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4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
Calling this cruise Irish Markets was a joke. First stop Falmouth which I must admit I enjoyed very much lovely day & very quaint shops. Next stop Dublin not a Christmas stall in sight oh yes one. Our last stop Cobh for Cork very ... Read More
Calling this cruise Irish Markets was a joke. First stop Falmouth which I must admit I enjoyed very much lovely day & very quaint shops. Next stop Dublin not a Christmas stall in sight oh yes one. Our last stop Cobh for Cork very disappointing Christmas market consisted of fruit & veg & meat stalls oh yes & one chocolate stall so how they can call this Irish Christmas market cruise beggars believe. My cabin steward was one of the most unfriendly one's I have ever come across I have been on quite a few cruises & normally they are lovely friendly & cannot do enough for you. My friend & I were on a table with 5 other super friendly ladies our waiter was the worse I have ever come across everything we asked for took for ever to come at one point we got up & got our own wine as we had waited 25 mins for a refill but to flip the coin he had far to many tables to wait on. I would definitely have second thoughts about sailing with Fred Olsen again Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2016
We chose this cruise as it was advertised as an Irish Christmas Markets Cruise.Unfortunately there were NO Christmas Markets.Even after submitting an E-Mail to Fred Olsen with a copy from the Office of Tourism for Ireland stating that ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was advertised as an Irish Christmas Markets Cruise.Unfortunately there were NO Christmas Markets.Even after submitting an E-Mail to Fred Olsen with a copy from the Office of Tourism for Ireland stating that there were no Christmas Markets in Dublin the company will still not accept their advertising was wrong and apologise! Apart from the lack of advertised Christmas Markets the cruise was average.The food was reasonable although I did not like being shepherded to a table at breakfast when we wished to sit elsewhere.The entertainment was good especially the comedienne who was brilliant and throughout his act made numerous references to the lack of Christmas Markets.This was the first cruise I had been on where the passengers had to pay for a shuttle bus into the town centre and the organisation for this was ludicrous!! with the queue going up and down the corridors, we eventually returned our tickets and walked into town.This was my first experience of Fred Olsen Cruises and will certainly be my last!!. Read Less
66 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
I must start by telling readers that I am usually pretty shirt if people start moaning about perceived trivial service faults while on holiday, especially on a cruise where so much can go wrong but is usually so right. On this occasion I ... Read More
I must start by telling readers that I am usually pretty shirt if people start moaning about perceived trivial service faults while on holiday, especially on a cruise where so much can go wrong but is usually so right. On this occasion I am forced to change my position radically. I shan't bother Fred Olsen again and the following explains why. Friends, upon whose judgement previous experience had lead me on rely and who had sailed with Fred several times in the past latterly in 2012, spoke so warmly of both line and ship that I booked with confident expectations. I anticipated a lovely experience at least akin to my handful or so of previous cruises with P&O over the past 10 years. Alas disappointment was to be my reward. You board with no ships map so stand lost in the reception area not knowing where to go. After a time a member of staff approached me and directed me to my cabin. The room was pleasant enough but as I explored I found: Large bottle of water-£1.50! No fridge No shower cap, shampoo, body lotion or soap tablet (just liquid). Mattress...not to my personal liking. Dinner in the Ballindalloch restaurant on the first night was OK but not memorable. And tepid. Following a nightmare night due to Storm Katie through which we sailed in gale force winds (later recorded on the 'cruise log' as being force 6!), as a result of which most on board hardly slept at all we eventually rose for breakfast the next morning. Shambolic! Waiters rushing everywhere, looking stressed. No sugar, milk, butter/spreads or preserves on the table. I sat and waited for some 5 minutes for my order to be taken. Nothing. I eventually managed to flag down a waiter who simply said "buffet madam" and indicated the direction. I asked for tea. He disappeared. So I found the buffet scrum and helped myself. The eggs had languished for too long on the hot plate and had set. The fruit was all from a tin. The cereals dispensed from machines which crush everything. The bacon tasted of chemical treatment and had long since been a stranger to the pan. You could get no toast at the table until you got lucky with the scuttling Toast Waiter and then you had to find and flag down the One with the Butter/marmalade. Tea/coffee took an age then you had to keep watching for the Man with the Milk, or the Waiter who could get you a Fork/teaspoon/butter knife - in some cases even a cup and saucer. A complete, shambolic nightmare of a meal spent mostly trying to achieve some sort of service instead of enjoying a conversation with fellow passengers, all of whom were struggling with the same issues. It seems that the clear table policy was an exercise to avoid Noro virus. Why then were we all forced to get our own food requiring every passenger to handle every serving utensil at the buffet rather than have it plated and delivered by the staff who we assume we're Noro-free? I don't take lunch, but understood from many conversations with similarly shell-shocked travellers that it was the same mess as at breakfast. Let's