th June 2017, otherwise no compensation what so ever. It appears that because some of the problems (obviously not the lack of a full test) were not of Fred's making that is it! O dear Fred you have blotted your copy book. Such a pity because the organization normally gives such good service. Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Wanted to see the UK from a different angle. But the weather had other ideas. Within 24hours of sailing advised there would changes due to Royal Navy having our bearth at Southampton. So we had Portsmouth then Plymouth instead. OH ... Read More
Wanted to see the UK from a different angle. But the weather had other ideas. Within 24hours of sailing advised there would changes due to Royal Navy having our bearth at Southampton. So we had Portsmouth then Plymouth instead. OH dear the guide on our shore excursion in Plymouth - Dreadful, droned on and on. Heard much but learnt little. Got back on board to be told changes to route - all the Ireland visits cancelled due storms Barbara and Connor, so we were turning tail and going to Newcastle upon Tyne, and then Edinburgh - as planned. We booked this cruise because it was going to Ireland - Cobh, Dublin and Belfast. Never been to any of them. So Christmas Day was at sea and so onto the Evening meal - should have been the highlight of the day but it was not nice. Very much more like a poor school/canteen effort. Pity really because the food is very good otherwise. Spent Boxing Day standing off Newcastle because it was too rough. Crew splendid, coped and laid on lots of extra entertainment. At Newcastle told cutting stay short and going to Dundee. The next day told Dundee visit was to be cut short and going to Edinburgh early. Summary, Crew - fab, Food - mostly v good, Ship - showing her age. Tv system - "you was done" an amateur could have done better. Never Again! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
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
2 Helpful Votes
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
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We are seasoned Olsen customers and have sailed on Balmoral (again this time) Braemar and Black Watch. This cruise got off to a shaky start due to very long delay for embarkation at Southampton.. Most ports interesting, but Casablanca ... Read More
We are seasoned Olsen customers and have sailed on Balmoral (again this time) Braemar and Black Watch. This cruise got off to a shaky start due to very long delay for embarkation at Southampton.. Most ports interesting, but Casablanca should be avoided unless on an organised tour. We settled for the shuttle bus into town and were dumped in a most appalling location. Like several hundred others in our position we stayed for about 15 minutes and headed back to ship. Olsen really must address this problem. A totally wasted port of call. Those on organised trips apparently had a good time. As always, onboard crew magnificent. If attempting to book a future cruise while onboard you may need to hassle a bit; at the fourth attempt a cabin to our satisfaction became available whereas previously nothing available. Other tour companies are taking block bookings at the expense of loyal Olsen customers. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
We embarked and spent 2 days at sea eventually arriving at Lorient. This was our first disappointment, not a thing was open. A total waste of time The ports in Spain (Gexto,Aviles & El Ferrol) where excellent choices as well as ... Read More
We embarked and spent 2 days at sea eventually arriving at Lorient. This was our first disappointment, not a thing was open. A total waste of time The ports in Spain (Gexto,Aviles & El Ferrol) where excellent choices as well as Leixios (Oporto)in Portugal. This was followed by another 2 days at sea on the way to Honfleuer which was a quaintly pretty town but extremely expensive 10 Euros for 2 coffees. This was followed bt 1 1/2 days at sea to disembark at Rosyth. The cabin (4045) was comfortable and clean with a daily news sheet supplied in the evening. Overall the food, Staff and Shows where faultless. The downsides were. To many days just cruising designed so you spend money in the ship on very overpriced items. Overpriced Tours which most were walkabouts. We only took one which was a half day from the ship to Oporto which cost £15 a Taxi was 8 Euros. WiFi was adequate however should really be apart of the package. I paid £100 for 10 days. Although I have a few gripes we did enjoy the cruise The ship is more suited to short cruises as it feels a bit cramped on sea days when all 700+ passengers are looking for suitable seats to relax in. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Recently cruised from Rosyth to France, Sapin and Portugal. I found the whole thing to be the best holiday I ever had. ALL the staff greeted you with a genuine smile unlike some airline staff who put on a "painted" smile. More ... Read More
Recently cruised from Rosyth to France, Sapin and Portugal. I found the whole thing to be the best holiday I ever had. ALL the staff greeted you with a genuine smile unlike some airline staff who put on a "painted" smile. More importantly you were called by your name so you felt more of a person rather than just being a number. Houskeeping staff attended to the cabin twice a day and the waiting staff were efficient and could not do enough for you. The entertainment was top class and there was plenty organised activities throughout the day. Yes, the Black Watch may be an older ship compared to the mammoth ships sailing today, but this just added to the friendliness amongst the crew and passengers. I have booked with the Black Watch for 2018 and intend to do so for as long as I can. Long may the Black Watch continue to sail the seas from Rosyth! Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
