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Sail Date: January 2015
I took my wife on our first cruise to see if she could be treated like a lady. British hotels are going to the dogs, in general, as far as style and service are concerned, being run by indifferent staff to any old standard. Fred Olsen took ... Read More
I took my wife on our first cruise to see if she could be treated like a lady. British hotels are going to the dogs, in general, as far as style and service are concerned, being run by indifferent staff to any old standard. Fred Olsen took my booking knowing how important these issues were to me, and in spite of understanding how important a table for two was to me. Having paid in full for a premier suite I gathered a table for two was not only not guaranteed but unlikely. I protested but bit my lip. As it turned out we had not only a table for two but the finest professional waiter I have ever encountered bar one. The suite was astounding and the housekeeper obliging and, also, professional. The food was to the highest standard I've encountered in spite of the quantities being served. The menu was imaginative. However, if fine dining and service is your bag, think before booking with Fred Olsen. Nothing to do with Fred ! There was a lot of interpretive license taken on the definition of "smart casual" with varying degrees of conduct and manners to go with it. One could easily have a T-shirt and jeans clad dining companion with table manners and language to match. NOT IN EVERY CASE....before I get edited out. Breakfast and lunch was a total shambles. One reviewer likened it to Asda. It was plain the normally professional waiters were fed up with the mob-like behaviour of the passengers when jostling for tables. This behaviour proves the demand for tables-for-two. Many more two seater tables could be provided with simple splitting of four-seater tables. On occasions we were able to dine and breakfast on the deck, in the secret garden or with cabin service. This changed my days absolutely as breakfast and lunch times were to be "got over with" as opposed to being enjoyed with anticipation as was the evening meal. A fair percentage of the passengers matched the standards set by the Boudicca crew and a small percentage were badly behaved. The greater percentage were somewhere in between. The lounges accommodated people fly-catching,others with feet up on the furniture or tables. Scruffy track suite bottoms were in abundance. I was subject to abuse and ridicule in a lift from a party not appropriately dressed on a formal night. Remarks were passed in this vain more than once. "you make me look like a tramp" was one such comment. We were once big fans of hotels now taken over by the Britannia group and visited three of them before we realised they had set their stall out accommodating cheap coach parties, some including drinks packages. The very reason I've gone on a cruise instead. Meal times put me in mind of these establishments. Fred Olsen standards are high. However, the things that were important to me were nullified. The entertainment was o.k and the daytime activities and choice of environment was prolific. All would have found something.The preset gratuity system sat very uncomfortably with me. I saw it as some kind of manouvre to adjust the Olsen payroll. However, I reluctantly let it stand and, in fact, felt the need to tip further to our evening meal waiter and others otherwise excluded from the set system.Lastly, I got the feeling we were being dumped and got rid of on disembarking morning. The boat had to be empty by 8.00a.m, breakfast betwixt 6a.m & 8a.m with the cushion covers being removed the evening before together with cases in the corridor before 1.00a.m following a formal dress evening. The efficient helpful parking attendants/luggage handlers on arrival were notable by their absence on departure. I'll be doing a lot more research before I book my next cruise. Fred Olsen couldn't do more. (by the way, this ship is as about as stabilised as the waltzers, in case you want to know. It didn't bother us, though.) Read Less
36 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
We wanted to see fjords. Do not go on this ship if you are under 70 as you will feel you are in a nursing home no disrespect meant as I admire some of the older clients for attempting the trip one lady was 101 . We had to avoid ... Read More
We wanted to see fjords. Do not go on this ship if you are under 70 as you will feel you are in a nursing home no disrespect meant as I admire some of the older clients for attempting the trip one lady was 101 . We had to avoid morbility scooters even in the restaurant Frames and zimmers also. The ship was very dated old and worn and repairs welding and grinding were going on aft swimming pool steps whilst people were in pool and on loungers . Our first cabin was inside on 5 it was very depressing we did update to 8 outside which was better. At our cost, The dinning was very busy and we felt rushed and had to sit with other clients often. We have had better food in hotels We always had to que ,The 2nd sitting was too late in restaurant and portions small , The service was OK the drink waiters worked well but we did have to wait sometimes The shore excursions were like cattle markets especially when 2ships arrived together and the little places we visited were ruined by hundreds of people. Embankment was ok but we waited a long time to disembark We would certainly not cruise with Fred Olson ships again Very boring ,we would have taken the 48hr return home deal but thought it might get better it didn't . I really wish I had read some of the reviews I have reported this to hays travel with whom I booked .we did try to get a flight home on the Wednesday but nothing available from Oslo Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
On board the Black Watch is like stepping back in time. The decor and fittings are very 1970s although clean, there is no WOW factor anywhere on the ship. This was our first cruise and based our poor experience it could be our last. ... Read More
On board the Black Watch is like stepping back in time. The decor and fittings are very 1970s although clean, there is no WOW factor anywhere on the ship. This was our first cruise and based our poor experience it could be our last. The boarding process at the port was one of the worst travel experiences I have had. Hundreds of passengers crammed into a hangar waiting their numbers to be called and we waited for 1hr 50 minutes and were the last to board even though we arrived exactly at the time we were instructed to on our boarding instructions. There was no explanation given just occasional apologies. So we arrived at our cabin fighting disappointment at our introductory experience with Fred Olsen. The next blow was that we learned that we would not be stopping at our first port of call, la Coruna, due to some mechanical problem. This port and the onshore trip to Santiago was the reason I booked the trip. The food was good. The alcohol reasonably priced and the service of a high standard with one or two surly exceptions. The shows were unoriginal. There was a very good comedian. The onboard activities were ok. The highlight of the trip was the Observatory Lounge where we enjoyed lovely cocktails while listening to an excellent trio. We met people who we will keep in touch with. Overall we both feel we spent a lot of money on a poor holiday and that same sum could have got us a luxury hotel for longer. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
As seasoned travellers with many years of road tripping under our belts (to most parts of the UK, Europe, Eastern Europe & Canada) we wanted to try a tour of Norway, a country we'd never been to before but had been considering for ... Read More
