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2 Helpful Votes
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
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2019
This was our 37th cruise. Some have had spectacular destinations, some have been full of excitement and entertainment. Until this cruise, the Braemar to and through the Panama canal was overall our best ever cruise. Four days before this ... Read More
This was our 37th cruise. Some have had spectacular destinations, some have been full of excitement and entertainment. Until this cruise, the Braemar to and through the Panama canal was overall our best ever cruise. Four days before this one on Boudicca I received a phone call advising that we had a complimentary upgrade to a 7th deck cabin with terrace and wet room. When we opened the cabin door, Wow!!! So much space - the wet room was brilliant as well. We have never been disappointed with the dining rooms on any of the ships - Braemar stands out a mile in particular at lunchtime, with different flavours of diet bread and butter puddings each day! Most excellent waiters and captain waiter. There have been many cruises with great entertainment each night - one in particular (which was not a Fred Olsen). So to this cruise on the Boudicca. We were amazed by the organisation of the timings of the secret garden being open. There were a few mornings when we were too late for the normal breakfasts, but were able to break our fasts there. One day however we arrived just in time for lunch! The variety of food was most welcoming particularly for two diabetics. Our water glasses were topped up frequently and Captain Waiter seemed to take extra care with us (my wife being in a wheelchair). A big thanks there. We were on ship for the majority of the time and had plenty of options to bide away the time in the way that we wanted. Dolphin racing, bingo, quizzes, relaxing and reading and of course eating and the shows. The comedian, whose name I have forgotten was brilliant. Clean and very funny. Hope Fred Olsen has him as a regular. Stress free is a simple way of saying how enjoyable this cruise was. The place we stayed the most was in our cabin. It was excellent. We are not drinkers or pub people, but we did have our diet lemonades to take back to the cabin, where we played Cribbage. THE WATERFALLS AT goodolfusen (can't spell it) were splendiferous. Well worth a visit. I have an old friend and acquaintance who regularly cruises across the Atlantic and back again, without getting off the ship. A bit surprised at this, but now with this latest experience I can well understand why. Sorry Braemar, but you have been knocked off no.1 spot as the best ever cruise. A big thanks for the crew of the Boudicca for helping to make this one the best ever. Thanks Fred Olsen. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Just back from 28 day cruise on Olsen’s Black Watch. We are in our early 60 s and very active, most on the cruise are in their eighties plus, low mobility and not active. Great for them to get a cruise holiday but frustrating if you want ... Read More
Just back from 28 day cruise on Olsen’s Black Watch. We are in our early 60 s and very active, most on the cruise are in their eighties plus, low mobility and not active. Great for them to get a cruise holiday but frustrating if you want plenty of activity. Golf putting, carpet bowls in the corridor, whist, bingo, British singalong dress nights did not appeal. Ship was being constantly worked on so noise all over including windows being replaced on upper decks, toilets not working, information about destinations not great or non existent. The entertainment ranges from amateurish to good, the crew provide a lot of input. It is an old creaky ship which during storms bounced around. Disembarkation was appalling with low mobility people having and causing problems. A double decker bus shuttled people to trains with lower deck for suitcases including zimmer framed etc. and upper deck for passengers. The late arrival and departure of these ‘coaches’ caused many of us to miss our connections. Food is okay, staff ok, gym a bit limited, all areas busy and yapping all the time. All in all a great cruise for those who have low mobility but a snooze fest for others Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
Care of the customer seems to have become secondary to profit. A92 yr old pensioner had to be admitted to hospital in Cherbourg but was released as fit a few hours later. We saw him at 1pm sitting in the drafty embarkation shed having been ... Read More
Care of the customer seems to have become secondary to profit. A92 yr old pensioner had to be admitted to hospital in Cherbourg but was released as fit a few hours later. We saw him at 1pm sitting in the drafty embarkation shed having been refused entry to the ship despite the fact the hospital had discharged him as fit to travel, he was 50 meters from the ship,and the ship was not due to sail until 7.30pm. Having made a noisy protest at customer services whose only response was 'we cannot tell you anything' he and partner were finally allowed back on board. All we could do was to mention the Press and hope for the best. They were 12 hrs from Southampton but were expected to get a taxi and three trains to get to the port in the UK to get their luggage which was still on the ship. A truly disgraceful way to treat anyone. Ports and excursions left a lot to be desired. We apparently did not always get our normal births so shuttle buses were used, these dropped you off where they felt like rather the centre of towns, lots of walking on rough pavements. Lisbon was cancelled due to the weather, whose bright idea was Cherburg as a replacement? Entertainment was very good, the new dancing troupe were excellent. Food was adequate but small portions and not as good as before. Restaurants appear to be understaffed. My wife was confined to the cabin for over 30 hours following something she ate, and received a letter saying how grateful they were that she obeyed the guidelines, and as a reward she was offered £71 - off the next cruise booking within the next 12 months. We are speechless. Needless to say, we will not be using their offer. Our disappointment at the whole episode, which should have been a happy break, is now a very miserable experience, not to be repeated. