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10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
We were part of the Ramblers Worldwide group on this 7 night cruise. I'd read previous reviews and expected a tired, shabby vessel with ultra smiley staff. Black watch is a small ship therefore the dining room is overcrowded and the ... Read More
We were part of the Ramblers Worldwide group on this 7 night cruise. I'd read previous reviews and expected a tired, shabby vessel with ultra smiley staff. Black watch is a small ship therefore the dining room is overcrowded and the staff overworked but deal well with the confines of the room and the number of guest they care for. The food was very good, drinks were pub prices or better. We found Boddingtons on offer at £1.60 a pint. Fred does not seem to like to communicate with customers. I found it very hard to book spa sessions before boarding. Bearing in mind our limited time on board due to our planned walks I wanted to make sure I could enjoy the cruising aspect of the holiday too, but booking ahead seemed an odd request. We boarded as request at 1700 with a dinner sitting at 1815, but had time to shower and change into the clothes we had taken on with us. On arrival at the restaurant we found that the dress code had been relaxed so that we could have turned up in our travel clothes. We probably wouldn't have, but they just didn't tell us. The beds are very comfortable, there is a strange custom of the beds being made up during the day with a counterpane on, but the duvets are folded up at night into a zigzag so that you have to put them straight before retiring, no big deal, just odd. Shower was spacious, everything very clean and not shabby as described by some. Entertainment very good. Coffee shop prices surprisingly good too and the specialist chocolate are a treat. It's not hard to find your way around as it's a small ship, luckily as the deck plans are a bit worn, but the staff are only too happy to help out with direction. The band (orchestra) were excellent but don't smile, perhaps they are concentrating too hard. Crew show is super. The Captain appeared to meet guests twice and spoke well which was impressive as I'm sure there are many things he'd rather have been doing. I'm sure the ship will benefit from it's forthcoming refit but it wasn't as shabby as others will have you believe. Read Less
15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
We are fit 70 plus ex-teenagers from Middlesbrough. Travelling from Newcastle to Port of Tyne is very convenient and quick for us. We chose this cruise because our previous 2 Fred Olsen cruises, one to the Baltic and the other to the ... Read More
We are fit 70 plus ex-teenagers from Middlesbrough. Travelling from Newcastle to Port of Tyne is very convenient and quick for us. We chose this cruise because our previous 2 Fred Olsen cruises, one to the Baltic and the other to the Arctic Circle on the Black Watch were wonderful in all respects. We were not quite as lucky this time. Before we left home we were upgraded, once to Deck 6 by choice and on arrival at the port, we were upgraded again to Deck 9 for reasons unknown. We guessed there had been a problem on Deck 6. So our large cabin was comfortable and clean with a few extra niceties but being near to prow on the Bridge Deck in high winds with an Atlantic swell on the way to Spain, Portugal and the Canaries proved to be rather unpleasant, especially for my sea-sick husband. Rocking and rolling was not of the musical variety! Despite taking appropriate, prescribed medication from home, he spent more than 24 hours during the 3rd and 4th nights and days in the cabin feeling rather ill. I was okay but the feelings of being very unbalanced and slightly dizzy for most of the voyage have remained with me despite being back on dry land for several days. When I met others who had suffered similar symptoms, it was rumoured that perhaps stabilisers were not in use in order to save fuel. (I hope this is untrue as it is enough to dissuade us from taking another such cruise.) I am a retired qualified nurse. One member of medical staff who answered my phone call for advice, was not very helpful and did not listen to me properly. She told me to go and buy Stugeron tablets from the reception desk. (I already had some.) I told her my husband had no symptoms of Norovirus. Having already given prescribed tablets for sea sickness, I was not given chance to explain, neither was I prepared to give another dose which was contra-indicated under the circumstances. She failed to understand that he was taking other medication then she tried to tell me I was giving the wrong medicine. I knew I was correct so I was not impressed. Our cabin steward was hardworking and very helpful. She appeared to work very long hours and showed extra consideration to my husband's problem. She deserved a medal. All the restaurants provided excellent service. The waiters were great! At a table of 6, we enjoyed the company of our compatriots very much. Entertainment was excellent. We attended some of the brilliant evening shows given by the new Balmoral company. One of the new girl singers was understandably nervous but the choreography was out of this world. They all worked so hard. My husband, a seasoned Bridge player enjoyed playing Bridge on some of the days at sea. He said the Bridge classes were good and encouraging for the newcomers. Meanwhile I joined an excellent art group as there was no craft class on board. It was a large class of 47 so the teacher and his wife were to be congratulated on coping with so many pupils. We were provided with packs of art materials for a reasonable cost. Our end of cruise exhibition was enjoyed and well attended. Some of us look forward to meeting up on a future cruise if at all possible. The seven port excursions we chose were well organised with many photo opportunities but these trips were rather expensive. During coach tours of the places visited, at times, we felt we were being rushed from one port or one place to another especially as some people were disabled and/or had difficulties with mobility. One person delayed us on our first trip out as on returning to the coach she boarded the wrong one. (Some people do not listen to advice.) The tour operator showed great concern and patience. This threw our planned schedule into chaos while he tried desperately to find out where she had gone. The hunt and several phone calls caused a 40 minute delay meaning a huge rush back for the ship's due departure from port. All our tours apart from one, happened to be on consecutive mornings with very early starting times so towards the end, we became rather weary. Of course, we understood that the itinerary could not possibly please everyone. In some of the resorts, it turned out to be very busy due to bank holidays and local festivities. Some people had their tours cancelled due to lack of support. This is one disadvantage of choosing and paying for tours in advance. Customers have no prior knowledge of tour times until arriving on the ship. Embarking and disembarking was easy for us fitter elderly people but it was noticed that there were difficulties for some who had to walk much further than they expected from their buses to and from the ship. It was noted that there were a few accidents both on and off board. We would have liked some extra time in Lisbon. We would appreciate an extra night's rest in port at some places. If we book another cruise in future, we will not be booking so many tours in advance. On the whole, apart from 2 days at sea outward and 3 on the return journey, it was a good cruise. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2016
Itinerary to Spitsbergen Greenland via Norway and Iceland. Ship is tired but given a fire previous to the cruise it was on, engineers were on the ship the whole time rectifying the damage, generator was on top deck, The trip was ok. ... Read More
Itinerary to Spitsbergen Greenland via Norway and Iceland. Ship is tired but given a fire previous to the cruise it was on, engineers were on the ship the whole time rectifying the damage, generator was on top deck, The trip was ok. Staff great food average ,entertainment's poor, accommodation ok, value for money poor Excursions were expensive. Trying to get information from Fred Olsen difficult .. Vessel was due to depart from Tilbury but was stuck in Dover consequently a coach trip on clunky vehicle's had to be endured to get to Dover which we had driven past to get to Tilbury. Telephones were not answered so stressed passenger's bonded in adversity. Very short duration stops, Tromso 1 afternoon, Iceland glitters as always Wild life performed specially for us. Cruising Prince Christian sound nd was spectacular Greenland excellent. Weather unbelievable for latitude . Kirkwall, Orkney welcomed us with open arms. Finally got to Tilbury what a dump. No trollies . Have they not been to an airport? Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
