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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2019
Cruise was 5 nights from Rosyth to Orkney and Shetland then back again. Went with friends so a party of 4. First cruise for our friends who wanted a short one to see how they liked it and asked us to accompany them and "show them the ... Read More
Cruise was 5 nights from Rosyth to Orkney and Shetland then back again. Went with friends so a party of 4. First cruise for our friends who wanted a short one to see how they liked it and asked us to accompany them and "show them the ropes" (this was our 4th cruise with Fred. As usual the cabin, staff, service and facilities were excellent and our friends were very happy - the food in particular impressed them. Overall we all enjoyed the cruise, the food especially, well up to standards and [our] previous experience. Only niggles were at embarking at Rosyth - no facilities for disabled or people with special needs e.g. wheelchairs as at an airport. However Fred staff were great and fast-tracked my party (with 2 disabled) through when asked about this. Disembarking from ship was unusually slow and tedious allegedly due to high tide creating a steep gangway. However once again when we enquired Fred staff were apologetic and we were fast-tracked off the ship as were other disadvantaged folk. I suspect these niggles are mainly to do with the port and not Fred as Rosyth is not used much by cruise ships (maybe Fred only?) and perhaps the port considers it not worth upgrading - although legally it may be on shaky ground. I am not certain as to whether our friends would take another cruise with Fred or anyone else. If this review was on behalf of my wife and I alone the niggles would not be an issue and it would get 5 stars - we are booked again with Fred for next year... Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
Delighted to say that on this cruise the regular afternoon teas were a huge improvement on last years which were a disaster. Someone must have read my last report.Still an unacceptable waiting time for orders taken in bar sometimes, but ... Read More
Delighted to say that on this cruise the regular afternoon teas were a huge improvement on last years which were a disaster. Someone must have read my last report.Still an unacceptable waiting time for orders taken in bar sometimes, but staff worked off their feet. All crew members had very pleasant attitude and were keen to engage with passengers if encouraged to do so. Atlanrtic deck cabin was clean, roomy, bathroom/shower room was spacious with plenty of shelving and wardrobe and storage space in cabin was excellent, Plenty of public sitting areas, no need to seek a place to read or chat while at sea. We had ample time in the interesting ports to do visits and walk arounds. Wish we could have visited the Faroes on this or Norway cruise though. Wonderful destination.Wholeship was sparklingly clean and pleasant to live in for duration of trip, Only downside was the state of the public toilets on the ship, they could all do with a serious makeover.Surprising, as the cabin ones were excellent. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
A first experience: both of Fred Olsen and departing from Liverpool. Overall a good experience. Everything very efficiently dealt with and we were put at ease by the professionalism of the staff. The food was very good and plentiful. Our ... Read More
A first experience: both of Fred Olsen and departing from Liverpool. Overall a good experience. Everything very efficiently dealt with and we were put at ease by the professionalism of the staff. The food was very good and plentiful. Our selected dining option was much appreciated. The bar staff were helpful and efficient. The entertainment was different each evening and very professional. The excursions we went on (Tobermory and Kirkwall) were very good - with knowledgeable guides. A comfortable cabin: not large but sufficient for our needs. We had a problem with a very noisy ventilation in our bathroom, which took two complaints (to the cabin staff and then the guest office) to get an engineer tp sort it out. The ship is also quite old and creaks a lot. Our cabin had a perpetual squeak from the door hinges when we were at sea. We also had an initial difficulty with the bar staff at sail-away time. They failed to deliver a drinks order, which necessitated three visits to the bar to chase it up: then when it arrived it was the wrong drinks. Then at our first breakfast, we made an order off the menu (rather than choosing the buffet) and it failed to materialise. After 30 minutes, one order arrived, then after I had finished, the other order appeared. We did complain and after that, we had no further problems. They blamed a "busy kitchen" - but others around us received their orders and had left before our food arrived. But overall the food and the service we received in all the eateries was first class. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Embarkation went very smoothly from 101 berth in Southampton, the cabin was ready when we boarded which was great, so we could leave our things there, explore the ship and have a bite to eat. The cabin was quite spacious and very clean, ... Read More