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our 4th cruise on Braemar, and our 5th with Fred Olsen. I have already written to the company about some of their policies (fixed dining, tipping policy, 'confiscation' of alcohol brought onboard, drinks package etc) but ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise on Braemar, and our 5th with Fred Olsen. I have already written to the company about some of their policies (fixed dining, tipping policy, 'confiscation' of alcohol brought onboard, drinks package etc) but as far as the cruise itself was concerned, we found it to be most enjoyable. We appreciated the changes made during the 2017 refit, even those in the Neptune lounge --- the new seating at least creates a little more room--- and we enjoyed a very nice meal in 'The Grill', though the additional charge for it was excessive. We had an excellent Cruise Director in Nick Cosslett, who showed that he also had a singing voice to match those of the 'professionals' on board, and the entertainment programme included Micky Zany, guaranteed to enliven a half-dead 2nd sitting audience! We were blessed with near-perfect weather so we could enjoy all the many deck spaces on Braemar. Food and service had greatly improved in the Grampian Restaurant since our last cruise in May 2017, and we enjoyed the lunchtime Fish and Chips on the Pool Deck. Braemar is still a very good-looking ship with its accessible bow and the split-deck stern which lends itself to great sailaway parties, greatly preferable to the enormous 'floating blocks of flats' moored alongside. If 'Fred' changes and makes its cruises far more inclusive we'll look forward to coming back again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2018
This was the first time on this ship having sailed previously many time on Breamar and Black Watch. My wife has limited mobility and we did not find the ship user friendly.b The steps onto the external deck are steep and the ramp ... Read More
This was the first time on this ship having sailed previously many time on Breamar and Black Watch. My wife has limited mobility and we did not find the ship user friendly.b The steps onto the external deck are steep and the ramp placed over part of them is too steep. The disabled toilet being placed with the door on one side of a ‘porch’ like access does NOT have an electric door opener and hand button to actuate. Result is that access is not easy. Debarking is complicated by the fact that the waiting lounges are on deck 7 whilst gangway access is on deck 6 resulting for disabled people having to use only two local lifts resulting in congestion and delays. Overall the ship is good certainly brought up to a high level by the crew who are, as with other Fred ships, excelptional. Every member contacted was polite and very helpful indeed. The food was the usual Fred high standard but could have been presented on hotter plates. Overall and enjoyable holiday. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
This was our very first Cruise I have to say from start to finish it was excellent, We arrived at the port where our bags were taken from us and never saw them till we got to our cabin. we checked in and with in 10 mins we were through ... Read More
This was our very first Cruise I have to say from start to finish it was excellent, We arrived at the port where our bags were taken from us and never saw them till we got to our cabin. we checked in and with in 10 mins we were through security and on the ship.we were on deck 8 Superior inside cabin and we were very happy with it. The food at all meal times were excellent, we chose to have our evening meals in the Avon Restaurant and the staff were first class. There is plenty to do on board if you don't want to get off at any of the ports. We mainly had our drinks in the Marquee Bar on the top deck very friendly and customer focused. Entertainment was also good, a great holiday which I would recommend to anyone the scenery was amazing weather was mixed apart from one day when it never stopped raining. We did the Funicular ourselves it cost £5 each to go up as we walked back down which I would recommend if your able. We then went to find the Ice Bar which cost us £19 each it was good fun and worth going in. We bought the tickets for the Flam Railway off Fred Olsen and I would advise to do this as your seats are reserved for you and well worth doing. All of the Ports that we stopped at were expensive to buy anything but really worth looking round the shops, you can do your own thing plenty to see and do. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We chose this cruise as a stress less way of crossing to Barbados for a family gathering. The cabin (except it’s location) was excellent, food amazing, good entertainment. The distances from the ship to port gates nearly finished ... Read More