We chose the cruise because of the itinerary - German waterways and that was everything we hoped for. Great stops at Flensburg, Travemunde, Hamburg and Bremen and peaceful and scenic cruise down the rivers and Kiel canal. At all ports we ... Read More
We chose the cruise because of the itinerary - German waterways and that was everything we hoped for. Great stops at Flensburg, Travemunde, Hamburg and Bremen and peaceful and scenic cruise down the rivers and Kiel canal. At all ports we did our own thing so cannot comment on excursions. We had a superior suite on deck 7, roomy with sofa, two armchairs, loads of storage space and really large balcony. Bathroom with bath, shore over bath, twin basins and wc. Some might find the bath an wc cubicle a bit narrow and there is a high threshold on the door, very dated compared to more modern ships. The hot water can get very hot and is potentially dangerous. There was a kettle for tea and coffee and a fridge full of the usual high priced mini-bar drinks. Bottled still mineral water supplied free. The suite dream package not really worth having although the cava was nice. Canapés always seemed stale and I do not consider it a perk to have a mini Daily Mail delivered! Continental breakfast disappointing and very limited choice. We just had tea, coffee and orange juice most mornings. Ate breakfast in Palms cafe, good choice at buffet and enjoyed the made to order omelettes. One feature we really liked was the seating arrangements for the buffet, staff found you a table, wish other cruise lines dot the same. Lunch in Palms a good choice, the other restaurants have a different menu each day, the Thistle has a good buffet as well and the Gampian a smaller one. Rather limited afternoon tea service in the Palms and a supper club at 11 pm are the only other food arrangements available apart from room service. Cannot comment on supper club or room service as did not use. Dinner we had second sitting in the Grampian. Had a table for 4 set for 2. Interesting and varied menus each night and we enjoyed the food, especially the soups but would have liked more vegetables and sauces -realised too late we should have asked!. Service was excellent. Did not like the Observatory bar much as difficult to get seat with view as a lot of people like to sit and read. Morning light pub nothing like a pub, more like an hotel lounge with no atmosphere. Liked the Coral club, good band called Revolverites who had a wide repertoire of songs. Some singers from Braemar show company who seemed to go down well. Did not see any of the other entertainment as mostly musical, think there was a comedian but no magician! (I like them) There were two formal nights, not sure what the point of having them is as nothing extra happened. Overall we enjoyed the cruise, cabin good, food ok and drinks package excellent value. That said I would not cruise on Braemar again or consider Fred.Olsen again as the suite experience offered by the larger cruise companies is far superior and much better value. Would also prefer slightly more lively atmosphere that would accompany a wider age range of passengers. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
We booked this cruise as we wanted to sail round the UK from Falmouth, our local port in South West England. The port was easy to find, and we booked valet parking with CPS, which went smoothly: our cases were taken straight to the ship ... Read More
We booked this cruise as we wanted to sail round the UK from Falmouth, our local port in South West England. The port was easy to find, and we booked valet parking with CPS, which went smoothly: our cases were taken straight to the ship by the porters. We then entered a makeshift Embarkation tent where we registered and received our cabin cards. There was plenty of seating, and refreshments were available. The tent was rather draughty, but we only had to wait about 30 minutes before we were allowed on the ship. This is the second time we have sailed on the Boudicca. We like the relatively small size of the ship, and the food and service is excellent. The clientele is largely British and over 60, but there also were a smattering of American and German passengers, and under 60s on board. Entertainment was OK. The Show Company were professional, and we also enjoyed the Rosario Trio, who played in the Secret Garden Lounge. There were Wildlife lectures given by Sandie Sowler, Port talks by Judith Cranswick, and Whisky talks. There was also a Classical Duo: unfortunately the violinist did not play very well, so we only attended the first of their concerts! Bridge was also available. The Captain Sten Ronny Jensen ("Hello, it's me again") gave a briefing every day at noon, and also emphasised the need for strict hygiene measures, hand washing and use of antibacterial dispensers. Most of the passengers adhered to this, and there were no cases of Norovirus reported, as far as I know. The Ports of Call were Liverpool, Kirkwall, Invergordon, Scrabster, Tobermory and Belfast. All were worth visiting, and Falmouth itself is an interesting town, and worth a pre or post cruise stay if you have the time. There are boat trips available to Trelissick, St Mawes and Truro, and if you have a car there are gardens to visit, plus St Ives, Eden Project etc. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
This was one of the best, most relaxing cruises I have been on. The highlight was cruising along the Seine, to and from Rouen. We also cruised inland to Bordeaux, and that is a beautiful city. Evening entertainment was very good, and we ... Read More
This was one of the best, most relaxing cruises I have been on. The highlight was cruising along the Seine, to and from Rouen. We also cruised inland to Bordeaux, and that is a beautiful city. Evening entertainment was very good, and we were always able to find a seat for the 2nd sitting show. We were seated at a table for 4 and the couple we shared with, Edna and Peter were excellent company. The food was of a very high standard - much better than I experienced on the Queen Mary 2 in October last year. Daytime entertainment for me (57) and my mum (92 but very fit) centred mostly around the quizzes. These were made extra entertaining by the staff who ran them but especially Thomas, who, at the age of 26, was funny and entertaining and really brightened up the day. Only problem was that the quizzes were very popular, and so Fred needs to re-think the venue - the Morning Light pub simply isn't big enough. I also used the gym and was often the only person in the pool - it was a chilly April, but the pools were heated and lovely. Our cabin was lovely and quiet - we were on deck 4 with a picture window. The queues sometimes to get off and on the ship were a bit of a pain, but when when you have several slightly disabled octagenarians it's only to be expected. On the whole our fellow guests were a lively lot and out to have a good time. This cruise was quite expensive, but worth every penny. I'd definitely do the same one again, but it would be even better in the summer! Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2016
As I had done BOUDICCA a few times including when she was "GOLDEN PRINCESS". I wanted to do a cruise on her sadly money is not great but love cruises. She was doing a repositioning cruise to FALMOUTH I picked this one. PRE ... Read More
