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

Although this ship was recently refurbished (newer furniture and carpeting) it lacks the excitement and character of other cruise lines we've been on (P&O, NCL, RCCL). The entertainment was so-so (think community college theater ... Read More
Although this ship was recently refurbished (newer furniture and carpeting) it lacks the excitement and character of other cruise lines we've been on (P&O, NCL, RCCL). The entertainment was so-so (think community college theater not Vegas-style), the comedian unfunny, and the average passenger age was over 60. We traveled with a well-behaved toddler. Even so most people were friendly (only had one "shushing" in the observatory lounge) and the crew was fantastic. We were bored on our day at sea. Even the older cruisers appeared bored as most just sat in the lounges reading books or iPads. The ports were excellent (Invergordon (Inverness), Kirkwall, and Lerwick) in Scotland but I highly recommend renting your own car and self-touring to save money. We overpaid significantly for a private guided tour from Invergordon. Rent a car and do it yourself (with a guidebook if you want)! You can see the standing stones of Stenness near Kirkwall by taking the public bus for less than 7 quid round-trip! We would only consider going on a Fred Olsen cruise in the future if it improved its on-board activities for families. To leave on a positive note, the drink and spa prices were very reasonable. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and were just viewing it as a means of getting to Orkney and Shetland and really were not expecting much. However how wrong we were. We found our inside cabin clean and spacious with a good ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and were just viewing it as a means of getting to Orkney and Shetland and really were not expecting much. However how wrong we were. We found our inside cabin clean and spacious with a good sized shower room. The food was excellent and we found the entertainment some of the best we have come across. We have cruised many many times with Cunard, Holland America, Princess, Carnival, Celebrity and Costa always having had either a suite or balcony so feel I am in a position to give an honest review of the Balmoral. We found the size of the Balmoral easy to walk around especially when in heels of an evening. The crew and staff were very friendly and there was none of the hard sell for good reviews from the restaurant staff or the maitre d. The only thing I would change is the disembarkation/embarkation at ports of call. This is the first ship where both have taken place on the same gang plank but I guess this may be due to size. The ports of call - Invergordon, Kirkwall and Lerwick were good and we were blessed with excellent weather. We toured independently and hired a car for the day in Lerwick through Bolts car hire who had car waiting on quay upon ships arrival at a reasonable price. The age range on board was varied and yes there were some people who had mobility issues and how nice it was that they too could enjoy a lovely holiday. I would definitely consider cruising on the Balmoral again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We chose it to see if the small ship experience was to our taste with Fred Olsen having sailed on many other small ship cruises and also for the Ports that we wished to visit. Apart from from the first day there was no afternoon tea and ... Read More
We chose it to see if the small ship experience was to our taste with Fred Olsen having sailed on many other small ship cruises and also for the Ports that we wished to visit. Apart from from the first day there was no afternoon tea and cakes etc unless you were prepared to pay for them, and in fact it felt as if you had to pay for everything including the water. The ship itself was in good condition for an aged vessel and as we did not wish to use the shore excursion facilities, perfering to travel on foot, I cannot comment on these. I felt the trip was more expensive than other liners and no doubt if the cabin had been satisfactory I would have been writing a good report, but as mentioned below that cabin should have come with a health warning as the bow thrust is normally used whenever berthing or undocking. This is why I have given it the rating of 2 stars. I'm not sure if I will travel on Braemar again, but might think about another vessel. However the staff, food and entertainment were excellent Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
My wife and I recently took our first cruise. We travelled on Deck 5 in an outer, windowed cabin, on Fred Olsen's Balmoral to the North German ports of Bremen, Hamburg and Kiel dep Newcastle 19 November. To say it was grossly ... Read More
My wife and I recently took our first cruise. We travelled on Deck 5 in an outer, windowed cabin, on Fred Olsen's Balmoral to the North German ports of Bremen, Hamburg and Kiel dep Newcastle 19 November. To say it was grossly disappointing would be to ignore the few highlights, but even they are too few to persuade us to repeat the experience. The worst aspect was the selfish and uncouth behaviour of most of the passengers. Billed as 'adults-only' this should have been subtitled, 'ideal for greedy, self-centred and rude elderly people'. The experience began as soon as we got on board where we discovered what the 'Olsen Regulars' already knew - that the light afternoon tea of finger sandwiches and cakes were laid out self-service style. Because the staff made no attempt to serve the passengers, the Olsen Regulars who charged on board at the first opportunity had emptied the single tray of roast beef sandwiches leaving just the egg mayonnaise and other lesser fillings for the others. Mind, that didn't stop the Olsen Regulars pushing, (actually 'forcing' would be more accurate), their ways past those who boarded later to wreck and largely waste the cake display. So greedy were these people they misused the serving tools and instead of serving themselves a single portion of cake they destroyed one or two others which they left for the lesser mortals behind them and helped themselves to a third or even fourth undamaged cake. I'm told by more experienced travellers that this is normal behaviour on cruise ships, especially Olsen. If so the solution is within the cruise lines' control, ie serve these teas so all passengers get a fair share. Hardly rocket science. It was a coincidence that one of the films showing in the cabins was The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - not only an excellent film but also very apposite. In the open sequences the character played by Dame Maggie Smith explains to an American hotel employee who's just served her a mug with a tea bag and a flask of warm water that 'tea is a dried herb that's brought back to life by infusion in boiling water, not the lukewarm piss you've served'. That's exactly what every cup of tea served on Balmoral tasted like, grey, tepid urine. And the coffee's not much better unless you pay extra for it when they actually use real coffee. Again the solution is within Olsen's control, either teach your staff how to make tea and coffee or subcontract to Costa or Café Nero. Like un-monitored pre-school children, guests were allowed to behave as they wished regardless of the inconvenience they caused other passengers. For instance couples spread themselves and their knitting and newspapers right across a four-seat settee and refused to make space for other passengers wanting to sit down and buy a coffee. Far too many passengers using their own powered wheelchairs used the public areas like raceways to the detriment of everyone else. As we were disembarking at Newcastle the queue refused to budge for one elderly man trying to back out of a lift pulling his wife in a wheelchair, while at the same time another, obese man using a walking stick was trying to force his way into the same lift and complaining volubly because the wheelchair was in his way. God knows how many would have died due the selfish attitudes of passengers towards others if the ship had sunk. Now for some due praise. The cabin service was excellent, flawless. The girls deserve a raise for if anyone comes back it will be in