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8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
Scenic cruise from local embarkation . From embarkation to disembarkation at port of Tyne could not have ask for better service.on board the balmoral the service on all levels were first class. Entertainment ,bar service dinning room ... Read More
Scenic cruise from local embarkation . From embarkation to disembarkation at port of Tyne could not have ask for better service.on board the balmoral the service on all levels were first class. Entertainment ,bar service dinning room service food very good and waiters very helpful .great fjords great port of calls many bars to choose from .live music plenty of sun beds on rear of ship to top deck. We got a room with picture window which was great to watch the fjords go by while getting ready for your night time out two formal nights which I love to see when everybody taken a effort to dress up .if you ever fancy a go at ballroom dancing they had lesson in the afternoon and at night the host were there to encourage you to get up or if you were a solo guest they would dance with you overall five satrs to Fred olsen 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
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
For our Wedding Anniversary we decided to do something special and choose the Fred Olsen cruise "Easter Ireland" and booked a Premier Suite. We could not fault anything (perhaps apart from some of the weather - not in Fred ... Read More
For our Wedding Anniversary we decided to do something special and choose the Fred Olsen cruise "Easter Ireland" and booked a Premier Suite. We could not fault anything (perhaps apart from some of the weather - not in Fred Olsen's control!). As it was our 40th Anniversary we were given the complimentary anniversary package of sparkling wine, flowers, cake, card, portrait photo and gift. During the cruise it was also my birthday so we were slightly embarrassed when a cake was brought to our table on the Friday for my birthday together with the table staff serenading me and the next day another cake and serenade for our anniversary. The staff were superb and could not do enough for us. We asked if the anniversary cake could be packaged to take home to share with family and they made a special box for it and wrapped it with ribbon. The staff soon learned our names and we were often called "Sir, John and Madam, Jennifer". The food was superb both in choice, presentation and cooking. Most evenings we only managed three of the five courses due to the quantity. The ports of call were Belfast, Dublin (two days) and Cobn. All of which were interesting and we went independently rather than take the organised tours. We are not night owls and in Dublin managed to find a pub (Oliver St. John Gogerty) which had live Irish music during the afternoon. The evening shows were very good but I much preferred the live music from the string trio and pianist/singer in the small lounges. Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
We have just returned from our first ever cruise. We went to the Caribbean on the Braemar and I had no idea what to expect but I am very impressed with Fred.Olsen cruises and we had a great time. The cabin was small but well designed and ... Read More
We have just returned from our first ever cruise. We went to the Caribbean on the Braemar and I had no idea what to expect but I am very impressed with Fred.Olsen cruises and we had a great time. The cabin was small but well designed and the space was maximised. A lifeboat blocked the view from the picture window but I was advised about this prior to booking. The mattress was comfortable and the room was serviced twice a day and towels were changed twice daily. The room was surprisingly quiet at night and I was never disturbed by noise from the ship or neighbouring passengers. The service was outstanding, the staff without exception are helpful, polite and friendly and there was not a single instance in the two weeks on board when a member of staff was anything less than helpful. The food is also outstanding, along with the service in the restaurant with two dedicated waiters who knew our names serving us every night, I would describe the service as exceptional. We were served lobster, venison and Beef Wellington. The breakfasts were buffet style but also with a menu choice and champagne was served on formal days. Lunch was a choice of buffet or a four course meal from the menu. Against my expectations I loved the formal nights but if you do not wish to participate there is the option to dine in The Palms buffet. I enjoyed the entertainment too, the Braemar Show Company gave very good performances as did the singer, comedian and magician and the In Tune Band was good with a particularly good lead guitarist. The cruise line appears to attract a loyal clientele mainly aged 50 + who regularly cruise with Fred Olsen, though there are a few younger passengers. This might be why I did not find many of the day time activities on board of interest, but that did not matter as I like to leave the ship when in port and the itinerary was excellent. I have to say that fellow passengers were very pleasant and friendly, the whole cruise had a bit of a 'family feel' to it. There was a wide choice of day trips which in my opinion were reasonably priced and were in the main very good. Braemar is a medium sized flat bottomed cruise ship. This brings many benefits such as being able to access more ports (ie Havana), less people on board means easier embarkation/ disembarkation. It also makes the cruise a more friendly and personal experience. The one downside is that if like me you are prone to seasickness you feel the movement of the ship more when the sea is rough. However, I still think it I probably better than travelling on a huge cruise ship, that does not appeal to me at all. Overall we had a great time, the itinerary was fantastic and the staff, food and the service was exceptional and I would recommend Fred. Olsen cruises to any apprehensive first time cruiser. Read Less
16 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
This was our first cruise and it exceeded expectations. Boudicca was spick and span, cleanliness was a top priority, staff were friendly, the cabin was comfortable (but we spent little time there apart from sleeping) and the food was ... Read More
This was our first cruise and it exceeded expectations. Boudicca was spick and span, cleanliness was a top priority, staff were friendly, the cabin was comfortable (but we spent little time there apart from sleeping) and the food was excellent. We used two organised tours which were very good but the rest of the time when we docked we "did it ourselves" with the help of the local tourist information. The weather was good apart from rain on a couple of days which wasn't heavy enough to spoil the visit. Other than that we saw the splendour of the fjords with one or two extra fjords visited that were not on the original schedule. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
the title says it all, really. It was our first cruise and, within a few days we were hooked. The food was good and varied. The crew were excellent .... always smiling, always polite and attentive, quick to learn our names and tastes. ... Read More
the title says it all, really. It was our first cruise and, within a few days we were hooked. The food was good and varied. The crew were excellent .... always smiling, always polite and attentive, quick to learn our names and tastes. Hygiene was a priority. Antiseptic dispensers for your hands were situated at the gangway and at the entrance to the restaurants (with a crew member checking) as well as at other points in the ship. Handrails were regularly cleaned by the crew. Entertainment was good with a choice of several performers through the day and a show at night. Ports visited were well chosen and with a good selection of shore tours. Very comfortable bed in our pleasant cabin. Looking forward to our next cruise aboard Boudicca. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