As seasoned travellers with many years of road tripping under our belts (to most parts of the UK, Europe, Eastern Europe & Canada) we wanted to try a tour of Norway, a country we'd never been to before but had been considering for quite some time. However, as we started planning it, it became evident just how expensive such a trip would be, plus there was also the issue of there being no ferries to Scandinavia from the UK anymore, which would have meant a very long drive via Holland, Germany, Denmark & Sweden before we even reached Norway. We’d never tried a cruise before, but as an alternative to a road trip we looked at some Norwegian offerings, which appeared to be a more cost effective way of getting / staying there than going by road. We eventually ended up booking with Fred. Olsen for a cruise on the 'Black Watch' leaving Liverpool on 11th May bound for the Norwegian ports of: Alesund, Hellesynt, Gerainger, Olden, Bergen, Eidfjord & Stavanger. The Black Watch is quite small for a cruise ship, it accommodates just over 800 passengers, its compact size meaning it can access the smaller fjords. Being so early in the year meant that we were the only ship in most ports on a given day which was a plus.. The first thing that struck us about the ship as we embarked was how 'well used' and dated it is. On board it's quite jaded in places and in need of a good spruce up and some modernisation. Some people - Fred. Olsen and a few dedicated fans of cruising - call it charm, we call it, 'wearing out'. The exterior of the ship also looks quite bad with it's many “battle scars”, looking at it close-up at the ports of call reveals some nasty looking dents in the hull, and some rust appearing in several places. There seems to be a never ending painting programme going on to cover up the rusty bits. In every port we called at, out came the bucket of paint & rollers to conceal a bit more of it. What this poor 43 year old lady really needs is to go into dry dock for a spell and have the rust properly treated – or better still she should be gracefully retired as her best days are most certainly now behind her. We’ve been on nicer cross channel ferries. When we booked the cruise, we opted for the 'all inclusive' drinks package at £220 for the 2 of us. Like a lot of other things with Fred. Olsen the details of this were very vague until we got on board and found out that 'all inclusive' actually isn't. Water is available at the bar as part of the deal but only by the glass so it can't really be taken back to the cabin and is probably only the tap water anyway. Bottled water in the cabin has to be requested and paid for. Coffee and tea and a kettle is provided in the cabins but in the bars aren’t covered under the all inclusive deal. Only very cheap wines and spirits are part of the all inclusive package on-board, the house “whisky”, as an example, is some cheap Spanish brew which is quite rough, if you want even the lower end brand blended Scotches, like Bells or Grouse etc you have to pay a 50% surcharge – despite it being listed as only 10p dearer than the nasty house whisky in the bar price list. The same applies to other spirits and wines, although it has to be said the red 'house' wine is more palatable than the spirits. For draught beers there’s very little choice – lager or Boddingtons bitter were all that was on offer in the bars. No Guinness or any other dark beers on draught – only tins & bottles which again are not part of the All Inclusive package so attract the 50% surcharge . Olsen need to be a little more transparent regarding things like this because the way things stand it's all just a little too vague in the pre booking information and can catch out the unwary. If we'd known beforehand that the all inclusive package included only the cheapest unbranded whisky and other spirits that nobody outside of the ship has ever heard of we'd never have taken it, we'd have paid for our drinks as we went along and bought the cheap branded stuff on offer, but having to pay 50% extra, even for the likes of Bells, Grants and Grouse made us feel a little cheated. Calling it 'all inclusive' is very misleading. We used the complimentary cabin service on a few days when we arrived back at the ship too late for lunch or dinner and found it very good. Our order was usually at the cabin door within 10 mins of phoning it through. Only things like sandwiches & soup and a few deserts were available but they were of good quality – better than the main restaurant food in some cases. Food in the main waiter served “Glentanar” restaurant was pretty average at best, with more emphasis being placed on the presentation rather than the taste & texture. To be honest it's all just a bit pretentious on what is a rather tatty little ship, especially the formal evenings where passengers have to dress accordingly for dinner. A lot of folk did seem to like that sort of thing though, which only added to the pretentiousness of the whole affair. We only ate in the main Glentanar restaurant on a couple of occasions, on our second and final visit our rather pompous waiter was quite rude to an elderly gent at our table who had complained about his soup. On that particular night we had what was allegedly pheasant which it has to be said was disgusting, it all looked very nicely laid out on the plate in nouveau cuisine fashion, but eating it was like chewing an old inner tube. I'm no expert on pheasant but I'm sure it shouldn't have been that tough and dry. After that experience we elected to eat in the Braemar Garden Café which is a self service buffet restaurant and the food all the better for it. This was a far less ostentatious atmosphere and the waiters were marginally more pleasant. We didn’t eat too may lunches on board, preferring instead to stay out using the limited time available to explore wherever we were docked, as no matter where we’d arrived it was always more interesting than on board the ship. We partook of breakfast most mornings, but found the cooked offerings to be invariably cold to lukewarm. The first morning we tried it the fried eggs were barely warm, as were the beans, sausage and bacon. The cold scramble egg was the particularly unappetising “piece de resistance”. The following few mornings were no better in either restaurant so we opted for the cold continental breakfasts after that which were an improvement even if the croissants were miniscule. We'd booked a couple of shore tours before we left home. The first was from Gerainger by coach up the Eagle Road which was spectacular and well worth the cost. Sadly the second one from Stavanger was a huge disappointment. This one consisted of a trip on the so called Jaeren Railway to Egersund which cost us £75 each. It promised wonderful views as we travelled through the “Breadbasket of Norway”. The reality was a ride by coach through Stavanger at rush hour to the railway station, where we got on to a commuter train. We then travelled for over an hour and a quarter through some pretty underwhelming countryside to the lacklustre town of Egersund where we then boarded the coach for the run back to Stavanger by road which was only slightly better. We did have an hour to kill in Egersund though so rather than stay with the tour guide (who at least had the decency to look a bit embarrassed), we took off to find a coffee shop instead. Talking to other participants of this tour back on the ship afterwards it transpired that we weren't the only ones who felt disappointed by it. We could probably have done the same trip ourselves for less than £20 Norway is undeniably beautiful, the cruise showed us a mere glimpse of what this wonderful country has to offer and we will return there, but next time will be a road trip - and hang the expense, it'll be worth it. As far as cruises go for us, never again. I'm too young even in my mid 60s. If this particular cruise is typical of most then they seem geared more to passengers in the 70 – 80 age group who's idea of fun and adventure appears to be stuffing themselves with as much food as possible, a game of bingo and a quiz chucked in now and then.... and dressing up for dinner whilst on an ageing ship being the icing on the cake. Just short of 3 days to get to and from Norway is excessive, and boring, I’d have preferred a quicker cruise and more time in Norway. Having experienced the open road for years, we simply felt trapped inside the ship. Having too little time to explore the places we saw became frustrating as we had to keep a constant eye on the time in order to get back in time for departure and we hated the stress of clock watching whilst on holiday. I can see the appeal of cruising for some people, but it's not for us I'm afraid. In future I’ll be firing up my car or the motorbike again and taking off for some real travel adventures Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