large part due to them. True, the corners of the bathroom could do with steam cleaning with an industrial machine but that's a small point. The serving staff in the Ballindalloch restaurant were also generally excellent and are due similar praise though a little more attention to the cleanliness of glassware wouldn't go amiss. Sadly the quality of the staff didn't extend to the so-called premier restaurants, Spey and Avon. On two days my wife and I took lunch in these restaurants. On the first day we chose self-service, on the second we selected from the menu. That day we shared our table with a courteous and polite solo passenger. After our meal we were offered coffee and all of us accepted. The waiter brought two coffee cups, one saucer and a pot containing half a cup of lukewarm coffee. When we pointed out his omissions the waiter shrugged his shoulders and walked away. Other deficiencies we noticed in these restaurants were that waiters removed plates before diners had fully digested their last mouthful and plates were removed from one diner in a party who had finished eating before the others had completed their meal. There is little point in having an industrial toaster if the waiter operating it pre-toasts the bread and places this hot toast on a plate (albeit inside a napkin) so it's ready cooled for the next customer. This is idiocy. In general the food was adequate though occasionally tastes and flavours were rather too subtle and indiscernible. This comment applies especially to desserts, for instance lime and lemon cream item that's bright coloured but almost flavourless. My wife and I took the speciality Indian meal. We assumed that the kitchen does not include a tandoor oven but that really was no excuse for naan bread tasting more like cake. The spice in the curries was very muted and completely unrepresentative of Indian food that most passengers would know. A very poor extra. We purchased the All-in bar supplement but frankly this was not a good idea. Bar staff served erratic measures and didn't always get the right drink e.g. gin and vodka were often confused. Furthermore they constantly urged passengers to order doubles which obviously saved them work but was in contrast to the rigidly-enforced rule that passengers mustn't be served a second drink was the first is on the table. The maitre d' and the charming couple running the bridge sessions need to get some balls. In the case of the maitre d' it is not acceptable when the majority of passengers have observed the dress code for the two formal nights to have to suffer passengers seated on the same or nearby tables who have refused to conform for their own personal reasons. The code is well published and if any diner doesn't wish to observe it they should be obliged to eat elsewhere. Frankly the dress code is unimportant to the men but a courtesy to the ladies who can choose to dress up a bit if they wish. The same criticism must be levelled at the couple who run the bridge sessions. My wife and I were looking forward to learning to play bridge but our experience was completely spoiled by another couple who turned up at the beginners session despite being very experienced players. Their objective was simply to impress us with their expertise (and conversely our mediocrity) and furthermore to criticise the explanation and teaching being given by the experts. In contrast, although my wife and I were only observers, the dance tutors and hosts performed in an absolutely exemplary manner. They were not only skilled but courteous and polite and frankly a credit to whoever employs them. There is an air of parsimony in many cases throughout the ship. For example, doctors regularly recommend the elderly to drink a litre of water per day. For Olsen to charge £1.50 for a bottle in the cabin shows the company in a very poor light The entertainment offered on-board varied from first-class to puerile. The three headline acts, Geoff Taylor, Andy Eastwood and Paul Broadwood were excellent. The second level entertainers were adequate and Howard Johnson deserves special mention. Adam Reece on the other hand needed to practice. Having said that, playing music for others to talk through is a thankless task. However there is no excuse for the frankly paltry concert party. It was amateur, the singers were often out of tune and frankly Bolton amateur operatic society (with which I have no connection) would have done a better job. A number of guests who had sailed on Balmoral earlier in the season told us they had already seen the concert party performances and they were no better even after practice. If shows are contracted over a season and customers are likely to find themselves seeing the same shows twice or more they should at least be warned. For readers with young children around them the leader was reminiscent of the very talented Mr Tumble - though completely devoid of talent, charm, stagecraft or ability. He couldn't sing either. Although only six piece, the house band in the Neptune lounge was terrific. The same cannot be said of the Lido quartet who needed a considerably wider repertoire. Despite the description printed regularly in the ship's newspaper, Amy Winehouse is not representative of music of the 60s 70s or 80s. The music that was performed was too often music to slit your throat to. Even worse was the indulgence by the Olsen company of the leader of the concert party with a solo performance one evening the purpose of which he was quite open about was to provide him with a video for his CV. Again his comments revealed that his parents and possibly his grandmother were also on board and a number of people sitting near us wondered aloud how much discount they'd received. Of course staff discounts may be extended to their family but I suggest Olsen reviews the publicity staff are allowed to give this perk and treat them in the same way as British Airways staff are required to do, ie don't draw attention to your family. Of course cruise passengers realise that itineraries may have to be varied according to the vagaries of the weather. In our case it required us to remain a second day in Hamburg and all passengers were impressed by the announcement that tickets on the shuttle buses on the second day would be free in contrast to the £5 round-trip ticket charge the day before. The gesture was, of course, completely hollow since the queue to get on a bus into the city involved a 90 minute wait in line on the dockside and a 60 minute wait in the Hamburg street for the return journey. Bearing in mind how many passengers needed walking sticks and other aids the parsimony was a disgrace. You urgently need a competent cruise director who knows that his job is organising things like adequate numbers of buses and not replacing the compere at the Palladium. He needs also to be taught to speak clearly not gabble. Clearly Olsen is terrified of Norovirus. I have no experience of it but I do know that the way you handle the refusal of the captain and his crew to touch passengers even at a formal reception needs a serious review. By all means replace the receiving line with a pleasant, personal welcome and presentation but to word it in the way it was unnecessarily proscriptive. Additionally, on that subject, all the chairs in the dining rooms need a serious cleaning – the wooden arms and lower frames of most chairs were sticky. Again, most of the Dyson hand dryers in the men's toilets need urgent servicing. They only dry the backs of the hands - almost no air comes out of the palm elements. A final note of praise: the selection of films available on the televisions in the cabins was varied and should have appealed to most tastes. Overall, I would define our experience with Fred Olsen lines and Balmoral as a better-than-average holiday camp afloat. It had all the disadvantages of an all-inclusive hotel holiday without the single benefit that you can always walk out the door and into town. On the evidence of this cruise, once you've seen one German port you've seen the lot. We took advantage of the two days in Bremen to take a train to Lübeck and spend a delightful and informative – if a little wet – day in a fascinating city, but this was an exception. Our experience with Fred Olsen has ensured that we shall not be cruising again nor going to the pantomime in Billingham on Teesside where the majority of the concert party have apparently been hired to perform. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