get positive. The Balmoral, once you have a map which was finally located in the 'welcome in board' pack, is easy to navigate and all public areas easy to locate. They were pleasant and the staff extremely attentive. I'd have liked to have finish one drink before being asked if I would like another but perhaps they are on commission, hence their persistence. Dinner on night two. The starters were very beautiful, 'nouvelle cuisine' sized offerings. The soup, for which I opted, was pleasant - but tepid. The main course was a perfectly cooked Filet Mignon, quite possibly the nicest I have been served in many a long day, accompanied by delectable spinach in a gorgeous sauce and a small portion of fondant potato. It was all tepid, but tasty. I shan't bore you further except to say that the main course of dinner each night was definitely the stand-out of the cruise food. Breakfast, in every restaurant (I didn't try the Cafe which was a self-service buffet), even after it seemed that their precautions against Noro virus eased to permit milk, sugar butter and preserves back on the table, remained a shambles every morning. I also found that if you could get a waiter you could order and omelette, fish, or my choice of poached eggs which I ordered with bacon. The eggs arrived on a plate swimming in water with the rim of the plate smeared greasily round with a hint of previous use suggested by a hint of dried egg yolk... No bacon. Notwithstanding, assuming it was a one-off glitch but no. The second time I tried the bacon did too, thus making the watery bath greasy. The smears and finger marks on the rim remained as before. The entertainment was, with one exception very good. The musical shows put on by the in-house troupe were outstanding. (P & O please note. Your Headliners are becoming entirely predictable and missable). There was an extremely versatile and entertaining musician in the Morning Light bar and a very pleasant Trio elsewhere whose gentle, well balanced repertoire was ideal music to listen to or as a background for a pleasant chat. The magician was excellent. The 'comedian' an embarrassment. I know, humour is personal. Well, this one managed to entertain only a small handful of the audience the rest of whom were somewhere between bored and down-right embarrassed at his ineptitude. The excursions were excellent. We were after all in Ireland and the tour guides, and often drivers too, were uniformly entertaining as well as informative. The port talks were only available pre-recorded on the in-house TV. The 'presenter' was abysmal. We were encouraged to see see the 'murials' on the walls in Belfast. I am sure as I made myself re-listen twice to be certain. He tripped, stammered, and coughed his monotonous and unenthusiastic way through painfully unexciting scripts. Oh, and there was no TV channel guide in the cabin and when you could find a programme other than a film or Fred Olsen promotion channel it was of out of date Australian television programmes. Why? One last warning to all O2 mobile users. On enquiry at Guest Services as to why it might be that I could not send or receive on my mobile phone shortly after departureI was advised that FO had signed a contract with a new mobile network service provider at the beginning of the year and that the new company did not currently have a contract with O2. Heaven help any passenger leaving home with a pressing need to keep in touch. You can't until you are within range of land. I am so truly sorry that this, my first cruise blog should be so negative but I have tried to be honest, accurate and unexaggerated in this report. I hope never to have such a negative experience ever again. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2015
We went on a mini cruise and were upgraded. However the bathroom in the cabin was awful cracked tiles and vanity units. Don't what we would have had if we weren't upgraded!! The door of the cabin had to be checked when we left the cabin ... Read More
We went on a mini cruise and were upgraded. However the bathroom in the cabin was awful cracked tiles and vanity units. Don't what we would have had if we weren't upgraded!! The door of the cabin had to be checked when we left the cabin as it did not close properly. Every morning there was noise outside our cabin I think they were cleaning the outside of the Ship!! Could this not have been done before we boarded. The chamber maid acme in to do our room while we were getting ready for dinner which was strange. The staff were friendly and food good but the Ship needs a major overhaul. Our luggage should have been taken off and put together as we were travelling in a group. However my cases were lost for a while and were scuffed and dirty when found (annoying because they are new). Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2015
This was our first Fred Olsen Cruise although we have cruised previously with P&O. The food was excellent and superior to any we have had before from the point of view of variety, quality, temperature and service. Although people's ... Read More
This was our first Fred Olsen Cruise although we have cruised previously with P&O. The food was excellent and superior to any we have had before from the point of view of variety, quality, temperature and service. Although people's opinion of food can be rather subjective we could not fault it in any way. The waiters were efficient, cheerful and friendly as were the rest of the crew who almost invariably made a greeting when passing by. The ship appeared clean and well maintained. Our cabin on 3 deck was small but adequate however we did find it rather warm and stuffy. The portholes did not open of course so the only ventilation was a faint air flow through the one vent. Other passengers also commented on this and some complained to reception but it seemed to have no effect. The narrow single bunks are also a factor if one is used to sleeping together in a double bed. The cabin stewardess kept the cabin