I was desperate the see the Norwegian Fjords, which by the way were spectacular, so my sister and I booked a trip with Fred Olsen which included the all inclusive drinks package. Embarkation at Liverpool was a breeze and the baggage ... Read More
I was desperate the see the Norwegian Fjords, which by the way were spectacular, so my sister and I booked a trip with Fred Olsen which included the all inclusive drinks package. Embarkation at Liverpool was a breeze and the baggage handlers at the port were slick and fast, however, you do have to fight through all types of walking sticks, Zimmerframe walkers and very slow infirm passengers. My sister and I, although not young, felt like teenagers in comparison as the average age on board was in the region of 70+. Although on the fully inclusive (FI) package, which is good value for money, the rules around what is included in the fully inclusive package is ambiguous and at best vague. This is compounded by the staff offering you items that are not on the FI package, although knowing that you are on the FI package. The result is that you find yourself being charged for a drink that you didn't realise you'd bought? There is a form of stealth sales that goes on as I think the staff receive an incentive to sell drinks and on several occasions I found that I'd unwittingly bought a coffee or a glass of wine in error. The other irritant is that on the occasion that you do order a drink on the FI package you're still expected to sign for the price of it which left us with a tree's worth of paper receipts. Make sure you always check the receipt which has a printed 'FA' on it if you've achieved the fully inclusive package as the staff don't tell you. We found this helpful piece of information from a fellow passenger. All communication is provided whilst on ship via a daily paper put into your room by the evening service staff. This is useful and provides you with all the information you need with regard to sailing time, ports of call, activities and services. We didn't pre-buy port and shore excursions but used the hop on, hop off, facilities that is available at each port. They were perfect for us as it gave us the opportunity to see what we wanted to see and was much cheaper than the excursions. Our cabin was small and dated but was kept super clean by our Cabin Attendant who was fabulous. Everything onboard is chargeable including the cabin bottle of water. We were on deck 5 which is perfectly based for reception, the restaurant one deck below and to disembark which is on deck 3 and the spa which is on deck 3. You don't have to use the lifts and can get everywhere fast. You'll never get in the lift anyway as 2 walkers fill the entire lift and there are only 2 lifts in the centre of the ship. The food is good although typically British themed with it's target passenger being the older demographic. I was however, so tired by the end of the trip by the continual chorus of 'Happy Birthday to you' which is sung by the staff and an attempt to get you to buy your table a round of expensive liqueurs. Although, we met some lovely passengers, the more mature passenger can tend to feel superior and will reserve the best seats, push you out of the way and tell you to move if you're in their way, although they've reserved seats for their friends. You having to stand wherever possible to enjoy the evening is an insult to them. Some would go into the library and put all their belongings down and then disappear for a couple of hours, returning at their leisure expecting their seating to be there waiting upon their return. This resulted in my sister and I roaming around the ship looking for somewhere to sit during inclement sea days, eventually going back to our cabin. The only place that would guarantee us an escape from the infirm was the Gym which was well equipped, clean and tidy with showers and a steam room. The most modern part of the ship in fact. On day 8 of our trip there was a terrible smell across our deck which was attributed to the water refuse tanks being full. They had to dump it into the sea but because we were still in the Fjords the ship had to keep hold of it. All deck passengers complained and we were offered a move to another deck but only for the night which meant we would have had to pack up and then move back - we declined and stayed wishing we'd brought pegs with us for our noses. The reception staff are all poe faced women who know nothing and are accountable for the same. We had several encounters with them and at no time do their faces crack into a smile which is accompanied by 'the computer says no' mentality. The 'can do' ethos is nowhere to be found on this ship. The restaurant staff are polite and friendly, however, have to be because the Management in charge seem to run the place with a fear culture,as we saw staff being told off in public areas in view of passengers which was very uncomfortable to witness. We would cruise again but not on this line - an expensive disappointment to say the least. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2013
Just returned from my first and probably last cruise. Norway itself, the scenery, the inner passage and most of the tours were wonderful, unfortunately the cruise experience itself was not good -- particularly due to the poor condition of ... Read More
Just returned from my first and probably last cruise. Norway itself, the scenery, the inner passage and most of the tours were wonderful, unfortunately the cruise experience itself was not good -- particularly due to the poor condition of our 'superior' outside cabin and the fear of contracting norovirus (almost half of the passengers came down with it). In addition the only reason for us going on this cruise was to see the northern lights and we were disgusted that more was not done by the ship to assist us in this aim. CABIN. (Superior outside, deck 5). Reasonable size. Condition poor. It may have been 'superior' 20 years ago but is decrepit and rather dingy now. Dread to think how we would have coped if we had contracted norovirus and been banged up in it for 4 days, as some folk were (you had to stay in your cabin for the length of the illness + a further 48 hours after the last symptoms occurred). Rather like living in an old run down caravan that someone else has had the sense to scrap. NOROVIRUS. The ship blamed the passengers for bringing this on board and for spreading it. No responsibility was taken for the fact that the previous cruise had also suffered from norovirus and only a few hours were devoted to carrying out a 'deep' clean before we boarded. There was no way that sufficient time was allowed to effectively clean the ship before we boarded -- were the carpets