As I had done BOUDICCA a few times including when she was "GOLDEN PRINCESS". I wanted to do a cruise on her sadly money is not great but love cruises. She was doing a repositioning cruise to FALMOUTH I picked this one. PRE CRUISE. I booked this cruise Direct through FRED OLSEN and booked an inside sin SUNDAY 10th april 2016. I travelled down from LONDON to SOUTHAMPTON, Being a sunday the train was diverted via HAVANT. On arrival I went to the IBIS HOTEL to stay the night. I organised a dinner at CASA ITALIA restaurant it was a eat as much buffet always good. then after a lovely dinner went to the port to see "OVATION OF THE SEAS". sadly it was raining hard. MONDAY 11april 2016. I wanted to see BOUDICCA arrive so woke at 5am just had time to get down to see her arrive. then AIDA MAR and SAGA SAPPHIRE arrived. then back to MCdonalds for breakfast(it was cheaper than hotel buffet!) then to WEST QUAY to HARRY RAMSDENS FISH AND CHIPS. as check in was not till 2.30pm. EMBARKATION. I walked to pier 106 mayflower terminal. A small queue to Check in got a boarding card and after 20 mins boarded the ship. I was shown to my cabin 4128. I picked this as it was close to cabin 4140 which was my old cabin. CABIN Quite a good size cabin. a few drawers, Bathroom with a shower but very little toiletries. A single bed and a pull out one. as it was a short cruise I had to carry the case on myself, so quickly unpacked. LIFEBOAT DRILL. For some reason nobody wanted to tell me the time for the lifeboat drill even the daily sheet said nothing apart from saying there would be one! I went to the buffet and started to eat something when they announced the drill would start in 10 mins! I rush through a snack and no luck getting a drink. Luckily you did not have to take your life jacket so went straight there. It was well done showing how to put it on. DINING. I had early sitting for DINNER I had a table for 6 but there was only 3 of us. I had soup and IRISH STEW which was pretty good. DESSERTS were very poor I had KIWI TART not very good(hope it is cause it is a short cruise) Breakfast was in the DINING ROOM mostly BUFFET but omelettes could be ordered. I found SWISS MUESLI which I like. ENTERTAINMENT. The show was a comedian he was pretty good. SHOPS. Not a great choice I already had the model i did not find anything worth buying. PHOTOSHOP. Not cheap £9.99-£15.00 for photos I bought a few. MISS. I have a friend who draws ships they are very good but could only afford to buy one so far. HARRY gave the latest to the CAPTAIN he put it in the CREW MESS not the best place in my opinion. I did my best to go there and take a picture of it. I also managed to get into my old cabin to get a picture this was hard work as the steward did not want to get into trouble. TUESDAY 12th april 2016. DISEMBARKATION. This was pretty good after I had BREAKFAST I left my cabin and went onto the deck as it was quieter than the PUBLIC ROOMS. I had a lovely viuew of us arriving in FALMOUTH. After 45 mins my deck was called and I left the ship. TRASPORTATION. when I left the ship I was asked where I was going I said the town just keep walking I was told. no mention of a shuttle bus that ran, not great service. FINAL COMMENTS. I enjoyed going on the BOUDICCA again albeit a very short one. Food could have been better. But all in all a good cruise. Read Less
67 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
I must start by telling readers that I am usually pretty shirt if people start moaning about perceived trivial service faults while on holiday, especially on a cruise where so much can go wrong but is usually so right. On this occasion I ... Read More
I must start by telling readers that I am usually pretty shirt if people start moaning about perceived trivial service faults while on holiday, especially on a cruise where so much can go wrong but is usually so right. On this occasion I am forced to change my position radically. I shan't bother Fred Olsen again and the following explains why. Friends, upon whose judgement previous experience had lead me on rely and who had sailed with Fred several times in the past latterly in 2012, spoke so warmly of both line and ship that I booked with confident expectations. I anticipated a lovely experience at least akin to my handful or so of previous cruises with P&O over the past 10 years. Alas disappointment was to be my reward. You board with no ships map so stand lost in the reception area not knowing where to go. After a time a member of staff approached me and directed me to my cabin. The room was pleasant enough but as I explored I found: Large bottle of water-£1.50! No fridge No shower cap, shampoo, body lotion or soap tablet (just liquid). Mattress...not to my personal liking. Dinner in the Ballindalloch restaurant on the first night was OK but not memorable. And tepid. Following a nightmare night due to Storm Katie through which we sailed in gale force winds (later recorded on the 'cruise log' as being force 6!), as a result of which most on board hardly slept at all we eventually rose for breakfast the next morning. Shambolic! Waiters rushing everywhere, looking stressed. No sugar, milk, butter/spreads or preserves on the table. I sat and waited for some 5 minutes for my order to be taken. Nothing. I eventually managed to flag down a waiter who simply said "buffet madam" and indicated the direction. I asked for tea. He disappeared. So I found the buffet scrum and helped myself. The eggs had languished for too long on the hot plate and had set. The fruit was all from a tin. The cereals dispensed from machines which crush everything. The bacon tasted of chemical treatment and had long since been a stranger to the pan. You could get no toast at the table until you got lucky with the scuttling Toast Waiter and then you had to find and flag down the One with the Butter/marmalade. Tea/coffee took an age then you had to keep watching for the Man with the Milk, or the Waiter who could get you a Fork/teaspoon/butter knife - in some cases even a cup and saucer. A complete, shambolic nightmare of a meal spent mostly trying to achieve some sort of service instead of enjoying a conversation with fellow passengers, all of whom were struggling with the same issues. It seems that the clear table policy was an exercise to avoid Noro virus. Why then were we all forced to get our own food requiring every passenger to handle every serving utensil at the buffet rather than have it plated and delivered by the staff who we assume we're Noro-free? I don't take lunch, but understood from many conversations with similarly shell-shocked travellers that it was the same mess as at breakfast. Let's get positive. The Balmoral, once you have a map which was finally located in the 'welcome in board' pack, is easy to navigate and all public areas easy to locate. They were pleasant and the staff extremely attentive. I'd have liked to have finish one drink before being asked if I would like another but perhaps they are on commission, hence their persistence. Dinner on night two. The starters were very beautiful, 'nouvelle cuisine' sized offerings. The soup, for which I opted, was pleasant - but tepid. The main course was a perfectly cooked Filet Mignon, quite possibly the nicest I have been served in many a long day, accompanied by delectable spinach in a gorgeous sauce and a small portion of fondant potato. It was all tepid, but tasty. I shan't bore you further except to say that the main course of dinner each night was definitely the stand-out of the cruise food. Breakfast, in every restaurant (I didn't try the Cafe which was a self-service buffet), even after it seemed that their precautions against Noro virus eased to permit milk, sugar butter and preserves back on the table, remained a shambles every morning. I also found that if you could get a waiter you could order and omelette, fish, or my choice of poached eggs which I ordered with bacon. The eggs arrived on a plate swimming in water with the rim of the plate smeared greasily round with a hint of previous use suggested by a hint of dried egg yolk... No bacon. Notwithstanding, assuming it was a one-off glitch but no. The second time I tried the bacon did too, thus making the watery bath greasy. The smears and finger marks on the rim remained as before. The entertainment was, with one exception very good. The musical shows put on by the in-house troupe were outstanding. (P & O please note. Your Headliners are becoming entirely predictable and missable). There was an extremely versatile and entertaining musician in the Morning Light bar and a very pleasant Trio elsewhere whose gentle, well balanced repertoire was ideal music to listen to or as a background for a pleasant chat. The magician was excellent. The 'comedian' an embarrassment. I know, humour is personal. Well, this one managed to entertain only a small handful of the audience the rest of whom were somewhere between bored and down-right embarrassed at his ineptitude. The excursions were excellent. We were after all in Ireland and the tour guides, and often drivers too, were uniformly entertaining as well as informative. The port talks were only available pre-recorded on the in-house TV. The 'presenter' was abysmal. We were encouraged to see see the 'murials' on the walls in Belfast. I am sure as I made myself re-listen twice to be certain. He tripped, stammered, and coughed his monotonous and unenthusiastic way through painfully unexciting scripts. Oh, and there was no TV channel guide in the cabin and when you could find a programme other than a film or Fred Olsen promotion channel it was of out of date Australian television programmes. Why? One last warning to all O2 mobile users. On enquiry at Guest Services as to why it might be that I could not send or receive on my mobile phone shortly after departureI was advised that FO had signed a contract with a new mobile network service provider at the beginning of the year and that the new company did not currently have a contract with O2. Heaven help any passenger leaving home with a pressing need to keep in touch. You can't until you are within range of land. I am so truly sorry that this, my first cruise blog should be so negative but I have tried to be honest, accurate and unexaggerated in this report. I hope never to have such a negative experience ever again. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
