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

20 Fred. Olsen Europe Cruise Reviews

Every thing was so easy. Arrived at Queen Elizabeth terminal and cases were collected from us and car taken to be parked. Walked straight into arrivals with no queue. Quick check in, told cabin was ready for us and lunch was been served in ... Read More
Every thing was so easy. Arrived at Queen Elizabeth terminal and cases were collected from us and car taken to be parked. Walked straight into arrivals with no queue. Quick check in, told cabin was ready for us and lunch was been served in Grampian restaurant. The food throughout the cruise was excellent. Portions are not huge in the restaurant but meal is 5 courses so you are never hungry. Buffet style restaurant also available and you can get as much as you like. The whole ship was so clean and all the staff were attentive and friendly. There was a range of onboard activities. The library was popular and had a good selection of books and board games. The age range of the cruisers varied. We are early 50’s and were certainly not the youngest. Yes there are some older people onboard but it was no means a care home. If you are looking for disco type entertainment and casino setting this isn’t the ship for you. If you want good food, good company, be able to relax read, have a glass or two of wine, chill and visit great ports (Braemar is able to get into smaller ports which means closer to centre of towns so no coach or tender needed which was so easy) then this is the ship for you. We travelled with our 13 year old son. There were 25 children on board who had designated staff to entertain them throughout the sea days. This was more for the younger children 4 to 10 years. If you are looking for crèche/children’s area this is not available on this ship but all the children appeared happy and our son said he would definitely cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
This was a Mystery Cruise the only clues we had were the vague descriptions of excursions in 4 ports one of which was overnight. The Captain gave us confusing descriptions each day from 28 Deg in our next Port to Heading for Florida, 12 or ... Read More
This was a Mystery Cruise the only clues we had were the vague descriptions of excursions in 4 ports one of which was overnight. The Captain gave us confusing descriptions each day from 28 Deg in our next Port to Heading for Florida, 12 or 18 knots overnight speed etc. Our electronics were no help. Everyone woke up one morning with a message on their Mobile giving the cost of calls from the USA ! The ShipMate App could not find us. We ended up visiting Oslo, Gothenburg, Copenhagen and overnight in Amsterdam. His weather button worked a treat we had excellent weather in each port and other than Gothenburg were able to walk into town (City). Neptune was sleeping so our time at sea was extremely smooth even though we were in the vicinity of the Viking Sky. Definitely a cruise for the "Older" cruiser, the entertainment was average but the intrigue was excellent throughout the ship. Some did not even realise we were in Amsterdam just as we were docking !. Our Cabin was one of the best we have had for the Class with the exception of the Showerhead. Chinese Water Punishment comes to mind. The staff were excellent and the new updated IT facilities made a big difference. The ship is 74 years old but has been well preserved. Nothing like a Mega ship but enough space to find your own comfort area when needed. Would we go again...Yes ! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise, our first with 'Fred', entirely on price as ridiculously cheap at £45 per night.pp. We have visited all the destinations before which made it quite relaxing. For the price you really can't complain ... Read More
We chose this cruise, our first with 'Fred', entirely on price as ridiculously cheap at £45 per night.pp. We have visited all the destinations before which made it quite relaxing. For the price you really can't complain about anything. The staff are fantastic to a tee. Ever single one we met was polite,courteous, smiley and friendly. The food is superb, as good as any we have been on including Cunard and P and O. Exception being afternoon tea which we felt a little lacking. It irks a bit being asked to pay to change dinner sitting. Most other cruise lines are helpful and try to do this for free. Not a good first impression. We particularly liked the way the buffet restaurant opens out onto the open back decks allowing al fresco dining with great views. Many modern ships lack this with rear decks reserved for cabins. Entertainment in the theatre is absolutely superb, great acts all the way through, very polished and a great live orchestra for every show. The theatre seating though is awful. The mix of sofas and swivel chairs just doesn't work. The levels are all wrong and getting past is difficult. Many drinks spilt from silly table design. Replacing the swivel chairs with another row of sofas would be far better. And why oh why must they serve drinks during performances? It is bad enough with inconsiderate guests and unfortunately some staff members, (good to see the comedian laying into one of the repeat staff offenders!) getting up and moving around or talking during performances, with waiters taking orders too it is so disruptive. Surely people can survive for 45 minutes without ordering a drink and if one is that incontinent surely it is polite to sit at the back? Some polite reminders needed at the start of the show perhaps? Other bars were of mixed quality entertainment. The string quartet were superb, we felt they needed a 'quiet zone' so that they could be fully appreciated.. The ship itself is mixed. Inside areas: Some areas have been revamped and look great such as the observation and lido bars and the library/card room. We didn't use the spa/gym but this looked superb with the best views on the ship. Much of the ship though is dated and has a bit of a motorway service station come care home vibe. There is no 'wow factor', However it is all comfortable with plenty of lounge areas and does the job. Outside decks: We love the 'stacked' rear decks. Plenty of space and often sheltered on sea days. However, excepting the revamped lido lounge, it is all rather tired looking with rust stains around the pool etc. The sunbeds are ancient and well past their sell by date. There are plenty of them though. What really disgusted us was the way too many people lay with sweaty bare skin direct on the fabric with no towels. Yuk! There really need to be pool towels handed out on deck, not just in the cabin and some signage encouraging their use. Our man gripe would be cleanliness. We were pleased that there was enforcement of hand gel use at the entry to restaurants. There were however, too many sticky and smeary surfaces throughout the ship. It didn't gleam like other cruise lines we have been with. Chairs in the lounges with sticky wooden arms. When you pick up a chair in the restaurant your hand would stick to the back. Tables not wiped down when resetting in the buffet etc. This really needs attention. Getting on and off the ship was flawless and we liked the way that independent travel is not discouraged as with some other lines. Bus pick up points etc are advertised. All in all though fantastic value and a very frienldly down to earth ship. With the October refit hopefully addressing some of the issues and some attention to cleaning standards we would certainly use Fred Olsen again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We wanted to get away for some summer sun in January but didn't want the hassle of flying so a cruise from Southampton to Madeira and the Canary Islands sounded perfect, and it was. We couldn't believe how smooth embarkation ... Read More