The ship was fantastic, small but very friendly as you got to know lots of people. The food the entertainment and all the staff were fantastic. This was my first cruise and I worried that there may not be enough to do.What a joke we ended ... Read More
The ship was fantastic, small but very friendly as you got to know lots of people. The food the entertainment and all the staff were fantastic. This was my first cruise and I worried that there may not be enough to do.What a joke we ended up running from deck to deck in order to do all the quizzes, table tennis and every thing else we wanted to do. The out door pool even though we were in the Arctic was 30 degrees so we swam nearly every day. The cabin was amazing but we did have a suite. Some of the information was incorrect. We were told we could get on the ship early due to our suite.We got to Dover early and that information is wrong you have to wait like every body else.We took priority disembarkation and this was excellent we got off the boat at least 2 hours before everybody else. The cruise was excellent except we never knew exactly where we were. The day sheet for all the on board entertainment was great but we needed one to tell us where we were passing and where we were. We took the drinks package. For me that was fine but for my sister it was a waste of money. Strongbow cider was included but Kopperberg cider which cost 5 pence more was excluded so she had to pay 50% of the price every time but she could drink rum and brandy until she fell over. Read the small print before you pay. DO NOT BOOK ANY TRIPS WITH THE CRUISE COMPANY. They are a total rip off. Example in Bergen a trip to the Funicular including price up and down £40. Distance from ship a slow 5 mins walk. Return trip £10 on the Funicular. Do the maths yourself. And this was a cheap trip most were at least £90 each and you did not get the right time off the ship and you had no time at the attraction. The Atlantic Road was fully booked up price £80 each. We got a taxi and did it alone for less than £50 for the 2 of us. The ship photos are good but expensive choose carefully but the video is great. All the services on the ship were amazing nothing was too much trouble. I would do another Fred Olsen Cruise but not book any trips. Research them before you go and do it yourself. Would recommend the Braemar to anyone it is a first class ship with a great crew and Captain. 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
1 Helpful Vote
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: October 2014
We booked the cruise via Saga, and were told that it was All Inclusive. The list included all on board gratuities. However, at the end of the cruise we were charged the standard £4 per day for this. On the first day we did not know that ... Read More
We booked the cruise via Saga, and were told that it was All Inclusive. The list included all on board gratuities. However, at the end of the cruise we were charged the standard £4 per day for this. On the first day we did not know that we had the all inclusive drinks package. Fred Olsen had written to us inviting us to pay for this. However, once on board, our Saga rep told us that we already had this package included. Some miscommunication there between Fred Olsen and Saga. Other than that the cruise was very enjoyable. The food was wonderful, the staff could not have been more helpful and friendly, and there were various on board activities and talks. We liked that the boat was relatively small, and the slick way in which it docked and left the ports was very impressive. The time ashore was rather short, and as we chose not to go on any organised trips (very expensive), our options were somewhat limited. Just time for a short stroll around really. We didn't dare to venture too far for fear of missing the boat departure time. There were shuttle buses where the town was far for walking, and, as Saga passengers we did not have to pay for these, though others had to pay £5. It would have been nice to spend a couple of days in Madeira and miss one of the other islands. In fact, maybe miss two islands and spend more time at the other two? That might encourage us to book another cruise to the Canaries, next time seeing the islands missed. As it is, we will probably go on another cruise, but to a different destination. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2014
Had a great 7 Night cruise to France our first time on Fred Oulson we have cruised mostly with P and O must say we enjoyed the smaller ship as it was very friendly.We had one and a half days in Rouen must say what a very nice place to ... Read More
Had a great 7 Night cruise to France our first time on Fred Oulson we have cruised mostly with P and O must say we enjoyed the smaller ship as it was very friendly.We had one and a half days in Rouen must say what a very nice place to visit we walked into the Town don't be fouled by paying for the bus as it is not far to walk. We took the trip the next day to Paris that was a good trip to go on must say the weather was not very warm. The next stop was Honfleur that was a most stunning place we also walked into the town would have liked to see it in the sun shine but again it was not warm and it also rained never mind still enjoyed it. The 3rd place was La Pallice for La Rochelle again DONT!!!! pay to get the bus into La Rochelle as the local bus takes you for 1 euro 30cents and people had paid £18 pounds but they don't tell you till the day before many people were not happy as they had booked it on line. The ship itself was great and we had a great time the staff were very friendly, the meals in the dining room were excellent ,we asked for a table of 2 and got it next to another table of 2 and we got on well with them. The entertainment was very good,except we didn't like the magicion but I am sure other people did you cant please everybody. The drinks package is a no brainer we had our moneys worth and I don't drink much just soft drinks alone would add up nearly to ten pounds a day. All in all we had a very great time and would go with Fred Oulsen again.   Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2014
We booked this cruise as a last minute holiday and therefore got a very good deal. (Less than half the original cost) We had never cruised before and therefore we felt that getting a last minute deal was a good way to try it out. We were ... Read More
