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133 Fred. Olsen Europe - British Isles & Western Cruise Reviews

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
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
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
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
Sail Date April 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
Sail Date July 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
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
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
Sail Date August 2016
Iceland and the Faroe Islands Cruise this year on Black Watch was an experience of a lifetime. Having read some previous reviews was not sure about Black Watch. BUT nothing wrong, the ship is being refitted in November which will update a ... Read More
Iceland and the Faroe Islands Cruise this year on Black Watch was an experience of a lifetime. Having read some previous reviews was not sure about Black Watch. BUT nothing wrong, the ship is being refitted in November which will update a lot but I found it to be clean, comfortable and the food is still great, what more could I ask for. Iceland is beautiful and the Faroes unexpectedly a great place....all in all I was very pleased with this cruise. All transport on trips were well arranged and the guides marvellous, embarkation, disembarkation very smooth, no worries. Yes I will sail again with FRED on any ship......sometimes I wonder exactly what the people who criticise are talking about, or is it just that they are unhappy people ? cheer up and go on a cruise with Fred Olsen and enjoy life. I will add that I am a single traveller and now feel part of the FRED FAMILY, which gives me confidence to travel anywhere in the world, and I will continue to do so. Thanks..... Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Embarkation went smoothly. Entertainment team good. Meals in main restaurant good. Palms cafe under staffed and food ok. At times very unclear where soup, gravy was being served and under staffed, no clear direction. The lounge areas I ... Read More
Embarkation went smoothly. Entertainment team good. Meals in main restaurant good. Palms cafe under staffed and food ok. At times very unclear where soup, gravy was being served and under staffed, no clear direction. The lounge areas I felt were under staffed, on several occasions after waiting to be served then had to wait up to 15 mins or more for our drinks, which necessitated me having to check that we had not been forgotten. Cabin corridors dents and marks on walls, pool loungers shabby, seen better days and overall appearance of a 3 star hotel, definitely not worth the price we paid. Disembarkation was a shambles with many elderly folk having to stand for an hour or more which I found unacceptable, not enough seats for them to sit on. Excursions we felt were very expensive. Did not feel,we had value for money. This was my first cruise with Fred Olsen and was expecting something better doubt if we will cruise with them again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
This was our first and last time with Fred Olsen, which went to the Lochs of Scotland (plus Mull, Skye and Orkney). The selling points for us was that it went to Mull and offered an excursion to Iona, Portree in Skye (where we have ... Read More
This was our first and last time with Fred Olsen, which went to the Lochs of Scotland (plus Mull, Skye and Orkney). The selling points for us was that it went to Mull and offered an excursion to Iona, Portree in Skye (where we have family) Orkney and from Holy Loch offered a trip to the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow as well as offering free time in Glasgow City. Embarkation from Liverpool convenient and went smoothly. Table size request not honoured. Ate in casual diner instead which was surprisingly good. Didn't manage to get to Iona. Skye cancelled. No free time in Glasgow. Ship rolled at slightest sea conditions and generally very noisy. Many passengers with mobility problems. Would be surprised if no one injured. Tender intensive cruise. Ship moored further out than expected for a small ship. Very scary experience on one occasion. Junior crew excellent. Enjoyed the entertainment. Very much enjoyed the Scottish scenery and warm welcome we received from the Scots. We did enjoy our time on Orkney, Kelvingrove Museum and Dunrobin Castle. Generally felt excursions overpriced compared to other companies. Sorry but Fred isn't for us. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Recently cruised from Rosyth to France, Sapin and Portugal. I found the whole thing to be the best holiday I ever had. ALL the staff greeted you with a genuine smile unlike some airline staff who put on a "painted" smile. More ... Read More
Recently cruised from Rosyth to France, Sapin and Portugal. I found the whole thing to be the best holiday I ever had. ALL the staff greeted you with a genuine smile unlike some airline staff who put on a "painted" smile. More importantly you were called by your name so you felt more of a person rather than just being a number. Houskeeping staff attended to the cabin twice a day and the waiting staff were efficient and could not do enough for you. The entertainment was top class and there was plenty organised activities throughout the day. Yes, the Black Watch may be an older ship compared to the mammoth ships sailing today, but this just added to the friendliness amongst the crew and passengers. I have booked with the Black Watch for 2018 and intend to do so for as long as I can. Long may the Black Watch continue to sail the seas from Rosyth! Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We embarked and spent 2 days at sea eventually arriving at Lorient. This was our first disappointment, not a thing was open. A total waste of time The ports in Spain (Gexto,Aviles & El Ferrol) where excellent choices as well as ... Read More