For our Wedding Anniversary we decided to do something special and choose the Fred Olsen cruise "Easter Ireland" and booked a Premier Suite. We could not fault anything (perhaps apart from some of the weather - not in Fred ... Read More
For our Wedding Anniversary we decided to do something special and choose the Fred Olsen cruise "Easter Ireland" and booked a Premier Suite. We could not fault anything (perhaps apart from some of the weather - not in Fred Olsen's control!). As it was our 40th Anniversary we were given the complimentary anniversary package of sparkling wine, flowers, cake, card, portrait photo and gift. During the cruise it was also my birthday so we were slightly embarrassed when a cake was brought to our table on the Friday for my birthday together with the table staff serenading me and the next day another cake and serenade for our anniversary. The staff were superb and could not do enough for us. We asked if the anniversary cake could be packaged to take home to share with family and they made a special box for it and wrapped it with ribbon. The staff soon learned our names and we were often called "Sir, John and Madam, Jennifer". The food was superb both in choice, presentation and cooking. Most evenings we only managed three of the five courses due to the quantity. The ports of call were Belfast, Dublin (two days) and Cobn. All of which were interesting and we went independently rather than take the organised tours. We are not night owls and in Dublin managed to find a pub (Oliver St. John Gogerty) which had live Irish music during the afternoon. The evening shows were very good but I much preferred the live music from the string trio and pianist/singer in the small lounges. Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
‘Easter Ireland’ on board Balmoral was our second cruise with Fred Olsen (last year’s ‘Round Britain’ cruise on Braemar was the first) and our ninth cruise to date. We came back a second time because the ‘value for money ... Read More
‘Easter Ireland’ on board Balmoral was our second cruise with Fred Olsen (last year’s ‘Round Britain’ cruise on Braemar was the first) and our ninth cruise to date. We came back a second time because the ‘value for money proposition’ is unbeatable. It’s interesting to read two very recent reviews of this same Cruise which are so divergent. The top-end suite-guests could not be more complimentary; the outside-cabin guests were to my mind unreasonable. We always travel pretty near the bottom-end – but we enjoy the same food, entertainment and facilities as those who pay top-dollar. Our ‘superior inside’ cabin (£384 each – yes, just £384 for seven days transportation to new destinations, food that only the most churlish would dare to criticise and entertainment that we thought some of the best to date on a cruise) must represent excellent value. Our cabin was fully adequate – and it should be noted that there were some even less expensive deals available closer to the time of sailing. The message seems clear to me; tough it out and wait for the prices to drop if you want the very best deals! For those who book early and pay a lot more, you need to accept that some of your fellow-passengers may not be quite to your liking (not everyone purports to be, or can afford, ‘Titanic First Class’) - but ‘you pays your money and take your choice’! A few general observations: (1) The Captain’s decision clearly, but not delaying Easter Sunday’s departure from Southampton when storm-force winds were known to be likely seemed a little odd; the cynic in me says that the Captain must necessarily run his ship as a business which needs to generate a decent profit each trip and it cost him nothing (other than discomfort for the passengers) to be at sea, whereas delaying departure would have cost the company a considerable amount of money in additional port-fees. As it happens, we still arrived late at Belfast, so a delayed departure from Southampton with a rather ‘pacier’ trip once the winds abated would have been of little overall consequence (except again in terms of cost, as more fuel would be expended if the ship sailed faster). (2) It was very nice on the Braemar last year to see table-cloths in the Palms Café at all times. Balmoral’s rather more utilitarian tables were a small sign of evident cost-cutting. (3) Other cruise lines’ Captains and Senior Officers are regularly seen around their Ship; other than at the ‘Cocktail Parties’, they were rarely, if ever, seen on Balmoral. Fred Olsen and/or Balmoral should think about this as passengers like the opportunity to interact with the Crew (even if it is only a quick ‘Good Morning’). (4) All credit to the resident Showtime Team; the ten members worked very hard and put on three very good shows. (5) Future guest should think about organising their own shore-tours. We sourced on-line a really excellent ‘Giant’s Causeway’ trip at Belfast for just £35 each (as against Fred’s £72 – although this did include an unwanted lunch). Whilst broadly following the same agenda, we also experienced a tour of Belfast (in the failing light) which, as part of living history, included the Falls & Shankill Road areas. To the best of my knowledge Fred’s trip did not. I’m sure this is just one example of equivalent/better value can be obtained elsewhere. In overall summary, another enjoyable week with Fred Olsen. We will be back! Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
We thought we would give FO a second chance having cruised with them before. We tried an inside cabin for the first time as it was only two nights. We have cruised many times before and know what is normal this time we were ... Read More
We thought we would give FO a second chance having cruised with them before. We tried an inside cabin for the first time as it was only two nights. We have cruised many times before and know what is normal this time we were disappointed mainly with embarkation/disembarkation, the food & food service. We use a disability scooter and normally have no problems getting on and off but the "ramps" were step/ramps and very steep, like they set up on the wrong deck. See photo. Staff helped with the scooter but my mobility impaired wife made herself totally breathless and exhausted and her inhaler was not effective by the time she got to the top, boarding staff were not interested so we went to customer services to advise of the problem for disabled persons, but again staff not interested and just said would put note on our file. The menus were uninspiring and the general restaurant service was organised chaos and totally disjointed. For example one person was serving tea & coffee and then you had wait while you hoped to flag down a separate milk person and then try and find the very rare toast person who appeared to have cold toast only. The breakfasts were very slow and food was cold. Many of the staff (There were exceptions) appeared totally disinterested and had the attitude I have only seen of people working their notice out or with very low morale. One in particular, we will call him Mark was ineffectual in seating people, making them wait unnecessarily while he showed others further down the line tables, the restaurant was virtually empty at the time, a jack of all trades wiping tables, serving drinks & toast and never a hand clean seen. The entertainment was OK and there were also late shows, when you had to be up very early the next day. There seemed very little to do during the day unless you wanted to play cards. Some loved the personal service that the smaller ships appear to provide but you can foster that on the big ships also and there is far more to do, its personal preference but the experience will not be repeated. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