steam cleaned and the curtains and bedspreads all washed? No. I am certain this virus was present on the ship (carried on fittings and in the ventilation system) when we boarded and this was the major cause of our outbreak. The continual spraying of passenger hands was probably ineffective as alcohol based sprays do not work against norovirus - apparently chlorine based ones are better, but we would have been able to smell this in the spray if chlorine had been used. In addition at no time did I see any of the staff spraying their hands and the bad practice of waiters handling used crockery and cutlery and then handing out food to passengers would have caused cross contamination (no plastic gloves used). So, Fred Olsen stop blaming the victims for this awful outbreak. NORTHERN LIGHTS. To see these was the sole reason for us booking this cruise, I quite accept that they are a natural phenomenon and no guarantees can be given but I did not expect the captain to put the smooth running of the evening meal above the passengers desire to see the lights. On the evening that we left Tromso there was apparently a brilliant display of the lights above the ship. Unfortunately we were on the late sitting for dinner and one of the last tables to be served, no announcement was made in the dining room so we completely missed seeing the lights that night. If we had been told as soon as desert had been served we could have skipped coffee and seen the display. We finally got a good sighting of the lights on the night before we got into Kristiansund. Unfortunately we struggled to see them as all the deck lights had been left on and the crew refused to switch them off ... as the captain was asleep and no-one else had the authority to do so! Great! Fred Olsen should think a bit more about what customers want from this cruise -- it would have been quite safe to turn off the deck lights on the upper decks only and to have left them on around the stairways and lower decks -- as was done on other nights. We also went on 2 of the 3 evening tours arranged by the cruise to search for the northern lights. I would not recommend these -- passengers were taken on approx. 4/6 overheated coaches a long distance (90 mins +) from the ship, this was not only to get away from light sources (not much of a job was made of this -- one night we were near a lot of houses and another night we were next to a busy, for Norway, road) but mainly to take us to a large field where a lot of coaches could be parked and a small amount of infrastructure such as a large tent provided and bonfires could be lit. You would be much better advised to use the local information centre and book a tour with a local guide, in a minibus. Other passengers used these and they reported a very good experience with the guide taking them to many different vantage points and really having a good knowledge of where and what to look for. They did not have to endure a long trek out of Tromso or Alta and the price was similar for the local guide as for the cruise tour. DOG SLEDDING and ICE HOTEL tours. These I cannot praise enough. Both were excellent. I would recommend booking the dog sledding privately just so that you can go for a longer period than the cruise tour allows - also try out driving the sled yourself, it's great fun. TOILET BLOCKAGES. Several passengers (including us) suffered from this at different times on the cruise (and no we did not flush anything we should not have done!). Not a good experience when you do not want to use the public loos in case of contracting norovirus and no one contacts you to say the problem has been fixed (the engineers work on it outside of your room); you have to ring Reception back to ask. Some passengers also suffered from very poor water pressure. One night we had no water at all for a while, we were told this had affected several other cabins. All problems you don't need when norovirus is present and you are trying to be hygienic. So now you can see why this is likely to be my last cruise! Certainly my last one with Fred Olsen. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2011
Myself and my husband are brand new to cruising and thought we would try a mini cruise to 'test the water'. Fred Olsen was recommended by (an older) relative, as it is a smaller ship and not overun by kids.Perhaps our ... Read More
Myself and my husband are brand new to cruising and thought we would try a mini cruise to 'test the water'. Fred Olsen was recommended by (an older) relative, as it is a smaller ship and not overun by kids.Perhaps our expectations of a cruise were too high, but speaking with other new cruisers who were doing the same as us on this 'taster weekend', I don't think so. This was Fred Olsen's opportunity to capture a new market and they failed miserably.Firstly admin: I had to call Fred Olsen twice to tell them that we hadn't received our tickets and in the end were issued with an e-ticket. They managed to send the bill to the right address so why not the tickets?The ship was delayed getting into port so embarkation was delayed by 3 hours. Fortunately we were emailed by FO to alert us to this so didn't leave home until later in the day, but many passengers didn't or couldn't. Needless to say check in was horrendous - lengthy queues and disorganisation ruled the day. This set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Queues and lengthy waits for everything including breakfast seating and drinks just made what should have been a relaxing break into alot of frustrating hard work.We booked a superior outside cabin which was reminiscent of a ferry cabin, and though it was clean, was very shabby and in much need of decoration and a new bathroom.We were booked into the Spey restaurant for dinner and even though on second sitting, we felt rushed all the way through. Waiters were surly and it was very difficult to attract their attention particularly at breakfast time when it was hard to get coffee and toast served in time to go with the rest of the meal.On the third morning we went into the Ballindalloch restaurant for breakfast and have to say that service was marginally better in there.Food could hardly be called 'fine dining'. It was adequate 'function catering' if rather boring - alot of it was based on roast meat and veg, starters and desserts were OK if generally tasteless. It's a pity that 'hot' food arrived at the table tepid, and cold food really was very chilled. We ate once in the Palms cafe - afternoon tea on the day of embarkation - after that we avoided it like the plague. It was noisy, tables were dirty, glass seating dividers were smeared with grease and upholstered seating was badly stained... not nice.The Captains Welcome Cocktail party was a joke - more rugby scrum mentality and shockingly bad service. The party took place in the Neptune lounge. It took us 30 mins to get a drink and no canapes got as far as the area in which we and 40 others were sitting. To us, it just felt like a 'hard sell' for tours, future cruises and of course the obligatory photo with the captain.Outside sitting areas were generally tidy and there appeared to be enough loungers and chairs, but then it was a bit breezy so maybe not everyone wanted to be outside. It did became quite difficult to move around when everyone sprawled out on loungers and grouped them together. It was also worrying to see passengers sitting in jacuzzis holding drinks in glasses, despite their being notices displayed forbidding it. Staff didn't seem to care. We will probably try cruising in the future, but definitely not with Fred Olsen. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2011
Although first impressions are good I was very disapointed overall in my experience as a first time cruiser on the Balmoral. My cabin, a superior single on the Lido deck, may be described as 'tired'. Surfaces worn, a drawer ... Read More