Embarkation went very smoothly from 101 berth in Southampton, the cabin was ready when we boarded which was great, so we could leave our things there, explore the ship and have a bite to eat. The cabin was quite spacious and very clean, comfy bed and a reasonable amount of wardrobe space. The one negative was the size of the bathroom, see cabin review. We were booked in for first sitting in the Thistle restaurant which was light and airy on a table for eight. Lovely company for the cruise and fairly good service though the standard of the food was very variable. Had to send back food that was either overcooked or dried up. The standard of presentation was also lacking at times. We usually cruise with Celebrity whose food and presentation is a whole lot better. They could produce nice meals, both formal nights the food was excellent as was the buffet lunch on the last sea day, which made the 'off' days all the more unexplainable. The entertainment was, on the whole, good. The Braemar troupe were excellent and the shows they put on in the Neptune Lounge were very enjoyable, a couple of the guest entertainers were not to our taste so we avoided them as well as the singer, guitarist in the pub area who made every song sound the same and just sang in a monotone drone, so depressing. Service was excellent on the whole especially in the Coral Club and the Observatory. We had occasion to report a non flushing loo, that was fixed within the hour, very impressed. Good ports of call though the order was different to the advertised cruise due to adverse weather conditions. We did visit them all though, the highlight being Seville. As the Braemar is a shallow draught ship we sailed up the river and docked in the heart of the city, a cruise in itself! Beautiful city and we were there for the last day of the annual fair and the fireworks, very memorable. Add to this Cadiz, lovely Lisbon, Porto and La Coruna, some very interesting destinations. We took two shore excursions, a tour round Seville and a visit to the Alcazar palace which was excellent with a very well informed and interesting guide, worth the money. The other was a coach to Porto from Lexios where we were docked. Total rip off £30 each for what in the end was a lot less than the three hours we were promised. Do not go on this trip, we found out, too late, you could get a local bus there for just a few euros. Check with the local tourist office for details, they are just outside the dock gate and you get a free bus from the ship to the gate! Braemar is a very comfortable small ship, we never had problems finding a seat in the bars or a Sun bed on the pool deck, and the lack of music blaring out there was bliss, so relaxing. Would certainly consider a future cruise on her. Back to Southampton and debarking at 102 which was a tent, not a nice end to a lovely cruise. Felt so sorry for people in wheel chairs and the way they had to get off the ship via a temporary gang way rather than a smooth air bridge. Considering all the money the port gets from cruise passengers this really is not good enough, time to spend some I think, come on Southampton. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
We chose Fred's Braemar as a short break and the opportunity to try out a different cruise operator. Braemar is a well laid out ship in good overall condition for its age, they are currently doing an upgrade to install a RIB as have ... Read More
We chose Fred's Braemar as a short break and the opportunity to try out a different cruise operator. Braemar is a well laid out ship in good overall condition for its age, they are currently doing an upgrade to install a RIB as have the other ships in the fleet. This is being done during normal operation of the ship, so one area of deck and exit route from the services desk was out of bounds. The staff, food, lounges and dining areas were all good. Entertainment from the onboard team was good. At the start of the trip there were only 2 dancers but that did not detract from the spectacle. The last show has 4 dancers which for the last show made it a full stage. If staying on deck 2 starboard side window rooms mid ship, you may incur the sound of the steam heating pipes for the swimming pools banging from around 07:00 through to 17:00. The staff are aware of the noise, we were offered a change of room. I believe the steam hammering is caused by either an unsecured pipe or a defective condensate trap (yes I'm an engineer and know what steam hammer is !.) They have not fixed the hammering so if you stay in this area of the ship listen out for it. It will wake you and can become annoying. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We chose this cruise due to the excellent itinerary. There was lots of port time, including two overnights in Antwerp and Amsterdam, which gave us chance to have time off the ship and not rush back to the ship every night and the chance ... Read More