The reason for choosing this cruise were many One the embarkation and disembarkation port was only half hour from home so we did not have any extra travel to join the ship.TwoThe ship Balmoral, we have sailed on this ship in the past and ... Read More
The reason for choosing this cruise were many One the embarkation and disembarkation port was only half hour from home so we did not have any extra travel to join the ship.TwoThe ship Balmoral, we have sailed on this ship in the past and have had a wonderful time . The food,entertainment and ports of call had always been good. The size off the ship was also to our liking, friendly yet spacious but there was always things to keep you occupied whether it be energetic or a quiet spot to do a jigsaw or sit with coffee and loose your self in one of the many books in the very good library. The talks during the day also give a change of interest or where some of the guests took advantage and had a sleep. If you needed help there was always one of crew around willing to give you a hand. We did have a problem with the cabin on this cruise in the shower and the toilet, later we had debris blowing from the ventilation we where offered a change of accommodation but told no guarantee that the same thing would not happen, so we declined. All of the problems were attended to soon after they were reported. We now look forward to our next cruise with Fred Olsen Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
The background for choosing this cruise, was a family bereavement. The purpose was to have a relaxing cruise to somewhere new. The Braemar cruise of "cruising the Seine" to Rouen then down to Honfluer, prior to return to ... Read More
The background for choosing this cruise, was a family bereavement. The purpose was to have a relaxing cruise to somewhere new. The Braemar cruise of "cruising the Seine" to Rouen then down to Honfluer, prior to return to Southampton, we thought would fit the bill. How wrong can you be. We booked via a travel agent, a suite on a guarantee bases at what we thought was a good price, then came the extras, 1st sitting and a drinks package. The requirement of a table for 2 we were told would have to arranged with the Maitre d' once on board. It was only after the booking was made I was informed we were on Anchor grade by Olsen. The luggage labels arrived 2 weeks prior to embarkation day, allocated 7008, port side near the bridge. Then 2 days before the cruise Olsen sent blank luggage labels, with no covering letter to explain why. On the booking in at Southampton we were told our cabin was one of several that were being refurbished in that area. Suite 7002 was our new suite allocation, which turned out to be a large sitting area with a small windowless bedroom. We were moved next door to a cabin with twin beds. But adjacent to the suites [including 7008] being refurbished. Dinner was the 1st sitting in the Grampian restaurant, and this started the nightmare. On entering the Grampian no Maitre d' to show us to a table, so we sat down at a table for 2 , only to be told you can't sit there. After handing my cabin card to the staff four times, I was told we were not on "the manifest". We were then put on a table for 6.The staff were not properly trained. When asked what was the fish of the day, he did not know and came back later to say it was Catfish. The house Pinot wine was corked, and declined and were informed it could not be, as it was a new bottle. After a plain uneaten main dish, we went to the rather nice bar for a nightcap, before we went back to the suite. The suite had a large bedroom come lounge area and what looked like a large balcony. I say looked because possibly of the adjacent refurbishing it was locked. The bathroom was tiny and for me, a 6 footer too small a toilet and shower. The shower was useless no pressure. The mattresses were hard and the pillows too soft, I like it the other was round. Sleep was not forthcoming the hardness of the mattress and poor air quality prevented a relaxed sleep. Next day we asked why we were treated so badly in the Grampian at diner. To be told that as we were on on Anchor fares we were not entitled to have pre-allocated table and that our table number would be in the cabin, but was not. No did we know beforehand this was the procedure. I explained that the reason we declined a large table was my partner did not want to have to go through the questioning of " how many children etc." The main dinning room had a table which we could have for diner for 2. This turned out to be by the entrance with the only outlook onto the table for disabled. Too depressing and declined. Diner for the next 4 nights was in the Palm canteen. At least we had a table for 2. The "Palm" had the worst food of the cruise. The only good point for me was the cheese. We also had to pay extra for a decent wine. The best meals were breakfast, good if you like bacon eggs and potatoes. Not good if you want anything but melon as a healthy start to the day, where was the Strawberries, Raspberries and blueberries etc? We never saw the usual cruise dishes of Lobster, Steak or fresh fish such as Salmon. To provide some interest we would dine in the ports for lunch, the L'Alcyone in Honfluer is worth a visit. To finish the cruise, the sea on way back to Southampton was a little rocky, but what kept us awake was the continual banging of the wardrobe doors swinging open and closing. I have gone into great detail on why it was a very disappointing.. Perhaps I was expecting more and was comparing to the 4,5 and 6* cruises we have enjoyed over the years., but I would grade the ship 2* max. Poor accommodation, uncomfortable bed, poor shower. Poor dinning, cheap and limited menus, making in my judgement a not successful cruise experience, and certainly not worth the over £360 per day for the suite. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We have just returned from a trip with Fred Olsen, I hesitate to call it a cruise because as far as we were concerned (and other passengers) this was not a cruise, we booked this quite late as we had some A/L to use up and this fitted the ... Read More
We have just returned from a trip with Fred Olsen, I hesitate to call it a cruise because as far as we were concerned (and other passengers) this was not a cruise, we booked this quite late as we had some A/L to use up and this fitted the dates, when I booked I was told that we would be getting the 'Anchor fare' and therefore we were getting it cheap, they went on to explain that because of that we could not choose our cabin, dinner sitting and we would be excluded from certain 'perks' to be honest it was only for 5 days so we said fine, I was once again told I was 'getting it cheap', after the 3rd time of being told this I finally managed to book it, all the info was emailed through telling us again that as this was an 'Anchor fare' and we were getting it cheaper we would be excluded from any offers, at this point I was getting a bit sick of hearing this!! Embarkation was smooth and efficient, we had a cabin on the 3rd deck, it was small but served its purpose, we were given first sitting at dinner, bit early for us but we were after all getting it cheap, we had to pay for the shuttle service, which was really required for both ports, a total of £30, we were not invited to meet the Captain, but again we were not to worried, it was rather strange when we were talking to some people about the price of the shuttle service we were told ( by a couple who were passengers) it was our own fault we should have paid full price like they had, anyway back to the 'Cruise' it was titled 'Cruising the Seine' or words to that effect, we left Southampton at 8pm so it was overnight crossing the channel, we arrived at Rouen at mid morning, so we saw very little of the Seine, that was on the Sunday, we left Rouen at 8pm on the Tuesday, and arrived at Honfluer early Wednesday morning, so the actual cruise was mainly in the dark at night, Fred Olsen's cruise Itineraries are very basic, they do not give you times of departure or arrivals it is just early/late am or early/late pm, we felt this trip was just to keep the ship moving and fill an empty time slot, there were no meet the crew or formal night, not port lectures no port maps, no guest speakers, no art/crafts, infact not a lot was going on, we have sailed with Fred Olsen on a few occasions in the past and had a great time, but this for us was our last trip with Fred Olsen, ourselves and other 'Anchor fare' passengers were made to feel like second class passengers, what is even worse we were not looking for a bargain, just a nice break from work. On a scale of 1 to 10 we would say a 4, this would be for the nice staff, nice food and very good couple of shows. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Staff – some good some bad, certainly not at the level across the board of the more expensive cruise lines but a lot of the staff where great. Drinks – the drinks package includes so little variety I ended up always paying the top ... Read More