We booked this cruise as a last minute holiday and therefore got a very good deal. (Less than half the original cost) We had never cruised before and therefore we felt that getting a last minute deal was a good way to try it out. We were not disappointed. Firstly check in was so quick and easy at Southampton. We only had a short wait in the departure longe before we boarded our ship and went to our cabin. We had a superior outside cabin but were warned that it had a fully restricted view. We were pleasantly surprised as although our view was restricted due to our cabin being opposite a lifeboat - we were still able to have some view due to the large picture window and our cabin was light and a good size with both a bath and shower. It was all beautifully clean and kept that way by our cabin stewardess Aurora. We didn't spend a lot of time in our cabin as there was so much to see and go on board. Meals were fantastic. As we booked late we could not change our sitting time but we were first sitting and this suited us as we don't like to eat late. Meals in the Ballandaloch restaurant were amazing - easily would match and in many cases excel any of the best restaurants we have dined in on land. Our waiters were very attentive and friendly and service was extremely efficient. We ate breakfast and lunch in the Palms cafe where the choice was beyond our expectations and we could have as much or as little as we wanted. Again the service was second to none. The mostly Filipino crew couldnt have done more for us and were extremely polite and nothing was too much trouble. As we booked late we were unable to purchase a drinks package but this was not a problem as drinks were in line with pub prices and a bottle of house wine was similar to what you would pay in your local indian restaurant or similar. We are moderate drinkers only so we may not have saved with a drinks package. Entertainment on the ship was of the highest standard. the Balmoral show company were absolutely incredible. Their "musicals" night would match anything seen in a West End show. Special guests were a comedien/singer, another singer who sang Michael Buble songs and a lady saxophonist who was beautiful and hugely talented. There was also 4th dimension who entertained us in a number of the lounges, other singers, a classical guitarist and a string trio. the genres were many and varied and there was something to suit all tastes. My only regret is that we didn't join in the dancing lessons early on in the cruise as we would have enjoyed dancing to Ricki and the Balmooral orchestra, although we enjoyed listening. Our cruise was to Norway and the Arctic Circle and the scenery was spectacular.The shore excursions were quite expensive but we thoroughly enjoyed the four we took and have no regrets about paying for them. On these coffee and cake was laid on for us at the main attractions. The ride on the replica viking ship was a bit hairy due to torrential rain just after we set off but is a great memory to keep. All tours were well arranged and we felt secure having great guides and drivers. We also took a couple of trips on our own and if we go again we would do our research first and probably arrange our own excursions at the local tourist offices. Virtually everyone speaks English and the Norwegian people are extremely helpful and welcoming. We were unable to visit the Lofton Islands as planned due to bad weather but the captain and cruise director arranged a stop at Kristiansand which was a perfect substitute. The facilities on the ship were excellent - treatments in the spa are to be recommended. There are two pools, masses of seating on deck, deck games, a library with games and jigsaws, quiz nights and other talks and demonstrations. If I had any criticism at all it was the cost of things in the shop and the boutiques but we didn't need to buy anything as we had everything we needed. All in all my husband and I had a brilliant time and we would say that given the standard we enjoyed it would have been worth it even if we had paid full price. We would certainly book with Fred Olsen again and would recommend them to our friends. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2014
We came down a day earlier because previous week there were a lot of flooding, we found a nice B & B in Southampton called the Polygon, we gave good comments on Tripadvisor. There were 4 adults, 1 who had sailed before and she said ... Read More
We came down a day earlier because previous week there were a lot of flooding, we found a nice B & B in Southampton called the Polygon, we gave good comments on Tripadvisor. There were 4 adults, 1 who had sailed before and she said this was a nice size cruise ship to try for first timers and she was right. We got around the ship quite easy after a few wrong turns, but inside your cabin they did supply a map. A bit apprehensive booking inside cabin but when we saw the size of it we were fine, very spacious. There was plenty to do on board. We had high Tea a couple of days which was lovely. The service we got from all the staff was superb they smiled at you all the time, they were lovely. The food was superb you could more or less eat all day. Entertainment was on every night I could not find fault with this cruise at all loved it. The trips off were well organized there were shuttle buses running if needed. I have to say Embarking and Disembarking were a doddle it was so well organized. The whole experience was fantastic and are now saving for another cruise. Thank you Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2012
We were encouraged to try a cruise after friends visited the Fjords last year and loved it. So as a sort of last holiday with older teenagers, us and 4 other families-17 people in total decided on a western Mediterranean trip for 14 nights ... Read More
We were encouraged to try a cruise after friends visited the Fjords last year and loved it. So as a sort of last holiday with older teenagers, us and 4 other families-17 people in total decided on a western Mediterranean trip for 14 nights departing Southampton. We all booked separately through The Liverpool Cruise Club-and despite reviews I have read, they were very accommodating and helpful in that we were all sited near to each other on board, had the same time dinner sitting in the same restaurant on the same or adjoining tables with a wonderful view of the sea through huge portholes. TLCC were cheaper than booking direct and we made interim payments. We booked a year in advance due to the size of our party and are governed by school holidays, although better deals can be had if you are able to book at the last minute which many of our fellow travellers seem to have done and paid far less for better cabins. As we are a family of 5 and the cabins only sleep up to a max of 4 (there are 2 pull down wall bunks)we had the extra expense of 2 cabins so paid full price as if for 4 adults instead of just 2. Despite this and the cabins being fairly spacious it would have been quite cramped with 4/5. Prices vary on which deck you are on-the higher up the dearer it is and also varies on inside/outside cabins. We were on Coral Deck 4 in inside cabins. They are dark so lamps are needed at all times. Next time I would have an outside cabin as I did miss seeing outside, especially on waking. Embarkation at Southampton is painless and efficient. Lovely men take your luggage and the next time you see it is in your cabin. One of our cases did get damaged. We were given free parking vouchers but didn't use them as we all travelled together by coach. There was a bit of waiting around but nothing to moan about. Each person is issued with a cabin account card. When swiped this contains your personal details and photograph. This is also your room key and for getting on/off at stops. All purchases are made using this and can be viewed on your cabin interactive TV so keeping a check on your spending is useful especially with children. Mostly you just tell them your cabin number then sign the chit, but obviously you should keep it with you at all times. We had £140 on board credit for each cabin but this was used up by end of the first week. The card is also printed with lifeboat number and assembly info. You will need sterling for playing bingo £2 per board, and the dolphin/greyhound racing-£1 per bet. (They are only cardboard dolphins!) On the last day the bingo costs £5 per board but some lucky chap won £635! Cabins have huge storage space (cases fit under the beds) TV, air con, a self-combination safe, nice en suite with shower and only hand/shower gel in dispensers. There is a hairdryer fixed to the wall which is very slow so if you have long hair or get ready in a hurry, take your own. A european 2-pin