Although first impressions are good I was very disapointed overall in my experience as a first time cruiser on the Balmoral. My cabin, a superior single on the Lido deck, may be described as 'tired'. Surfaces worn, a drawer chipped and the bathroom poorly patched up (when I entered the cabin there was a rust hole at the bottom of the metal bath panel which was dealt with at some time during the voyage). I was particularly concerned about the position of the television and its tangle of wiring in relation to the only possible place to use the electric kettle.I may also say that the position of the bedside light in relation to the way the bed was laid out (pillows at the far end of the bed adjacent to the outside door) meant that the bed was fine during the day for lounging or watching television but in order to read in bed I had to set the bedding out the other way round at night.The door to the balcony wouldn't remain completely closed since, even though locked, the catch would slip and there was considerable wind noise, which was rather disturbing.I had expected excellent food in the Spey restarant, this surely is one of the high spots of any cruise. I have to say that in some cases it was hardly better than superior school dinners! Neither pork nor the chicken tasted of anything. I did have some acceptable meals there but the quality was very uneven. The Palms Cafe was better, at least one could see in advance what was on offer and choose accordingly. In addition the service at times was rushed. On the penultimate night plates were being removed from our table and the next course brought while some of us were still eating. The waiters also clearly forgot to ask for our orders for pudding. The restaurant was also very noisy. I have good hearing but at times it was difficult to have a conversation because of the noise from other tables. My elderly father who is rather deaf (I was travelling with my parents) found it impossible.I also have to say that the whole dressing up in DJs for men on four evenings was completely unnecessary and pretentious. I just looked in on the entertainment since nothing appealed. The ports' lecturer was terrible. I could have done better with a quick look at Wikipedia and other internet sites. He was really just advertising the excursions. The guest lecturer, a retired MEP was a bit better. Excursions were generally ok but highly priced and most satisfactory were the trips out I made on my own in Tallin and elsewhere. It was a waste of money to do both the coach panorama trip around St Petersburg and the Waterways tour but the trip to the Palaces of the Romanovs with the opportunity to see the suburbs and countryside around St Petersburg was good and the restoration work after the destruction by the Germans, extremely impressive.I was surprised by just how elderly and infirm many passengers were and at 65 I was one of the younger ones. It is clear that this ship or this cruise line appeals to the Daily Mail reader. That was the daily internet produced newspaper paper available and the paper that headed the list in the survey of passengers. I left the comedian's performance when he started telling jokes about immigrant benefit scroungers.This trip was my first experience of cruising. There were many things that I enjoyed about the experience but most of those are not related to the ship or its facilities. In all this cruise cost me getting on for £4,500 including the fuel surcharge. I don't regard that as good value for money and I will certainly not be recommending Fred Olsen cruise lines to friends.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
Some things on the cruise were terrific. The waiting staff were. The food generally was of a high standard, at times excellent. Nothing was too much trouble and in that respect the cruise was 5 star plus. When I needed my trousers ... Read More
Some things on the cruise were terrific. The waiting staff were. The food generally was of a high standard, at times excellent. Nothing was too much trouble and in that respect the cruise was 5 star plus. When I needed my trousers repaired, the tailor appeared in moments, disappeared briefly, and reappeared with the trousers totally repaired. A lot of the staff were actually incredibly nice. In other respects it was a bit wide of the mark. The wifi was very poor, but that is being upgraded, apparently. The communal seats were sprayed with some sort of deodorant, so every time I sat on them, I had to change my trousers because they stank of something nasty. The washing machines all injected with a washing liquid automatically into the system, so after I washed my clothes, I couldn't wear them because I need a non-bio powder, and am allergic to the chemical ones. I was left with a couple of T-Shirts and a few pairs of pants that I had to recycle manually. There is a notice in the launderetter - an A4 laminated thing in black and white ink, that was stuck behind someone who was ironing- that alerts you to the fact the washing machines are self-powdered. i never saw it. Not sure I would have seen it had the person ironing not been there either. The downstairs launderette boasted 4 machines that didn't self powder...I tried one. it also automatically injected detergent. WhenI got back to the UK, I needed 5 washes to remove the strong chemicals from my clothes so that I was able to wear them again. So 10 washes in all. I raised these issues with F.Olsen, and they replied a stock reply. I pointed out that the reply was factually incorrect, and they replied that I was wrong and they were correct. I took umbrage. I wrote to their head office. They wrote back and said they were taking my complaint seriously. That was the last I heard. I could easily have gone for a 2 star rating here, but I feel that is unjust to the 1000 staff who work very hard onboard. There were other niggly things. A major problem is what happens when you dock. In Casablanca we experienced Taxi Wars. Eventually a gun toting policeman came in and starting physically fighting with the taxi drivers. A bit eyebrow raising at the best of times, even more so when you have a disabled person with you. As I waited for the scheduled bus, I was harangued and harassed by the same culprits as before...I then got totally lost in Casablanca, and ended up in the slums; as sundown approached I realized I could have a serious problem. If I had known how louche and potentially dangerous the place was, I would have been more circumspect. A decent map would not have gone amiss. I am surprised the Cruise Companies don't work together, and have a Local Guide in major ports who can handle things like....taxis...and so on. The Southampton Port Authority is a joke. Staff are rude and hostile. Lots of people were getting very irate. Don't suppose F.Olsen care, as they would say once off the ship it is not their responsibility. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
We booked last October for a cruise of the fjords. At embarkation, our luggage was delivered to outside our cabin on third deck. The cabin was clean and throughout the cruise was well-serviced by Rodell. We found the entertainment very ... Read More