Staff – some good some bad, certainly not at the level across the board of the more expensive cruise lines but a lot of the staff where great. Drinks – the drinks package includes so little variety I ended up always paying the top up to have different drinks however it wasn’t very pricey to top up to nicer drinks. Swimming pools and recreation activities - They have very little and much of what they have is catered to their older clients. Knowing in advance this was a smaller ship with older patrons we took a PS3 with us, on day one the reception staff refused to set the TV up for us so we could plug it in (it needed a different controller to the one supplied as they have their own system that doesn’t allow other HDMI channels) however we asked different staff on day two and they sorted it for us. As this was a Christmas time cruise we avoided pools as did pretty much everyone else as it was to cold. Quizzes and shows – you could turn up pretty much as the shows were starting and still get a seat a big change on the larger ships however the shows were very low budget versions of what you get on larger cruise ships they were mildly entertaining at best. With the quizzes we were lucky if we found one per day so we spent quite a bit of time in our room with the entertainment we brought with us. Photo's & other items to purchase – we didn’t get any pictures done really so didn’t investigate this price. Bathrobes – not available to purchase ☹ Anything extra you may want to pay for was reasonably priced. Food - Breakfast Breakfast in room was ok, not much in the way of queues for the buffet and we didn’t try the sit down breakfast. Food - lunch, snacks and late night food. Buffet not too busy but variety was very low although quality was very good. Food - dinner Sit down meal was largely good quality but amount of food was limited and my husband who is a picky eater struggled to find food at dinner time. Food - room service Food was pretty good and was included in the price which is unusual and nice however it was very much snacks no meals available. Fred Olsen were a good low budget cruise line where the quality is good but variety is limited however the price of this trip was similar to we paid on P&O so I don’t feel the price reflected the fact they are a budget cruise line. Would happily sail with them again but I want the cost to be dramatically lower than the mid range cruise lines like P&O and Royal Caribbean Read Less
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
Sail Date December 2018
We chose the cruise for the Christmas Markets in Europe. The Balmoral crew had made a splendid effort to make the ship festive. Lovely decorations throughout.There were beautifully made gingerbread houses in some spots on the ship. A ... Read More
We chose the cruise for the Christmas Markets in Europe. The Balmoral crew had made a splendid effort to make the ship festive. Lovely decorations throughout.There were beautifully made gingerbread houses in some spots on the ship. A lovely festive dinner and very good entertainers and speakers. Enjoyed the orchestra, piano player, string quartet and guitarist, talks and quizzes. Formal nights with lovely food but good food throughout the trip. Lots of work goes on to make a voyage successful, but the crew including those we don't see are very discreet. Because of being December with unpredictable weather and fog the itinerary had to be altered but as we had been to Germany and Denmark on another Fred Olsen cruise we had been fortunate to see the Rivers and Kiel Canal in good weather ad daylight. Others may have been disappointed, but it is winter. The Christmas markets were amazing. The Tivoli Gardens at Christmas with 'snow' looked wonderful. The shopping streets in Copenhagen were full of people and lights. A lovely experience. Hamburg had a Father Christmas flying overhead on zip wires at the Christmas market. There were sprinkles of snow. Bremen is a lovely town, our third visit. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
The Fred Olsen product is dire! We will NEVER book another cruise with them. When we got home we complained, and ended up being told that we were clearly "not the type of passengers suitable for a cruise with Fred Olsen!" Such ... Read More
The Fred Olsen product is dire! We will NEVER book another cruise with them. When we got home we complained, and ended up being told that we were clearly "not the type of passengers suitable for a cruise with Fred Olsen!" Such wonderful customer service! We're experienced cruisers, but this short Valentine cruise, our first time on Fred, was truly awful. We paid £240 per person, per night, for what was described as a Superior Suite, with the All-Inclusive drinks package. What a complete rip-off! Embarkation was painful. Although we turned up on time we had to sit and wait until called. Not the "priority boarding experience" we'd expected from their "Suite Dreams" package!. It was disorganised, with no-one to meet and greet, and the general first impression was that they just don't give a toss about their customers. Our cabin was a 1/10. We've written a separate review of this. We did explain our cabin issues to a lady at Reception for whom English was still not quite yet a second language! Although we were assured that action would be taken, nothing happened, and we never saw our cabin steward even once! The "Suite Dreams" package gives you a free bottle of fizz (worth about €1,00 at most), a bowl of hard and inedible unripe fruit (green bananas even!), and unlimited free bottled water in the cabin. Be warned though that getting the small water bottle replaced is a complete pain in the butt - you have to fill out the form on the neck label EACH TIME! Never had that one before! Our dining experience was unacceptable. Think Butlins rather than Michelin! They serve the same limited choice of food in each of their restaurants. Service is of the "bored" variety, with the wait staff definitely wanting you to think that they're doing you a favour deigning to acknowledge your presence. Both the large restaurants are very noisy, and we had a couple of tables of drunken chavs close by, each of whom had already had enough booze to sink their ship, and who only seemed to talk at full shout. After two nights we gave up and ate in the buffet. Its quieter, and the food is just as awful as elsewhere. We'd describe the whole food choices as "done to a budget" - the lowest one possible! We also came home with gastroenteritis. Not fun! The "All-Inclusive Drinks Package" is a massive con. The bar drinks menu has eight pages or so; the "All-Inclusive" list is the back half page. There's a limited choice of beer and wine, and some soft drinks. No cocktails. Nothing at all! You even have to pay for tea and coffee UNLESS you want to trek to the grotty Nescafe machine in the Iceni room. To be fair to Fred, we can see that this short four day cruise possibly attracted the wrong crowd. There were a large number of noisy drunks on board shouting at each other every evening, and our escape was to the Observatory Bar near our cabin! It possible that there was a significant number of cruise first-timers onboard who perhaps weren't that careful about hand hygiene, so its easy to see how you can pick up a mild gastroenteritis bug. The key issue we have with Fred is the poor value for money. They're charging a 5* price, and delivering at best a 3* product. The customer services lady who called us to follow up on our complaint was a complete time waster who aggressively rejected all our fair and reasonable points before telling us that we were "not the type of passengers suitable for Fred Olsen". In summary, don't bother with Fred Olsen. For around the same price you can go on Azamara or Oceania, get a decent clean cabin where the bed sheets and towels actually get changed, reasonable food and a good all-inclusive drinks package. Both cruise lines offer lovely "R" class ships that have roughly the same size and passenger numbers as Fred. Read Less
