1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
  4. Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines Cruise Reviews

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

I was lucky to win this cruise in the magazine Cruise International. I was aware beforehand not to expect any facilities for children but still decided to take my daughter and, almost 3 year old, granddaughter. I had problems getting a ... Read More
I was lucky to win this cruise in the magazine Cruise International. I was aware beforehand not to expect any facilities for children but still decided to take my daughter and, almost 3 year old, granddaughter. I had problems getting a cabin and then its suitability. Please go to the end of the review if you are interested in the details. Leaving from Dover we were able to hop on a high speed train from St Pancras and use Fred Olsen's shuttle service to get to the dock. Checking in and boarding through security was tedious and took about an hour and a half. We were unfortunate in the weather, at least at the start of the cruise, as we were sailing into a deep depression forming in the Bay of Biscay. So for the first day and a half it was dull, rainy, windy and rough. Tough for all the family. The cabin was bigger than we expected and well furnished. As were the public rooms and the rest of the ship. Plenty of wooden deck space for walking and jogging and a large pool deck with Jacuzzis. Mostly deserted during the cruise my daughter and granddaughter enjoyed both on the slightly warmer days. We avoided the main dining room on the formal nights as I had neither dinner jacket or dark suit and found the designation old fashioned and frankly silly. Although many passengers were happy to accept the code. We also found it easier some nights to use the buffet so that my granddaughter could get a plate of food she found acceptable. I was disappointed that no effort was made by the dining room staff to help in providing suitable food or generally bring her something she could cope with. We even had to ask for a suitable glass for water instead of the large, slim stemmed glasses provided. I can understand why Fred Olsen might not feel the need to provide children's' facilities on the Braemar but the dining room could, and should, have done better. The food itself varied from OK to some good courses and the general service was only adequate (worse that any of my previous cruises). I should tell you here that all the staff on board were very friendly and it wasn't long before it seemed that they were all greeting my granddaughter by name. The other public rooms were all well appointed and comfortable but got a bit crowded on 'at sea' days due to the weather. We didn't visit the main show room but did go into the cabaret room on 3 nights to listen to an excellent 4 piece group called 4th Dimension. My granddaughter and 2 friends had a wonderful time on the dance floor which had very few other dancers. We arrived in La Pallice, a short free coach transfer into La Rochelle. The weather was dry and quite pleasant. The next two days would be the same until we reached A Coruna when it became cold and rainy. They have a new aquarium there which was great fun and well worth a visit. We also had lunch which was way better than you might expect at a tourist attraction. Worth trying even if you don't want to go to the aquarium. The small harbour - La Vieux Port - was very picturesque, as was the surrounding streets and buildings. Next day we were in Getxo for Bilbao. We didn't fancy the hour round trip into town so got out our bucket and spades and went to a beautiful broad beach 5 minutes walk from the ship. The next port of call, Aviles, was the best. It turns out that we were the first ever cruise line to dock at the new terminal right in the centre of town. As we approached up a narrow channel both sides were lined by people welcoming our arrival and more were at the quayside. We were next to the impressive new Centro Cultural Internacional Oscar Niemeyer and then a short walk across an amazing bridge into the old town. We strolled through charming squares, cobbled streets and a lovely park ending up in a pavement cafe in the Plaza de Espana drinking a cafe solo. And at our departure the crowds waving goodbye were huge. Lots of waving and sounding of the ship's horn. A Coruna was disappointing for us due to the cold, rainy weather so we weren't ashore for long. The weather on the trip back to Dover was cold, windy and overcast but the Bay of Biscay and the English Channel were fairly calm. Two highlights of this part of the voyage were the schools of Dolphins we saw on our penultimate evening and a very traditional afternoon tea served by white gloved staff in the Observatory bar with its large picture windows overlooking the bow. The tea was a very reasonable £6+. Overall the cruise was disappointing. The weather didn't help of course but I would rate the food and restaurant service as average, certainly worse than my previous cruises. The cabin was good (except for the particular problems below) and cabin service very good. Two bonuses were very few tannoy announcements and we weren't pestered by the photographers. The general atmosphere was old fashioned/traditional with quite a high average age for the passengers. If this suits you then you might enjoy the Braemar. [Finding a suitable cabin was difficult. My prize was an outside cabin which unfortunately could not accommodate an extra bed so it was either a case of upgrading for over £500 or going to an inside cabin and a bunk bed but still paying and extra £150. I chose the latter.] There were still 2 basic problems with the cabin. My granddaughter wasn't used to a bed yet and tended to roll off so we had to put one single bed against the wall and then push the other against it. And the ladder to access the upper berth was only designed to be used at the side of the bunk so any double bed configuration meant that I had to use the ladder at the end of the bunk where it was not safely secured. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