We chose this cruise as a stress less way of crossing to Barbados for a family gathering. The cabin (except it’s location) was excellent, food amazing, good entertainment. The distances from the ship to port gates nearly finished us off, no shuttles of any kind for poor walkers. Our cabin was mid-ships as far away from elevator as possible even though I had repeatedly asked for easy access. It was very shady being completely overhung by the top deck , a suite with sunbeds but with absolutely no sun! We did however have a full blown medical emergency which was very efficiently dealt with and at reasonable cost ,we also thought that the wine was very reasonably priced. We would go again in a flash but NEVER to an unknown cabin number ad would hope that some sort of shuttle service at the ports would be organised. How do Saga manage this situation? Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2017
A bit like a care home especially the lounge areas. A lot of elderly people with their carers on board and ambulance often waiting at the dockside. Some good points and some bad. It certainly would not suit everyone this ship or the type ... Read More
A bit like a care home especially the lounge areas. A lot of elderly people with their carers on board and ambulance often waiting at the dockside. Some good points and some bad. It certainly would not suit everyone this ship or the type of people. This review in 3 sections. 1. the Good 2. The Bad and 3. Some other general observations GOOD: Classic elegant salons Small ship - easy to get around Good service Uncluttered well designed interior Informative lectures Clear TV screen in cabin Good drinks prices. Good docking locations - due to small ship. Quick and easy to get off Good choice of wines Lovely library Some very interesting Norwegian works of art throughout ship No children Reasonably priced excursions THE BAD Amateurish shows including comedian Bad smells Maintenance work Average food Lack of friendly personable staff - extremely perfunctorily manner. Bored Only Stella lager on tap and Boddingtons beer Extremely unfriendly future sales - some kind of issue here Catastrophic port talks, the worst I've ever experienced Old peoples home atmosphere Very class based - various comments made - I.e. by comedian - reference to 'High Brow’ A Rough old crowd Extremely slow walkers Lack of current and/or forecasted weather conditions on in cabin screen Inaccurate Google Maps weather info on in cabin screen. 2nd restaurant sitting quite late @ 2100 2nd show sitting quite late @ 2230 Library can get very crowded. Strange games being played. Some general Observations: * There was Noise issue during 3 of the lectures which included the game of quoits as general maintenance work. I informed the GS about this in good time but they took a long time to stop the noise. Unacceptable. Even less acceptable was that they repeated the disruption on subsequent lectures and had to go to GS AGAIN to ask them to stop the noise. * Yellow water from taps * Guest Services seemed unable to take decisions or act with efficiency and basically not very happy with their job * Sticky handrails * Coaches not at ship in good time due to security at Casablanca delaying disembarkation. This should have been anticipated. Not good enough. * No current or forecasted weather conditions on TV * Google maps ship locator TV screen showed inaccurate information such as weather * Some girls lack warmth and performed duties with perfunctory boredom. * The port talks extremely poor - the worst I've ever experienced. * Guest Services - somewhat insolent. Not understanding questions. Impatient, tired, unsmiling. * Garden Cafe - matre D very good. But still there's a detectable uneasy malaise * Bookshelf Cafe - surly personal * No apology for maintenance wk * Special mention to staff of Observations bar plus William Rodriguez. Plus Chandra. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Plenty to do on the Black Watch, throughout the day and plenty excursions to enjoy when in port whether you choose to do it yourself or through one of the organised activities. The ship was very clean considering her age and constant ... Read More
Plenty to do on the Black Watch, throughout the day and plenty excursions to enjoy when in port whether you choose to do it yourself or through one of the organised activities. The ship was very clean considering her age and constant maintenance takes place to ensure this. Our cabin 8005 with balcony was adequate for our week's holiday and it was cleaned and maintained daily by our wonderful young lady who looked after us for that week. Dining was excellent, we requested first sitting and had a table for two, although we were in close proximity of 4 other people whom we struck up good conversation with. The waiters could not do enough to please you, along with bar staff in all the bars. Evening show was well presented and varied with some talented artists. Although there were a high percentage of elderly people on board that did not make the experience less enjoyable, in fact it was nice to see older people enjoying themselves. Trip was so good, we booked for another one next year to the fjords and the port being 5 minutes from our door. Couldn't ask for more. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
Been on a couple of Fred Olsen cruises before on the Balmoral & was expecting the same kind of treatment ,sadly I couldn't have been more wrong !. the ship looked shabby & dated .The ship is not disabled friendly . there ... Read More