We embarked and spent 2 days at sea eventually arriving at Lorient. This was our first disappointment, not a thing was open. A total waste of time The ports in Spain (Gexto,Aviles & El Ferrol) where excellent choices as well as Leixios (Oporto)in Portugal. This was followed by another 2 days at sea on the way to Honfleuer which was a quaintly pretty town but extremely expensive 10 Euros for 2 coffees. This was followed bt 1 1/2 days at sea to disembark at Rosyth. The cabin (4045) was comfortable and clean with a daily news sheet supplied in the evening. Overall the food, Staff and Shows where faultless. The downsides were. To many days just cruising designed so you spend money in the ship on very overpriced items. Overpriced Tours which most were walkabouts. We only took one which was a half day from the ship to Oporto which cost £15 a Taxi was 8 Euros. WiFi was adequate however should really be apart of the package. I paid £100 for 10 days. Although I have a few gripes we did enjoy the cruise The ship is more suited to short cruises as it feels a bit cramped on sea days when all 700+ passengers are looking for suitable seats to relax in. Read Less
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
Sail Date October 2016
Calling this cruise Irish Markets was a joke. First stop Falmouth which I must admit I enjoyed very much lovely day & very quaint shops. Next stop Dublin not a Christmas stall in sight oh yes one. Our last stop Cobh for Cork very ... Read More
Calling this cruise Irish Markets was a joke. First stop Falmouth which I must admit I enjoyed very much lovely day & very quaint shops. Next stop Dublin not a Christmas stall in sight oh yes one. Our last stop Cobh for Cork very disappointing Christmas market consisted of fruit & veg & meat stalls oh yes & one chocolate stall so how they can call this Irish Christmas market cruise beggars believe. My cabin steward was one of the most unfriendly one's I have ever come across I have been on quite a few cruises & normally they are lovely friendly & cannot do enough for you. My friend & I were on a table with 5 other super friendly ladies our waiter was the worse I have ever come across everything we asked for took for ever to come at one point we got up & got our own wine as we had waited 25 mins for a refill but to flip the coin he had far to many tables to wait on. I would definitely have second thoughts about sailing with Fred Olsen again Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We chose this cruise as it was advertised as an Irish Christmas Markets Cruise.Unfortunately there were NO Christmas Markets.Even after submitting an E-Mail to Fred Olsen with a copy from the Office of Tourism for Ireland stating that ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was advertised as an Irish Christmas Markets Cruise.Unfortunately there were NO Christmas Markets.Even after submitting an E-Mail to Fred Olsen with a copy from the Office of Tourism for Ireland stating that there were no Christmas Markets in Dublin the company will still not accept their advertising was wrong and apologise! Apart from the lack of advertised Christmas Markets the cruise was average.The food was reasonable although I did not like being shepherded to a table at breakfast when we wished to sit elsewhere.The entertainment was good especially the comedienne who was brilliant and throughout his act made numerous references to the lack of Christmas Markets.This was the first cruise I had been on where the passengers had to pay for a shuttle bus into the town centre and the organisation for this was ludicrous!! with the queue going up and down the corridors, we eventually returned our tickets and walked into town.This was my first experience of Fred Olsen Cruises and will certainly be my last!!. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We regularly cruise with Fred and would normally give an excellent rating but not this time. The food was excellent as were the waiters and the staff, the cabin was to the usual comfortable standard but from there on it all goes ... Read More
We regularly cruise with Fred and would normally give an excellent rating but not this time. The food was excellent as were the waiters and the staff, the cabin was to the usual comfortable standard but from there on it all goes downhill. The ship is very much still a "work in progress". The TV system kept giving the information "LAN lost" and closed down, even in port, so the problem with satellite explanation does not wash. We reported this regularly to reception and even missed part of the Queens Christmas speech because of it,but it was no better at the end of the cruise. Because of the weather, or so we were told, the itinerary regularly changed. The announcements were made on the ships system but did not sound in our cabin. This was regularly reported to reception. We were told how it should be set. In the end someone came to our cabin, set it differently to the instruction given to us at reception. On Boxing day we were supposed to enter the Port of Tyne early in the morning. We did not, instead we went to breakfast with the boat turning in a tight circle and the restaurant floor some degrees from horizontal. Later, up in the aft lounge, deck 