We wanted to get away for some summer sun in January but didn't want the hassle of flying so a cruise from Southampton to Madeira and the Canary Islands sounded perfect, and it was. We couldn't believe how smooth embarkation was. On arrival at Southampton a member of staff was ready to whisk our bags away before we had even parked and within minutes of arrival we were sat in the Observation Lounge with a G&T. The crew were friendly, helpful and very efficient. The ports we visited were all interesting and the days at sea gave us a chance to relax. We were very lucky with the weather as the Bay of Biscay was calm. There was an outbreak of Norovirus (only to be expected) and full marks to the crew for stepping up to all the additional duties with a smile. Bottom of the class were the passengers we saw taking plates of sandwiches from the cafe back to their room, eating them on their way and then touching the handrails - hardly hygienic; the partner of a quarantined passenger who was determined to go on his booked tour excursion even though the captain had said he was not allowed ashore and the passengers who refused to use the hand gel. Only downside was the decision to ban jogging outside. The gym was hot and running machines are not good for knees. There are many responsible joggers who like to run in the fresh air and are always considerate to fellow guests. Come on Fred you could have some 'jogging time' on deck when other passengers could be warned to keep an eye out for runners. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
we have travelled on the fred olsen ship Balmoral over 10 times and we joined her again in October 2018 in Southampton for our yearly cruise to the Canaries. As soon as you step on the Balmoral 's carpet you feel as if someone has ... Read More
we have travelled on the fred olsen ship Balmoral over 10 times and we joined her again in October 2018 in Southampton for our yearly cruise to the Canaries. As soon as you step on the Balmoral 's carpet you feel as if someone has put their arm around you and says come on in we will give you a really good time. The weather on this cruise was not good but the crew always did their best to entertain us. The crew are so friendly and the entertainment is of a very high standard, particularly the show company . The daily activities are fun and varied and Alex and Duncan were great and organised the games and quizzes really well. The food is excellent and the service extremely efficient . Our waiters were so kind and attentive and accommodated any request which deviated from the menu. Our fellow diners were charming which is important as you are allocated set tables for the evening meal. You are of course at liberty to visit the self service palms cafe if you wish to dine more informally. The embarkation ran very smoothly and we can't wait to see her again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
I fancied a short cruise with some formal nights included, so this 8 night cruise ticked that box! As I stay on the ship the ships life, crew, staff, food, gym, restaurants and entertainment are important to me..and I was not ... Read More
I fancied a short cruise with some formal nights included, so this 8 night cruise ticked that box! As I stay on the ship the ships life, crew, staff, food, gym, restaurants and entertainment are important to me..and I was not disappointed. All were brilliant for me so my rating is 15 out of 10! The older ship has a lot of character for me, views of the seascape almost everywhere.. The cabin was fine with the welcome addition of a fridge.. The TV has been upgraded since i was last on board much better.. Room service was very good too.. Absolutely loved dining in the Thistle restaurant.. Entertainment suited me and followed on from second sitting in the restaurant.. A general spread of various activities, not my bag though..this was a "spa break" for me..so enjoyed the gym and sauna most mornings.. I found the service excellent..:-) I stay on board so cannot comment on the shore excursions.. I will book on Braemar again soon..the small ship really suits my condition...embarkation and disembarkation were a breeze! Enjoy :-) BFN "Grumpy!..." Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
From the moment we arrived at Southampton arrived bang on time 1 o’clock like ticket said staff could not be more helpful cases gone in a blink of an eye , no que in the terminal got the cruise card and straight through customs on to the ... Read More
From the moment we arrived at Southampton arrived bang on time 1 o’clock like ticket said staff could not be more helpful cases gone in a blink of an eye , no que in the terminal got the cruise card and straight through customs on to the ship in less then 20 mins and can I just say she is a lovely ship . we didn’t go for lunch instead we headed for the morning light pub to have a pint of Stella and a whiskey and coke they don’t sell Stella here but the staff are more than willing to go and get one from the neptune bar like always can’t do enough for you . cabin ready 2.30 pm couldn’t wait to unpack and start my holiday the cabin no 8004 what can I say, really nice size ,very clean , nice size bathroom with bath plenty of storage space .the balcony is to die for , nothing above apart from blue sky, I worked it out , it is 67 steps from balcony to the observatory bar , no draft but cocktails and cans of largar , the food in the Thistle restaurant was very good as too was the palms cafe , as for the service nothing too much . entertainment was good can’t praise all the staff enough . all of the ship was clean and tidy all of the time , sea days , plenty to do . if you wanted or just lounge about like we did the weather was great , unexpected for that time of year in northern Spain . Passengers mixed ages all up for a laugh . getting on and off the ship at ports was effort less thanks to the stafff.didn’t what to leave but had to ,just like to say ,£15 a day drinks package no brainier thank you Fred Olsen see you soon Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
During the bleak November short evenings an e mail arrived in my inbox from Fred Olsen advertising a mystery cruise for 5 days over Easter. Where were we going ? Don't know! So of course we booked on! Driving down to Dover from ... Read More