spotless. We were part of a walking group so often had two showers a day and the towels were then all changed twice daily even though we did not request it. On one occasion our cabin WC ceased to flush from the early hours of the morning until just after breakfast. I reported this to reception twice, once each by phone and by personal visit. On each occasion I was met with inscrutable politeness but little information. When I asked if any WCs were working I was directed forward to the Neptune Lounge when it turned out that they were working right there by reception! I served as a chief engineer at sea and I am well aware of the difficult and unpleasant nature of sewerage system faults but a little more information at the time would have helped. The Captain's subsequent announcement was rather after the event. The drinks prices were at the top end of reasonable. We did not have the drinks package at £10/person/day and overall our drinks bill worked out almost the same as if we had. This is obviously depends on one's consumption and some people on the package got their money's worth! We prefer to drink less but better quality wine and this started out at about £17/bottle upwards. The house wine was £3.95 for a 175 ml glass and was OK but the cost of nearly £8 for 2 glasses meant that when we fancied a glass each with lunch we often didn't bother. The entertainment in the Neptune Lounge was very good and we enjoyed the cabaret and the theatre company whose enthusiasm and professionalism was self evident. The lounge itself is not brilliant as the seating is cramped and there are pillars blocking some views of the stage but the staff worked hard to find everybody a seat. We only had 750 passengers and if the ship had been fully loaded I think it would have been very crowded. Our fellow passengers were nearly all affable and easy to get on with. We are in our sixties and were at the younger end of the age spectrum so at times it seemed a little like being in a care home but that was probably our problem. Watching the crew attempting to get some very frail and disabled passengers onto the shore tenders in a heavy swell was interesting. Overall would we go again? Yes but only if we upgraded to a better cabin. The Fred Olsen brand based on a providing for elderly UK passengers with friendly staff and high standards but a lack of pretentiousness works for us. 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 ELVIS ... 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 2012
Our first cruise with Fred Olsen and it won't be our last! We liked the Braemar immediately, the decor is lovely. Staff were mostly Philippino and excellent. Our cabin was definitely small, but was not a problem. Our first cabin was ... Read More
Our first cruise with Fred Olsen and it won't be our last! We liked the Braemar immediately, the decor is lovely. Staff were mostly Philippino and excellent. Our cabin was definitely small, but was not a problem. Our first cabin was 3069 and after 2 nights we asked to move as the noise from the floor above was not good. It turned out to be an air conditioning unit on the deck above. We were moved to the port side and all was well. The food was really excellent all the time and one thing that I noticed particularly having sailed with P&O 4 times was the buffet. On Fred O you don't get a tray, get your food and then try to find a table. You wait to be called, not more than a minute or so, then go and get your food. Also, all tables have white tablecloths and napkins. Really nice. Entertainment was pretty good, although my one reserve about Braemar would be that the theatre is very small and not well raked, so if you are in the middle, you have to crane your neck to see. However she is a small ship, and we had a similar situation on Artemis. this cruise was Choirs at Sea and we joined that, although I have not sung since I was 14! It was such fun and we gave two performances on the third last evening at sea. I have put our ports under Madeira as they don't exist on the list. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2012
Our friends invited us along on a cruise this year. They have done a few and love it. We did a cruise years ago with our boys with Island cruise line. This was family oriented and we knew Fred Olsen would be different. A little nervous we ... Read More
Our friends invited us along on a cruise this year. They have done a few and love it. We did a cruise years ago with our boys with Island cruise line. This was family oriented and we knew Fred Olsen would be different. A little nervous we checked out videos and reviews. The age range of clientèle was slightly higher and some reviews were a bit bad.We got our holiday pack which we read excitably and discovered dress codes and theme nights. Off to the shops we went!! Me and the husband both re-newed our holiday wardrobe, not a bad thing I might add! The day of boarding we were very excited and the excitement never ended till we embarked again back at Dover! The crew were fantastic, our waiters were wonderful. The crew made the holiday! We watched the end of cruise, Crew Show like proud parents! The ship is small and intimate so you get to know other holiday makers and you become like a community. Catching up with each other as you bump into one another around the ship. The hosts were great and extremely friendly. I know its there job but it was more. They were great fun. Our cabin was nicely decorated and furnished. Adequate size even for me as I am claustrophobic. We were on deck 4. Two small port holes more than enough light for us. There was however a funny smell now and then which puzzled us. We could not put our finger on what the smell was, however it was not enough to trouble us and spoil our holiday. More than enough cupboard space. Cleaned every day. The entertainment was top class and appealed to all ages. The singers were great and the comedians were hilarious! Even though the majority of holiday makers were elderly there was a right mix off people from families with little ones, who splashed around in the pool. Families with teenagers, who looked very smart on formal dinner nights and us young at heart 40+'s!! We loved it and would do a cruise again with out doubt! We saw some beautiful places, Alhambra Palace! We were truly spoiled, 5 star all the way! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2012