We chose this cruise due to the excellent itinerary. There was lots of port time, including two overnights in Antwerp and Amsterdam, which gave us chance to have time off the ship and not rush back to the ship every night and the chance to have dinner ashore. We have travelled a lot on Fred's ship's, mainly because of the more unusual destinations. The food and dining experience was excellent as usual - both food and restaurant staff being of high quality. The set meal times are not what we would choose as they are either too early or too late, but at least the self service is available as an alternative. One very big improvement is the fact that the self service restaurant was open until midday every day so we did not have to rush to finish breakfast by 10am or skip it. The cabin was good and of a good size for a porthole cabin, with enough storage space and a bath with the shower over it. We always used the shower, but there was a lot more space then the dedicated shower cubicles. Unfortunately there was no full length hanging space as a fridge had been installed at the bottom of the longer wardrobe. We were however not impressed with the two occasions when they turned the water off ship wide without any notice being given - particularly on the change over day between this cruise and the next (we were on back to back cruises). The one thing that was noticeable was the poor cabin stewardess. We have always had excellent cabin staff in the past, but this lady was somewhat offhand and not unduly helpful, forgetting requests at times. On embarkation we told her as we were on late dinner 8.30pm (apologetically in fact) and she said nothing, yet knocked on our door at about 7.45 asking if she could do our cabin, when we were getting showered/ready for dinner. She then said she was going off duty at 8.30pm, which we felt was unacceptable as she could have told us that earlier in the day, though we did rush and managed to let her in the cabin about 8.15pm and the cabin was done. Part of the reason for our late departure from the cabin was her very late delivery of thinner coat hangers which we had asked for as the exisiting ones were taking far too much room in the wardrobes considering we were on board for two cruises. The change over day was also problematic as we had received a letter asking us to move cabin's between 10am and 12 midday and put out our do not disturb sign. She ignored the sign and knocked on our door at 9.15am saying our other cabin was ready. We held tight and moved shortly after 10.30 as we had intended. The entertainments were fine for a port heavy cruise and there was a really good young duo playing in the Lido lounge, providing a great chance for disco dancing on occasion. They were very generous with drinks/canapes for the formal welcome/departure parties, but no captain or other substitute officer turned up, which we found strange. Overall it was not a lot different to other Fred cruises, though sad we had to travel to Dover for this cruise itinerary as it is very difficult to get to having to go around London and via some very busy roads e.g. the M1. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We chose this as it was my husband’s first experience of cruising although I’ve been on several. The duration and itinerary were ideal, as was the ambience of a small ship. Food and service were very good and we particularly enjoyed ... Read More
We chose this as it was my husband’s first experience of cruising although I’ve been on several. The duration and itinerary were ideal, as was the ambience of a small ship. Food and service were very good and we particularly enjoyed hearing Adam Reece playing in the Observatory Bar. Embarkation was very well organised and we both felt we benefitted from the relaxation of the cruise. Luckily, we were on a dining table with two other couples with whom we had some most lively conversations over dinner. Our waiters showed great patience over the fact that we were last to leave each evening. One disappointment was caused by the itinerary being changed, resulting in only one day on the Kiel Canal instead of two. Nevertheless, my husband is happy to try another cruise and it is likely that we shall opt for Fred Olsen next time. We didn’t go on any shore excursions, preferring to be independent, but we did choose to book the drinks package and it was well worth it. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2018
Absolutely no disrespect meant to elderly people but this cruioplpse had a lot of partially disabled elderly people on board bless them I admire the fact that they can still get out and about Getting on and off the ship was not easy not ... Read More
Absolutely no disrespect meant to elderly people but this cruioplpse had a lot of partially disabled elderly people on board bless them I admire the fact that they can still get out and about Getting on and off the ship was not easy not enough wheelchairs, a stepped gangway, Dropping anchor in open water and getting on off a tender in ruff water again not easy. Mooring at a pier that could not handle sufficient transport for people to get off with only one gangway. In the unlikely event of an emergency I could see things going wrong. 3/4 hr late getting off ship to go on a shore tour which had to be cut short, disappointing Cabin not as described in all the literature They didn't send suitable transport to either pick the disabled person up from home or drop back home another 3/4 hr wait on pier with no facilities Time ashore was to short Having said that the crew, service,food and entertainment on board were with out doubt excellent. You could pick your own evening meal times Breakfast lunch and supper were available in other restaurants. Entertainment throughout the ship with a full stage and several acts. Many of the bars had singers and television. Internet throughout the ship but it was expensive. Two formal black tie evenings And one meet the Captain night Both very good. You must use the hand sanitizer on entering and leaving most areas of the ship to reduce risk of infection this is not because the ship is dirty it’s very clean and well decorated Cabin was made up every morning and beds turned down every evening I didn’t use the fitness areas Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