I have just returned from a 60s party cruise on the Balmoral, sailing with 3 friends. Having enjoyed many amazing cruises with Cunard, NCL and others, I returned to Fred Olsen after a three year break. My initial impression was not ... Read More
I have just returned from a 60s party cruise on the Balmoral, sailing with 3 friends. Having enjoyed many amazing cruises with Cunard, NCL and others, I returned to Fred Olsen after a three year break. My initial impression was not great of the atrium, as it lacked the glitz and finish of the larger, new ships. We were then shown to our inside cabins, which were spacious but not 'modern'. Despite first impressions, I quickly remembered why Fred is so special. The greetings we had from staff were genuine and friendly; waiting staff remembered our preferred drinks from the very first order; the lounges and meeting spaces were comfortable and well designed; and we weren't bombarded with pushy staff selling drinks/ photographs/ tours/ spa. On arrival at the Palms buffet, the buffet had been decimated by the hungry arrivals (I have experienced this on plenty of other cruise lines). However, after this initial experience we all found the food to be hot, plentiful and tasty. There was not the choice of the big ships (no pizza stations; no bbqs; less extensive salad and pudding choice), but in all honesty, the food choice was ample and we certainly did not starve! At every meal time, we managed to secure seats quickly and were served very professionally. Nothing was too much trouble for the waiting staff and the food was hot and tasty (if sometimes erring on the 'comfort' side, rather than the cuisine side). We were booked on a sixties party cruise and the Balmoral certainly delivered for its target audience of mature british guests. As a forty year old, the headline acts were not to my taste (the headline was The Searchers). The comedy was old hat. However both acts went down a storm with the older passengers. My friends and I found plenty to entertain ourselves on the dance floor and a family 50s/ Rock n roll band. Whilst not the most sophisticated of entertainment, reindeer racing, line dancing, ballroom dancing and other activities were hosted well and good fun. What our stateroom lacked in modern finish, it made up for in cleanliness, comfort and space. The beds were extremely comfortable and good nights sleep was had by all. Our cabin steward Kristine was excellent - available but unobtrusive. We enjoyed an overnight in Antwerp. The balmoral could not have been docked in a more convenient location for the Christmas markets and historic city. Fred olsen makes it easy for guests to visit ashore independently, as well as their own excursions. Antwerp was great for chocolate shopping. If we had more time we would have visited Ghent or Brussels, but we only had two half days in port. We paid an amazingly low price for this cruise and could not have been happier with the whole package. Having cruised with the higher end cruise companies, I would say that Fred Compares well with its own unique charms. If you are after glitz and glamour and 'hyacinth bucket' bragging rights, then Fred will not be for you. However if you are after comfort, charm and genuine hospitality, please consider Fred. I certainly will again. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
This is an old, dated ship that is in dire need of updating. The décor is a mix between a 70's social club and a care home and the smell in some of the corridors is nauseating. We were only on board for 3 nights but had to move room ... Read More
This is an old, dated ship that is in dire need of updating. The décor is a mix between a 70's social club and a care home and the smell in some of the corridors is nauseating. We were only on board for 3 nights but had to move room each night due to cabin problems. The staff watched us move and didn't offer any help and indeed, for the last move, our old room was cleared before we had a chance to fully pack meaning we are still missing some of our belongings. There were what appeared to be blood stains on the carpet in our 2nd room and one of the mattresses in the final room was covered in dubious smelling stains, although the staff did eventually replace this with a cleaner mattress although it took some lengthy conversations with the surly and often hostile staff on reception to achieve this). The food served was mediocre and no match for other cruises we had sailed on. Service in the restaurants (we dined in the Avon/Spey) was generally very good but there were some exceptions and plates were cleared before all guests at the table had finished their meal - indeed it was best to keep hold of your plate even before you had finished to make certain it wasn't whipped when you were not looking. Drinks were a reasonable price but service in the lounges was exceptionally slow, even at times when they were not busy. On an evening there was very little opportunity to escape the pub singers and quizzes and to experience a quiet drink and we regularly found ourselves moving table to escape raucous groups and screeching. Overall we booked this cruise with an open mind as we had heard some very positive things about the company. However we were extremely disappointed in the whole experience and will never contemplate a Fred Olsen Cruise again. There are much better operators out there for the same price and who offer far superior ships, better rooms, dining and overall experience. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
We went on a mini cruise and were upgraded. However the bathroom in the cabin was awful cracked tiles and vanity units. Don't what we would have had if we weren't upgraded!! The door of the cabin had to be checked when we left ... Read More
We went on a mini cruise and were upgraded. However the bathroom in the cabin was awful cracked tiles and vanity units. Don't what we would have had if we weren't upgraded!! The door of the cabin had to be checked when we left the cabin as it did not close properly. Every morning there was noise outside our cabin I think they were cleaning the outside of the Ship!! Could this not have been done before we boarded. The chamber maid acme in to do our room while we were getting ready for dinner which was strange. The staff were friendly and food good but the Ship needs a major overhaul. Our luggage should have been taken off and put together as we were travelling in a group. However my cases were lost for a while and were scuffed and dirty when found (annoying because they are new). Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2015
This was a short 3 night cruise to Dublin & Waterford, and as the embarkation was running late we boarded about 4pm. Once on board we went to our cabins which were lovely and clean to unpack. We them went to find some food as we ... Read More
This was a short 3 night cruise to Dublin & Waterford, and as the embarkation was running late we boarded about 4pm. Once on board we went to our cabins which were lovely and clean to unpack. We them went to find some food as we hadn't eaten since breakfast, however this proved to be a problem as it had all gone! We had to wait, along with many others, for more sandwiches etc. to be brought out. One small tray at a time. Food was in plentiful supply for the rest of the cruise and lovely. We enjoyed the entertainment with several excellent acts and danced the night away in the Lido Lounge. The entertainment staff were very good and also host dancers made sure that we were on the dance floor with them. Yes, the ship is an older ship and not ultra modern like some others but it was kept very clean at all times. Unfortunately the same could not be said for the organisation. When disembarking to go into Dublin, we had to queue for over an hour just to get off the ship. The following day we went to Waterford and got on the shuttle bus after a short wait. However our return was horrendous, we returned to where the coach was to pick us up only to wait over an hour in the pouring rain, we then decided to phone for a taxi to take us back to the ship. Several other taxis were also ordered as 30+ people were also waiting. When we did eventually arrive back the end of lunch time was fast approaching so this had to be extended for us however some were too late so they were given free room service. Having said this we would go on Black Watch again as the ship is small, kept lovely & clean and more suitable for us. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
We have just returned from a round britain cruise on Breamar. First the good points. The food in the thistle restaurant on most occasions was some of the best we have ever had on cruise lines. The staff were excellent and the ... Read More