Been on a couple of Fred Olsen cruises before on the Balmoral & was expecting the same kind of treatment ,sadly I couldn't have been more wrong !. the ship looked shabby & dated .The ship is not disabled friendly . there are only two sets of lifts which are small & you have to walk down very long corridors to get to cabins which are cramped and not well fitted. There were only two smoking areas on board which can only be accessed by climbing stairs ,when I asked they had failed to offer a smoking area with level access I was quite rudely told that this was the wish of the owners & basically told hard luck . the entertainment is abysmal !.the excursions are an overpriced rip-off and they do not provide provide free shuttles out of the ports they charge you five pounds per day . Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
Having cruised on P & O and enjoyed the experience, we thought that Fred Olsen with its smaller ships stopping at ports unavailable to larger ships would be better. There are many positive things to say about this cruise including the ... Read More
Having cruised on P & O and enjoyed the experience, we thought that Fred Olsen with its smaller ships stopping at ports unavailable to larger ships would be better. There are many positive things to say about this cruise including the very friendly atmosphere. The accommodation was fine, the staff were fantastic, with nothing being too much trouble. The entertainment was exceptionally good throughout the cruise. The shore excursions were somewhat hit and miss, but overall fine. The great let down was the food. The restaurant food was passable, however the buffet options were the worst that I have ever experienced. The menus suggest that for health reasons, passengers should make sure that the food was thoroughly cooked so as not to risk individuals health. Unfortunately I was unable to find a single egg which you would consider safe to eat or even hot. For those who ate in the buffet areas when they opened, the majority of the food was cold. A breakfast of partially cooked fried egg, cold beans and cold sausage and bacon is not ideal. One fantastic plus for this cruise were the Phillapean staff who were amazing. Despite a very busy working schedule - they smile Day and night. Their attention to detail and warm personalities provide the kind of atmosphere that can only be admired. We did enjoy the cruise - shame about the food. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2016
Short break. Old ship but friendly and very clean Adapted cabin Well positioned Close to lift.. Twin beds . Bed next to window very cold. Impossible to sleep even with extra quilts and heating full on plus very noisy children ... Read More
Short break. Old ship but friendly and very clean Adapted cabin Well positioned Close to lift.. Twin beds . Bed next to window very cold. Impossible to sleep even with extra quilts and heating full on plus very noisy children running up and down corridor till early hours.. Cabin basic but shower suitable for disabled. Food good in Ballindoloch restaurant but strangely no vegetables included. Buffet Very good in Avon and Spey restaurants Entertainment .Lots of noisy screeching and manic dancing.. Not to our taste. We love the headliners on P &O Ballroom dancing between shows very pleasant but spoiled by young children racing around dance floor. Very dangerous. Nobody stopped them.. There was a disco on another deck and they could have had their own fun and games but nothing was organised . No separate pool for adults only and a visit to jaccuzi in beautiful sunshine spoiled by lots of children jumping in and out. They were completely out of control and again nobody stopped them. We were very disappointed and abandoned it. My wife is disabled and it was too risky. Honfleur very pleasant , beautiful weather. Would only go again on an adult only cruise . On other ships they have a kids club and their own programme and it is not a problem. We love kids but not running wild. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2016
Recently cruised from Rosyth to France, Sapin and Portugal. I found the whole thing to be the best holiday I ever had. ALL the staff greeted you with a genuine smile unlike some airline staff who put on a "painted" smile. More ... Read More
Recently cruised from Rosyth to France, Sapin and Portugal. I found the whole thing to be the best holiday I ever had. ALL the staff greeted you with a genuine smile unlike some airline staff who put on a "painted" smile. More importantly you were called by your name so you felt more of a person rather than just being a number. Houskeeping staff attended to the cabin twice a day and the waiting staff were efficient and could not do enough for you. The entertainment was top class and there was plenty organised activities throughout the day. Yes, the Black Watch may be an older ship compared to the mammoth ships sailing today, but this just added to the friendliness amongst the crew and passengers. I have booked with the Black Watch for 2018 and intend to do so for as long as I can. Long may the Black Watch continue to sail the seas from Rosyth! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
Having been on a Fred Olsen cruise before and seeing this one departing from my home port of Belfast. Being a regular cruiser I was aware the check in system is normally the worst experience. This was much better and when we arrived ... Read More