The cruise was from Dover so an easy drive from East Sussex, the destinations in Northern Germany with combination of Kiel, Travemunde, Hamburg and Bremen were attractive and it was a good balance of sea days and port visits - an advantage ... Read More
The cruise was from Dover so an easy drive from East Sussex, the destinations in Northern Germany with combination of Kiel, Travemunde, Hamburg and Bremen were attractive and it was a good balance of sea days and port visits - an advantage of the smaller ship allowing us to dock so close to the centre of each city. First time on Fred Olsen and was impressed, the ship is an older one but had been refurbished well and the standard of cleanliness was very high, good crew and excellent food. Fred Olsen is definitely for the more 'mature' client and is very British but that made a nice contrast to other cruises we have made with a more American flavour. Entertainment is low key but fun and we met some lovely and down to earth people. We had a balcony cabin which was very nice, deck 8 slightly restricted view but really no problem, on the whole would recommend especially if over 50 and not looking for the wild nightlife! Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2018
I was about 8 years old when 'Black Watch' was launched under its original name, 'Royal Viking Star.' I remember seeing advertisements for it in my aunt's copies of Travel & Leisure magazine. Something about ... Read More
I was about 8 years old when 'Black Watch' was launched under its original name, 'Royal Viking Star.' I remember seeing advertisements for it in my aunt's copies of Travel & Leisure magazine. Something about the bow and funnel made it seem so elegant. I was marketed to world travelers, and offered six-star service. I dreamed that someday I might cruise on such a classically designed ship. Cut to more recent times when, thanks to the internet, I discovered that the ship was still in service with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, and had been refitted in 2016. I booked an 8-night cruise to Norway more than a year in advance, and waited with great anticipation for my departure. I will say that booking a Fred. Olsen cruise from the U.S. wasn't as convenient as I might have wished, but once it was done, it was "smooth sailing," as they say. I arrived in Liverpool the day prior to departure, and stayed in a hotel that overlooks the port. I awoke in the morning and went straight to the widow. There she was! After 46 years of waiting, I finally laid eyes on a ship I have admired since childhood! What an amazing feeling! Arriving at the port, my bags were immediately whisked-off, and I was welcomed into the well-organized and uncrowded terminal area. Unlike many of today's "mega-ships," where THOUSANDS of people are waiting to be "processed," check-in and embarkation for 'Black Watch' was a breeze. When I arrived in my cabin my bags were already there, and I was able to unpack and get organized before heading-off to explore the ship. The next 8 days were simply terrific! While the ship is 46 years old, FOCL has done a very commendable job of keeping her in great condition. If you're looking for all the latest advances in cruise ships, 'Black Watch' can't compete. But it doesn't need to. It is a classic, and offers an experience that is increasingly hard to find in today's world. Its size is perfect. Easy to navigate, and with around 800 passengers, it never felt crowded. Deck chairs and seats in the various lounges and bars were always available, and an air of quiet, comfortable ambiance prevailed. Viewing the spectacular fjords of Norway from the Lido Deck (cocktail in hand) was delightful. Evenings in the Observatory Lounge or Morning Light Pub were totally relaxing and enjoyable. Entertainment in the Neptune Lounge was fun and engaging. I especially enjoyed the productions by the "Black Watch Show Company." Made-up of about seven performers, each show was full of energy and real talent. The two male singers, Luke Suri and Tom Watson, were true stand-outs. If I had any disappointment on this cruise it is that we weren't treated to just one more show from them. Dining aboard 'Black Watch' was also quite enjoyable. Meals never felt rushed, and the service in all of the venues was attentive and professional. The Executive Chef was frequently in the dining room conversing with passengers, and she seemed to take a genuine interest in speaking with them. Choices were abundant for breakfast, lunch and dinner. My cabin was spotlessly clean when when I boarded the ship, and remained that way throughout the cruise, thanks to my nearly invisible stewardess, Lang. The bed was comfortable, and the bathroom seemed gigantic compared to those found on some newer ships. In fact, my accommodations were among the largest I have seen among standard cabins on any ship. I visited the on-board Atlantic