We have recently returned from a Fred Olsen four night mini-cruise on the Braemar from Dover to France, Belgium and Holland. Last year, we went to the Norwegian fjords on the larger Olsen ship, the Balmoral. I quite liked the Braemar ... Read More
We have recently returned from a Fred Olsen four night mini-cruise on the Braemar from Dover to France, Belgium and Holland. Last year, we went to the Norwegian fjords on the larger Olsen ship, the Balmoral. I quite liked the Braemar although it is showing its age and our cabin, particularly the bathroom,was in need of some refurbishment. The television had a mind of its own and only worked when it felt like it. I don't think anybody would ever describe this cruise as luxurious but more like a 1960's holiday camp on the high seas. I found that the cruise director's way of making his announcements, as if we were rather slow children, was a bit patronising but I can understand that his job would drive a lot of people the same way! This is no more than a feeling but my impression is that Fred Olsen is watching every penny and is charging for everything. If they could, I think they would have charged for the air we breathed! Check in at Dover was excellent as was disembarkation on our return In my opinion the main drawbacks were: There were definitely not enough restaurant staff and those they did have seemed stressed and rushed. They allowed queues to form outside the restaurants even when it was plain to those queuing that, inside, were empty, set-up tables. That said, the two waiters who attended to us were always courteous; At breakfast time, which was largely a buffet arrangement, there was usually a shortage of food and utensils, particularly glasses. One morning I had the worst coffee in my life!; The food, overall, was no more than moderate with an occasional good dish. It was mass catering and felt like it! It might have been better to have simplified the dinner menu by reducing it from five courses to three and putting a bit more quality into them; I know this seems an odd comment, but I lost sympathy with Olsen after attending the lifeboat drill which seemed to be a poor attempt to impress everyone with a bit of drama. We were told that in the event of an evacuation we were to walk in a crocodile with our right hands on the shoulder of the person in front of us, reminiscent of the scenes shown on war newsreels of injured and blinded soldiers returning from France. With sizeable numbers of very young children and of elderly people with severe walking difficulties, this would have been unrealistic. It certainly was not required on the Balmoral last year and I have been unable to find anything which says it is required legally. If I am wrong and it is a legal requirement then it is a very stupid one which most other shipping lines are disregarding; In this bizarre fashion we had to go outside to our respective lifeboats where we were given a further talk by a crew member with an electric megaphone rendered totally inaudible by the noise of the air conditioning outlet! This was not impressive and in our group helped reduce the whole drill to a matter for derision. Later in the cruise some passengers were spotted walking along each with their arm on the shoulder of the person in front of them, to the general merriment of their friends; In writing this review it is not my intention to dissuade anyone from cruising with Olsen (we have no plans to cancel a cruise already booked on the Boudicca for next year) but to warn any readers not to expect pampering; This company is geared to processing large numbers of passengers and to keeping them under control; it does not attempt to provide traditional service. If you think of their quite nice old ships as a good way of avoiding airports and not having to struggle with luggage then you'll find it OK. At the end of the day you get what you pay for.   Read Less
Sail Date August 2013
Firstly: we boarded in Bristol A one night mini cruise - Bristol to Liverpool - isn't long enough to form a full judgement about a ship or a cruise line, but it gives a flavour and I'm not certain that Boudicca is going to be to ... Read More