Having been on a Fred Olsen cruise before and seeing this one departing from my home port of Belfast. Being a regular cruiser I was aware the check in system is normally the worst experience. This was much better and when we arrived there was no one else in the queue. The short journey to the ship was done on a local bus. The only negative point was when we arrived on board only a small snack was supplied. this was at 2pm and as we were not having our evening meal to 8.30 this was a bit too long. The room was clean and as described. The ship overall was a bit dated but presentable. The staff like any other ship were helpful. The normal shows and actives were available. The all inclusive was described as any thing available however I found that for selected teas and drinks for example cocktails and specialty tea was priced at half price. Barcadi would be my drink of choice however again this was half price a local white rum was choice. ad to see that from the information we were given no more cruises will start from Belfast after the two planned for next year. Hope to be able to go on the ship again next year. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
Only ever cruised with Fred. over many years. Black Watch is still to me the best. Excellent food all crew member were excellent Entertainment excellent ( I especially liked the choir performed by some passengers. Some crew ... Read More
Only ever cruised with Fred. over many years. Black Watch is still to me the best. Excellent food all crew member were excellent Entertainment excellent ( I especially liked the choir performed by some passengers. Some crew say when they see me ' Welcome home'. Even remember my name and what I drink. I think of some of crew as friends, however the do not forget all passengers and are always professional. The ship is always spotless and all crew work hard to keep it so. I used to travel with my partner, who was confined in a wheel chair. The seating arrangements at meal times for her was excellent. we always had a table to suit her needs. and spoilt her of many years. Pushing her in her wheelchair we managed to complete many miles around the desk. I now travel alone and now go on most of the trips on port days. I especially liked the cycle trip of about 8 miles (although it was electric cycle full instruction was given to all. Have booked for Iceland for next year, together with two other cruises with Fred. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
I had never been on a cruise before, this being on my Bucket List. I had a really great time, I could not fault the Ship or her Crew. The sailing was very smooth and the scenery spectacular. I would recommend this to anyone, I enjoyed ... Read More
I had never been on a cruise before, this being on my Bucket List. I had a really great time, I could not fault the Ship or her Crew. The sailing was very smooth and the scenery spectacular. I would recommend this to anyone, I enjoyed it so much I have booked to sail on another cruise next year. The shore excursions were well organised and interesting, with a local guide who knew the area well, and could answer any questions asked. The facilities on board could not be faulted and the food was well above average. In fact I might have gone just for the food. There were plenty of activities for those who wanted them, or for people like me a quite relaxing time chilling out and reading with the occasional glass or two. The evening entertainment was good and varied with different artists at various locations on board. Overall I would recommend this to anyone. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
We thought we would give FO a second chance having cruised with them before. We tried an inside cabin for the first time as it was only two nights. We have cruised many times before and know what is normal this time we were ... Read More
We thought we would give FO a second chance having cruised with them before. We tried an inside cabin for the first time as it was only two nights. We have cruised many times before and know what is normal this time we were disappointed mainly with embarkation/disembarkation, the food & food service. We use a disability scooter and normally have no problems getting on and off but the "ramps" were step/ramps and very steep, like they set up on the wrong deck. See photo. Staff helped with the scooter but my mobility impaired wife made herself totally breathless and exhausted and her inhaler was not effective by the time she got to the top, boarding staff were not interested so we went to customer services to advise of the problem for disabled persons, but again staff not interested and just said would put note on our file. The menus were uninspiring and the general restaurant service was organised chaos and totally disjointed. For example one person was serving tea & coffee and then you had wait while you hoped to flag down a separate milk person and then try and find the very rare toast person who appeared to have cold toast only. The breakfasts were very slow and food was cold. Many of the staff (There were exceptions) appeared totally disinterested and had the attitude I have only seen of people working their notice out or with very low morale. One in particular, we will call him Mark was ineffectual in seating people, making them wait unnecessarily while he showed others further down the line tables, the restaurant was virtually empty at the time, a jack of all trades wiping tables, serving drinks & toast and never a hand clean seen. The entertainment was OK and there were also late shows, when you had to be up very early the next day. There seemed very little to do during the day unless you wanted to play cards. Some loved the personal service that the smaller ships appear to provide but you can foster that on the big ships also and there is far more to do, its personal preference but the experience will not be repeated. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2013