This was a special Fred Olsen cruise for a group of music afficiando's many of whom had not been cruising before,so perhaps a younger set of people than the ship is used to; this could perhaps reflect in their attitude as all bars were ... Read More
This was a special Fred Olsen cruise for a group of music afficiando's many of whom had not been cruising before,so perhaps a younger set of people than the ship is used to; this could perhaps reflect in their attitude as all bars were kept open until the wee hours and the midnight meal service, overpopular. I'd like to say there were some really excellent points: - our cabin was delightful - expensive for 3 days - but couldn't be faulted (like another reviewer we had 9902 and that little bedroom off the main one was really useful!) The cabin was spotlessly clean and kept that way during our stay. Bar prices and drinks - both reasonable and extensive; excellent cocktails, served with 'nibbles' and surprisingly cheap! Everyone on the boat commented on this! Okay, bad bits - the reception staff were actively unhelpful. We asked the best way to get into Amsterdam from the terminal and not one person knew! SURELY there could be details left in the reception area even if the staff themselves have no knowledge. Thankfully a guest returning from his outing gave us the details - met with blank faces from the receptionist (no she didn't write it down for any other guest!) I asked for a safety pin - got shrugged shoulders and 'perhaps the shop sells them' (shop not open in port btw!). Despairing of this "don't know, don't care" attitude, I bumped into our cabin stewardess on the way back who said there was one in the sewing kit. Thank heavens for her! I'm afraid I also need to mention the food; now I've not been on a 3 star all inclusive in Benidorm, but this is how I imagine the food would be. The evening meal was just dreadful. All hot food plated and left to 'keep hot' for goodness knows how long before being sent out, stacked with stained microwave plate rings to separate them, into the restaurant for your delectation. The first night I had linguine - put my fork in and the WHOLE bowl of it came up in a bowl shaped lump; oh yuck! I could go on, but I'm sure readers will get the gist. The company was fab, cabin lovely and bar drinks and service super; lets leave on a good note! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
Having been left some money by my late adored mother I decided to spend some of it on a cruise ,something I hadn't done since about 1979 when I took a party of school children on the Uganda to the eastern Med. That had been amazing and I ... Read More
Having been left some money by my late adored mother I decided to spend some of it on a cruise ,something I hadn't done since about 1979 when I took a party of school children on the Uganda to the eastern Med. That had been amazing and I wondered if cruising was still as good as it had been then. Well, the ship may be more modern but the atmosphere was just the same and heavily dependent for success on having a happy and efficient crew. No probs there as it would be impossible to be better looked after.Three cheers"and one cheer more" for an amazing crew. We had booked the Southampton to Venice via almost everywhere cruise from 6th June but at the last minute were offered the previous cruise to the Fjords at an unmissable price so took that as well and so were away for 28 nights. As followers of cruising will probably now know we never got to Norway because of a pilots' strike and so had to make do with an ad hoc tour of N. Germany,Denmark ,Sweden and Belgium. Disappointing of course but nobody's fault and I still enjoyed it as an hors d'oeuvres before the main meal. Apart from severe gales in The Bay of Biscay, fog ,which meant we never saw the Rock of Gibraltar, and being late into Almeria(well worth missing in my opinion!) and Tunis everything else went like clockwork and the weather was glorious.Wonderful , eye opening visits to Corfu, Dubrovnik, Split, Venice( is there anything in the world as miraculous as sailing into Venice as the sun bursts through the morning mist?) No I didn't think so!Sicily, Malta,Ibiza and Lisbon completed the itinerary of a fabulous voyage and I was seriously reluctant to leave the ship even after a month (oh the joy of retirement.) Nothing to fault about the food(close at times to haute cuisine) and the cabins, we had lovely cabins on Coral deck for the first cruise as well as our super SS for the second. Only niggles might be a couple of poor value excursions and a few tour guides with "interesting" english and an inability ever to stop talking and allow us to watch the scenery pass by! Oh, and the presence of The Daily Mail "highlights" as ship's newspaper.Why does Fred Olsen assume that we are all right wing bigots? In real life I'd rather take poison than read that apology for accurate news. Anyway I'm hooked! Apart from The Fjords in August 2013 I've already booked The Canaries and Azores on Black Watch in November this year and I can hardly wait. I've at last found my dream holiday style that means I can take plenty of stuff with me and I NEVER HAVE TO DRIVE!!In the second we dined in the Spey restaurant which I thought magical as one dines while watching the sea and land pass by. And we had wonderful table companions in a couple from Brisbane which meant every evening had good conversation as well as good food. We also enjoyed the "special" food nights,Indian ,Thai, Chinese and Spanish in The Palms Cafe. Read Less
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