Spa on two occasions. While the space is not particularly glamorous, the staff was very friendly, and both treatments were quite rejuvenating. Well worth the money for a bit of pampering! All of the shore excursions I booked (Lerwick, Bergen, Flam, Olden) were well-organized, informative and fun. The local guides were excellent, and the coaches used for transport were very modern and comfortable. Prior to departure we were advised that our cruise would end in Rosyth, Scotland instead of Liverpool. This turned-out to be a bit of a treat, as it allowed for a visit to Edinburgh, which I would not have experienced otherwise. Overall, my experience on 'Black Watch,' and my first Fred. Olsen cruise, met and exceeded my expectations. Beautiful ship, wonderful crew, great itinerary! A trip I will always remember. I very much look forward to another opportunity to cruise with FOCL. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
For the itinerary and time of going. The entertainment in the Observatory lounge was excellent, Adam Reece who even played requests, did a great job despite people talking over his music which is very rude. The other musicians around the ... Read More
For the itinerary and time of going. The entertainment in the Observatory lounge was excellent, Adam Reece who even played requests, did a great job despite people talking over his music which is very rude. The other musicians around the ship were equally as good. The staff in the Lido lounge were very pleasant and friendly, nothing was too much trouble for them. Also the girls in the Casino who were very good and friendly. On going down to the tender to get off was easy as the crew helped my partner and i took my time walking down the steps and collecting my scooter. We only went on one trip which was well organised . In the future we wont be sailing with Fred Olsens, at the age of 60 and 61 respectively we found the other passengers alot older than us. For instance when i was reading a book i looked up and they were all asleep in the reading areas so i crept out and left them to it. Freds should advertise that their cruises are not really for anyone under the age of 60. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
This is our second cruise with Fred Olsen Cruises, we have been on five different cruise lines, and would say they are all pretty good. We like Fred because it probably has the the most friendly crew, smaller ship catering mainly for a ... Read More
This is our second cruise with Fred Olsen Cruises, we have been on five different cruise lines, and would say they are all pretty good. We like Fred because it probably has the the most friendly crew, smaller ship catering mainly for a British passenger, entertainment was excellent in the Neptune show theatre, a little disappointed with the bar entertainment, although they were generally alright, we felt they could be more entertaining and involve the audience more. Bars were very pleasant, we also loved the fact that there are quiet areas on the ship, unlike some of the other lines where music would be playing everywhere. Crew is particularly friendly and efficient and help to make Fred cruise so good. We had to ask for a change of cabin because our first cabin on deck four was very noisy, no problem, within a couple of hours they moved us to deck five, great, they even sent a member of the crew to help. Food in general is very good, if not excellent most of the time, waiters very pleasant and efficient , you can enjoy a bit of banter with them. We did have on this occasion a couple of dishes that were not up to Fred’s standard, mash potato was lumpy and a braised lamb and also a braised beef dish a little tough, maybe just need more time in the oven. Don’t get me wrong the food is generally of a very good standard, just wanted to mention the fact. Cabin was of a decent size, particularly enjoy have tea and coffee making facilities in the cabin. Big plus for us was the ship was leaving from our local port, so we can be in our cabin within an hour of leaving home, no flights to bother with. We will definitely be cruising with Fred again. Passenger age group would be fifty plus, although there was some younger people on board, not many children. Because of the smaller ship you can enjoy some ports of call unlike the larger ships. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We chose this cruise because it was easy to get to the port from Scotland. The itinerary was good as we had never been to Bremen, Kiel or sailed the canal. The late embarkation didn't suit everybody and the first evening was a free ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it was easy to get to the port from Scotland. The itinerary was good as we had never been to Bremen, Kiel or sailed the canal. The late embarkation didn't suit everybody and the first evening was a free for all. The cruise settled down and we quickly found our sea legs. After a day at sea we got to Bremen. Deciding not to take a ship tour we made our way through a huge shopping Mall to the tram stop just beyond the mall. 2.60 Euros each way into the city centre. It was easy to buy your ticket on the tram. Take some small Euros. Bremen is a quaint German town with decent sights and a vibrant waterfront market. Next day through the canal. It was a very pleasant journey. It is an amazing