Sail Date February 2019
Boarding was very good, the ship is old and my upgrade to a basic suite was good, but the bathroom needed a complete refurbishment. There were drain smells emanating from the plug hole. Breakfast and lunch were mediocre, but the ... Read More
Boarding was very good, the ship is old and my upgrade to a basic suite was good, but the bathroom needed a complete refurbishment. There were drain smells emanating from the plug hole. Breakfast and lunch were mediocre, but the evening meal was good. The shore trips were very expensive, wi fi had to be paid for and the photographers were over the top. You had to fill in little forms for more water which hung from the existing water bottles. It does strike you that they are trying to make money from the most basic item. Staff were lovely. Captain we did not see at the introduction nights. They did push the boat out on Captain's night, Celebration nights with lots of snacks and free wine. The entertainment was enjoyable. There is a lot of competition for cruising and basically they need to upgrade to be more competitive and review their pricing policy. Read Less
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
Sail Date March 2019
We took this cruise as we were already booked on the previous cruise and it was reduced to a good price for Black Friday. The ports of Lisbon, Portimao and Leixoes (for Porto) also appealed. We upgraded our cabin on the first full day ... Read More
We took this cruise as we were already booked on the previous cruise and it was reduced to a good price for Black Friday. The ports of Lisbon, Portimao and Leixoes (for Porto) also appealed. We upgraded our cabin on the first full day of the cruise to a terrace balcony cabin, which we liked a lot, though sadly due to poor weather we could not use the balcony as much as we would have liked on the sea days. It was a good sized cabin with enough storage facilities and a sit was on Prom deck was one of the few balcony cabins on which Fred does not allow smoking - so no smells of smoke. Cabin Stewardess was good. The food and restaurant staff were excellent as always, and as I mentioned in my previous cruise, the self service restaurant was open until midday for breakfast, so no need to rush to breakfast before 10am. The entertainments were extremely poor on this cruise, especially considering that there was such a long time at sea during the nine days. The entertainments in the Lido lounge were definitely not up to Fred's standard. We are in our 60's but do like to hit the dance floor at times for disco type dancing and the entertainers were just not up to that, though Fred is still offering Ballroom dancing between shows in the Neptune - even though they often only had 3 or 4 passengers dancing there. It would have been far better if they had just run a disco sometimes, but the only disco was in the small hours (1am usually), when Fred passengers tend to want to sleep. It is about time Fred realised that the passengers who are still able to hit the dance floor (those less than 70 or so) are of an age when ballroom dancing was way outdated during their teens, so they did not partake of such dancing and provided entertainments accordingly. No Rosario Trio nowadays and the pianist in the observatory spent more time talking to passengers than playing the piano. Fred are also running 'cheese and wine' sessions now, as well as the afternoon teas that had started doing a few years ago, when they cordon off the whole of the front section of the observation lounge, even parts which are obviously not booked out and this is done a couple of hours before the events. We usually sit in the observation lounge for a few drinks as we do not generally go to the shows etc. This meant that we were left with nothing to do and nowhere to go a fair bit of the time on board - especially on the sea days as the seats at the side of the lounge soon got occupied and are nothing like a well placed. This was obviously done to increase revenue, but I wonder how much they lost by refusing others somewhere to sit there. Even the speakers were not of interest as the subjects were just not of interest. The Captain's welcome party and the one at the end of the cruise were very enjoyable as Captain Degelund is extremely funny and treats all his staff really well. We were also well supplied with drinks and canapes, unlike our other cruises in recent years, when there seemed to be a lot of cutbacks with those. Disembarkation was earlier than it usually had been in the past (we were called to disembark about 7.37am, which is ridiculous given that we had a 300 mile drive journey ahead of us. We did not leave immediately, but the ship was cleared whilst breakfast was still being served. The disembarkation details did not give these times clearly. We have travelled with Fred a lot in recent years, due to some unusual destinations, but we may well not continue to travel with them given the lack of good entertainments and bar areas to sit, which is a shame as we had enjoyed many Fred cruises in the past. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
I consider the price we paid for the itinerary, distance travelled, entertainment, drinks package and cabin comfort (superior interior) was far too much. The A/C in the cabin was rubbish we had the setting off the scale and still found it ... Read More
I consider the price we paid for the itinerary, distance travelled, entertainment, drinks package and cabin comfort (superior interior) was far too much. The A/C in the cabin was rubbish we had the setting off the scale and still found it stuffy and through the night it seemed to go off altogether, maybe to save money- so very poor sleep quality. Obviously we reported this and it was supposedly checked out twice and found to meet the required temperatures. It did not meet ours. We were offered another similar cabin which we examined and found to be no different as it was in same vacinity. We spoke to other people on the ship some found theirs too warm and others found theirs too cold. Never had this problem before and have cruised many times. For the price we paid I would have expected a decent pillow to rest my head on but they were obviously job lot and I I awoke every morning with a creek in my neck - there was no bounce back whatsoever. I ended up having to put towels underneath to get some sort of support. Please note you no longer get branded spirit in the basic drinks package so another cut back making FO even less value for money cruise line. Food in general was good and much better than it had been on our last Balmoral cruise, so you can't judge them all by one. Staff were excellent except for one group serving in Ballindalloch at lunch time to whom everything was a bother. Entertainment disappointing - was a bit on the scarce side and very mediocre. The places we visited were so so, except for Kiel canal which unfortunately we could not go through on the way there due to windy conditions. We found there were a lot more very elderly and infirm, disabled passengers on this occasion. Definitely the best part was meeting some very nice people and making friends. Read Less
Sail Date April 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
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
Sail Date May 2019
Isn't It Good? Day One, 18 May 2019. This cruise is to Norway, hence the cryptic title. Brilliant arrangements for boarding the Braemar. We arrived at noon, were met and greeted by the car parkers and porters, strolled straight ... Read More