plug is needed. Towels are provided as well as deck towels for sunbathing and can be changed for fresh at any time. However, you will need your own towels if you want to go to the beach at any of the stops. Beds are very comfy! There is very minimal noise from adjoining cabins. You have your own allocated hard working housekeeper who makes up your bed and turns it down each evening leaving you a chocolate on the pillow. There are tea/coffee making facilities and a large bottle of water which if you open, it is charged for. The crew and staff are mainly Philippine's, very friendly, polite and hard working although there is a grumpy waiter in Ballindalloch restaurant who we avoided. The waiters and waitresses (especially Layla in the 'observatory' and Mary in the 'Lido')are wonderful with great senses of humour and can remember your name, drink and cabin number after only a few days. Don't miss the 'crew show' at the end of your holiday. You are sort of expected to pay and charged to your account, 'tips' to your housekeeper and dinner waiter averaging £4 each per day from each person in your party which added up is quite costly (£40 per day for us which you wouldn't pay at home!) This can easily be removed by visiting reception during the first couple of days and telling them you wish to pay them directly at the end of your cruise. It's then up to you what you value their service at. On board and during the first couple of days of sailing when its still too cool to sunbathe there is plenty going on (even for teenagers). We enjoyed the nightly shows in the Neptune, the show company are talented, young and enthusiastic and also around and about doing various activities during the day. 10/10 for them! A mention also to comedian Taffy Spencer who had us in stitches. We had 3 formal evenings-black tie/evening dress, 3 theme nights which hardly anyone bothers with dressing up, hence only all our 'men' in grass skirts and coconut bra's on Hawaiian night! We had a laugh but very strange looks from others. 'Sail-aways' are fun. Informal nights still require jacket or tie, 'smart casual' you can wear jeans but no shorts/crops-this the men found tough especially when it got hotter the further south we sailed. As already mentioned an a la carte dinner is served you each night in the same restaurant, same time, same table. There is a good choice on the menu (these are posted outside during the day) and a children's menu. If you are a couple then you will be placed on a table with others. We were in Spey, Deck 10 at 8.30pm. The earlier sitting is 6.30pm or you can opt to go to the food themed evenings in Palms Cafe which is open seating. We enjoyed Indian and Chinese. All restaurants are open seating during the day. We loved supper club in Palms between 11.30pm and 12.30am. There is also morning tea/biscuits served as well as afternoon cakes/rolls and room service if you wanted it! We could not find fault with any of the food served anywhere on this ship (hence a 71b weight gain!) although talking to others they felt standards had dropped due to cost saving. Sara Sipek, the english executive chef and her team are amazing in that the same quality of food came out each time. Our restaurant waiters were Made (said Maddy) and Toddy who has the loveliest smile. They are whizzes at their jobs and Made was very entertaining with his after dinner tricks and posers. Unfortunately there was an outbreak of Gastroenteritis on Day 7 so self service was withdrawn which did slow down the process. You had to wait a while for toast or milk/sugar to go in your hot drinks. Even with the extra workload the staff were still polite and friendly. Sanitising your hands is a constant must! Stops included Gibraltar (a 10 minute walk in to town) then a 15 minute walk to the bottom of the 'rock'. We paid a local guide 20E each for the tour up to the top, this included the 'cave' tour. Taking the cable car costs 18E excluding the cave tour. The views are amazing but watch don't touch the apes! Barcelona, catch the free courtesy bus from the port. We did the open top city tour which takes 1-2hrs and costs again 20E each. Palamos, the beach is a 5/10 min walk from the ship. Mahon-you dock right on the edge of the town, alas sunday so very few shops open but a small market at the port. Saw lots of dolphins and 2 small whales between here and Portimao-This is an anchor port and you are tendered in which if there is a strong swell takes an age. Not a lot to entice you here though some did get a taxi to the beach. Lisbon is lovely, loads of shops and we went up the tower with fantastic views over the city. Cost 5E pp. We did not pay for any of the organised ship excursions. There is lots of info in your cabin about each stop and The Daily Times delivered each evening is essential to what's going on next day and where, dress code, entertainment etc. Cruise director Joanne Haley and deputy Jamie Clarke are great assets to the Fred Olsen company. We really enjoyed hearing the ship's Master, Robert Bamberg's daily announcements from the Bridge. On board there is a Spa with many treatments, beauticians, hairdressers, fully equipped, popular gym overlooking the ocean, launderette Deck 3(tokens £2 from reception, just press the button on the front for 5 secs for automatic liquid detergent dispensing)also free tumble dryers/ irons etc. There is a disco nightly in the observatory, Deck 11, which goes on quite late if your cabin is on or below that forward deck. There are also a jewellers (free to look and wish), a shop if you forget essentials or fancy a bit of choccy, a boutique and duty free with daily offers. Library and card/games room. Reception is expertly manned or I should say womanned and euro's can also be purchased here. Cabin accounts can be settled the day before by cash or euro's and the remainder taken automatically by credit card (this is registered when you board). Smoking is allowed in several places and on cabin balconies. You can use the free telephones around the ship to phone your's or other cabins. Loads of toilets on the decks and in all the right places. Disembarkation. Suitcases are left out the night before-take a holdall for overnight. This is done by Deck, starting at the top, but is quick and stressless, don't pack your cabin card as you need this. Cases can then be found in a set area by deck number. A few warnings: Loungers get snapped up very early around the pools on Deck 7 and 11. The pools are salt water and several times had to be emptied twice daily due to children being sick in them. The photographers are everywhere and catch you at your worst and best and not particularly bothered if they get somebody else in them too. We soon learned to always stand as a family rather than individually. They then charge you £6.50 for the small and £14.95 for the large prints. You are under no obligation to buy them. There was a mixed age range on board from a group on a lads only holiday, youngsters and elder teenagers with parents, up to the quite elderly. We did hear a few grumbles in passing from them about how many children were on board (only 77 up to age 16 out of 1350 passengers!)but hey ho our money is as good as theirs and they can go any time out of school holidays! In general we found most friendly, chatty and fun. Duty Free is limited to 1 ltr strong liqueurs, or 2 ltrs of fortified wine or 4 ltrs of still wine, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco. Customs staff are vigilant and were stopping many going through the green channel. It's your risk! For our maiden voyage, Balmoral was everything we hoped for and more, we thought this was a last holiday with our boy's but they and the friends we travelled with loved it and all want to go again....guess we'd better start saving! And from the Bridge......'All is well'. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2012