We have just returned from a round britain cruise on Breamar. First the good points. The food in the thistle restaurant on most occasions was some of the best we have ever had on cruise lines. The staff were excellent and the balcony cabins large with good storage. Now the bad points. Breamar was a vast 800 person floating old peoples home. The cabin "bathrooms were so small and poorly designed that you could nor swing round let alone swing a cat as well. The gents public toilets had a dark and dingy appearance badly appointed and when I went to use them I was always treading in what I know was not water. The ship is small and bars are always full on quiz times (conducted by a screeching member of staff ). The theatre, is just a large airless room. and the "casino is two tables and no slotts at all again hosted by two members of staff with not the slightest bit of charisma at all. The ticket collection for shore excursions was a farce. no one was quite sure what they were doing. We will never go on a Fred Olsen cruise ever again and I hope anyone thinking of doing so to think hard to make sure this is a cruise for you Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
Having worked for four years in P&Os iconic ss Canberra, including her farewell cruise in 1998 prior to her being decommissioned, I have always avoided the temptation of a cruise holiday; party because I had 'been there and done ... Read More
Having worked for four years in P&Os iconic ss Canberra, including her farewell cruise in 1998 prior to her being decommissioned, I have always avoided the temptation of a cruise holiday; party because I had 'been there and done that' albeit from a different perspective, and also because I feared I would spend too much time complaining that 'it isn't like it used to be...' However a partner keen to cruise, a twenty year time gap and a curiosity to see how things had changed, combined to weaken my resolve. What I thought they did well: Firstly, the crew. I know it's a cliché, but the mainly Indian, Filipino and Thai crew could not have worked harder or done more to make our cruise enjoyable. They were friendly, engaging, always appeared happy and managed to remember our names and our favourite drinks. I really could not fault them. Our cabin: we booked a modest deck 2 outside cabin, which was surprisingly spacious and well appointed, though slightly dated decor-wise. The cabin was clean and our cabin steward(ess) (Kitty) was a delight. Even a severe flood requiring a cabin change on the last night was well-handled, with housekeeping staff appointed to help us pack and move. A letter of apology and a £50 credit to our on-board account to apologise for the inconvenience was a nice way to defuse any irritation we may have felt. Food: I thought the food was absolutely first rate. Every day I ordered breakfast from the menu rather than the buffet, and I could not fault it if I tried. The galley even made a slight adjustment to their kedgeree recipe to suit my spicier palate. Lunch as usually taken in the buffet or shore-side when alongside. The buffet was good with plenty of choice. Afternoon Tea (only taken twice) was perhaps the weakest offer - sandwiches were tasty but a but clunky and unrefined, the cake selection was limited, the scones were not the best (a bit dry) and served with UHT whipped cream, which as a shame given we were in port six of ten days so obtaining fresh stores should not have been a problem. Dinner, however, was the highlight of the day; we were lucky to have 4 great table companions whose company we enjoyed and who each added a different perspective to the conversation. Our Head Waiter (Xavier) and the Commis Waiter (Ryan) were efficient, charming and friendly. Each night we had a five course menu, with three to six choices of each. In total we had ten meals on board and I don't think I once left the restaurant unhappy. Full marks and thank you to all concerned. Guest entertainers: we had some super guest entertainers, including Leo Shavers (musician) whose impromptu jazz session was superb. The classical pianist was good, though I would like to have heard more of him, as was the Welsh baritone singer - both of whose names have slipped my mind (sorry). I also greatly appreciated the bridge lessons, which has whetted my appetite for the game. The Braemar Orchestra and the cocktail pianist were also super. Disembarkation: this morning we woke at 7am, were showered and packed by 7.45am and we're in our car on the way home by 8.45am. It could not have gone better. What I didn't like: Having been effusive in my praise for what I felt was done well, I will be equally honest in highlighting what I didn't like. Braemar Show Company: in fairness, a few of them put their heart and soul into the shows, but generally I thought their productions were uninspiring and badly choreographed and the team were very young and lacked believe-ability. Sadly I felt most of them didn't really want to be there and made little effort to hide the fact. Reception (Purser's Desk): I had little dealing with the front desk, apart from towards the end of the cruise when I noticed a billing error. We had upgraded to the 'all inclusive' drinks package for an additional £10 per person per night, this allowed complimentary 'house' drinks and 50% discount on branded drinks, cocktails and wine. When I checked my account on day 8 I noticed they had charged for all drinks. I raised this with the front desk, and rather than apologising and promising to investigate the error, I was asked if I could 'prove' we had paid for the all-inclusive package. I informed the receptionist that I was able to do so as I had just checked my online bank statement and I could see the £200 additional payment leaving my account. Having insulted me once by asking me to prove my case, she then insulted me again by asking how I was able to access my account as the ship's satellite wasn't working (for the record I had international data roaming and was able to access via my Blackberry). Having convinced her I was telling the truth I was then told that they would have to re-enter all our purchases with the relevant discount and we shouldn't order any drinks until this was done. Given this was an error wholly of the company's making, to have a member of staff twice infer I was lying and then to cause me further inconvenience whilst they sorted out an error of their own making, was a poor show. I honestly do not think they could have handled the situation more badly than they did. Show timings: it was also a slightly irritating that passengers on second sitting (8.30pm) had to watch the cabaret at 7.30pm (before dinner) with first sitting passengers watching the cabaret at 8.30pm. Personally, I like to relax with a glass of champagne or a cocktail and chat with my partner/friends pre-dinner - which I couldn't do unless I missed the cabaret. Nor did I particularly want to watch a jazz show or a comedian at 7.30pm before eating. I understand second sitting passengers usually watch a later show and it had been changed for this cruise. If so, I don't think it worked very well. Visibility of Senior Officers; my final gripe was the total lack of visibility of the 4 stripe officers on board. This might be a throw-back to my P&O days, but I would have expected to see the ship's senior management out and about in public areas most evenings, even if only for an hour pre-dinner. Apart from the welcome aboard Cocktail Party I didn't see the Captain, First Officer or Purser once during the whole cruise, which I thought was surprising and disappointing. Overall, despite the above complaints we had a super time. Would I cruise again? Much to my surprise, the answer is yes. And I would also happily cruise with Fred. Olsen in Braemar again. However the bar tenders, the stewards and the waiters were far better ambassadors for the company than the ships' officers and deserve to be acknowledged as such. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
We were attracted to this most enjoyable cruise (our eighth - we have previously sailed only with Cunard and P & O) for three reasons: (1) the dates (working patterns only allow school holidays); (2) the destinations (we had never ... Read More