Firstly: we boarded in Bristol A one night mini cruise - Bristol to Liverpool - isn't long enough to form a full judgement about a ship or a cruise line, but it gives a flavour and I'm not certain that Boudicca is going to be to our taste. Especially as the smell of fuel oil seemed to permeate several areas. We had a suite. Good size, comfortable with plenty of storage but dated. Bathroom with full size tub but no bath plug, so unusable. If we'd been on board for more than one night we would have complained. But it showed a lack of attention to detail. No toiletries or shower cap and no soap other than a dispenser, which when I pressed for the first time deposited liquid over my trousers. Having a limited palate I liked the selection of food - very British. On Crystal two months ago I described their menus as "complicated" and "very complicated". Unfortunately the actual quality of the food on Boudicca was only average. Afternoon tea was poor consisting of a choice of mushroom pate sandwich (I don't like mushrooms but my wife said 'not to worry' as the sandwiches she chose had no pate on it - and the bread was dry), a slice of chocolate sponge, a cookie and a pink cup-cake. But the tea was good. At the buffet lunch I ordered a dessert from the menu. After 15 minutes I enquired where it was? It was found immediately sitting on the waiters' bar and when delivered was a sea of melting ice cream. No apology. I found the staff friendly and attentive - when called, but they spent too much time chatting together. Doubt they would make the grade on a line such as Celebrity or Princess. Drink prices were better than on many ships but our waiter didn't understand the difference between Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, following which we were presented three times with an incorrect bill. And it seems Fred's left and right hands don't speak to each other (I'd been quite determined not to personify a cruise line, but got dragged in). Example [1] cruise docs said "Embarkation will start at 1.30pm". On arrival at the port the sign said 2.15pm. We got on at 2.45. [2] we booked 8.30pm late sitting dinner because being Bristolians we wanted to film the sail away at 7pm. All dinner reservations were changed to 7.30pm - and the ship left late, so we missed one of the main reasons for being on Boudicca. [3] All cabins must be vacated by 8.30am according to our reservation. By 10am (thank you) according to The Daily Times. [4] Afternoon tea will be served from 3.45pm said The Daily Times. From 3pm said the captain in his (very good) noon briefing. [5] The ship will dock at 4.30pm for disembarkation at 5pm said the general information leaflet. The ship will dock at 3.30pm announced the captain (probably explains the change to tea time). Enjoyed the entertainment very much. Better than some more up-market lines. Boudicca is well maintained but to anybody who has sailed on more modern vessels you do wonder whether the thickness of the paint or the actual metal is holding things together. Hopefully it's the metal. However what truly amazed me was the loyalty of Fred's people on the ship. "You can't beat Fred", one lady told me. Asked what other cruise lines she'd been on the answer was none. However many others also sang Fred's praises (Thomson seemed to be the norm by which most reached this judgement). It is beyond doubt, at least my doubt, that Fred Olsen has a very loyal following. And that's fine; that's what a holiday is all about - being relaxed and enjoying your environment. I tried to open the minds of some to other cruise lines, but if it wasn't Fred, Thomson, P&O or Cunard they didn't want to know. We wouldn't rule out a Fred Olsen ship if the itinerary was one we were looking for as their pricing is very reasonable, but it would probably have to be Balmoral or Braemar (judging by the deck plans) as they seem to have proper restaurants rather than seats and tables in wide corridors. I'm probably going to have to go into hiding now before Fred's fans find me. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
I think a three star rating is fair. We thought we would try this one out as a taster to try Fred Olsen. We were only on ship for one night so the fact that we were late boarding 5pm (ship late in port) and made to be out of our cabins by ... Read More
I think a three star rating is fair. We thought we would try this one out as a taster to try Fred Olsen. We were only on ship for one night so the fact that we were late boarding 5pm (ship late in port) and made to be out of our cabins by 8am made it a very short taster ! Food at dinner was excellent but breakfast was a bit like going to Asda for breakfast. Just a bit dissappointed, don't get me wrong the choice was there but all a bit shabby and uninviting. The usual greedy people piling there plates high with no intentions of eating it all. It just felt a bit like Butlins to me. The entertainment was good. We had just an small inside cabin for the one night, clean and efficient but would not like to stay in it for week! Staff were nearly over-friendly, smiles not genuine but forced. I suppose it cannot be easy for them depending on tips and not liking it one bit. A lot of staff had very poor English which I was suprised at. All in all I am glad we went, we had a good time BUT we would not go again. ps it was suppose to be a 70s night. saw little of that apart from some 70's music being played. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Mini cruise to Dublin from Liverpool on Black Watch. Fred.Olsen does not expect passengers on Mini cruises to complete a questionnaire so I'm not sure how they get feedback, perhaps they read Cruise Critic? Car parking with CPS ... Read More