We booked on-line after seeing an offer. We were attracted by the price. We booked a superior outside cabin and were allocated cabin number 5045 on the 'main deck' (deck 5) We travelled from 5th-19th January 2012. The ... Read More
We booked on-line after seeing an offer. We were attracted by the price. We booked a superior outside cabin and were allocated cabin number 5045 on the 'main deck' (deck 5) We travelled from 5th-19th January 2012. The catalogue price was in excess of £1500 per person. We paid £899. I like to think we got a bargain, but I couldn't bring myself to ask other passengers what they had paid. The destinations included Madeira, La Gomera, Tenerife, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, Agadir, and Lisbon. Most of which we had visited previously. This was mostly a trip to find out whether we liked cruising. The first 4 nights and 3 days were spent travelling to Madeira, across the bay of Biscay. We thought the crossing was quite rough, with the ship bobbing around so much that it was almost impossible to walk with holding on tightly to what was fixed down. I don't know what we would have done without travel sickness pills. The rest of the cruise went fairly smoothly. The good points were numerous. Boarding and eventual disembarkation went very smoothly. The staff were all friendly, smiling, and helpful. Making us feel very welcome. The food was varied and of excellent quality. The evening entertainment, though of quite good quality, was definitely aimed at the older age groups. My wife and I are in our 60's and were amongst the youngest passengers. A few days in there was a minor outbreak of some sort of stomach upset, with some passengers being confined to cabin for several days. They crew appeared to cope very well with this and the only way in which passengers were affected was by the suspension of all self service breakfast and lunchtime buffet meals. We had to wait to be served by staff members wearing blue plastic gloves. Despite the extra work load, the staff continued to serve us with a smile. Nothing was too much trouble. A few of the passengers complained about the restrictions (perhaps they would have preferred to catch the bug?) Most of us appreciated the efforts of the staff and just took it it our stride. We had one problem with our cabin, 5045, the shower temperature was 'erratic'. One could be having a lovely warm shower when, suddenly, the water flow dropped, and so did the water temperature. We became friends with the couple in 5043 and found that they were having the same problem. The only way to avoid this was to shower 'off peak'. Did we enjoy the experience? YES. Would we cruise again? Definitely YES. Would we go to Morocco? NO. I've not reviewed the ports of call because I don't know what say say about them. We've been previously several times to each of the Canary Islands, and to Madeira. They are quite convenient for a short winter break from the UK weather. We didn't like Agadir. It has no character. Outside of the tourist area we were Harassed by people wanting us to give them money in exchange taking a picture of their camel. In the Souk every time we stopped moving the sellers would be waving their goods at us, trying to harass us into buying something. Had they left us alone to browse, we would almost certainly have bought some souvenirs. As it was we left with nothing. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
Various friends keen on cruising had suggested that we try it and so, after years of travelling abroad by plane and car, we chose Fred Olsen's Christmas and New Year trip on the Balmoral to Madeira and the Canaries to dip our toes in ... Read More
Various friends keen on cruising had suggested that we try it and so, after years of travelling abroad by plane and car, we chose Fred Olsen's Christmas and New Year trip on the Balmoral to Madeira and the Canaries to dip our toes in the water, as it were. In short, I have to say we both found it simply excellent. We stayed at the De Vere New Place hotel, 10 miles outside Southampton, the night before our embarkation and found their cruise package very good. It included dinner, bed and breakfast, 16 nights car parking and taxi transfers to and from the terminal before and after the cruise and we would certainly stay there again. At the terminal the check-in and embarkation process was trouble-free and we were delighted with our Superior Suite on deck 9. Our cabin stewardess, Ellen, was a delight, as were our two evening waiters. The food and entertainment was suitably varied and of high quality throughout our time onboard and what struck us most was just how friendly all staff were, from the Master down. It really was a happy ship. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day were simply superb thanks to the staff's efforts. We, in our mid 50s, were probably some of the youngest passengers aboard, but the age mix was not a problem for us as we made some good friends along the way. We tended to do our own thing whan ashore, but found the mix of land and sae days fine. Disembarkation was just as impressive, particularly compared to passing through airports. We enjoyed this trip so much that, whilst we will still look forward to other forms of overseas holidays, we will definitely look to cruise again and more than likely with Fred Olsen. In short, Fred and his team on the Balmoral made this the best Christmas and New Year we have ever had, and we are already eyeing up a trip for the same time this year. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2011
First timer's so should we stay close to home or go for it. We looked at booking the Hebridean Princess but for the same money we could visit places we had never seen; so we went for it. North Wales to North Shields went better ... Read More
First timer's so should we stay close to home or go for it. We looked at booking the Hebridean Princess but for the same money we could visit places we had never seen; so we went for it. North Wales to North Shields went better than we thought by car, well until we got to North Shields, then spent an hour or so going round in circles. Luckily we decided to stay the night so not a great problem and we were right beside the Port. After a walk around North Shields in the morning we set off to the Port. Parking was easy as was dropping off the bags but the terminal ... what a dump and the sinks were not working in the gents. The wait wasn't to long and after the Gold Members boarded so did the rest of us. Up the plank and aboard we were, we did have to ask where to go but we were told. Pleased to see that everything worked well and all the bags we in the cabin. The cabin was a good size and we had a great view of the Life Boat although we were warned, but we had a balcony which was great. Not so great was finding the last guests half drunk fizz and nibbled snacks in the fridge, but it was cleared away. We had two large wardrobes lots of cupboards and mirrors and a bottle of fizz (unopened). The bathroom had a bath with shower cupboard space and all was nice and clean and a pair of bathrobes with slippers and toiletries. We opted for 2nd seating for dining and we shared a table with some lovely people and the quality of food was always very good and more than enough although breakfast was a bit of a muddle which I put down to fitting 2 sittings into a single space. There was the option of eating at the Secret Garden Restaurant but it always looked mobbed to me but we tried it once and the quality was the same. The entertainment covered a large range from deck games quiz's and bingo during the day to cabaret and dancing in the evenings. Dancing