Isn't It Good? Day One, 18 May 2019. This cruise is to Norway, hence the cryptic title. Brilliant arrangements for boarding the Braemar. We arrived at noon, were met and greeted by the car parkers and porters, strolled straight through check in and security, and were eating lunch by 12.15. Cabins were ready for 1 pm, luggage waiting outside. Don't you just hate airports? We spent a leisurely 20 minutes peering over the balcony watching ship's provisions coming off the back of vast lorry and being shuttled about by forklift. Also observing the arrival of passengers who had followed instructions not to get to port before 1.30. The Heavy Brigade were engaged in a valiant charge up the gangplank. Stormed at with shot and shell, boldly they strode and well. They boarded, but not, not the six hundred (Alfred Lord Thomason). One poor soul was borne away in an ambulance, accompanied by concerned companions. Better than cruising around the fjords in the ship's morgue. On Fred Olsen, dinner seating is fixed for the trip. We are on a table for six and if the company is dire, you have the option of taking another roll of the dice by changing restaurants. Fortunately, we deem this to be unnecessary. However, we will not know until tomorrow whether the other four decided that we are dire! Day Two Anthea does not get the cryptic title of this travelogue. Her soul must be made of rubber. Made it to the gym by seven this morning, despite the clocks going forward and a smidgeon of over indulgence on day one. They seem to have added more equipment or maybe my equipment has diminished. We do not arrive in port until tomorrow, so we could go line dancing, listen to a classical concert, or win a quiz. Instead, we opt for a general acclimatisation day, i.e. boozing, snoozing and shmoozing Tonight the dress code is formal in the main restaurant and the overwhelming majority of cruisers are happy to go along with that, leaving the tracksuit two club to order another ten rounds of Newcastle Brown. The Romanian captain quips his way merrily through his welcome cocktail party and introduces his executive team. In matters maritime, Croatia and Bulgaria rule the waves, leaving the Welsh and Scots to boss the galley slaves. I am happy to report that all our dining companions showed up, so we can't be that bad. Day Three Our first stop in Norway is the city of Kristiansand, on the Skagerrak Sea. Its most attractive feature is a 17th Century quarter called Kvadraturen. White clapperboard houses line the grid planned streets, the last survivors of city wide fires which eventually prompted the city authorities to require all new builds to be in brick. The clapperboard houses are roofed with orange tiles from the Netherlands, the trade exchange being one lobster for one tile. We then move on to the Vest Adger County Museum. Here they have re-assembled a 16th century farmstead, complete with turfed roofs. One of the grain stores has a removable section in the wall to enable the storage of bodies of those who died in winter when the ground was too hard to dig. The smoky dark interiors of the houses accommodated up to fifteen people in two rooms, but if you were young and healthy you slept with the pigs and cows. A woman's most attractive feature was considered to be weight lifter calves for lifting buckets. At first sight modern Norwegian living appears to be very functional and politically correct. The Greens call the shots, beer is £12 a pint, 58% of all new cars bought are electric, and income tax is over 50%. Suddenly, those smokey dark interiors with a wood fire and a bucket of mead don't seem so bad, especially with a flash of bulging calf! Day Four We rise early to watch our progress along the 100 kilometre Oslo Fjord, a route which takes us past the house of the Olsen family. Our boat is followed in by the larger Balmoral, the new rigid inflatable boats (RIBS) make up the rest of the flotilla and a special flag is run up in salute of the company founders when we pass the small village they came from in the 1840's. The scenery is very attractive on a sunny morning and crew bustle around with early morning tea, coffee, hot chocolate, Buck's Fizz, pastries and bacon, sausage and mushroom butties. Breakfast comes later. There are just 5.2 million Norwegians but civic pride looms large in the architecture and layout of Oslo. The decision to have a royal family was made by referendum in the early 20th century. A splendid avenue leads up to the palace, bordered by elegant anti terrorist devices consisting of large metal saucers full of flowers. Norway has the largest public reserves in the world derived from its oil revenues, and this is reflected in grand scale building projects such as the 'glacier styled' opera house. But the highlight of the trip so far is a visit to Vigiland Sculpture Park. Gustav Vigiland was commissioned by the city authorities in the late 19th century to produce statues for public spots. He somewhat over-delivered and there are now over 200 groups of these in a beautiful landscape. Made in iron, bronze and granite they are a exhilarating expression of the human form and experience from cradle to grave. Some are in simple repose, contrasting with others which are engaged in extreme contortions. High above the city is the Holmenkollen Ski Centre. A new ski jump and biathlon arena are under construction and testify to the obsession this country has with the sport. What an excellent obsession! The word 'ski' is Norwegian for flat plank. Ancient carvings depict folk on skis, presumably Nords winning the Bedrock Downhill. Day Five The approach to Arendal is reputed to be one of the most scenic in the world, and very pretty it is. We berth close to the town centre adjacent to a steep cliff with houses on top. A footpath zig zags to the top. Along this and in the garden of the house about three dozen school children perform a dance to a piece from 'Frozen'. This has not been announced on board but all the cruisers with starboard cabins or taking a deck stroll give an enthusiastic round of applause when the performance has finished. A great way of showing of the best side of ŷour culture. Norwegiansare still deeply wounded by the massacre of the children by the right wing nutcase in 2011. The guy responsible is never named and is referred to simply as 'the traitor'. We take a small boat ride around channels and skerries of the archipelago. The hills and coastline are covered with beautiful forests and white clapperboard houses. Apparently the place has won the European award for the best maintained properties. Almost every house has a boat and this is a very popular summer resort. Today, the misty waters are very calm and the gulls and cormorants have it to themselves - apart from us! We go along with the suggestion to dress up for British night. Escapist patriotism and mythical identities run riot in the sing song featuring national twaddle songs, and there is no hint of Xenophobia, even though folk are balling "Red, white and blue What does it mean to you Surely you're proud Shout it out loud." Harmless enough. Probably. Day Six Into the fjords proper this morning covering Maurangsfjord, Fureberg Waterfall and Hardangerfjord. Isn't it good, Norwegian Wood, hums Anthea, the Penny having dropped. All very epic. The minimisation of humans and the omnipresence of nature bring on a serious case of pseuds corner, an overload of awe and wonder, and a swelling of the numinous. It is rumoured that some passengers have had to retreat to their cabins and lie down until scenic sickness abates. Not this one. In the afternoon we get up close to the elements by boarding a RIB. We don bright yellow thermal floatation suits, goggles and gloves and wizz around Eijefjord at up to 40 knots. At one end of the water there is a hydro electric power station big enough to power the city of Bergen. Hardly any of it is visible, as the pipes and turbines have been inserted into the cliffs. On a plateau 400 meters high is an old farm, and in former times the children had to go up and down a footpath to school. "Late again Ibsen. What's the excuse this time?" Norway had universal literacy much earlier than the U.K. And it was one of the reasons why the small nation was economically successful even before the discovery of oil. Before