We were attracted to this most enjoyable cruise (our eighth - we have previously sailed only with Cunard and P & O) for three reasons: (1) the dates (working patterns only allow school holidays); (2) the destinations (we had never before explored our own islands); (3) the price (we secured an excellent late deal for an inside cabin, which more than met our own requirements since we were really only ever there to sleep). As a 60-something male and 50-something female, we had expected that we would most likely be at the lower-end of the age-spectrum amongst the passengers (the ship sailed full). This turned out to be correct, with the average age of passengers on this particular cruise estimated at between 70 and 75 - almost without exception being able-bodied (this is not a discriminatory comment; the reality is that being a small ship, there is only very limited availability of wheelchair-adapted cabins, so the recommendation is to book early and at full-cost if wheelchair-access is required). Although living near Southampton, somewhat ironically this cruise departed from Dover! My recommendation is to buy the slightly more expensive quayside car parking since it is only a short walk to the ship, which for us proved to be important as we met with some unexpected delays on the drive to Dover and were almost the last to board. 'Braemar' is a very nice ship with a friendly feel and an attentive crew. Its smaller size was very much to our liking, but it may be less attractive to younger travelers looking for more 'excitement' in the way of facilities and entertainment (no zip-wires and the like - thank goodness!). The whole cruise-experience was punctuated by the excellent dining, with dinner being the highlight. We were second-sitting diners (at 8.30), which is always our preference as it allows the opportunity for being ashore longer at the port-stops and pre-dinner usage of the newly-equipped gym (generally empty on this cruise, being a reflection of the age of the travellers) etc. It was really nice to again have 'fixed seating' at dinner (there has been too much of a move to 'open seating' - even for dinner - on other cruise lines) and with no entirely separate 'buffet restaurants', breakfast, lunch and tea were all very civilised affairs (to an 'open seating' basis) in the restaurants, where all tables were graced with linen tablecloths and nicely-laid cutlery at all times. In our assessment, the quality of the food was very high and anyone finding grounds for criticism would be being churlish in the extreme. There were two aspects of the cruise which - for us - carried elements of disappointment. Firstly, the cruise bore the descriptive-title 'Highland Games and Royal Military Tattoo', which set the expectations around likely highlights. In reality, tours for both were not necessarily freely-available, although we managed to secure trips to both (at rather inflated prices relative to the actual ticket-costs - but the convenience of the coach transfers etc. made the expense worthwhile). The Tattoo was wonderful, but the Highland Games (reached from Greenock) were singularly underwhelming (it would perhaps be unkind to say as much, but I have seen bigger village fetes!) and in our view this event had definitely been 'talked-up' too much by Fred Olsen in the brochure. We cut-short the excursion and made our own way back to the ship (obviously having firstly informed the organisers of our intentions). Secondly, the brochure description gave a lot of space to the day of 'scenic cruising' around the Western Isles. True, the sea was a little lumpy on the day, but it came as a surprise when the captain 'for reasons of safety' announced that he would be bypassing the scenic route which meant that we missed all of the wonderful views that we had been looking forward to seeing (despite rather damp and misty conditions). The narrowest passage - to me - looked wider than many Norwegian fjords which are regularly navigated by the cruise-liners, so this was a definite disappointment. Doubtless there is something in the brochure small-print which covers the captain's right to vary the cruise and safety is clearly paramount, but I believe that the brochure should have been heavily-asterisked around this particular part of the cruise-itinerary to the effect 'subject to prevailing conditions' in order that expectations should have been appropriately managed. Of the two other port-calls, the Orkney Islands were especially lovely and Dublin was a very pleasant surprise, being a compact and bustling city with many intersting discoveries. We had organised-tours at all stops, but also 'did our own thing' given the (pleasing) two-day stays at both Edinburgh and Dublin. Whilst this review has only concentrated on a few aspects of our cruise, in summary we have absolutely no hesitation in recommending Fred Olsen - and 'Braemar' in particlular - and we will undoubtedly sail with Fred again in the future. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
Changed cabin after 1st night due to vibration and noise (deck 4) Changed ports of call due to bad weather, visited Santander instead of Sans Sebastian informed quicly and given the chance to book on new tours. New cabin great, both ... Read More
Changed cabin after 1st night due to vibration and noise (deck 4) Changed ports of call due to bad weather, visited Santander instead of Sans Sebastian informed quicly and given the chance to book on new tours. New cabin great, both cabins really clean; reception staff very helpful. Excellent staff and wonderful crew, good food; buffet kept open for us when the coach was late back from tour. Booked again for October 16 but on deck 6 this time Good value for money, shops on board needed to be better, shows were as expected. Welsh male choir on board very entertaining. Great visit to Bilbao very informative tour guide needed more time. In france stopped at La Rochelle and visited Courban Castle great tour informative but wanted time in the shops to buy souveniers. Great day exploring Santander on our own. Very clean city, found the bank! Travelled there and back by Eavesway coaches excellent Read Less
18 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2015
I went on a previous cruise in March - see my review "Absolutely magical experience" - this time with my wife, so the previous cruise was fresh in my mind and my descriptions in hers. This time departing from Rosyth, we found ... Read More
I went on a previous cruise in March - see my review "Absolutely magical experience" - this time with my wife, so the previous cruise was fresh in my mind and my descriptions in hers. This time departing from Rosyth, we found the port facilities inferior to before when I departed from Southampton, although actual embarkation was much more painless.There is no left luggage facility which made if complicated sending luggage ahead. It was not made clear that there is no taxi rank at the small Rosyth station, better to stop off at Inverkeithing which is a more major station (indeed some of the London trains stop there). The actual cruise got off to a slow start because the first and second days were taken up with port visits - there was no captain's welcome until the third night (and the captain couldn't even come to that) - this meant that ship-bound activities such as Bridge and similar (which we were looking forward to) didn't start until the third day, which was very disappointing, for example for disabled people unable to go on trips. The "at sea" days where there were more activities so crowded the timetable that many things we wanted to go to all clashed. The Bridge sessions were very well-run and enjoyable. Having come up from London on the train, we were disinclined to launch into 4-hour bus trips to Loch Ness and such on the first full day so we stayed on-board feeling we were wasting time. However with the first sea day things picked up well. We didn't end up going on port excursions as we chickened out of going on tenders to some places and I had had the experience of missing trips I'd booked because of injury before. I thought that the food, although very good, wasn't quite in the same league as before. The soups weren't as good and the desserts were mostly very disappointing. The main courses remained excellent. Unlike before there wasn't wholemeal bread, which we like, and none of the speciality breads such as walnut were on offer. We took out the "all-inclusive drinks package" which was a huge mistake. The only things included in the price for free were the very poor house wines, a cava which we soon got bored with and a limited ranges of beers and spirits. Yes you can get other drinks for 50% of the price (reducing good wines from 3 times the price to 1.5 times) but not basics like tea and coffee for which full price was still applied. I think we averaged out losing out by about £10 per night between us. We definitely won't get that again unless they refine it sensibly. We didn't go to many of the entertainment offerings, but those we did go to were very good, all things considered although the lack of a proper theatre hampered things.There was a theme of a detective mystery run over several nights which was good fun. I even got the answer right (but didn't win the prize). The crew were uniformly good-humoured and friendly - some remembered unprompted my likings from my previous trip which was amazing! Still we enjoyed it enough to wander round to the "future cruises" office and book one for next year - this time on the "Black Watch". Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