was everything from formal to disco. Personally I think they should keep this but also look to introduce say a bit of Tamla/Northern Soul or maybe Jazz to reflect that young folk like are getting older and starting to go on cruises. TV Radio was rubbish. Organised trips reflected was there was to see. St Petersburg was fantastic because it is. Turku had a fire way back and that is what you are going see and hear about. There are talks about where to visit on board but its a bit late if the tours are full. Didn't get to Sweden as it was blowing a gale. But all in all very good. Dressing up for formal nights and the themed nights we great fun and kept my wife shopping for weeks before we went. Staff are very good and very attentive. Small point. They started referbing on the 9th floor above my head it sounded like. Called reception who said it would stop, it did not. Next day it started again, I went to see the Guest Relation person who genuinely appeared surprised and came to look, she was shocked and said that it would stop. It did and she called the next day to make sure. It started again after her call but softly. Back to Blighty and we packed our bags the night before and they had been collected. We were asked to vacate our cabins and wait in the public rooms to disembark, which we did. It was a shame that a lot of the tables and chairs were stacked up as the carpet was being replaced. But we were called to disembark after a very short wait and coached to the terminal (what is the point of the coaches)where the bags were placed in rows between the seats making it very difficult to get to. Out to the car and then home. All in all CAN NOT WAIT TO GO AGAIN and yes with Fred Olsen Read Less
Sail Date: July 2011
We booked an 8 night cruise to the Norwegian Fjiords and I was really looking forward to it and my husband was going to "make the best of it" We found boarding at Southampton a relatively easy proceedure with care being taken to ... Read More
We booked an 8 night cruise to the Norwegian Fjiords and I was really looking forward to it and my husband was going to "make the best of it" We found boarding at Southampton a relatively easy proceedure with care being taken to ensure that passengers did not all rush at once causing log jams. Our cabin was as expected a BA grade with balcony and had masses of storage room. The bathroom was a little dated but everything was spotlessly clean and well equipped. We went to our first dinner on a shared table for 6 there was one man on his own so we were only 5 and luckily we all got on famously and are still in touch. The food was excellent throughout and the waiters wonderful we both only drink de-caf coffee and he never forgot to bring it for us. There was an excellent choice every day and we alternated the cafe for breakfast with the Spey dining room and having it in our cabin. How anyone could complain about the food on this ship is quite beyond me! It was my birthday during the trip and we had booked the celebration package at £65 which included breakfast in the room of Lobster, champagne, fresh fruit a card and a present and in the evening we noticed there was a curry night in the Palms cafe and decided with our table mates to go there instead of the dining room and they insisted I should still have my cake which was brought along with guitars and singing waiters and candles. I visited the spa once and found it delightful it is necessary to book early as they are very popular. We intended to visit the gym and didn't but will next time as with all this wonderful food it is really necessary! Disembarking was also made easy and done in stages and I can't wait to go again. Highly recommended to those who want a cruise that has no gimmicks just good old fashioned service done with style. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2011
We are the sort who holiday in the quietest, remotest areas so we were nervous but decided this was the way to see the fjiords. What a revelation! Booking a suite with a balcony was definitely the way to go and worth every penny. I spent ... Read More
We are the sort who holiday in the quietest, remotest areas so we were nervous but decided this was the way to see the fjiords. What a revelation! Booking a suite with a balcony was definitely the way to go and worth every penny. I spent hours just sitting in privacy watching the mountains and rivers go by. We had no noise problems from other cabins nor at night which surprised us. We could be as private or involved as we wanted to be and the staff on the Black Watch were all wonderful without exception.We enjoyed the smaller size of the Black Watch and have decided we wouldn't like anything much bigger, especially after seeing one or two around the fjiords.Our only criticism was that it did seem silly to stop at Stavanger, where there were more shops, on a Sunday when all was closed, instead of a week day when we stopped at small places with very few shops but that might not be up to the cruiseline.We found Fred Olsen staff helpful and had absolutely no problems.Put it like this - we have already booked another one for 2012! We have even found one from the north of england which saves us going down to Dover although we had no problems with any of that either. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2009
Our first cruise was almost four weeks long and covered ten ports in the Mediterranean. Our cabin was clean, roomy and comfortable with ample storage space in both wardrobes and drawers. The bathroom was spotless and toiletries were all ... Read More
Our first cruise was almost four weeks long and covered ten ports in the Mediterranean. Our cabin was clean, roomy and comfortable with ample storage space in both wardrobes and drawers. The bathroom was spotless and toiletries were all supplied. We didn't actually book any of the ship's tours on shore as this was an Ancient Wonders of the World cruise and being in our sixties we see enough ancient wonders every day when we look at each other. However, we did go ashore and do our own thing in every port, walking for miles and finding plenty of interest locally. These ports included Almeria, Spain; Villefrance, France; Katekolon and Pireaus in Greece; La Goulette and Sfax in Tunisia; Limassol, Cyprus, Cittiavechia, Italy and Lisbon, Portugal. The only place we stayed on deck was in Alexandria, because by the time we had sunbathed for a while and done a bit of reading, coffee drinking and cake eating, earlier passengers were already returning to the ship saying "Don't Do It". They were apparently all being accosted at the port gates not only by sellers of Egyptian "antiquities" (mostly stuffed camels) but the taxi drivers were severely harassing passengers and one elderly lady was lifted off her feet and placed inside a taxi, having to be rescued by other British guests. The ships officers had to call the police to remove the offenders from the port gates. The entertainment on board surpassed our expectations. The Show Company were brilliant, putting on excellent shows which we really enjoyed. We also had a comedian, Don Reid, who is a very funny man with clean humour, and in addition a Magician. We very much enjoyed going up to the Crow's Nest at the end of every day where Jackie, a lovely pianist with a beautiful voice played soft jazz songs and ended our day on a very pleasant note. There was also a jazz band on board who performed in their own shows, but often joined Jackie in the Crow's Nest and played some impromptu numbers accompanying her singing. The whole of the top deck of the Balmoral is devoted to swimming pool, spa pools and sunbeds, so there is plenty of room for everybody to get a suntan and there was an additional pool and large sunbathing area at the back of