we return to the ship our driver takes us close to the bottom of a tumbling waterfall, and we really feel we've earned a tumbler of Bailey's. Day Seven We go into the Lysefjord during the morning, regarded by those who are supposed to know these things to be the ultimate expression of fjord topography. Royal Caribbean would get wedged in the first bend! High vertical cliffs on port and starboard give way to stretches of open water with mountains receding in rows to a vanishing point. Don't try to paint the scene unless you have mastered perspective. We pass the famous Pulpit Rock and the world's longest wooden staircase (4,444 steps ) which has something to do with another hidden power station. It has become a tradition to bring over a Gang of Sherpas once a year to repair and maintain stone footpaths used by hikers. They have celebrity status, which probably means feature articles in 'Hikey Hikey Ho' magazine. The second and final formal night of the trip concludes with the ever popular crew show, which demonstrates that the workers have considerately more talent among them than we would ever guess over the breakfast table. As I have said in a previous report it is an ingenious way of stirring up the feel good factor all round. The status of the crew is elevated, while the guests feel they're making a small contribution to world social mobility. Indeed, during the final song, in the little bubble of suspended reality that is the Neptune Lounge , "We Are The World". Day Eight The day of the gala buffet. Being new to Olsen, our dining companions can't quite believe their taste buds as they range across sumptuous seafood, the finest cold meats and a giant cooked gammon in a shortcrust pastry, an overwhelming display of cakes and pastries, not to mention the chocolate fountain. "Oh the buzzing of the bees, in the cigarette trees...."etc. We have now left Norwegian waters and are churning our way through the North Sea back to Blighty, the land we love, but also the land of blubbing bungling ministers, broken promises, and Brexit Bollocks. That said, would you really want to live in a land of welfare economics, equality of opportunity way beyond the U.K. model, the highest Human Development Index in the world, the top spot in the World Happiness Report, the Better Life Index and the Index of Public Integrity and Democracy? Perhaps not. But we might like to take a closer look at it! Read Less
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
Sail Date May 2019
Very dated ship. Mainly elderly passengers. Nothing on during the day except bridge bingo and handicrafts. More like a floating care home. Tour operator extremely unhelpful.. Don't book flam railway through olsen it's a lot ... Read More
Very dated ship. Mainly elderly passengers. Nothing on during the day except bridge bingo and handicrafts. More like a floating care home. Tour operator extremely unhelpful.. Don't book flam railway through olsen it's a lot cheaper to do yourself and there were plenty of seats. Guest service manager very helpful as had to move cabins as extremely noisy. Noticed a lot of cutbacks. Eg no conditioner or body lotion in cabins. However food was outstanding served by Sam and Joe who were brilliant. Entertainment on a night was good. Cocktails seemed mainly fruit juice having been teatotal for 30yrs I thought a few alcoholic drinks would be a change. Strangely there was no effect. Service was fairly quick. The gym in a great position but vastly overheated to dehydration level with one small water fountain pretty hopeless when you have to leave the equipment to get a drink. We are used to having all our baggage taken off us at check in not done in Newcastle they will only take suitcase no suit bags or small cases.which were heavy. Class them as hand luggage. On leaving ship to come home Newcastle is very disjointed. This was my 4 time with olsen and very much my last. Wasn't keen before but Newcastle is near home. Southampton is worth the journey to board a better cruise line cunard is unbeatable and cheaper Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Chose this cruise because the itinery seemed to meet our rquirements. Unfortunately the captain took the decision not to go to Shetland due to bad weather. While we accept his decision we felt more could be done to make up for this. All ... Read More
Chose this cruise because the itinery seemed to meet our rquirements. Unfortunately the captain took the decision not to go to Shetland due to bad weather. While we accept his decision we felt more could be done to make up for this. All the people we spoke to said this was the port of call they were looking forward to the most. Instead we had 2 nights rather than one at Invergordon (NOT a holiday desination) Two buses were laid on at nearly £30 a time to go into Inverness (perhaps to offer this free would have been a nice gesture?) We took the local bus for about £11. Any other attraction was a long trip and expensive. Other things we were not happy with - Firstly , the car park in Liverpool was hard to find. Inadequate map and sat nav took you to a building site (not Fred Olson rsponsibility) - cabin noise (see below) Buffet area quite small, not always able to get a table at busy times - While the ship was well maintained there was no main staircase or reception area and the entertainment was mediocre . - many of the staff had a poor grasp of English which could be a problem, particularly at guest services - WiFi expensive - Timing given in port were misleading for example 'late p.m actually meant about 3.30 in the afternoon. - Tours were very expensive, there were 4 of us so it made more sense to book a private taxi to take us to the places we wanted to see, which worked out fine. - Passengers were mostly quite elderly and infirm so activities were geared up for this. I did sometimes feel I was sitting in the common room of an old peoples home rather than a cruise ship! - Finally the disembarkation process was not a happy experience, but mostly this was due to the facilites at Liverpool cruise terminal Good points, main dining room was nice and our waiters were freindly and helpful and there was a very good wine list at reasonable prices plus the food was excellent. Would not go with Fred Olson again Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We booked to go to the Fjords leaving Dover 09 June 2019. We made a little mistake when booking as we went via a Travel Agent. Firstly, the agent was poor but, more importantly, it placed an barrier between us and FO. Any queries we had we ... Read More
We booked to go to the Fjords leaving Dover 09 June 2019. We made a little mistake when booking as we went via a Travel Agent. Firstly, the agent was poor but, more importantly, it placed an barrier between us and FO. Any queries we had we were referred back to the agent. My advice - book direct. The boarding in Dover was seamless. We live near Dover so booked a taxi. Straight into the port up to terminal, bags taken from boot by porters, we were on-board within 15mins and our luggage arrived in our cabin 20mins after we did. Well done FO. A minus point for FO. As first time cruisers we booked the ship tour on our first day at sea. FO told us that all would be in our cabin when we got on-board... nothing. Never mind, we did our own tour... the lay out of the ship is quite easy and it was fun bumping into things ! Our cabin (7039 balcony with clear view. A must in the Fjords) was exactly as advertised. No issues with the cabin at all or our cabin steward (Moo) who worked her socks off to keep us happy (I did take a tip off YouTube and gave Moo a little bag of bits {no more than £6} on the first day which may have made a difference but maybe not !!!). The ship was a little tired in places altho' it was always well presented, clean and shining. Staff were excellent throughout the ship. Food was lovely (every day). We tried things we have never had before which is good for our betterment ! You must keep an eye out for the Gala Lunch (ours was on the last day at see) and take your camera ! The Formal nights were good with lots of bling altho' I did change after the meal into more casual wear. We paid for the drinks package @ £15 per day. I think this has gone up now to £19pd. You need to