feat of engineering. Then onto Warnemunde another pleasant port of call. just wandered the local streets and stopped for a beer when the rain came down. We then continued back to the ship. The Captain announced that due to impending bad weather we may not go back to Kiel and the canal but instead head for Copenhagen and home via the North of Denmark. For guests who have never been to Copenhagen it may have been a better visit than Kiel. As we had been there last September for a number of days so we just took the hop-on-hop-off bus which picked us up ate the ship. Good value for those who don't want to walk for miles. Back to Newcastle where our cruise disembarked, although we decided to do back to back with the Norwegian Fjords. We went on the anchor fare for outside cabins and were given 5052 on the port side forward. It was close to lifts and stairs. The room had ample storage and plenty of room to move about. I would also like to thank the bridge class organisers for their patience and advice when we played on sea days. We paid the £2 a night to change to the first sitting for the evening meals. The service in the Ballendalloch room was excellent. The food was always good without being oversold. Here comes the complaint, the service in the Morning Lite Pub went from excellent to really poor. I didn't get the waiters name but he was very jovial and loved his work. Unfortunately the other waitresses did about a quarter of the work of the waiter mentioned and on one evening we waited 30 minutes to be served. Very poor Fred. Your sales receipts will show who was working and who spent their time trying not to work. The Lido lounge service was poor as people would go to the bar and get served by the waiters as the barmen would not take orders. This meant the waiters never really got a chance to go to tables. The all inclusive was good value. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
Like many contributers to these forums, my wife and I discovered "Cruising" over 30 years ago and embarked ( sorry for the Pun ) on an adventure which included 1,2 and even 3 cruises a year, trying every different cruise line we ... Read More
Like many contributers to these forums, my wife and I discovered "Cruising" over 30 years ago and embarked ( sorry for the Pun ) on an adventure which included 1,2 and even 3 cruises a year, trying every different cruise line we could find offering the most exciting destinations available. Then again with "time" we started to "hone" our requirements for a holiday avoiding "Long Haul Flights", the new exciting massive Liners with over 4000 + passengers, neither did we want to tackle the "Wall of Death", "Tower of Doom" or slide down a tube full of water from one end of the Ship to the other !!! So we started to look for smaller ships more in keeping with the pair of "Old Farts" we were turning into. That's when we discovered Fred Olsen some 6 years ago and proceded to have some wonderful holidays on the Balmoral ( 1350 cruisers ) and couldn't find fault with anything on board, although I did have to give up the"Bingo" as I found it too exciting especially with my "Dickie Ticker". Then "illness" set in and I had over 2 years of vascular disease in both legs, and some 5 Operation later our wonderful National Health got my as fit as they could and with much reduced "mobility" I was ready to return to cruising last August ' 17., and chose the smaller "Braemar" ( now repostioned to Southampton ) on a 9 day French River trip to get us back in the swing of things. Now I fully appreciate "cruisers" are fiercely loyal to their choice of cruise line/ship and Fred O is no different, so you may understand I was gob-smacked when I discovered the enormous lowering of quality on the Braemar with regards to Food and Drink on offer. This is something I had read about which other Cruisers had indicated from their observations that "Cut-backs" were apparent across the entire Industry. So, there was the wife and I thinking our cruising days were numbered when i saw our favourite Balmoral was back for 5 day trip to Belgium and Holland ( Tulips & Chocolate ). and with 2 friends we embarked. I have to say that whils't there were signs of the dreaded cuts in Staff ( you could easily wait 45 mins for a drink to be served in the Lounges ) my other fears were allayed and the Food and Drink were O.K. With such a short trip there's not too much I can say except when we did the Keukenhof Tulip Festival in Amsterdam with Fred O., we didn't know that the festival is only open for some 6 weeks and we went on a Sunday the first day it was open !. When we arrived their must have been 600 Coaches a !000 Cars and 500 Camper vans already on site, and we parked a good 1 1/2 miles from the gates..... how I walked it was a miracle !!, we later found out their was over 6000 in the park including half the Japanese Nation. Us Men shared a taxi in Antwerp round the Town and ended up in a local bar, whils't the Ladies went to the Chocolate Shop/ Factorytrip, then got caught up in a 2 hour traffic jam getting back to the Ship...........my mate and I were devistated without them. Read Less
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: 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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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