the ship on Deck 9. The cuisine on board was probably not what I would call 4* and was a little repetitive, for example after the Tropical Night, when we had coconut deserts etc, we then had several days where coconut appeared at every meal in some disguise, even once appearing as pink coconut soup! The meals could definitely be improved, but we certainly didn't go hungry and there was plenty of choice. The buffet restaurant, Palms Cafe, was excellent, serving delicious breakfasts, wonderful lunches and themed evening meals (eg. curries, or chinese). Virtually all the staff on board were Philippino and were wonderful. Cheerful, charming, funny, helpful, hardworking and tireless. There isn't a huge shopping area on the Balmoral, but then we weren't looking for Regent Street. Our Captain was Norwegian and he was a real treat of the day. He often walked around the ship, mixing with the guests, he ate his lunch in the Palms Cafe, he was approachable and entertaining. Each morning at 9.00 am and each evening at 6.00 pm, he would address the passengers over the tannoy and his little speeches were a delight. Everyone went quiet in order to listen to him and he was a very well respected man. We would recommend the Balmoral to anyone looking for a pleasant, relaxing cruise and would certainly cruise with Fred Olsen again when the opportunity arises. Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2016
All in all an excellent first ever cruise for us. That is apart from an irresponsible passenger who decided to abandon the Barcelona tour and make his own way back to the ship without telling anyone. He caused a 40 minute delay whilst a ... Read More
All in all an excellent first ever cruise for us. That is apart from an irresponsible passenger who decided to abandon the Barcelona tour and make his own way back to the ship without telling anyone. He caused a 40 minute delay whilst a search for him was conducted which in turn caused the abandonment of the highlight stop on the tour. Not Fred's fault I know, but very very annoying. Boarding at Dover was a breeze, we were aboard before we knew it. Our suite, 5015 on the Main Deck was very comfortable and well serviced as was the rest of the ship. No sign of the dreaded Noravirus. There were sanitisers everywhere. All the passengers appeared to use them as a matter of course which was good to see. The food was excellent. Somehow I managed to maintain my weight. Goodness knows how. Disembarkation was pretty quick although there was a slight delay due to fork lift activity around the dock. We enjoyed the experience so much we re-booked on board for the Amalfi Coast Cruise aboard Boudicca in April 2017 Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
Having worked for four years in P&Os iconic ss Canberra, including her farewell cruise in 1998 prior to her being decommissioned, I have always avoided the temptation of a cruise holiday; party because I had 'been there and done ... Read More
Having worked for four years in P&Os iconic ss Canberra, including her farewell cruise in 1998 prior to her being decommissioned, I have always avoided the temptation of a cruise holiday; party because I had 'been there and done that' albeit from a different perspective, and also because I feared I would spend too much time complaining that 'it isn't like it used to be...' However a partner keen to cruise, a twenty year time gap and a curiosity to see how things had changed, combined to weaken my resolve. What I thought they did well: Firstly, the crew. I know it's a cliché, but the mainly Indian, Filipino and Thai crew could not have worked harder or done more to make our cruise enjoyable. They were friendly, engaging, always appeared happy and managed to remember our names and our favourite drinks. I really could not fault them. Our cabin: we booked a modest deck 2 outside cabin, which was surprisingly spacious and well appointed, though slightly dated decor-wise. The cabin was clean and our cabin steward(ess) (Kitty) was a delight. Even a severe flood requiring a cabin change on the last night was well-handled, with housekeeping staff appointed to help us pack and move. A letter of apology and a £50 credit to our on-board account to apologise for the inconvenience was a nice way to defuse any irritation we may have felt. Food: I thought the food was absolutely first rate. Every day I ordered breakfast from the menu rather than the buffet, and I could not fault it if I tried. The galley even made a slight adjustment to their kedgeree recipe to suit my spicier palate. Lunch as usually taken in the buffet or shore-side when alongside. The buffet was good with plenty of choice. Afternoon Tea (only taken twice) was perhaps the weakest offer - sandwiches were tasty but a but clunky and unrefined, the cake selection was limited, the scones were not the best (a bit dry) and served with UHT whipped cream, which as a shame given we were in port six of ten days so obtaining fresh stores should not have been a problem. Dinner, however, was the highlight of the day; we were lucky to have 4 great table companions whose company we enjoyed and who each added a different perspective to the conversation. Our Head Waiter (Xavier) and the Commis Waiter (Ryan) were efficient, charming and friendly. Each night we had a five course menu, with three to six choices of each. In total we had ten meals on board and I don't think I once left the restaurant unhappy. Full marks and thank you to all concerned. Guest entertainers: we had some super guest entertainers, including Leo Shavers (musician) whose impromptu jazz session was superb. The classical pianist was good, though I would like to have heard more of him, as was the Welsh baritone singer - both of whose names have slipped my mind (sorry). I also greatly appreciated the bridge lessons, which has whetted my appetite for the game. The Braemar Orchestra and the cocktail pianist were also super. Disembarkation: this morning we woke at 7am, were showered and packed by 7.45am and we're in our car on the way home by 8.45am. It could not have gone better. What I didn't like: Having been effusive in my praise for what I felt was done well, I will be equally honest in highlighting what I didn't like. Braemar Show Company: in fairness, a few of them put their heart and soul into the shows, but generally I thought their productions were uninspiring and badly choreographed and the team were very young and lacked believe-ability. Sadly I felt most of them didn't really want to be there and made little effort to hide the fact. Reception (Purser's Desk): I had little dealing with the front desk, apart from towards the end of the cruise when I noticed a billing error. We had upgraded to the 'all inclusive' drinks package for an additional £10 per person per night, this allowed complimentary 'house' drinks and 50% discount on branded drinks, cocktails and wine. When I checked my account on day 8 I noticed they had charged for all drinks. I raised this with the front desk, and rather than apologising and promising to investigate the error, I was asked if I could 'prove' we had paid for the all-inclusive package. I informed the receptionist that I was able to do so as I had just checked my online bank statement and I could see the £200 additional payment leaving my account. Having insulted me once by asking me to prove my case, she then insulted me again by asking how I was able to access my account as the ship's satellite wasn't working (for the record I had international data roaming and was able to access via my Blackberry). Having convinced her I was telling the truth I was then told that they would have to re-enter all our purchases with the relevant discount and we shouldn't order any drinks until this was done. Given