Mini cruise to Dublin from Liverpool on Black Watch. Fred.Olsen does not expect passengers on Mini cruises to complete a questionnaire so I'm not sure how they get feedback, perhaps they read Cruise Critic? Car parking with CPS went well. Check in not as slick as Southampton. Boarding the ship entailed walking under a partially covered walk way which did nothing to stop the area being a couple of inches deep in rain water. We've not sailed with Fred.Olsen before, this cruise was ideal to check out Black Watch with a view to booking a longer cruise. The staff were probably the best we've come across. Their friendliness, use of passenger names, eye contact, made them stand out from other cruises companies. Ships officers were visible too, but not the captain. Drinks were reasonably priced, however in the Lido bar, being asked if you'd like a bottle of wine when you ordered a glass was a bit pushy. One evening I was asked if I'd like a large cocktail, this was served in a pint glass decorated with a slice of pineapple! Mixed age group on board plus a Hen Party who seemed to be enjoying themselves. Menu looked good on paper but not as good when it came to the dining experience itself. Breakfast was poor. Poached eggs, cooked to order, one of which was perfectly cooked the other was so cold it tasted as if it'd been in a chiller. Cabin was a terraced balcony suite on deck 7 I understand this cabin used to be classed as a junior suite before the refurb to include a balcony. The cabin was spacious with plenty of storage, good size bathroom. However the decor was dated, the bath had a sizeable chip which had obviously been repaired (badly) Double bed with two single duvets. Soft furnishings were dated, carpet completed the 'vintage look' The innovative balcony was slightly raised from the deck and so long as you don't mind fellow passengers promenading past you'll be fine. Don't expect privacy on the balcony and keep those net curtains closed! The balcony is a waste of time you may as well find yourself a chair on Lido deck Unfortunately Fred.Olsen doesn't have any photos on their web site of these cabins. Entertainment was fun and informal. Dublin was fantastic, great city to visit, plenty of wonderful attractions and friendliest of people. So, would we book a longer cruise with Fred.Olsen? Not on Black Watch. She may be sea worthy but she is far from luxurious, just a tired old lady who needs a lot of TLC. If Fred.Olsen consider Black Watch to be of a suitable standard for their passengers then Fred.Olsen is not for us. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We went on a mini cruise and were upgraded. However the bathroom in the cabin was awful cracked tiles and vanity units. Don't what we would have had if we weren't upgraded!! The door of the cabin had to be checked when we left ... Read More
We went on a mini cruise and were upgraded. However the bathroom in the cabin was awful cracked tiles and vanity units. Don't what we would have had if we weren't upgraded!! The door of the cabin had to be checked when we left the cabin as it did not close properly. Every morning there was noise outside our cabin I think they were cleaning the outside of the Ship!! Could this not have been done before we boarded. The chamber maid acme in to do our room while we were getting ready for dinner which was strange. The staff were friendly and food good but the Ship needs a major overhaul. Our luggage should have been taken off and put together as we were travelling in a group. However my cases were lost for a while and were scuffed and dirty when found (annoying because they are new). Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
We thought we would give FO a second chance having cruised with them before. We tried an inside cabin for the first time as it was only two nights. We have cruised many times before and know what is normal this time we were ... Read More
We thought we would give FO a second chance having cruised with them before. We tried an inside cabin for the first time as it was only two nights. We have cruised many times before and know what is normal this time we were disappointed mainly with embarkation/disembarkation, the food & food service. We use a disability scooter and normally have no problems getting on and off but the "ramps" were step/ramps and very steep, like they set up on the wrong deck. See photo. Staff helped with the scooter but my mobility impaired wife made herself totally breathless and exhausted and her inhaler was not effective by the time she got to the top, boarding staff were not interested so we went to customer services to advise of the problem for disabled persons, but again staff not interested and just said would put note on our file. The menus were uninspiring and the general restaurant service was organised chaos and totally disjointed. For example one person was serving tea & coffee and then you had wait while you hoped to flag down a separate milk person and then try and find the very rare toast person who appeared to have cold toast only. The breakfasts were very slow and food was cold. Many of the staff (There were exceptions) appeared totally disinterested and had the attitude I have only seen of people working their notice out or with very low morale. One in particular, we will call him Mark was ineffectual in seating people, making them wait unnecessarily while he showed others further down the line tables, the restaurant was virtually empty at the time, a jack of all trades wiping tables, serving drinks & toast and never a hand clean seen. The entertainment was OK and there were also late shows, when you had to be up very early the next day. There seemed very little to do during the day unless you wanted to play cards. Some loved the personal service that the smaller ships appear to provide but you can foster that on the big ships also and there is far more to do, its personal preference but the experience will not be repeated. Read Less