During the bleak November short evenings an e mail arrived in my inbox from Fred Olsen advertising a mystery cruise for 5 days over Easter. Where were we going ? Don't know! So of course we booked on! Driving down to Dover from the Midlands is always fraught with delay so we went down the day before and stayed at the Best Western Hotel on the seafront. Nice hotel and a good bar meal. Taking a walk I looked over to the port and there was the Boudicca, tied up in the docks. Over breakfast we could see the steady arrival of lorries replenishing the ship which had been undergoing a refit for the previous two weeks. We boarded at 2:30 pm after a trouble free check in. We had a wheelchair and were taken on to the ship with as much help as we needed. A quick visit to the Secret Garden on deck 6 supplied the first of our tea and cake stops. There were sandwiches for those who were more hungry. The lifeboat drill was our first event and it passed the time until dinner. I was getting a little worried as the ship was getting underway and our bags were not in the cabin. However I need not have worried as they turned up shortly afterwards. Our first port if call was Ghent in Belgium which is a pretty town and accessible for visitors. There is a chocolate shop there where you can see chocolates being made and they are the best in Belgium. There was a shuttle bus from the port and our driver was a star getting the large coach through the narrow turnings and obstacles. The second port was Amsterdam which we accessed by a taxi. It was really busy and a frightening experience, but we are glad we went as we have never seen so many bikes. To be honest I never want to see that many again. Rotterdam was accessed by the port shuttle bus and was quite nice with an outdoor market and an indoor food hall but I think quite a lot of the town was shut as it was a Bank holiday. However we came back laden with cheese. We booked two outside cabins on deck 3 with port holes. We like deck 3 as it is the evenest place to be on the ship when the weather is bad. It is also good when the boarding is at deck 3. Boudicca is a small ship which means that you can find anything you want and you don't lose your family or friends for too long! We tend to hang around the same areas such as the library so we can find each other. The ship has had some changes since we were on her in August. Most noticeable is the Indian Ocean Restaurant which is now a light and airy place to eat and the oriental tea room on the way to the Neptune lounge. Again this is light and airy. There is a new TV system which seemed to work and had some reasonably new films on it. There did not seem to be the controlled chaos which followed the first trip on Black Watch after the refit . ( We were on that too) There is no 24 hour dining on Fred Olsen ships but I can't think why people want it anyway. Breakfast is available in either the main restaurants or the Secret garden at the times displayed in the Daily Times. There is probably everything to eat that you have at home and everything that you could wish for, from cold meat, cereals and porridge through to the full English. Lunch is a choice, you can go to the buffet and choose what you wish yourself or the waiters will serve you. We tend to do a mixture of both as my husband is very keen on the soup which is waiter service only. Afternoon tea is served in the Secret Garden which is the self service restaurant and is available without booking. There are a selection of sandwiches and cakes for those who have an appetite. Following this there is dinner which can be a 5 course extravaganza if that's what you fancy. There are limited options to choose from but the food is usually good or excellent and I have yet to find an equal at home. There is a supper club but I am usually tucked up in bed by then. Service is good in the restaurant and the bars and I noted that there were staff taken on to provide some activities for children. Would we go again? You bet! Would we go on a mystery cruise? Yes! Read Less
Sail Date March 2018
It's always nice to do something in the rather dismal month of January. We secured an excellent deal (just £199 each) on this 3-night short-cruise to Rouen and Honfleur and were not disappointed. We had previusly spent a week on ... Read More
It's always nice to do something in the rather dismal month of January. We secured an excellent deal (just £199 each) on this 3-night short-cruise to Rouen and Honfleur and were not disappointed. We had previusly spent a week on Balmoral in 2016, but after her recent refit she was noticeably fresher in her decor. We normally go 'inside' and were pleased with our cabin (5150) with its very comfortable beds and (well done Fred Olsen!) extremely well-lit bathroom. It was also nice to see that Fred still offers Twinings teabags! We prefer second-sitting dinner and elected to pay the £2 per head per night to switch from our assigned first-sitting in the excellent Bendarroch. The food was very good throughout - as had been expected. Lunch in the smaller Spey and Avon on Deck 10 is our preference and is recommended. We enjoyed two excellent shows staged by the hard-working resident company of ten. If both are still running for a while to come, make sure that you go and see the nautically-themed 'Bon Voyage' and the raunchier 'Ministry Of Rock' (I might have got the show names slightly wrong). Whilst many fellow-passengers chose to stay on board - it was extremely wet unfortunately - we walked to and from Rouen on the Sunday afternoon and it was good to see the famous clock and the magnificent cathedral with its lovely tinkly carillons in the afternoon. The weather was better on Monday in Honfleur, which is always a delight ot visit. We will be looking out for more short cruises like this and can heartily recommend Balmoral for a pleasurable 'sensible-sized ship' experience. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We did this cruise for our honeymoon - it was our first cruise and our first time in Europe, so we thought the interesting itinerary would be a good taster. We also got it for a last-minute great price. Embarkation: Southampton ... Read More
We did this cruise for our honeymoon - it was our first cruise and our first time in Europe, so we thought the interesting itinerary would be a good taster. We also got it for a last-minute great price. Embarkation: Southampton embarkation was brilliant: luggage arrived before we even got on the ship. Our cabin, as written below, was excellent, and as it was on the main deck was close to all the facilities. The ship: The ship itself is small and fairly old: some parts were a little dated but overall the condition of the ship was excellent. We liked how small the ship was as it meant that there was always plenty of room in the common areas and bars, and you never felt crowded. You could also mostly get from one end of the ship to other in about ten minutes, so none of the venues were very far away. The on-board staff were always so personable and friendly: always smiling and greeting you by name. Something to note is that the ship probably caters mainly to older clients - we were probably some of the youngest there (at ages 26 and 25). It meant the on-board activities didn't really relate to us very well, and especially the one day at sea got very boring (wifi was extortionate and I refused to pay the price!). We ended up hanging out in the Lido Lounge drinking, which was okay especially as it was never very crowded and had excellent service from the bar staff. Food and drinks: We had the 8:30pm dinner sitting in the Ballindalloch restaurant, which suited us as it meant we didn't have to rush back