7 it was noted that the new glass doors no longer stayed closed. By the evening it was realized that wooden wedges would solve the problem. They were still there at the end of our cruise. How could this possibly happen. The simple fact is that the ship should not have been put to service until after it had been thoroughly tested and any snagging required carried out. This was obviously not the case as other cruisers, on the first cruse have confirmed. It is now on a world cruise I wonder if the snags have been dealt with yet. The director of product and services has sent me a letter, full of apologies, but the only compensation she will offer is the equivalent of 20% of this cruise price off of a future booking made before 30th June 2017, otherwise no compensation what so ever. It appears that because some of the problems (obviously not the lack of a full test) were not of Fred's making that is it! O dear Fred you have blotted your copy book. Such a pity because the organization normally gives such good service. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Wanted to see the UK from a different angle. But the weather had other ideas. Within 24hours of sailing advised there would changes due to Royal Navy having our bearth at Southampton. So we had Portsmouth then Plymouth instead. OH ... Read More
Wanted to see the UK from a different angle. But the weather had other ideas. Within 24hours of sailing advised there would changes due to Royal Navy having our bearth at Southampton. So we had Portsmouth then Plymouth instead. OH dear the guide on our shore excursion in Plymouth - Dreadful, droned on and on. Heard much but learnt little. Got back on board to be told changes to route - all the Ireland visits cancelled due storms Barbara and Connor, so we were turning tail and going to Newcastle upon Tyne, and then Edinburgh - as planned. We booked this cruise because it was going to Ireland - Cobh, Dublin and Belfast. Never been to any of them. So Christmas Day was at sea and so onto the Evening meal - should have been the highlight of the day but it was not nice. Very much more like a poor school/canteen effort. Pity really because the food is very good otherwise. Spent Boxing Day standing off Newcastle because it was too rough. Crew splendid, coped and laid on lots of extra entertainment. At Newcastle told cutting stay short and going to Dundee. The next day told Dundee visit was to be cut short and going to Edinburgh early. Summary, Crew - fab, Food - mostly v good, Ship - showing her age. Tv system - "you was done" an amateur could have done better. Never Again! Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
I was brought up to say nothing, if I couldn't say something good about someone or something. So I will not have much to say about this ship. Built 28 years ago by the German builders Meyer Werft as one of the most luxurious ships of ... Read More
I was brought up to say nothing, if I couldn't say something good about someone or something. So I will not have much to say about this ship. Built 28 years ago by the German builders Meyer Werft as one of the most luxurious ships of its day. It certainly is not that now.. It was very early in the year to travel north. Too early. The daylight hours are very limited. The weather is often very poor. As indeed it was. That does make a difference. We had chosen a Junior Suite. A rather too grand description for a standard balcony cabin. Pleasant enough. Except the bathroom. No soap. Just two bottles with plungers which sent out a thin stream of coloured fluid. The bath would have disgraced the average budget hotel. The bathtaps were bent so that water sprayed onto the floor. The mirrored cabinets doors showed rust and opened when the ship rolled. Which it did. The most irritating: a notice on the swimming pool towels, that they were to be returned, used, to the cabin. If not, a £10 charge added to your account. The room was looked after adequately by the stewardess whom, after the first day, I never saw again. She may have been overworked. The ship's public rooms are quite without any character. On one deck, they stretch between the buffet restaurant and the showlounge, itself plain, with shallowly tiered seating, with higher buckets seats placed in front of the bench seats. The entertainment in this undistinguished room was unremarkable. A comedian. A singer. A dance duo. In between these, the ship's singer/dancer group. They certainly worted hard. But nothing new. Nothing innovative. There were three speakers, who gave talks. One of them, splattered with little jokes. Not good. Certainly not enlightening. The dining. We asked through our agents, for a table for six or eight. We were assigned a table for four. Our fellow diners, committed Fred Olsen cruisers. They explained at length how pleased they were that a steward had recognised them and was to show them his personal pictures. We were pleased for them. The assigned restaurant, set on one side of the ship, was very noisy. One of the two redeeming features of this otherwise less than run of the mill voyage: the buffet. On the whole good food and good service. In the restaurants service we found patchy sometimes downright bad. But the buffet seemed to have an entity nof its own. Pleasant, never too crowded, cheerful staff. The best of this ship. Outside was a good teak deck. But it was cluttered with stored chairs, so walking was often single file. Perhaps there was nowhere else to put them. Perhaps that was why the unbendable lounger on our balcony could not be removed - it blocked half of it. It was a nuisance. Shore excursions were expensive. But we found them well organised by the tour operators. Fred Olsen prides itself on having a very high repeat booking level. I cannot understand why. This is a tired old ship with less than good service. I was told by a guest relations manager that it is due for a £50 million refit later this year. Not much of a compensation for those of us travelling on it until then. The other good thing: the captain. The weather was bad sometimes very bad. We had Force 11 winds. On the way back from Bergen he reduced speed to 5 knots which made us eight hours late into Southampton. That takes courage I think. Would we travel on a Fred Olsen ship again? No. The worst thing for me: my wife feels that it was a waste of money. I feel very bad about that. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We chose this cruise because we wanted to enjoy the experience of the arctic in winter from the comfort of a cruise ship and hoped to see snow covered, breathtaking scenery and the northern lights. We also wanted to eat well, have a ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we wanted to enjoy the experience of the arctic in winter from the comfort of a cruise ship and hoped to see snow covered, breathtaking scenery and the northern lights. We also wanted to eat well, have a comfortable cabin, socialise with like minded folk and to be entertained. Sounds a lot to ask for... but we were paying £270 a day plus excursions, plus drinks, plus a "gratuities charge" of another £8 a day on top.... we thought that our expectations should be met. Embarkation was good.... we walked straight in. The only frustration was that photographers had blocked the entire corridor and were forcing everyone to wait while they took snaps. Really annoying when we were keen to get on board and find a loo after a long journey. Really sad for those with medical conditions and mobility problems as well. Just gave the impression of no consideratioin. The food was generally good but not as good as on previous cruises and we did feel that it had gone down over the years. Highlights were a sirloin steak cooked to perfection and a rack of lamb. Waiters were pleasant but were rushed with little time to talk. We found that the house wine was ghastly, overprice stuff.... smelling of drank tar, disinfectant and drains. It tasted better.... but not much. For their age and quality.... other wines were seriously overpriced and were more expensive than we would pay in a gastro-pub in the London area or a four star hotel with a couple of stars in the home counties.. Our cabin was clean and fresh but our stewardess was a bit surly and seems to be rushed off her feet. We found other passengers friendly, sociable and we made some really good friends. Despite storm after storm, very rough seas and a force 11 gale... we did see the northern lights on four nights. We had good sightings for several hours on two of those nights and were able to take good pictures. We also saw amazing landscapes but not as much snow as we would have liked. Speakers on board varied from the brilliance of a Norwegian specialist who was amazingly entertaining to the monotonously slow monotone of a port speaker and the condescending efforts of a photographer who was living in the distant pre-digital past and who was still advising people to tape a magnifying glass to the front of their cameras to take close-up photos. Shore excursions were good but really expensive. We could easily do some of the same things for free or for a fraction of the excursion cost. The ship's show company were excellent, Elaine Grey, the Scottish soprano. was wonderful, the inappropriately named "comedian" Micky Zany attempted to browbeat the audience who were unresponsive to his "jokes" He accused the audience of having no sense of humour! Epic Moves, styled as a comedy dance act, weren't funny. Their quick change routine was tacky.... like something from the era of black and white telly... and the bloke's invitation to women in the audience to help to undress him... made him more like a male stripper than a sophisticated dancer. Embarrassing. The really sour note came on our last evening when the professional show was replaced by bits and bobs cobbled together by the cruise director... it all ended with him on stage in his vest and underpants, and a mini tutu which hid nothing... dropping ping pong balls two at a time. It was nasty, embarrassing and condescending. He would have been arrested had he tried the same stunt in a local park! Fred Olsen used to put on a spectacular show on the final evening of a cruise to send passengers away with a fell good factor that they had been privileged to enjoy a luxury cruise... on this occasion our finally impression was that the Balmoral was attempting to ape a tawdry, cheap, nasty, second-rate 1970s holiday camp. Read Less
Sail Date January 2017