give this some thought. Me - I drink a lot of beer and a can Spitfire was £3.80 so I was happy with my lot. My wife tried their house wine and found it 'undrinkable'. The cocktails were very sweet. She then moved onto spirits and mixer. This she was happy with but sometimes the bar staff forgot to put the spirit in (pressure of work maybe !). To combat this we ordered the spirit and mixer as separate items. The drink came to about £6. Add these drinks to your wine at lunch and dinner and it may appeal to you. Beware that it is only for drinks from the bar. No cans of pop, no tea or coffee (posh type) and no bottled water. There is a filtered water machine and tea & coffee machine in a small drinks station. Normally this is quite clear but avoid end of meeting, talks or presentations as there is a queue before and after these sessions. Entertainment is on every night. The on-board crew do put a lot of effort into their shows and one of their shows was outstanding. There are guest entertainers: a duo who played many instruments (first time - good. Second time - not so good), a comedian - spent most of his time picking on members of the audience to the level of embarrassment - not good. In the main bar is a guitar duo who were very good and they went in turns with a pianist who is not very happy with his lot !!! There were talks given by an ex Bank Manager - Prison Guv'nor. His first talk was very good, cannot remember his second talk and his third talk was about Porridge and real prison life. I got the impression that this was pushed onto him and he knocked it together at short notice. There is quite a big gym on the top deck with a great view. I did not get there but it looked very good. There is a set 1 mile walk around the ship ( 5 x 1 mile). Did this prior to breakfast. There is an organised walk at about 0800 but the guy who runs it may have been trained to get 20 something's to walk fast rather than members of U3A ! We only did this walk once. We went solo after that. We did our own shore excursions. FO is very expensive. Most of our trips we booked from UK before we boarded and the others were taken from shore-side when we went alongside. For us, the best we did was the funicular railway in Bergen and a 5km walk around the top (huge queues at bottom but they do go down quite quickly) and we booked a Twizo electric car in Flam. Expensive but BRILL. We booked 2 hrs (11-1300). We got into Flam just before 1000. We went over to the car hire ( you will see it as you get off the tender) to show him our paper work prior to 1100. After a bit of a chat I asked if we could take it early (with a big smile). He agreed so we had 3 hrs for the price of 2 ! You have a choice where to go and we wanted the viewing platform at the top of the mountain. The SatNav looked after us and it was great fun. Top Tip, after the platform, go a little further were the SatNav will tell of a great viewing point. In short, book your own, its a lot cheaper. A fine example - there was a fishing trip that FO was charging £45. When we docked it was next door to the ship and was advertised at £30 (that's your £15 drinks package paid for on that day!!!). Disembarkation was as easy as getting on. We were called by deck and the bags were waiting for us in the departure lounge with many porters waiting to take you outside. Overall, we loved it. We would go again and yes, with FO. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We live in Edinburgh, the sailing was from Rosyth, and the itinerary was very interesting. The check in went slowly but smoothly, parking procedure very good. The gangway was very steep, very narrow and entirely stepped, with wide flat ... Read More
We live in Edinburgh, the sailing was from Rosyth, and the itinerary was very interesting. The check in went slowly but smoothly, parking procedure very good. The gangway was very steep, very narrow and entirely stepped, with wide flat areas on either side. Many passengers were elderly, using sticks for support, and found it very difficult. These people make up a large part of Fred Olsen Cruises customer base, and I found this astonishing. We scanned our cards ourselves, with a crew member checking it- not a word, no eye contact from any member of the gangway crew, then, or at any time during the cruise. The ship is beautifully maintained, inside and out, with comfortable lounges and plenty of artwork and photographs. Dining in the Balindalloch restaurant was good, food excellent and waiters very smart in grey suits. The Palm cafe was lovely, with seating overlooking the pool. The food was fine, but coffee generally cold, with staff morale not too good. The cabin (3072) had been refurbished and was well equipped, with a proper full sized shower area. There was, however, no sound insulation at all. There was almost nothing in the way of engine rumble or other mechanical noises, but it was as though the occupants of the cabins on either side were in beside us! They were selfish idiots with no regard for anyone- we were also idiots for creeping about like church mice! Entertainment was pretty good- a singer/guitarist in the Morning Light lounge was very good, with a most pleasant manner. The Neptune show lounge was very smart, with a resident 6 piece band. The British song and dance group were good, as were comedy and speciality music acts. There were also 2 afternoon classical piano recitals which were wonderful. The dancing classed in the Neptune were very good, organised by a Scottish Husband and Wife team. Reception and shore excursion staff were very polite and helpful. The promenade deck had seating in several areas, but there was not enough depth to accommodate loungers. There were plenty of these round the pool, though, as well as on deck 11. Fred Olsen claim a 60% return rate, and I believe it. Many guests were treated like old friends by some crew members. We only did 1 shore trip- the Monet House and Gardens, which was excellent, but there were plenty choose from. Some people were disappointed to find the trip they wanted fully booked, so it's best to book in advance. The clientele was almost entirely Scottish, and we met some lovely people, but if you are looking for a more mixed crowd, Rosyth is probably not the best staring point. We enjoyed the cruise- the ship was very smooth and quiet, there are quiet areas to hide away in. There does seem to be a problem with staff morale- a lady at our table was actually shouted at by a waiter for not being able to understand his broken English! There were plenty of "suits" in evidence, so the problem has to be in management quality rather than quantity. We asked someone with a cabin on deck 6 about the noise from adjacent cabins, and it appeared to be no better than ours. That would probably prevent us from taking another cruise with Fred Olsen, which is a pity, as there is so much to like. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Sailed from Rosyth, local for Edinburgh Short cruise, just right for a first cruise, staff all charming and nothing was too much trouble. Food was great, ship was very clean, entertainment excellent.. Shore excursions were informative. ... Read More
Sailed from Rosyth, local for Edinburgh Short cruise, just right for a first cruise, staff all charming and nothing was too much trouble. Food was great, ship was very clean, entertainment excellent.. Shore excursions were informative. Sadly weather not great, a bit cold and grey, but the sun appeared at times. Strongly recommend dining in the 'grill' at least once. 6* dining experience. If I went on another cruise I would have an outside cabin, at least one with a porthole. The interior cabins can be a little disorientating (telling night from day). The ship was very clean, the gangway staff were very helpful when the ship could not get into the port. They helped with my wheelchair and were always smiling. The library was a bonus, as I forgot a book and the chocolate and coffee shop was delicious.The shop staff were very helpful. We met some lovely people and being a small world, we met a couple who knew my daughter's in laws and were from the same village! Amazing. Read Less
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
Sail Date June 2019
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