Sail Date March 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
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
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
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
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
We booked this cruise as originally we booked a P&O cruise which was cancelled because they sold the ship! We booked it 7 months in advance and requested 1st sitting for dinner on a table of 6-8 people so that we would have a variety ... Read More
We booked this cruise as originally we booked a P&O cruise which was cancelled because they sold the ship! We booked it 7 months in advance and requested 1st sitting for dinner on a table of 6-8 people so that we would have a variety of people to talk to over a lengthy meal. However on arrival we discovered that we were on the 1st sitting but on a table for 4. The other couple were very pleasant but were very elderly (guessing near 90) and had very little conversation. We decided that we could not take another 9 evenings of stilted conversation and asked to move table but there were none available, so the only option was to move to the 8.30 sitting which we reluctantly did. Luckily we were on a table of 6 like minded people and enjoyed the rest of our meals. However, this meant that I was starving each evening waiting for my meal and had to fill up on snacks. Also there is absolutely no entertainment on the ship between 5pm and 8pm so the only options were to go to the bar, read a book or watch TV (which did not work a lot of the time as it lost the satellite signal so there was only the news or films to watch). In Addition the 2nd entertainment show was not until 10.30 pm, so we could not go as we wanted to be in bed by 11pm as we had be up early for tours. So our evenings were spoiled. However, we enjoyed the daytimes, food was very good and so was the service. We took advantage of the drinks upgrade which meant certain drinks were included all day. We enjoyed the one show that we did go to and the various tours, with the exception of Dublin, which was not very good. We were lucky that the weather was lovely and saw the Scottish islands at their best. We had a balcony cabin mainly because it gave you a larger cabin as the standard cabins on Boudicca are very small. Fresh fruit, water and canapés included every day, comfortable bed. Would not cruise with Fred Olsen again unless they change the evening meal to open dining. We were surprised that Shetland, the Orkneys and Lewis are very bleak with hardly any trees, the tours were of good quality. Only spent half a day in Mull, would have preferred longer. Some people had to get up at 6 am to go on a lengthy tour to be back in time to leave. Loch Ness boat ride was lovely. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Itinary was the main reason for this trip. The outside cabin on the 4th deck was very good,comfy bed and kept perfectly clean by the housekeeper,there was "noise" but the ship is old and there were some rough seas to and from ... Read More
Itinary was the main reason for this trip. The outside cabin on the 4th deck was very good,comfy bed and kept perfectly clean by the housekeeper,there was "noise" but the ship is old and there were some rough seas to and from Iceland so it was noisy groaning and creaking also engine noise. The main dining room food was very good,service very slow but with good company on a 9 seater table just about exceptable,buffet area small and crowded,especally as the guest's were very old and slow,it did feel as if we were in an old people home most times. Entertainment was very good and well presented. The Black Watch is a small ship which might appeal to certain people,but not me,in rough seas it was like a cork in a bottle,did'nt suit me but there was a lot going for it other than that. Crew were excellent ,very helpfull. All inclusive drinks programme was very poor,only 4-5 spirits and a few beers, no cocktails at all even non alcohol ones ,coffee poor,better if you payed !!!!!!. Liverpool cruise terminal was a shambles,especialy with so many very elderly guests ,staff tried their best but to small for that many people,won'tbe keento go from there again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
A bit of a mixed bag. We had been on Balmoral before and it was not as good this time. Superficially the cabin appeared spotless but there was a large accumulation of dirt under the beds and it obviously had not been cleaned for a long ... Read More