We chose this cruise because of departure from Greenock. Embarkation went smoothly and our luggage was in our cabin before us! We sailed out on the five night cruise up the Scottish coast our itinery was Fort William, Ullapool and ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of departure from Greenock. Embarkation went smoothly and our luggage was in our cabin before us! We sailed out on the five night cruise up the Scottish coast our itinery was Fort William, Ullapool and Invergorden before sailing back to Greenock. On board the entertainment was excellent with a very talented group of singers and dancers. Food was very good and drinks very reasonably priced. All staff were excellent in restaurants and bars. Our only gripe was lack of information as to where we were when sailing through the Western Isles. It would have been helpful to be kept informed as to where we were. The lack of communication was responsible for most of the passengers not being informed while passing by Fingals Cave this should have been a highlight of the cruise. We missed out on a trip due to not booking early enough I would advise book a trip as soon as possible or risk missing out. This was the first time we have sailed with Fred Olsen and we were impressed with the staff and the various lounges, bars and eating places. We would certainly consider using Fred Olsen for any future cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We chose this cruise because of the river features. It was more expensive but we wanted a luxury cruise. We found out from this site it was a flat bottom boat. We would never have booked as my husband is a poor sailor. He was sick for 2 ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the river features. It was more expensive but we wanted a luxury cruise. We found out from this site it was a flat bottom boat. We would never have booked as my husband is a poor sailor. He was sick for 2 days and drugged (sea sick tabs make him very sleepy) for a few more. Many people were unwell for first few days. Embarkation was quite smooth even though a man employed by southampton dock yard was very rude. Unwashed in dirty clothes unshaven. Shouting at us with out telling us what we were doing wrong. We heard him being equally rude to other passangers. Porters were apologetic. The ship is tierd past its best alot of noise from engins while dinning. Sometimes we couldn't hear other passanges on same table.engin noise bad in cabins. Others struggled as well. Ship broke down on way home. With engin trouble. But we still arrived back on time.WIFI VERY EXPENSIVE £13 for half hour this is just daylight robbery. Fred olsen should be ashamed. Is this even legal. The cakes and puddings were amazing. The rest of the food ranged from lovely to uneatable. Palms cafe not very good breakfast was difficult to get anything hot. Afternoon tea best meal. Alot of penny pinching small amounts ie half a quails egg. Having to buy coffee if not in restaurants or in room. Could not understand three formal nights one would have been more than enough. As the only reason for them seemed to be selling you photos. We did not go to the entertainment as we looked at it on telly and it looked very low key. Also we weren't interested in talks about 2nd world war. Husband enjoyed table tennis. Trips were good. Most expensive same on all cruises. All staff very good very egar to please. YaYa our cabin stewardess was very thorough. The best thing about the cruise was the other passengers. Really friendly and chatty. No bad language or drunkenness. Majority were quite a bit older. But had to admire the determination to have holidays dispite health issues. No children and this is not a cruise for them or really anyone under 40. Overall this cruise was not for us we were bored. Its put us off cruising. Many people loved it. They were very faithfull to the Fred lable. We thought fred olsen were taking advantage of their loyal customer base. This was not a luxury cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
I booked this cruise about a month before departure date. Price and value are the most important factors when I book a cruise for myself. I booked a Single Interior Guarantee cabin for a great price. I didn't think too much about ... Read More
I booked this cruise about a month before departure date. Price and value are the most important factors when I book a cruise for myself. I booked a Single Interior Guarantee cabin for a great price. I didn't think too much about the itinerary, although I of course realized it would be cold. I have lived in a warm climate almost my entire life. Normally, I would prefer an extra month of summer as opposed to an extra month of winter. In this case, though, I made the reverse trade-off. I bought two pairs of heavy socks and a fleece neck warmer. I brought them and other appropriate clothing with me. While we did get lucky with the temperatures and the weather, it was nonetheless cold, although it was never an issue for me. In fact, I often went into the open-air jacuzzis and laid out on deck (as did others) when the sun was shining. The bathrobe I rented for GBP 10 came in quite handy. Because almost everything was so wonderful, areas with room for improvement were conspicuous. I simply can't mention everything that was great, but I will mention and describe the areas with room for improvement. Choosing rate types and finding the best rate on the Fred.Olsen website is one of the areas with room for improvement. In fact, because my credit card payment did not go through (see below), I called Fred.Olsen to book the cruise. Initially, the representative did not find the Anchor Fare I saw on the website and I had to describe how and where I saw it. Another note is that the cruise line only has a UK office and phone numbers. Those were intercontinental calls for me. As noted, I was unable to use my non-UK credit card to book the cruise. I was also unable to use it to purchase travel currency through City Forex, Fred.Olsen's partner. It eventually turned out that I did not understand the relationship between my credit card limit and my bank account credit limit, but I did see, read, and hear misleading information on the Fred.Olsen website, the City Forex website, in emails and during phone conversations. For example, an email from