We booked last October for a cruise of the fjords. At embarkation, our luggage was delivered to outside our cabin on third deck. The cabin was clean and throughout the cruise was well-serviced by Rodell. We found the entertainment very good, and we saw a few great shows, and a funny comedian. As we bought the all-inclusive drinks package, we were limited to what and where we could drink, no drinks included on deck seven, and a limited number of drinks on deck six, which meant we were drinking house rum or Stella. We used the buffet for most of our meals, and the food was reasonable to good, the service was good to indifferent. The Reception staff were helpful and polite, and the staff in the Braemar Room were very cheerful and funny. The pianist Ronald is very good indeed, and we enjoyed our time in their as well as the quizzes at 10pm. Wi-Fi is available on board but is very slow,and some days doesn't work atall, It is very expensive if you only buy a few hours, so I would suggest paying £30 for a 24 hour package,not £5 for half an hour. The excursions are very expensive, so think about making your own way around when you dock. Overall, we enjoyed ourselves, but felt that we didn't get the value for money we should have got, and considering we booked so far in advance, should have been given the all-inclusive drinks package and gratuities free of charge, which were later advertised as included. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2015
This was our first cruise so we did not know what to expect. Fred Olsen customer service is terrible, I booked by 'phone, they got my name wrong and it took four telephone calls to get it corrected, their on line service ... Read More
This was our first cruise so we did not know what to expect. Fred Olsen customer service is terrible, I booked by 'phone, they got my name wrong and it took four telephone calls to get it corrected, their on line service didn't work and what ever you do don't give them an e mail address you cannot print from because they then insist on using it for everything including the tickets even if you ask them not to. The ship is lovely and the staff cannot do enough to help you, the only problem is the other passengers we dubbed "The Black Tie Ya-Yas" although if you eat in the Secret Garden and use that lounge where the dress code is always casual you can usually avoid them. If you want to dress up like a penguin don't prance around belittling those who don't want to take part in the pantomime. I tried the main restaurant for lunch on the first day but found the staff attitude very poor, probably because I was a woman eating alone so we used the Secret Garden after that where the staff were much more accommodating. One tip on this, make sure that the compulsory £4.00 per couple per night tip for the waiting staff is paid to the restaurant you dine in or it will automatically be allocated to the main restaurant. Don't pay for any excursions unless it is something you really want to do as you can do the same trips when you get there for a quarter of the price. When you get back to Dover take a taxi from the taxi rank rather that booking thru F/O again much cheaper. Bar prices are very reasonable and the all inclusive package is definately worth doing, we didn't see anybody take advantage. We were very pleased with our cabin, the maid service' entertainment on board, everything was good once we got on board so we will know what to expect next time although the stress caused by the poor customer service prior to the start of the holiday could have so easily been avoided if the promised new cruise passengers pack had been sent as promised. On board info wasn't that good either, the speaker on our radio was turned off so we missed the safety and lifeboat drill and it was Thursday before we found out that you could have sandwiches in the Lido Lounge and "short orders" in The Grill at lunchtime if you preferred. All in all a good experience and we will definitely be doing it again Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2015
We travelled from Liverpool to Ireland on Friday 8th May 2015 and had cabin number 9912. The room was very clean and everything that had been promised in the brochure, but the quality of the mattress and the pillows was very poor, both ... Read More
We travelled from Liverpool to Ireland on Friday 8th May 2015 and had cabin number 9912. The room was very clean and everything that had been promised in the brochure, but the quality of the mattress and the pillows was very poor, both being hard and lumpy. We found the indoor areas of the ship to be clean and bright, the standard of the food was very high and could not be faulted, and the staff were very friendly and eager to please. However, we encountered quite a few problems with our room. When returning to our room after dinner on the first night we found the wind howling around and under the door, making such a loud noise that sleep was impossible. We had to wait over one hour and make two calls to reception before maintenance attended our room. Only a temporary fix could be effected and this was only by placing a towel along the door bottom, but we were happy to accept this as we wanted to retire and were told that a permanent repair would be done the next day. After going to bed we were woken about 2.00a.m. by a loud intermittent clanging. It turned out that the metal balcony divider had come loose in the very wet and windy weather and this was swinging back and forth. After trying to fix it twice ourselves it still worked loose again after 10 minutes so it meant another phone call to reception and a visit from the maintenance man. We would expect that these type of items should have been checked as part of general maintenance before the room was allocated. We went off the ship on the Saturday and were very disappointed on our return at 5.00 p.m. to find that the howling noise under the door had not been attended to, so we called out the Customer Service Manager to explain how very disappointed we were with our experience so far. She apologised and offered to move us to another cabin but we were loathe to do that as it involved moving our belongings ourselves. She then called out the senior maintenance man who said he had listened outside our door earlier in the day but as he could not hear anything he did not think there was still a problem! He came back an hour later and effected a repair involving duct tape. On Sunday I went to use the hairdryer and it would not work, so this meant another visit from a maintenance man and the problem was found to be an electrical one in the razor point in the bathroom - yet again another item not checked to be in working order. In the newsletter we received we were told that on the last evening we would receive a questionnaire for completion - we did not, I wonder why? There a many good things to be said about Fred Olsen cruising, the embarkation and disembarkation was handled well and efficiently, the standard of hygiene is very high too. It may have just been our bad luck to have so many problems with our room but it did mar our enjoyment of the trip to a large extent. 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
Sail Date: January 2013
We hadn't cruised before, being under 50 we really thought that cruising was for older people. That's certainly true for the Braemar but many guests told us about other cruise lines who cater for a younger audience so I'm ... Read More