This was our first and last time with Fred Olsen, which went to the Lochs of Scotland (plus Mull, Skye and Orkney). The selling points for us was that it went to Mull and offered an excursion to Iona, Portree in Skye (where we have ... Read More
This was our first and last time with Fred Olsen, which went to the Lochs of Scotland (plus Mull, Skye and Orkney). The selling points for us was that it went to Mull and offered an excursion to Iona, Portree in Skye (where we have family) Orkney and from Holy Loch offered a trip to the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow as well as offering free time in Glasgow City. Embarkation from Liverpool convenient and went smoothly. Table size request not honoured. Ate in casual diner instead which was surprisingly good. Didn't manage to get to Iona. Skye cancelled. No free time in Glasgow. Ship rolled at slightest sea conditions and generally very noisy. Many passengers with mobility problems. Would be surprised if no one injured. Tender intensive cruise. Ship moored further out than expected for a small ship. Very scary experience on one occasion. Junior crew excellent. Enjoyed the entertainment. Very much enjoyed the Scottish scenery and warm welcome we received from the Scots. We did enjoy our time on Orkney, Kelvingrove Museum and Dunrobin Castle. Generally felt excursions overpriced compared to other companies. Sorry but Fred isn't for us. Read Less
28 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Embarkation went smoothly. Entertainment team good. Meals in main restaurant good. Palms cafe under staffed and food ok. At times very unclear where soup, gravy was being served and under staffed, no clear direction. The lounge areas I ... Read More
Embarkation went smoothly. Entertainment team good. Meals in main restaurant good. Palms cafe under staffed and food ok. At times very unclear where soup, gravy was being served and under staffed, no clear direction. The lounge areas I felt were under staffed, on several occasions after waiting to be served then had to wait up to 15 mins or more for our drinks, which necessitated me having to check that we had not been forgotten. Cabin corridors dents and marks on walls, pool loungers shabby, seen better days and overall appearance of a 3 star hotel, definitely not worth the price we paid. Disembarkation was a shambles with many elderly folk having to stand for an hour or more which I found unacceptable, not enough seats for them to sit on. Excursions we felt were very expensive. Did not feel,we had value for money. This was my first cruise with Fred Olsen and was expecting something better doubt if we will cruise with them again. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
Iceland and the Faroe Islands Cruise this year on Black Watch was an experience of a lifetime. Having read some previous reviews was not sure about Black Watch. BUT nothing wrong, the ship is being refitted in November which will update a ... Read More
Iceland and the Faroe Islands Cruise this year on Black Watch was an experience of a lifetime. Having read some previous reviews was not sure about Black Watch. BUT nothing wrong, the ship is being refitted in November which will update a lot but I found it to be clean, comfortable and the food is still great, what more could I ask for. Iceland is beautiful and the Faroes unexpectedly a great place....all in all I was very pleased with this cruise. All transport on trips were well arranged and the guides marvellous, embarkation, disembarkation very smooth, no worries. Yes I will sail again with FRED on any ship......sometimes I wonder exactly what the people who criticise are talking about, or is it just that they are unhappy people ? cheer up and go on a cruise with Fred Olsen and enjoy life. I will add that I am a single traveller and now feel part of the FRED FAMILY, which gives me confidence to travel anywhere in the world, and I will continue to do so. Thanks..... Read Less
22 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
Mixed review. With the exception of the performance outlined below the experience was very good. The service staff in particular were excellent.The cabin facilities were of a high standard as indeed was the food. The overall cleanliness ... Read More
Mixed review. With the exception of the performance outlined below the experience was very good. The service staff in particular were excellent.The cabin facilities were of a high standard as indeed was the food. The overall cleanliness of the ship deserves positive mention. The places visited proved very impressive with the added bonus of observing the Northern Lights and various types of whales. The drawbacks were as follows ; 1. British Night. Apart from questioning why it was held in the first place as we were visiting Greenland,Iceland and the Faroe Islands it was sad that in contrast to the final international night with its sense of togetherness the British Night was conducted in an altogether different manner . More specifically many of us in attendance were confronted with a cringe worthy triumphalist recollection of a period long gone when Britain played a not insignificant role in world affairs. The main examples were the choice of the racist tinged Jerusalem and the breast beating Land of Hope and Glory. [ I will leave alone the separate matter that both songs relate to England rather than Britain !!!]. Add to this it seems the planners rather than being sensitive to Britain`s current poor profile in the eyes of the wider world post Brexit which alone should have rendered the performance as unwise they instead were eager to tap into many of the guests wishes to return to times past. Factor in alcohol and it was no surprise to overhear hostile comments being made towards not only other cultures elsewhere in the world but also other countries in the UK. Read Less
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