from the ports. The few days we did arrive back earlier we could however go to the Palms Café which had unlimited buffet-style service from 6:30pm (and breakfast, lunch, and supper club). The food overall was excellent: in the restaurant we were treated to varied five-course meals which were always interesting and presented nicely. In the Café you could choose basically whatever was on offer, which was always tasty and high quality - and unlimited too! Something to note about the restaurant: we thought we'd be fine going to the two Formal Nights with just a shirt and black trousers - not so! Dinner jackets are mandatory. So we ate in the Café on those two nights. Something to keep in mind for newbies to cruises... Room service was mostly free which was a great surprise - sandwiches, cakes, some drinks all complimentary. One thing we didn't quite understand was that large bottles of water (presented in the cabin each morning after the turn-down service, or via room service) cost £1.50 a day. Bit odd considering that fruit drinks and such could just be ordered for free. We also opted for the All Inclusive Drinks package at £240 total cost. We didn't feel this was really that worth it, as the All Inclusive Drinks menu was fairly limited. You do get half price on most other menu items though. In the end we tried to drink as much of the free cheap alcohol as possible in order to break even! Ports and shore excursions: Be aware that Rouen was quite far away from the port - a fifteen minute coach trip in traffic or an hour's walk. We were told there would be taxis so we opted for that and didn't bother buying the coach tickets; but when we got ashore there were no taxis, and we ended up waiting over an hour and a half in the cold for one! Eventually we just bought a £5 couch ticket from the ship... Rouen was lovely though overall. Amsterdam and especially Antwerp were much closer to the port, which was brilliant. We did shore excursions in both these cities: Edam and a cheese factory in Amsterdam, and Ghent and a chocolatiers in Antwerp. Both times the tour guides were funny and knowledgeable, but we felt the Edam tour was very rushed; only allowing about 45 minutes in the town (not including ten minutes walking back to the coach park each way) which didn't really give us any time to relax or explore the place. We ended up having to leave Antwerp about six hours early due to approaching storms, which was a massive shame as it meant we only got to see it in the evening (due to the excursion) and couldn't see it at all the next day as originally advertised. I know you can't help the weather, but... Overall though the experience was very positive. I'd definitely recommend The Balmoral for the fact its a cosier ship, and Fred Olsen staff were so friendly and caring throughout. Read Less
Sail Date November 2017
It was a cruise for my wife's senior birthday. After forgetting our passports and having to return home after a stay at the Premier Inn the boarding was over in 45 minutes and all cases were unpacked with half an hour of entering the ... Read More
It was a cruise for my wife's senior birthday. After forgetting our passports and having to return home after a stay at the Premier Inn the boarding was over in 45 minutes and all cases were unpacked with half an hour of entering the cabin. We have been on the ship a few time so we knew the layout of it. On our first night dining, I was uncertain of one of the other guest on the table. The second night after he stated that the staff of the ship had an easy life we decided that was a good reason to leave the table. This was the first time we have done it in over 20 cruises. The ship was clean and the ports visited all very nice some we have been to before but this was a chill out cruise. No tours booked. The food was of its normal high standard with plenty of choices. We did not go to any of the lectures so can't comment. What I will prise very highly is the entertainment team. The night shows in both the club and theatre were of a very high standard. The best we have ever had. All in all a great 5-star cruise well done Fred. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
Never had visited areas before. History of all locations fascinated us and we wanted to see modern developments in the areas which had been rejuvenated post war. Although the ship was forced to anchor some distance from Helgoland ... Read More
Never had visited areas before. History of all locations fascinated us and we wanted to see modern developments in the areas which had been rejuvenated post war. Although the ship was forced to anchor some distance from Helgoland port the weather was kind and we managed to land by tender, in excellent conditions (which were a rarity for the island ). Walked around a fascinating laid back almost Scandanavian retreat . No cars or buses, delivery vehicles were all electric! Hamburg has a modern Hafen -City port, with centre easily reached by Ubahn.Architecture and area around Alster lake outstanding. The night time trip on the lake on a vintage steamer called the St Georg was memorable. Sailing, rowing and canoeing was still going on in the dusk.The new , very modern Philharmonie building near the cruise terminal offered free entry to viewing platform over the Elbe. The trip up the Weser from Bremerhaven showed Germany’s industrial redevelopment , container terminals, factories, ship building etc all featured. Although we berthed 7 km from the old town , buses took us into the centre in 30 minutes . The Town Square with the gabled builings, the Rathaus, St Peters Church wre very photogenic. However for us the main attraction was Stutting and the Art Deco buildings lesding down to the river. The Schnoor area had many pretty old alleys with typical Olde Worlde shops and houses.Although it was rather “touristy” with many souvenir shops. The Black Watch crise ship had been recently refurbished and our cabin was a compltete delight , decorated in turquoise and cream .Toilet and shower room had been tadtefully refitted too. Lifts and stairways were easily acessible and rarely crowded. Entertainment from the resident troupers was good. The guest violinist was outstanding too. Compliments were given personally to the head chef- his menus were varied and of high quality. To cap it all the North Sea was flat calm in both diirections and the sun shone when we were at sea. We would recommend this cruise whole heartedly. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Braemar is a very happy, friendly ship. Being smaller, it's much easier and quicker getting on and off the ship - didn't have to queue once for anything during the whole cruise. Embarkation and disembarkation was slick and very ... Read More