After a care free embarkation at Southampton and a prompt delivery of our cases to our cabin we were prepared for another excellent cruise with Fred Olsen, having sailed on the Boudicca and the Black Prince and never disappointed. The ... Read More
After a care free embarkation at Southampton and a prompt delivery of our cases to our cabin we were prepared for another excellent cruise with Fred Olsen, having sailed on the Boudicca and the Black Prince and never disappointed. The cabin size is good on the Balmoral and there is more than enough cupboard and draw space to allow for a 19 day cruise. Stewardess was lovely and couldn't be more helpful. The ship is well laid out with easy access to all areas except for decks 11 and 3. For some reason the forward lift is the only one which accesses these 2 decks. This means that if you are midships our forward you had quit a long walk to the lifts. 11 is the sun deck and 3 has the Medical centre on it. The itinerary was very good as it included the Verde Islands, a one-off visit is recommended. The £10 all-inclusive charge is well worth it if you drink more than 2 glasses of wine each day. Our disappointment came when it came to dining. No problem with breakfast but lunch and dinner, a different story. Selection on menue and at the buffet was very limited. The portions and selections at dinner were limited in size and choice. The average age was in the 70's and the chef must have thought we were all on restricted diets. Veg served was usually carrots and brochlili. Potatoes served cold. I was confined for 3 days and food served to the cabin was always cold.The medical staff were excellent. The staff on board were excellent, as they have always have been on Fred Olsen ships. Shame about the chef. Will check to see who is Chef next time we sail with them.   Read Less
Sail Date: November 2012
We have done several cruises with Fred Olsen line on the Balmoral and compared to other cruise lines we have used , they come out head and shoulders above the rest in all categories. The cabins are very comfortable and cleaned daily, in ... Read More
We have done several cruises with Fred Olsen line on the Balmoral and compared to other cruise lines we have used , they come out head and shoulders above the rest in all categories. The cabins are very comfortable and cleaned daily, in fact I don't think I have ever seen such a clean vessel. The food was absolutely superb and really too plentiful, there was always something going for nearly every taste,and plenty of comfortable seating areas to relax in. The crew could not be faulted in any way, always happy , clean, and polite The entertainment was quite first class and very varied, the best of all was the section of the program where the crew provided the entertainment for the evening, absolutely incredible and very talented.. In future , when we want a cruise we will always pick the Balmoral, regardless of where it is going . Phil Foster   Read Less
Sail Date: July 2009
Well first let me say my husband and I are not fussy travellers, we don't grumble if there's only 2 grapes on a plate instead of 3 (like someone on our table did) but we do expect value for money and on this cruise we certainly ... Read More
Well first let me say my husband and I are not fussy travellers, we don't grumble if there's only 2 grapes on a plate instead of 3 (like someone on our table did) but we do expect value for money and on this cruise we certainly got that. We booked last minute so got a very good deal but even those paying top whack seemed very satisfied. Secondly, this has the view of a genuinely disabled passenger, but I won't harp on about it - we are not yet retired so were 'young ones' on this cruise.Embarkation was smooth, well organised and swift - as soon as I was spotted struggling on two sticks a wheelchair arrived and I was escorted aboard. Our inside cabin was clean and more than adequate,see cabin report. The ship itself was well thought out, but the Neptune Lounge, where the major entertainment was found wasn't quite big enough and it was sometimes difficult to get a seat. There was a large library, good sized card room, plenty of places to sit, relax and in the case of 75% of the passengers, doze off in the afternoon!Day one cruising and getting to know the ship, found all the eateries and generally had a good day.First port of call was Invergordon, Scotland and instead of getting the excursion, we decided to wing it and made our way down to the tourist Information tent, set up especially for the ships visit. They were putting on a small local 3 hour trip for £25 each so we hopped aboard with 4 others and had a wonderful time - we didn't go to any of the usual tourist attractions like Loch Ness, instead we visited Nigg church, saw castles, went to the Dalmore Whisky distillery for a video and wee dram, can't remember it all but we all enjoyed it and the driver was informed and friendly. We then pootled around Invergordon itself (only 250 yards from port) before returning to the ship and rated this a sucessful day.Cruising again and got involved with the quizzes, bingo (unheard of for me but I enjoyed it) pottered around the 2 boutiques, not very big but not very expensive either, got chatting to other passengers, the atmosphere aboard was very friendly. We discovered