City Forex informed me that their website does not accept MasterCard, contradicting an error message I had seen. The fact is the website does not accept non-UK credit cards, so an expensive bank transfer was necessary. Fred.Olsen was eventually able to charge my credit card for the cruise, albeit manually over the phone. After I had resolved the credit limit issue, it is likely I would have been able to use the card on the website. Back to the cruise itself. I was assigned Single Interior cabin 5085. For more information about the cabin, see the associated cabin review. The one organized tour I took was also an area with room for improvement. Up until this cruise, I never booked or participated in an organized tour or shore excursion. A day or two before we docked at Reykjavik, I decided to book The Golden Circle tour, which included Gullfoss (the Golden Waterfall), the Geysir area, and Thingvellir National Park. The tour was one of three throughout the cruise line designated Must Do, and it was a popular one, with passengers filling up six buses, I think. My bus drove first to Thingvellir National Park. Unfortunately, we were only provided 30 minutes to walk from one parking lot to another. I would have liked (a lot) more time there. We then drove to Gullfoss. We were given about 35-40 minutes to walk to the waterfall before lunch at the visitors center. Again, I felt it was not enough time to walk both available paths. Breathtaking waterfall, though, and the sit-down lunch was very good, too, with soup and fish (salmon?). After lunch, we drove to the Geysir area. Again, we were given about 30 minutes to walk around before we had to be back on the bus. The tour was advertised as lasting 8-8 1/2 hours. The tour started at around 10:00. When we got back on the bus at 15:00 in the Geysir parking lot, we had already seen the Big Three. The only other item on the tour description was a short comfort stop at the village of Hveragerði. As far as I could tell, the ship was no more than an hour's drive away from the Geysir area. So, besides driving, what would we be doing for the next three hours that didn't appear in the tour description? Well, the bus took what I think is the long way back to Reykjavik. We saw some nice scenery, with commentary from the tour guide. Not bad, but I still would have traded that time for more time at the Big Three. Then, we actually drove past where the ship was docked and went to the Perlan (Pearl) Museum. The museum is made up of former water tanks, sits on a hill, and has a fourth-floor observatory that provides a 360-degree view of Reykjavik and the surrounding area. Nice. However, the guest elevator/lift was out of service, and I decided not to walk up and down via the stairs. We were only given 20 minutes there, anyway. So, instead, I walked around the building, which I enjoyed. Nonetheless, I again would certainly have been happy if we had not gone to a place that did not appear in the tour description. I would have gladly traded the time there and the time it took to get there and back to the ship in favor of more time at the Big Thee natural phenomena. Even though this tour allowed me to see these stunning natural phenomena, it was nonetheless an area of the cruise with room for improvement. Another minor area with room for improvement were discrepancies in the daily newsletter. For example, one night, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel was supposed to be screened in the Marina Theatre. They screened The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel by mistake. A few days later, The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel appeared in the daily newsletter, and they screened that movie again. Finally, at Tromsø, Norway, the cruise line's port agent provided a paid shuttle bus to the city center. When I asked Guest Services whether there is public transportation nearby, the woman told me there isn't. Therefore, I bought a ticket for the shuttle bus. However, in a tourist information tent on the pier, I saw information about public bus services and the nearby stop. So, I went back onto the ship, returned the shuttle bus ticket, got a refund, and used public buses for the day. Again, let me stress that these areas with room for improvement are conspicuous because of how great everything else was. Even after paying a low price for the cruise and only GBP 4 per day gratuities, I discovered more and more ways the cruise line provides value as the cruise went along. One example is the GBP 10 bathrobe. Another example: Alcohol. In addition to reasonable alcohol prices at the ship's bars, a couple of days into the cruise, I noticed a form and a display for ordering alcohol for on-board consumption. The prices were higher than duty free, but you can't consume duty free alcohol on board. Over a four-week cruise, I ordered a few bottles of whisky and that's what I drank on-board except for the first couple of days and a few drinks with glacier ice (!). So what that I had to ask bartenders for glasses of ice a couple of times a day? A few of them soon remembered my "regular" drinks of either glasses of ice or water and offered one or the other when I approached the bar. Final example of value for money: Self-service laundry for GBP 2 per load, and free use of the dryers. Many ships don't even offer self-service laundry. This was a phenomenal cruise in almost every way. Only a few weeks after this one ended, I booked myself on another four-week Fred.Olsen cruise! Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
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