Braemar is a very happy, friendly ship. Being smaller, it's much easier and quicker getting on and off the ship - didn't have to queue once for anything during the whole cruise. Embarkation and disembarkation was slick and very quick with plenty of helpful crew members around to help. Our luggage was outside our cabin when we got on board and the whole experience was trouble free and relaxing. We are seasoned cruisers but this was our first time with Fred Olsen and first time on a smaller ship. Fantastic! We wish we had discovered Fred Olsen before; there are no hidden extras and they are not trying to fleece us at every turn like some cruise lines do. The food is excellent and far better quality than most of the cruise lines sailing from UK. Everything seems to be 'upmarket' in an understated way; even the self-service 'Palms Cafe' has linen napkins and tablecloths. Drinks are reasonably priced in ALL of the bars and the tours are not as expensive as we expected. No gimmicks or 'tackyness'. Cabins are very comfortable and SPOTLESSLY clean. Entertainment was very good. Don't think we will be cruising with anyone else from now on. We chose this cruise as it was an unusual destination for a cruise ship sailing from the UK: River Seine all the way up to Rouen, which was very nice. Would recommend this itinerary for a change from the usual short hops to Zeebrugge, Rotterdam etc. We were docked close enough to Rouen to walk into town (about 35 minutes walk along the riverside walkway) but Fred Olsen put on a shuttle bus as well. The crossing from Southampton was a bit choppy but it was nice to feel you are at sea. All in all, a very pleasant experience and we would highly recommend a cruise on Braemar. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Once upon a time I was working at a shipping agency in a South American port, when a brand-new ship come into port. It was the Crown Odyssey, which belonged to the Royal Cruise Line and we were appointed agents for four calls during ... Read More
Once upon a time I was working at a shipping agency in a South American port, when a brand-new ship come into port. It was the Crown Odyssey, which belonged to the Royal Cruise Line and we were appointed agents for four calls during February and March 1989. The ship impressed even the experienced pilots by its easy manoeuvrability. Visitors and passengers were also impressed by the then ultra-modern décor, which was a bit dark and made extensive use of mirrors and brass surfaces. I recall that the authorities were received on what was called Theo’s Bar (Theo been a well-known barman for that line) and the entrance to it had a curved space, full of mirrors and in the middle a peacock on a golden cage. The whole peacock was covered by fibre optics which made it change its colours every minute or so. Nothing new nowadays but then it was a wow factor. Fast forward 28 years and I find myself, from the Western Heights in Dover, looking at the now Balmoral. The ship has been stretched and the colours have changed as well as a spa added to what was an open deck before (and spoilt her lovely lines besides making her top heavy… Thanks NCL…). And soon I was on my way to board the ship for a cruise to Northern Spain, calling at four ports which would be new to me. Unfortunately, Dover was not giving its best impression. I arrived the day before, stayed in a lovely guesthouse, but the town looked sad, with the High-Street empty on a Saturday and many shop spaces closed for good and for some time. Quite different from the town I used to visit 15 years ago. The cruise terminal is, in a way, walkable from the main train station (Dover Priory – about 30 minutes away), but Dover has a shuttle bus which operates on days when cruise ships are in town with transit passengers, and, at 2 GBP, it made sense to take on their offer. It departs from near the Museum (which is worth visiting) and drops passengers on Terminal 2, which is close to Terminal 1. So, after checking in my luggage, went in and sat in the lounge which was not crowded. The cruise terminal is a modern building and they do offer some catering. I was soon called to check in and not long after to embark. It was a bit of an emotional moment to approach the main hall on deck 6 once again. The Balmoral was to be one of two ships built at Meyer in Papenburg (then at the beginning of their stellar success in building passenger ships) but the sister was cancelled. At that time, it was on a fleet with the Golden Odyssey which was a charming yacht-like ship. Nowadays Balmoral is in a fleet with another three ships, in which it is the ‘youngest’ and the largest. It is a nicely built and comfortable ship carrying not too many passengers, and taking to the seas well. The ship has 8 passenger decks, with classical names like Lido, Bridge, Lounge, etc. My cabin, on deck 3, described as an Ocean View, had two single beds on a L configuration, and it was mostly original (new carpets and curtains). There was a glass table and chair and the wardrobe (mirrored doors) was large enough and there were a lot of storage space and options. The beds, however, are practically fixed on their settings and there was not enough space for my larger suitcase under them but not a major problem. Bathroom was large and original with the shower behind a glass and plastic curtain mix. The stewardess was attentive, efficient and friendly but rarely to be seen, which was not a problem. On the same deck, there was also the medical center (large) and an Arts & Crafts Room (which was used mostly for games but had almost a daily programme for it). Decks 3, 4,5, 6, 8,9 and 10 are almost exclusively dedicated to cabins. On deck 6 there is an Main Lobby/Atrium, where there are also the reception, excursions desk, photo shop and a small shop selling toiletries, and also branded items. It also has access to the MDR Ballindalloch (aft), which operates two sittings for dinner and open sitting for breakfast and lunch. This restaurant, apart from chairs and carpet, is mostly original with mirrors on walls and stained glass on ceiling. Deck 7 has a lovely wraparound promenade deck with real wood flooring. It can get a bit narrow at certain points but it was a pleasant (and popular) spot for sun bathing or watch the manoeuvres, etc. This is also the Lounge Deck, with the Neptune Lounge forward (the show lounge, which also incorporates what was Theo’s Bar), the boutiques and the future cruises desk (surrounding the staircase that leads to the reception lobby, mostly original with lots of brass and glass), the card room (a popular place where bridge classes took place), a kind of gallery with some comfortable sitting which, at times, reminded me of a similar space on QE2, the Bookmark Café (another popular venue, which included the nice library where summary of the news were copied and distributed at midday), the Morning Light Pub (a nice venue but more like a lounge than a pub) and the Palms Café which is the buffet venue, operating where the Yacht Club was in the times of Crown Odyssey (the pictures of the yachts are still there). The Café had a kind of veranda lido at the back, in which the glass doors were fully opened on warm days and leading to the swimming pool and Jacuzzis aft, with plenty of open deck space around it. One deck above is where the Lido Lounge is, a venue for quizzes, music and dancing which looked a bit dark but worked well in the evenings. It occupies what used to be three venues when the ship was new: the card room, a cinema and a small lounge also called Lido. A conservatory style area, at the back of the Lido Lounge was a very popular area on sunny days, with comfortable seating and a bar nearby. On deck 10 one can find the Spa and gym forward, with some nice views but unfortunately no sauna, and two other