the Observatory where we spent many an evening peering out to sea in a vain attempt to spot a whale, we did see quite a few dolphins though.Then Iceland and a small town Seydisfjordur - what a quaint place. We decided to try and see what was about and after a half hours potter around the village (that's as long as it took and I walk very slow) caught the local bus to the next town. This cost about £7 each return and took 45 minutes each way with 20 minute stop at the town. We learnt we could have got an earlier bus to spend more time in the larger place but 20 minutes was really enough for us - it was the scenery we wanted and what scenery there was! Small waterfalls, the odd farm settlement, lovely landscape, we loved it.Back aboard and an overnight sail to Akureyri. Never saw much of the place as we had booked our blow-out excursion, £132 each for a whale watching and sightseeing day. Drove for over an hour to the whale watching port where we got aboard to be given mittens, blankets and wet coats! Hello, this is going to be cold...yep! Freezing in the mist and no marine life for 2 and a half hours when the shout rang out, dolphins at 9 o'clock - never saw them, everyone ran to that side and as I am slow I couldn't get there or see over the heads of everyone. Then the cry, whale! My husband manhandled me onto a bench but all I got was a glimpse of fin and gone....! It is a long time since I have felt so disappointed, 3 hours in the cold, misty, damp weather and no real sighting of anything, but we understood that sightings are not guaranteed and the weather hampered any viewings. Lunch lifted the mood in a smart little restaurant, service a bit slow but a good meal, then off to the whale museum (kinda rubbed it in we hadn't seen the real thing!) and a slow drive back for a tour around Akureyi - the tour guide was very informed and spoke excellent english, looked like a lovely place. A day cruising and we slept in so late we missed breakfast! Must have been the rigours of our whale watching attempt. On to the highlight of the tour, Reykjavik. WOW! What a place, without doubt the cleanest city I have ever seen. It has undergone a 20+ year improvement plan and the architecture is wonderful, the city spacious and 2 days was not enough, we want to go back and spend a week there. We had met 2 couples on board and decided to hire a taxi for the day between us as the excursions were very expensive (£132 each for the Golden Circle and £78 for the Blue Lagoon) We paid £300 between the six of us for a 6 hour tour with Siggi, our excellent driver who took us all around the Golden Circle - the advantage is not only monetary, we could also stop as long as we liked at all the tourist attractions - at the Geysers we stayed for an hour and stopped for a coffee too but the waterfalls, although beautiful were a bit dodgy underfoot and as our companions were all 75 and over we stayed only a half hour at each of them. The landscape is incredible - I found it hard to take in the Lava Fields caused when a volcano erupted thousands of years ago, the lava ran 80kms across Iceland and still nothing grows there after all these years. The lava fields are so barren and then suddenly you are back to green and plentiful again.After a fabulous day we asked about the Blue Lagoon on day two and Siggi did us a deal - £100 for the Lagoon and tour of the city all in. We met him at 9.30 and he gave us a great 3.5 hour tour, taking us all around the city (we discovered later he had added a couple of places that the ships tour never visited) and the Blue Lagoon is amazing - we spent over an hour wandering around the place (but never went in) stopped for a coffee and relaxed. Lovely. Please note we were blessed with the weather - Siggi said the temperature was the highest it had been for ages, the skies were blue, it was warm and sunny, I dare say the whole place wouldn't have quite the same magic in the rain. Farewell to Reyjkavik and very sad. A day and a half cruising and then the Faroe Islands. Now, I will tell you I am a bit anti Faroes due to their passion for clubbing whales to death on the beach in their annual ritual but I must say we liked it. Scenery very like Scotland/Lake district, and we decided to take the Panoramic coach tour and our guide, Hilda, was excellent. At a couple of stops I didn't get out of the coach as it was difficult terrain and we sat chatting to the driver who gave us loads of info on the place, it seemed a very friendly island (unless you are a whale) but bear in mind we only met 2 Faroese!Cruising overnight yet again and finally Dublin. We had paired up over the cruise with a great couple from Lancs and decided to go to Dublin together. A free shuttle was provided by the ship which dropped us off just around the corner from the hop on, hop off tour bus, and we boarded what must have been the best bus of the place - our driver was a comedian who regularly sang to us and we were loath to get off! Decided to visit the Jameson Distillery and lucky for us both my husband and our friend were picked to do the whisky challenge.... several whiskies later (and the ladies got a double too) we staggered out in fits of giggles and worse for wear to wander over the bridge and into the oldest bar in Dublin, the Brazen Head, est 1199, for lunch and a guiness. Can't remember much about the remainder of the afternoon but the photos show we enjoyed ourselves!Back aboard and the trip home, a kind of slow depression came on us as we realised our holiday was all but over...then it happened - we were stern of ship when I saw a spurt