We hadn't cruised before, being under 50 we really thought that cruising was for older people. That's certainly true for the Braemar but many guests told us about other cruise lines who cater for a younger audience so I'm happy to stand corrected. My husband is terrified of water and to get him to go I had to book a cabin with a balcony above a lifeboat! Within a couple of days he was quite comfortable with being at sea, not seeing land and his constant fear of drowning so if anyone reading this has a reluctant partner - be reassured, it's worth the effort of getting on board. I have a gluten free diet and really struggle to get food when I go on holiday unless I cook everything myself. This cruise was an absolute godsend to me - I've never had so much choice before, the food and the waiters were amazing. I can't praise them enough. The Braemar is a relatively small ship with around 950 passengers and 350 crew which meant we were quickly recognised by staff and guests, making for a very welcoming atmosphere. The staff couldn't be faulted - we started off in the Grampian Restaurant but weren't keen on the atmosphere there and were quickly moved to the Thistle Restaurant which was much more vibrant and where guests wanted to talk to you.The cabaret acts were pretty average and targeted at the older audience. The Braemar Show Team on the other hand were outstanding, particularly James, Jane and Kirsty and worked incredibly hard putting on 9 different shows in 11 nights and popping up doing all sorts of unexpected duties throughout the day from serving cake at the Tea Dance to dolphin racing. Not having been on a cruise before I didn't have anything to compare them with but I lost count of the number of other guests who said they were by far the best show group they had seen on a cruise and many of the guests had been on over 30 cruises. Ricky the Cruise Director was great, I think he could do with a day off though - he seemed to work from early in the morning to very late at night with few gaps in between and always with a smile on his face. We met some lovely guests on board although we also met a significant number of pretentious people they they were usually older and from a certain part of the country. The staff were incredible and I found the latter guests clicking fingers at waiters distasteful to say the least, however the few guests that spoiled things were hugely outnumbered by the lovely guests we met. Our cruise was for 11 nights and by the 9th I have to confess we'd had enough of getting dressed up for every evening meal, we could have opted out and dined more casually in the Palms Restaurant but we didn't feel it was fair in the staff to keep moving about when I had special dietary needs. Others did use this option and it seemed to be appreciated.We called at Dakkar Senegal, Banjul Gambia, Praia Cape Verde and Mindelo Cape Verde. If you want winter sun and are not bothered about ports this is great, if you don't mind third world countries and a bit of hassle from locals it's fine otherwise leave these ports for a few years until they become more developed. Mindelo was the best port and even that was basic with no toilets on a 4hr tour. The weather was great though and staff on board were phenomenal. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2011
After extensive research I chose Fred Olsen and the BALMORAL Canaries Cruise departing Southampton 17.11.11 due to it being our first cruise and being advised to go on a smaller cruise ship so as not to be overwhelmed with too many ... Read More
After extensive research I chose Fred Olsen and the BALMORAL Canaries Cruise departing Southampton 17.11.11 due to it being our first cruise and being advised to go on a smaller cruise ship so as not to be overwhelmed with too many passengers. What my research did not tell me was that the average age would be 75+ or so it would appear. Never have I seen so many walking sticks, frames and mobility scooters in such an enclosed environment before! The cruise was advertised as Music and Laughter - I must have missed the bit about the sequence dancing and bingo. Every day prior to the shows x 2 there was approx an hour whereby Gentleman Hosts danced with single ladies both ballroom and latin - these ladies booked the cruise solely for this entertainment but as stated I must have overlooked this snippet of info. There was nothing on the cruise during the day for my husband and I to do whilst at sea - we are in the age bracket 50 -59 and felt totally out of place. We are not interested in patchwork, card making, bingo etc and the resident guest speakers were of no interest - only giving info on places we were to visit which had already been researched. That said, the cabin, food, service and prices at the bar were more than satisfactory. What was needed from our point of view was a sports bar where we could watch European/Domestic Football Cricket Tennis Golf etc or a Cinema/Theatre. The evening entertainment was sufficient but would have been better has second sitting guests, 8.30 been able to watch the show prior to eating maybe the shows starting at 7.00pm rather than not being able to see the shows until 10.45 whereby we were never able to go to bed until midnight as did not want to miss evening entertainment. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2011
SWMBO had been pestering me to go on a cruise for years. She has been on several without me due to various work commitments. However she pinned me down to this one. What was i expecting, not to sure tbh. Embarkation was steady and ... Read More
SWMBO had been pestering me to go on a cruise for years. She has been on several without me due to various work commitments. However she pinned me down to this one. What was i expecting, not to sure tbh. Embarkation was steady and organised, and the meet and greet was good. In fact, for me the highlight of the trip was the level of service we received from the staff, which was top rate. Food came a close second, with a variety of excellent meals available in the evening, breakfast and lunch were mainly a buffet/as much as you can eat arrangement, but still good. The ship itself had all the restaurants at the stern, which meant a long trek for the Father-in-law from the cabin for every meal, and the Ship got kicked about quite badly in the North Sea, so much so that some travellers elected to fly home rather than face it again. The night time entertainment was good, with a variety of acts from a world class cellist to an easy listening trio. The on-board drinks were reasonably priced (certainly compared to Norway). I was a bit disappointed with the 'buy this photo or DVD' at nearly every turn, but as a no frills deal, it was only to be expected. Overall, would i go again? possibly not as it's not my thing, however SWMBO was happy and that's what counts. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2011
After considering many options decided to go for Fred Olsen as it has a reputation for old fashioned British style cruising. We took the mini-cruise as taster - just in case - as not been on anything more than a channel ferry in the past. ... Read More
After considering many options decided to go for Fred Olsen as it has a reputation for old fashioned British style cruising. We took the mini-cruise as taster - just in case - as not been on anything more than a channel ferry in the past. Found the booking process - direct with FO at the Telegraph Cruise show quick & easy. All documentation & tickets arrived on time. Booked parking through APB - again quick & easy. Didn't get the email from FO about the delay - so rolled up at Soton about 1230 - where the car was taken away before we we told there would be several hours to wait. would have been nice to know before we handed over the keys. The staff seemed in total disarray - got different stories about check in times depending on who you spoke to. Once through security spent 3 hours or so in a warehouse type lounge with one small expensive cafe/bar. Would have been a good gesture if FO had laid on some free refreshments at this stage. Not a good introduction. Once onboard things improved. Being on deck 9 had it's advantages - as we were amongst the first to board. Having got through the ID photo but we were told the cabins were available so we went straight there. All but one bag was waiting for us. Cabin was roomy, clean & bright. Dumped the stuff and headed for the Lido bar for a drink - service was polite & quick. Last bag was waiting at cabin on our return. Balcony cabin was as spacious and well equipped as many hotel rooms - could easily have spent a much longer cruise in there. Everything worked - although TV channels