restaurants, Speyer and Avon, with modern décor, good space, and nice looking seats (although some were a bit stained, which is a normal part of wear and tear). These restaurants occupy what was before an open deck space for the then only set of balcony cabins which were also the top suites. Nowadays the ship has a variety of balcony cabins to offer, although most of the external cabins are window only. Deck 11 houses the Observatory Lounge (a popular venue day and night, which used to be like a night club on the times of Royal Cruise Line and still retain some original features), with excellent views, forward. Aft there is a charming bar called Marquee Bar which feels just like swimming pool bars used to feel once upon a time. Here one finds another swimming pool as well and another set of Jacuzzis as well as lots of open deck space. Aft there is space for deck games. The other passengers were 95% British with some small numbers of other nationalities with very few children. The passenger profile was almost entirely elderly, experienced cruisers which enjoy some of the old-fashioned traditions that Fred Olsen still offers. They also come for the service, which is attentive, not pushy, friendly and adaptable to some pax restrictions. The food was good, some British traditional dishes as well as the occasional modern creation. It all worked well and the Gala menus were not too extensive but well done. There was an extra tariff offer (The Grill, occupying a space on the aft part of the Palms Café) but have not spoken to anyone who tried it. I had an excellent table for dinner, all solo cruisers, but varied a bit the venue for breakfast and lunch. Entertainment was good, given the limitations of the lounge which is more than 20 years old, and Fred Olsen is good in bringing varieties (lectures, comedians, musicians, dance troupe) and has an excellent orchestra. There were also daily quizzes, trivia, bridge classes, deck games, etc. The cruise itinerary was: Dover – La Coruna – Gijon – Santader – Bilbao and back to Dover From La Coruna, I took a ship excursion to visit the famous Santiago de Compostela and its cathedral, etc. A journey worth doing. Unfortunately, by the time we came back to the ship there was no time to visit La Coruna, which is a pity as it looked like a nice town. Gijon is an important port in Asturias, with a small, but interesting historical city centre, the rest of a fortress up in the hill (with great views of town and sea) as well as a nice city centre beach. It has also the remains of a Roman Bath underneath the historical centre which is one of its main attractions. Santander is the main port for Cantabria and a dynamic city, which suffered a horrendous fire in 1941 which destroyed a good deal of its historical centre. Nevertheless, it still has an impressive cathedral (with a lower church as well), some modern and nice museums (the maritime museum is definitely worth a visit and has a nice terrace overlooking the sea), as well as the Magdalena Peninsula where a palace was built for the King and Queen of Spain in 1908 (at that time Queen Victoria Eugenia, a British born princess of the Battenberg line). It is a large construction now occupied by the local university (the royal family gave the property back to the city in 1977). Near the palace one can see some amazing mansions, mostly around a century old. Getxo, a lovely and upmarket suburb of Bilbao was our last port of call in Spain. From there it is easy to reach Bilbao on the underground line and the journey is worth it. Bilbao is another dynamic city, with a lovely historical center (which suffered a disastrous flood in 1983), some imposing buildings, as well as the famous Guggenheim Museum (great building but the collection failed to impress me). It Is mostly walkable but there is a good service of trams and buses. I had pintxos (the local version of tapas) at the restored market, by the river, which is also an impressive building. The weather was sunny for most of the cruise and the ship sailed smoothly for almost all the cruise (a bit more rolling when crossing the Bay of Biscay on the way to Coruna but that was mild compared to other Biscay crossings) Service was excellent in the cabin, which was kept spotless, restaurants, a bit slow on the bars but still ok, and the usual hit and miss at the buffet and open deck areas but almost not noticeable. Staff was mostly friendly and came from a variety of countries, majority from the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand. Disembarkation was ok, on time and smooth apart from the fact that the taxi queue took a bit too long as some pax had pre-ordered taxis (and there are not that many in Dover). One could walk to the station but it was windy, relatively cold and with some drops of rain. The way to Heathrow was by train to central London and the underground. Odd to think that there is no direct link between Dover, the main channel port and Heathrow, one of the largest airports in the world but then again it was never my favourite London airport and with good reason. It has a chapel near Terminal 2, which has some touching plaques recalling past employees but also the crew of the Pan Am flight which was brought down over Lockerbie. Some nice restaurants airside on this terminal too. Fred Olsen, at times, charges well more than the mass tourism cruise companies but it also delivers more. The ships are of a good size, so the restaurant is hardly a long walk from a cabin, the entertainment is good and suitable for its passenger profile. Food is superior than the one found on the mass tourism ones and service is generally better. It makes it easier for its pax by naming the lounges with the same name on different ships (Neptune, Lido, Morning Light) and keeping the décor on similar lines. Comfortable seats everywhere and some items from the family art collection (mostly modern) gives it almost a homely feeling and I would say it works given the high number of repeat passengers. All in all a company which is going against the trend of the industry (bigger newer ships which one day risk over capacity) and succeeding by serving the market it has chosen well. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
To celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary and our daughter-in-laws 50th Birthday. We booked this cruise as a group of 4 persons in January 2017. Just prior to leaving the UK my son read an adverse review regarding Braemar on your web ... Read More
To celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary and our daughter-in-laws 50th Birthday. We booked this cruise as a group of 4 persons in January 2017. Just prior to leaving the UK my son read an adverse review regarding Braemar on your web site. As a result I rang our travel agent and asked her to investigate. I informed her that if the allegations were substantiated, then to cancel our contract with Fred Olsen. She informed me that there was no corroborative evidence to support any allegation. We flew has independent travelers on February 8th 2018 and stayed in a villa at Enterprise Drive, near Oustins, Barbados. We joined Braemar on Thursday 15th February 2018 at Sugar Berth, Barbados harbour. Embarkation could not have gone better, we were allowed on the ship at 1200 hours whilst the disembarkation passengers were still on board. We were shown to our cabins 6036 and 6034 respectively. The cabins were spacious, clean, tidy and functional. We had an excellent two weeks on board Braemar. I fully agreed with the Captains decision not to visit Jamaica. I had read numerous reports of armed criminal gangs roaming the streets and 'no go areas' being declared by the local police. We had read complaints about dining experiences on Braemar. We dined first sitting in the Grampian Restaurant. The food and service were excellent, personally attended by Rashan (maitre'd). We had lobster (pictures taken to prove if required), and a wide variety of dishes every night. We had an evening in 'The Grill' and it was worth every penny. My wife and I had sirloins and our son and daughter-in-law had fillet steaks, which they described as large and delicious. I was so impressed with the quality of the food I requested to speak to the Executive Chef Mr Robert Swann. My family have cruised with the more upmarket cruise ships e.g. Azamara Quest & Journey and we all agreed that the food served up to us on Braemar was on a par with the Azamara ships. In our opinion Braemar should be upgraded from a 3 star ship to 4 star. We left the ship in Barbados on 28th February 2018 to fly home independently to a very cold and snow covered Manchester. We will continue to cruise with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We are very recently retired couple, and due to sensible investments we have acquired the funds we will need to ensure that our retirement is as enriching as our both extensive working lives have been. Our closest friends of the past ... Read More
We are very recently retired couple, and due to sensible investments we have acquired the funds we will need to ensure that our retirement is as enriching as our both extensive working lives have been. Our closest friends of the past 36 years 4 couples have insisted that we cruise with them on Fred Olsen Line! My wife and myself have cruised for the past 29 years and are very experience destination worldwide cruisers - and often we belong to the highest membership "tier" of several Cruiselines loyalty ( return cruisers club) We have never fancied Fred olsen before as we adore Silversea and crystal and celebrity and most of All Hal (Holland & America) However, our great friends wanted to cruise with us together as 3 coup,E'S! We thought this might be fun, - but we were still trepidation so regarding Fred Olsen!!!!??? The cabin was superb as was our cabin steward exceptional service ( suitably rewarded) The bar staff and Restaurant waiters and Maitre-D! Superb! We tried 5 excursions no problems even though other repeat cruisers told us that this was rare waitng for Northern lights! A particular nice touch was an official ( keepsake) certificate stating , the correct longitude and latitude crossing the "Artic Circle" However , and this MUST BE SAID !!!!!! the absolute HIGHLIGHT of this cruise was the visiting guest Cabaret act! First there was an old fashioned type comedian Barnaby - but then we were treated to the sublime talent's of the comedy impressionist CHRIS GEE! He was so brilliant my wife's ulcer kicked off as she was holding her stomach by laughing so much!!! And yet, not a bit of "smut" , The ENTIRE SHIP was talking about him- with the rather disappointing result that not enough people could get in for his second show!!! (which we were thrilled to witness was completely different to his initial show) Then the funniest spectacle on the entire cruise Chris Gee then did adaptive show with the executive chef " CAN'T COOK - WON'T COOK n what an amazing hysterical shambles!!!! Also, two of our ladies in our party were not able to dance as their husband's had recent knee surgeries etc, but this wonderful guy also turned out to be a very good (and keen) ballroom dancer so he danced with our gals. EVERY DAY ,which really added to the whole cruise experience. Suffice to say we are NOW!!! FRED OLSEN converts!!!! And are telling everyone at our cruise club! We are hoping to get a group booking as Chris Gee said he will be back next year with a wee bit of luck! Love the tea making facilities in the cabins too!!! Great, scenic cruising Can highly recommend!!!! Book it - we guarantee you WON'T regret it!!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
Just returned from a 3 nighter to Dublin booked last minute. Went years ago on Black Prince and found it good, but haven't been with Fred since. Our premium twin cabin was spacious and everything worked well. The food was ... Read More
Just returned from a 3 nighter to Dublin booked last minute. Went years ago on Black Prince and found it good, but haven't been with Fred since. Our premium twin cabin was spacious and everything worked well. The food was excellent; better than I have eaten on more expensive cruise lines, and served with a smile. Passenger age mix was wider than we have experienced before. You don't usually get hen parties on Fred Olsen. They were a lovely bunch of girls who enjoyed themselves but respected other passengers. Nice to see children as well. All in all a lovely two full days in Dublin on a comfortable ship. We will travel with the company again. Embarkation was quick and efficient, and disembarkation was amazing! We were asked to vacate the cabin by 8 a.m and we're off the ship by 8.10. Incredibly efficient. Didn't go to the shows but others seemed to enjoy them. Only slight negative was limited choice of T.V channels. No problem for us; we don't go on holiday to watch T.V, but if you want to relax in your cabin there's not a lot except world news to look at. There's a nice little cinema with decent films though. Good experience which we hope to repeat. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Embarkation couldn't have been any easier..our first time on a cruise I was a nerves reck but once on board and unpacked cases I was fine the ship is very stable nothing like I thought it would be..this was a special 80th birthday ... Read More
Embarkation couldn't have been any easier..our first time on a cruise I was a nerves reck but once on board and unpacked cases I was fine the ship is very stable nothing like I thought it would be..this was a special 80th birthday ELVIS CRUISE..!!! And what great fun..there were two acts on board plus the ships singers dancers band and comedian.quiz nights film shows and talks by the two Elvis E T A'S dance lessons bingo ..there was a coffee and a cocktail of the day every day..we were lead to believed drinks were very pricey on board..NO they are not..a beer was about £3-80p and a cocktail £5 or £6 it did very a little but you could pay more in your local pub at home..cabins are not huge but they are OK.you have tea and coffee in there all the time and a hair dryer..beds are very comfy..the ship is kept spotlessly clean all staff a so sweet and very attentive..the food is fabulous very very tasty each night the them of the menu was changed..again the entertainment was fantastic..we had a couple of tours one to Randers Graceland..not a copy of Memphis Graceland ..the out side is the inside is a shop cafe' and museum and there is a huge room upstairs which is used for talks and concerts..the food in the cafe is great..and the owner Henrik is such an amazing man so down to earth a real people person..our only let down was because of the nature of the cruise the entertainment lounges just weren't really big enough..and left people having to stand through the shows..at different times through the cruise photos were taken at £5 each we felt this was not a bad price..you can also buy frames if you wish to..there is duty free shops on board but you can not buy ciggys or alcohol ..and so I went from being scared stiff of getting on board to NOT wanting to get off..!!!! Thank you so much Fred Olsen and you amazing staff on the Braemar....hope if our pennies allow to be back on board in the future.. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Embarkation couldn't have been any easier..our first time on a cruise I was a nerves reck but once on board and unpacked cases I was fine the ship is very stable nothing like I thought it would be..this was a special 80th birthday ... Read More