this was an error wholly of the company's making, to have a member of staff twice infer I was lying and then to cause me further inconvenience whilst they sorted out an error of their own making, was a poor show. I honestly do not think they could have handled the situation more badly than they did. Show timings: it was also a slightly irritating that passengers on second sitting (8.30pm) had to watch the cabaret at 7.30pm (before dinner) with first sitting passengers watching the cabaret at 8.30pm. Personally, I like to relax with a glass of champagne or a cocktail and chat with my partner/friends pre-dinner - which I couldn't do unless I missed the cabaret. Nor did I particularly want to watch a jazz show or a comedian at 7.30pm before eating. I understand second sitting passengers usually watch a later show and it had been changed for this cruise. If so, I don't think it worked very well. Visibility of Senior Officers; my final gripe was the total lack of visibility of the 4 stripe officers on board. This might be a throw-back to my P&O days, but I would have expected to see the ship's senior management out and about in public areas most evenings, even if only for an hour pre-dinner. Apart from the welcome aboard Cocktail Party I didn't see the Captain, First Officer or Purser once during the whole cruise, which I thought was surprising and disappointing. Overall, despite the above complaints we had a super time. Would I cruise again? Much to my surprise, the answer is yes. And I would also happily cruise with Fred. Olsen in Braemar again. However the bar tenders, the stewards and the waiters were far better ambassadors for the company than the ships' officers and deserve to be acknowledged as such. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2014
Norway - Rivers and Railways cruise. First time cruisers so make of this what you will. Service, was good throughout though the pronunciation of English, yes, we know it is a world language, really was hard to follow sometimes - and we ... Read More
Norway - Rivers and Railways cruise. First time cruisers so make of this what you will. Service, was good throughout though the pronunciation of English, yes, we know it is a world language, really was hard to follow sometimes - and we are well-used to multicultural London. The numbers were well-managed at breakfast times when everyone arrived at 9am we thought. The all-inclusive drinks package was only just about worth it for us two though one of us was getting over an operation, the other about to have one and loosing weight. The floor shows reminded us of the end of the pier show at Cromer pier which many rave over but not us. A clean and well-painted and well-polished ship. Getting off the ship in Stavanger was not well-managed as cruisers were left standing on the main staircase for up to an hour without any expiation for the delays. The shore tours which we booked a number of and spent about £600 on were not all that well finessed with pretty disengaged entertainment staff roped in as somewhat reluctant tour leaders. The Bergen steam railway tour began as a sort of anticlimax, a pre-climax as the station (and shop?) were not opened for us. There was loose talk of coffee which never arrived and the visit fizzled out beside a busy main road, not even a group picture. The follow-on tour of Bergen city centre in a max size 3-axle coach was we thought an inappropriate way to sight-see a small city centre, in the rain. With only four elevators (lifts) for the elderly passengers when one of then broke down, as it did, there was real inconvenience. We paid extra for white glove Afternoon Tea but the staff were flustered when we arrived at the correct time and this was the only time that service standards slipped really, as far as we were concerned. It didn't help the occasion that scruffy passengers wandered in and out of the bar around us in essentially beach wear. A lot of men did not make much effort to dress appropriately for the two formal dinner nights. We are thinking of booking with Fred.Olsen again but wonder if the organisation isn't a tad blind to it shore tour shortcomings? Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
First ever cruise and we were very happy overall. We selected Fred Olsen as the passengers seemed to be of the age group that suited us best. I would say the best way to describe the cruise would be "comfortable with a little splash ... Read More
First ever cruise and we were very happy overall. We selected Fred Olsen as the passengers seemed to be of the age group that suited us best. I would say the best way to describe the cruise would be "comfortable with a little splash of luxury". It was amusing to be in the library and hear the daily symphony of snoring, or see that false teeth were not an obstacle to eating, sadly worrying was that it was like looking at your future. There was a slight air of nursing home. All that said it was clean and with good staff. Plenty to do all day long, and generally well organised. Highlight for me was seeing Des O`Connor, an excellent entertainer. I did find that you go on a cruise to cruise. I really don`t think you can honestly say you see much of the places you visit, with shore excursions being a bit expensive. The one sad thing was at the end of the cruise the organising did appear to break down a little. One passengers wife was taken to hospital in Tenerife and he appeared to have had little help from the port agent and minimum from Fred Olsen at the time we spoke to him. I did not like this, especially as ever noon the captains broadcast reminded us "to take care of one another" , and these are overall elderly passengers. Be warned, shop around to get the best price for any cruise. The old sea dogs we spoke to bagged the same cruise as us in a better cabin, paying 50% less for a drinks package for half what we paid for the cruise, transfers and return journey!! No wonder they slept so contentedly. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2013
A superb cruise itinerary 13 to 27 March with most time spent up at Troms and Alta. Lots of superb snow and with good weather Captain Stein Bjrheim guided the ship along a spectacular scenic route in the inner fjords. The weather was ... Read More
A superb cruise itinerary 13 to 27 March with most time spent up at Troms and Alta. Lots of superb snow and with good weather Captain Stein Bjrheim guided the ship along a spectacular scenic route in the inner fjords. The weather was kind with clear sky and we were treated to a most spectacular northern lights display viewable from the deck on departure from Tromso on 20 March. Ship entertainment was really good. My wife & I much enjoyed the performances of the Boudicca Show Company. All Staff worked very hard and were cheerful except for one day when the seriousness of a norovirus epidemic was apparent. The final total over the whole fortnight was 300+ of the 900 passengers infected with this rather nasty gastric virus. I spent two days in my cabin quarantined after a particularly uncomfortable night. In some ways I did not notice this lost time because the illness left me feeling so tired I slept much. Fred Olsen appear to have addressed the situation robustly. From first boarding we were all subject to a hand disinfection routine whenever moving between public areas -- like the dining room or lounges etc. The importance of hand washing was reinforced by daily announcements. Also they delayed the next sailing from Portsmouth by a day to enable the whole ship to be cleaned and fumigated but will this be enough? I am now interested to hear from anyone on the current cruise to Lisbon and the Iberian Peninsula. Has the cleanup worked? Read Less
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