A bit of a mixed bag. We had been on Balmoral before and it was not as good this time. Superficially the cabin appeared spotless but there was a large accumulation of dirt under the beds and it obviously had not been cleaned for a long time. The water in the bathroom was seldom more than lukewarm and ran very slowly. The shaver points were hanging off the wall. The toilet paper was thin and poor quality. The TV picture kept breaking up because of "incompatibilty with the onboard transmitting equipment". The beds and pillows were comfortable. We were booked on the 2030 dinner sitting by Fred, we didn't ask for it. This was far too late for us so we asked the maitre d' if we could change to 1830. He told us there were over 200 people wanting to change and he couldn't do anything for us. From an earlier review it seems that if money had changed hands a change would have been possible. As it was we had little choice but to eat in the self-service buffet every night, not exactly a prime dining experience. The food was generally quite good with a large choice. The coffee, however, was very poor indeed, almost totally lacking in flavour. Cups and glasses were often less than clean, with lipstick or stains on them. We found the waiters to be very offhand, bordering on surly, with a lack of manners in many cases. The waitresses, whom we encountered only in the Neptune Lounge, were better, with the odd exception. The Captain's cocktail party was a farce. It consisted of walking past the captain and officers at the entrance to the Neptune Lounge (a theatre), getting a free drink, the captain speaking for a couple of minutes, a few words from a sample of crew members, and that was it. Hardly a party. The entertainment was of mixed quality. The onboard company of singers and dancers worked hard and were very good across the piece. The "guest" classical pianist was excellent, the guitarists less so, often playing obscure material. The comedian was excellent. The pianist in the Observation Lounge seemed to simply tinkle away tunelessly in a totally disinterested manner on the occasions we went up there in the afternoons. The trio in the Bar were wasted; they were far far better than the inconsequential material they were required to play. The tours provide by Fred were, as always, grossly overpriced and exceptionally poor value for money. Doing-it-yourself, using local transport etc was far far cheaper and enabled close contact with local people, who were unfailingly helpful. The port call at Invergordon, a very small town, was clearly settled upon as a prime opportunity for Fred to sell his tours as there was very little to do there. On the way back to Newcastle (North Shields in reality) we left Lerwick in the Shetlands at 2300 on a Friday. We arrived at North Shields at 0600 on Sunday two days later, a journey of 31 hours doing approx 10 knots. It would surely have been possible to leave Lerwick earlier, call in at another port on the Saturday, perhaps Aberdeen, sailed a little faster than a crawl and still get into North Shields in time for a turnaround for the next departure. It felt very much like a wasted Saturday, and a missed opportunity. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
I’ve always wanted to try a cruise so picked this one as I’ve always wanted to go to the Shetland Islands and it was short so gave us a chance to experience cruising. Arrived on the boat to our very expensive upgraded cabin. Very ... Read More
I’ve always wanted to try a cruise so picked this one as I’ve always wanted to go to the Shetland Islands and it was short so gave us a chance to experience cruising. Arrived on the boat to our very expensive upgraded cabin. Very disappointed. Only soap in a bottle supplied in the bathroom - just like a 3 star hotel. Very small towels. Thick rust round the taps and some black mould round bath. On the plus side, the beds were comfortable and we heard no noise at night. Food was excellent and nothing to complain about there. We didn’t go with the drinks package but the price of drinks was very reasonable and again nothing to complain about there either. Entertainment was aimed at an older generation, dance classes, tea dances and bingo etc. and nothing that I would participate in. In fact I question the amount of disabled people on board if there was an emergency. It would be interesting to see how quickly you were able to get to the lifeboats. There was nothing in terms of entertainment for children and yet there were quite a few on board. We participated in one very expensive shore excursion (£52 each) which was described as a walk through a forest to waterfalls and the description urged walking shoes and suitable clothing. In fact the walk was no more that 30 minutes in total and we spent a lot of that waiting for unfit people to catch up. I suppose the footwear of the guide gave it away really - fashion boots. We then visited a small town which was interesting but all of it could be seen in an hour or less. In Kirkwall we hired bikes for £20 and had a great day. In Lerwick we hired a car for £32 and saw all the area below Lerwick, which was fascinating. The day we were at sea all day was awful and we were bored stiff. We used the gym, which needs updating, for a couple of hours and then read for most of the day. The restaurant boasted a sea food lunch and certainly the display was wonderful but because the ship was busy there were queues for tables and we were shown to a table for 6. I really don’t want to eat with strangers, despite them being very pleasant. Overall I feel that this was very expensive for what you got, especially accommodation. Hopefully I have been fair in this review and maybe when I’m 80 and disabled I might choose to go on another one! Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
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
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
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 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
Already Booked?

Get to know who you’ll be sailing with

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click