Embarkation couldn't have been any easier..our first time on a cruise I was a nerves reck but once on board and unpacked cases I was fine the ship is very stable nothing like I thought it would be..this was a special 80th birthday ELVIS CRUISE..!!! And what great fun..there were two acts on board plus the ships singers dancers band and comedian.quiz nights film shows and talks by the two Elvis E T A'S dance lessons bingo ..there was a coffee and a cocktail of the day every day..we were lead to believed drinks were very pricey on board..NO they are not..a beer was about £3-80p and a cocktail £5 or £6 it did very a little but you could pay more in your local pub at home..cabins are not huge but they are OK.you have tea and coffee in there all the time and a hair dryer..beds are very comfy..the ship is kept spotlessly clean all staff a so sweet and very attentive..the food is fabulous very very tasty each night the them of the menu was changed..again the entertainment was fantastic..we had a couple of tours one to Randers Graceland..not a copy of Memphis Graceland ..the out side is the inside is a shop cafe' and museum and there is a huge room upstairs which is used for talks and concerts..the food in the cafe is great..and the owner Henrik is such an amazing man so down to earth a real people person..our only let down was because of the nature of the cruise the entertainment lounges just weren't really big enough..and left people having to stand through the shows..at different times through the cruise photos were taken at £5 each we felt this was not a bad price..you can also buy frames if you wish to..there is duty free shops on board but you can not buy ciggys or alcohol ..and so I went from being scared stiff of getting on board to NOT wanting to get off..!!!! Thank you so much Fred Olsen and you amazing staff on the Braemar....hope if our pennies allow to be back on board in the future.. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We (2 couples) chose this cruise due to the itinerary - Northern Lights, Eclipse etc - all interested in astronomy, and also keen to see scenic Norwegian cruising. We saw 'the lights' and experienced much of the eclipse, though ... Read More
We (2 couples) chose this cruise due to the itinerary - Northern Lights, Eclipse etc - all interested in astronomy, and also keen to see scenic Norwegian cruising. We saw 'the lights' and experienced much of the eclipse, though we missed the corona due to a cloudy sky - a little disappointing, but hardly the ship's fault as the Captain and crew tried hard to manoeuvre us to the optimum position. What we saw was memorable nevertheless. None of us had sailed with Fred.Olsen, though we had all had been on several cruises before with other lines including Cunard, Princess, Celebrity, Disney, Royal Caribbean etc. We were a little apprehensive due to some negative reviews, but I have to say we enjoyed the cruise immensely. The Braemar is a lovely and attractive smaller/medium sized ship with a great staff, very comfortable and well furnished public rooms, choice of restaurants, good food, and efficient friendly service. The cabins (standard outside) are a little on the small size, especially the bathrooms - so if cabin size and specification matters to you this may not be the ship for you. To us, a cabin is somewhere to sleep - beds and bedding were comfortable, clean and the cabins had enough storage space for cold weather, casual and formal wear clothing. The itinerary was great. The lectures were informative and varied. The entertainment was not Disney or Celebrity standard - taking place in a cabaret lounge rather than a theatre, but the singers, dancers etc were excellent and fun and gave their all. If the aim of entertainment is to entertain, they did it! Throughout the day there were quizzes, bingo (not our scene), darts, deck quoits, golf etc. If you preferred to relax and read quietly the library was well furnished and spacious. The 'Pub' was great as was the coffee & chocolate lounge. You could always get a comfortable seat and the service and company of other passengers was very pleasant. We particularly enjoyed cocktails in the Observatory each evening - an elegant bar with wonderful views and a tinkling grand piano. The service in here was so friendly - waitresses always ready to chat about the day, remembering your name and your drink of choice. After hours (11.00 - 2.00) there was generally a supper buffet (we were always too full) and entertaining cabaret or music in the Coral Lounge. We enjoyed every meal in the Cambrian Restaurant - choice of 2 starters, 2 soups, 2 salads, 5 or 6 mains, and 3 or 4 desserts. Not too fussy, always well cooked and served promptly. Wine was very reasonably priced - starting about £15 for the 'house', but only £24 for a Puilly Fume, not bad for a restaurant - and well chosen. Drinks in the bars were also reasonably priced. I enjoy a pint of beer and well kept Boddingtons on draft was £3.25 - cheaper than my local! Cocktail of the day was approx. £4.50 and always arrived with fruit, olives, umbrellas etc - cheaper than London or Manchester prices. We were in cabin 2061 - about the worst on the ship in some eyes - bottom deck! On our previous cruise with Disney we had an aft suite with a wraparound rear balcony. OK - no comparison, but we enjoyed Braemar just as much to be honest. I think their brochures say it's more like a country house hotel than a Las Vegas experience - well, we enjoy both! 2061 gets the waves lashing at the double port holes and some noise, so go higher if you want to avoid that - did not bother us. On the other hand it is mid-ship and does not roll as much as the front and back of the ship (which does rock and roll a bit more than others we have been on). In summary I would say great smaller ship for good sailors not after a deluxe experience. You will meet friendly people and staff, have good food and drink and a memorable holiday in very pleasant surroundings. Our group was aged 55-65 and we were among the younger passengers, so if you want an 18-30s crowd it may not be for you. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
Already Booked?

Get to know who you’ll be sailing with

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click