of water and a huge black and white head came up once, twice and then dived deep into the sea, a killer whale! At last! My holiday was complete!Back home and an early alarm call at 4 am when the engines roared to dock. Early breakfast then a quick easy disembarkation, we were on the road by 9 am.Overall I would rate this cruise 9 out of ten, the food was excellent, the staff excellent, friendly and helpful, entertainment good (catch the comedian, he's great) my only 2 complaints would be 1. the in-cabin tv did not give much, just intermittent world news and a couple of odd channels, would have liked a better choice of film (pay to view aimed mostly at kids) and a channel that you could watch in the evenings as you snuggled down to bed. 2. the excursions were expensive but luckily not compulsory. Not much to moan about. My biggest bugbear was the passengers pretending to be disabled, and there was several of them. As I booked late I was unable to take my wheelchair aboard as the spaces had been taken but some of those who did take them didn't seem to need them until excursion or disembarkation! One woman in particular ran about ship all fortnight (not a limp or a stick, even in rocky waters) and her chair suddenly appeared once we got to port so she could jump the queues. As someone disabled since childhood I was furious but accept Fred Olsen can do nothing about it - they had at least provided wheelchairs on ship so I used one of those on board and managed to get about on my two sticks at most of the ports. But it is infuriating, rather like the Blue Badge scheme when so many abuse the system and make it so difficult for the genuinely disabled. But I didn't let the b****ds spoil my holiday!Can't praise this trip highly enough, it had everything if you like dramatic scenery, wildlife (there were several excited birdwatchers aboard) good food, good company and excellent service. We found the overall feel of the ship very friendly and relaxed but we are outgoing and social by nature and met some lovely people aboard. Of course there was the odd sourpuss but they're everywhere in life! Iceland may not be to everybodys liking but we absolutely loved it and are definetely going back one day, the sooner the better. And we've already booked another Fred Olsen cruise....... Invergordon, not on the list!Quiet pleasant town, about 250 yards from port. Bus stop in main street for Inverness. Small supermarket, tourist information, charity shop, pub. Not a place you could spend 6 hours in, you need to get the bus, a tour or taxi to explore. Tourist information tent set up on the way into town with very friendly people there to help you. If I go again I would rent a car via the internet for the day to go explore, or get the local tour available from the tent. Seydisfjordur - not on listTourist information is just inside the cafe after you clear customs, then a short walk into the village. This is very small with little in it, a coffee shop, a couple of gift places, a bar, all these surround a small lake. Very lovely village but you need to get out and explore more - the local bus goes to the next village but if you don't fancy that this may be a place where you should get one of the excursions as there's not much else to do. Akureyri - not on listWe took an excusrion from here so can't give much advice. Sorry. It is a large town/small city and looks to have lots going for it, other passengers rated it highly. We did the tour of the city and would like to have had more time there to investrigate Reykjavik - not on listOn arrival you go out through customs, just a few yards from the ship. There is a shop there with loads of tourist leaflets and you can hire a car or book tours. We found a chap touting taxis outside the shop and 6 of us booked one between us - it sounds expensive at £300 for the day, but between six it is less than half the price of the ships excursion and you have more control. The taxi driver was knowledgable and knew exactly where to go. We had thought of hiring a car (around £200 for the day) but would have missed an awful lot, where do you go? This was the place to go whale watching - there were two or three tours from the ship (and you could probably get one from the shop too) and they all saw loads of whales and dolphins. The city itself is some way from the port so you would need a bus/taxi to get right to the city centre, well worth the trip, the streets and shops are quaint, easy walking by the look of the pavements and very clean. Some of the tourist attractions are some way out of the city (the water carriers for example were on the edge with a view over the entire city) so you would need some mode of transport to see it all. The old harbour is a long walk away but interesting. Bear in mind we saw all this from a car so difficult to work out walking distance but it all looked a long way to me!Do the Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon trips one way or another, it really is too good to miss. Faroe IslandsWe were booked on the panoramic trip so left the ship and got straight on the bus. Toured the capital Torshavn and ventured out to a small village where there was an old viking settlement, and on to a wood cutters place near the sea (inaccessable to any one with walking difficulties) It is lovely scenery wise, saw a bit of wildlife, mainly birds and hares, and some of the beaches. Only 5 hours here so little to do, don't know if there was a tourist information place anywhere, but the tour is well worth the money (£26) Read Less
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