Mini cruise to Dublin from Liverpool on Black Watch. Fred.Olsen does not expect passengers on Mini cruises to complete a questionnaire so I'm not sure how they get feedback, perhaps they read Cruise Critic? Car parking with CPS ... Read More
Mini cruise to Dublin from Liverpool on Black Watch. Fred.Olsen does not expect passengers on Mini cruises to complete a questionnaire so I'm not sure how they get feedback, perhaps they read Cruise Critic? Car parking with CPS went well. Check in not as slick as Southampton. Boarding the ship entailed walking under a partially covered walk way which did nothing to stop the area being a couple of inches deep in rain water. We've not sailed with Fred.Olsen before, this cruise was ideal to check out Black Watch with a view to booking a longer cruise. The staff were probably the best we've come across. Their friendliness, use of passenger names, eye contact, made them stand out from other cruises companies. Ships officers were visible too, but not the captain. Drinks were reasonably priced, however in the Lido bar, being asked if you'd like a bottle of wine when you ordered a glass was a bit pushy. One evening I was asked if I'd like a large cocktail, this was served in a pint glass decorated with a slice of pineapple! Mixed age group on board plus a Hen Party who seemed to be enjoying themselves. Menu looked good on paper but not as good when it came to the dining experience itself. Breakfast was poor. Poached eggs, cooked to order, one of which was perfectly cooked the other was so cold it tasted as if it'd been in a chiller. Cabin was a terraced balcony suite on deck 7 I understand this cabin used to be classed as a junior suite before the refurb to include a balcony. The cabin was spacious with plenty of storage, good size bathroom. However the decor was dated, the bath had a sizeable chip which had obviously been repaired (badly) Double bed with two single duvets. Soft furnishings were dated, carpet completed the 'vintage look' The innovative balcony was slightly raised from the deck and so long as you don't mind fellow passengers promenading past you'll be fine. Don't expect privacy on the balcony and keep those net curtains closed! The balcony is a waste of time you may as well find yourself a chair on Lido deck Unfortunately Fred.Olsen doesn't have any photos on their web site of these cabins. Entertainment was fun and informal. Dublin was fantastic, great city to visit, plenty of wonderful attractions and friendliest of people. So, would we book a longer cruise with Fred.Olsen? Not on Black Watch. She may be sea worthy but she is far from luxurious, just a tired old lady who needs a lot of TLC. If Fred.Olsen consider Black Watch to be of a suitable standard for their passengers then Fred.Olsen is not for us. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2015
Did not stay at a hotel. Sailed from Dover, embarkation was swift as the ship was only 75 per cent full. Cabin was clean. we have cruised with Fred Olsen before but this was the first time on the Boudicca. We have avoided this ship in ... Read More
Did not stay at a hotel. Sailed from Dover, embarkation was swift as the ship was only 75 per cent full. Cabin was clean. we have cruised with Fred Olsen before but this was the first time on the Boudicca. We have avoided this ship in the past as it hit the National Press for being struck down with Norovirus. We should have known better than to risk it. Within 3/4 days the infection started on board and when my husband got it, I was asked to stay confined to the cabin with him to protect other people. Having agreed to this, it ensured that I contracted it from him. We missed two ports of call and were isolated until we docked at Dover. Keeping us separated on disembarkation, we were able to see approx 60/70 suitcases with ours indicating many more victims. It was common knowledge that the ship was only 75% full - we are lrft to wonder why. We suggest FredOlsen examines their food preparation as not once did we receive hot food - at best it was warm and at worst it was tepid. We have read in today's paper that the Balmoral has been similarly affected. Olsens need to give this matter priority as it seems immoral to keep selling cruises knowing the very high risk they are putting people at. The entertainment was good, the performers worked hard especially with a much reduced audience both from the number of people sick, but also because the ship was not full. Dining was a mixed bag, due to the self service being discontinued and staff hard pushed to serve. Disembarkation was swift as we were held back for all the healthy people to go off first. We have returned from our "holiday" in far worse health than when we left and we have paid financially for the doubtful privilege of it. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2014
We chose a mini cruise with Fred Olson to Brugge on Black Watch from Tilbury. Check-in is very different from Southampton you drive to the check in hall unload your luggage plenty of help available drive back to Tilbury dock leave your car ... Read More
We chose a mini cruise with Fred Olson to Brugge on Black Watch from Tilbury. Check-in is very different from Southampton you drive to the check in hall unload your luggage plenty of help available drive back to Tilbury dock leave your car in secure parking then catch a bus back to where you started. Check in was fast and easy we only waited a little while till embarkation which was at 2.15.we were soon on board and straight to our cabin. The Ship is very easy to get around and well laid out, there was loads of room in the Public rooms we never felt crowded even at the shows. The staff were friendly and not to pushie were drinks were concerned We only had time to go to the evening shows so did not join any of the other activities, the shows were good. . Dinning, my husband is a Coeliac and the staff very knowledgeable about this , the food was fine with a good choice. On the Sunday with had a Christmas themed meal. We had breakfast in the buffet which was good and as you were seated before you got your food there was none of that wandering around looking for a table. We had breakfast on the last day by 8 am and was off the ship by 8.10 you then catch the bus back to the car park your luggage goes in a covered trailer so you don't have to sit with it. We know why people keep going back to Fred the ships are not that big and you get good service and plenty of space we will be back. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2014
I think a three star rating is fair. We thought we would try this one out as a taster to try Fred Olsen. We were only on ship for one night so the fact that we were late boarding 5pm (ship late in port) and made to be out of our cabins by ... Read More
I think a three star rating is fair. We thought we would try this one out as a taster to try Fred Olsen. We were only on ship for one night so the fact that we were late boarding 5pm (ship late in port) and made to be out of our cabins by 8am made it a very short taster ! Food at dinner was excellent but breakfast was a bit like going to Asda for breakfast. Just a bit dissappointed, don't get me wrong the choice was there but all a bit shabby and uninviting. The usual greedy people piling there plates high with no intentions of eating it all. It just felt a bit like Butlins to me. The entertainment was good. We had just an small inside cabin for the one night, clean and efficient but would not like to stay in it for week! Staff were nearly over-friendly, smiles not genuine but forced. I suppose it cannot be easy for them depending on tips and not liking it one bit. A lot of staff had very poor English which I was suprised at. All in all I am glad we went, we had a good time BUT we would not go again. ps it was suppose to be a 70s night. saw little of that apart from some 70's music being played. Read Less
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