a bit limited and reception poor. Tends to vibrate a bit when ship is docking - probably as right at the back. However view (side&rear) from balcony compensates for this. Staff in general very polite & attentive. Found all bar staff to be helpful and unlike other reviewers never had to queue or wait for drink. Agree Lighthouse pub not very inviting. Dined in Ballindoch on second sitting. Food was good - some dishes better that others - served quickly and efficiently. Not piping hot - but plenty warm enough. Pre-ordered wine was waiting on the table. Took breakfast in the Palms - once again never had to queue and buffet was plentiful and of good quality. Only lunched on board once - went to the Spey restaurant - where we were ignored by the staff! Left after 5 mins - went back to Ballindoch were we greeted and the buffet layout explained a soon as we sat down. Afternoon tea in the Palms of same standard as breakfast. Shows/entertainment were as you would expect but good fun when taken in context. Didn't have cause to use the gym or other public rooms but all looked well equipped. Pool areas were nice if small - but noticed prople did tend to hog the jacuzzis. Daily news was very helpful. Going ashore a very organised process. On the last day we barely had time for breakfast before disembarking - all bags waiting for us, car just round the corner, so we were away from the dock in no time at all. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
This was the 1st time my husband and myself had been on a cruise. So we thought we would enjoy a smaller ship, but that was a mistake. Small and friendly to us after we had done the cruise represented cramped and forced to speak to ... Read More
This was the 1st time my husband and myself had been on a cruise. So we thought we would enjoy a smaller ship, but that was a mistake. Small and friendly to us after we had done the cruise represented cramped and forced to speak to people. The experience of boarding the ship at Dover, which has been repeated on many of your reviews, was without doubt a very good experience. We had an alloted time to check in and everything went smooth. The taxi dropped us off, the porter took our cases, and we didnt see them again until we boarded the ship and they were in our cabin. The 1st few days the weather was poor and there were insufficient seats inside without squashing on tables with people. When the sun came out it was not quite so bad, but you still sometimes had to share. I think this is where I realise perhaps cruising is not for me. I like to read my book, but that was impossible as the minute someone sat at your table they felt they had to talk incessently which got on my nerves. At breakfast in the Thistle restaurant two people could not sit alone, you always had to share, and always had to sit opposite you were not allowed to sit side by side. I do mean not allowed, when I expressed that I did not want to sit in the middle of a table of 10 the waiter shrugged his shoulders and beckoned the next couple over, leaving us no choice but to go to another restaurant for breakfast. Not a treatment expected as they bill themselves as a 5star country house hotel style. As other people have pointed out the drinks were reasonably priced, the choice of wines was excellent Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
We chose to cruise on the Braemar for our first ever cruise as the dates suited, we loiked the idea of no flying and I thought the weather would be kind!!! Embarkation at Dover was a breeze, as suite customers we walked straight into ... Read More
We chose to cruise on the Braemar for our first ever cruise as the dates suited, we loiked the idea of no flying and I thought the weather would be kind!!! Embarkation at Dover was a breeze, as suite customers we walked straight into lunch in the Thistle restaurant then up to our suite. Loved 7043, the suite is L shaped and you can partition off the sleeping area with a curtain. Large balcony and being mid to rear seemed well placed. Lots of wardrobe space. Bathroom small but excellent shower and efficient loo! Friends had 7010 which was lovely and bright but just one room and their balcony was smaller. They were very near the front of the ship and you could feel the difference. As other posts say the first three days were rough! We did not realise how bad it was until more seasoned travellers and the crew put us right. Our friend was very poorly. At this time I thought the ship was really spacious but soon realised everyone was in bed! Gym small but good equipment. when we finally got to dry land it rained, the first week was a washout but the second week was lovely and I can see why people cruise.The sailaways were great but short and a free drink would not have gone amiss! The Braemar is a lovely ship, small but we liked that. We ate in the Grampian restaurant, 2nd sitting and were very impressed with the quality of the food and the service. Drinks reasonably priced too Entertainment was good, resident band and show company were excellent but by the end of the fortnight had heard some of the songs a few too many times...Knock three times anyone? I am nearly 50 and I doubt if there were ten people younger than me on the cruise so maybe the entertainment was set accordingly. We won a few bottles of fizz at the evening quizzes, there was a lot going on during the day as well but this seemed geared for the older element. The mobility of a lot of passengers was impaired - this was not a problem for us but there was always a queue for the lifts. In an emergency people would not be able to get out. We ended up helping quite a few people up and down steps etc as well. We explored the ports independently but friends did the tours and thought they were good. Will definitely cruise again but not for a while...would love to do the Fjords and cruisers I know say this is Fred's forte Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2010
Balmoral! Where do I begin,!? My husband and I had never done a cruise till this one.We had booked another one due to sail with another company in August,but had to cancel due to Trev my husband having suffered a heart attack.Once we got ... Read More
Balmoral! Where do I begin,!? My husband and I had never done a cruise till this one.We had booked another one due to sail with another company in August,but had to cancel due to Trev my husband having suffered a heart attack.Once we got the all clear for Trev we booked Balmoral,we were not dissapointed. I had always wanted to cruise but nerves always got in the way,now we were to taste the water (so to speak )! When the day arrived I stood at the gangway as Trev said to me look at Balmoral she will be your home for the next 22 days,I was shocked at her size,speechless and motionless for quite a few moments until I caught my breath ,Nervous very,Amazed Totally but once I embarked Balmoral I knew she would keep me safe.She was warm inviting and very very elegant.She gave Trev and I a joyous time sailing and when our cruise was over we were elated with the complete experience. The Crew were second to none our cabin was kept spotless every day,the food was excellent ,the entertainment fantastic ,and the other cruisers who were all more experienced than us were truly nice people.We did have a fellow cruiser who had to airlifted off Balmoral due to the fact this chap was ill,we also lost an engine which to be quite honest didnt make a lot of difference to us as we had everything on Balmoral that you could want,ok we did miss 2 ports of call but at the end of the day it is not the end of the world.We are saving as fast as we can to get booking our second cruise on Balmoral.ROLL ON . Read Less
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
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