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14 Fred. Olsen Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

We had really been looking forward to this cruise since we had booked it for a small fortune on a special loyalty members’ booking day almost two years earlier! Fred’s promo promised “some of the most unique and authentic sights ... Read More
We had really been looking forward to this cruise since we had booked it for a small fortune on a special loyalty members’ booking day almost two years earlier! Fred’s promo promised “some of the most unique and authentic sights and experiences Greece has to offer, this outstanding itinerary features an extensive array of highlights. Cultural gems, ancient archaeological treasures, postcard-perfect scenery and much more” including “fabulous food – all day, every day,” “dining with sophistication and style” on a ship where “timeless style flows throughout the interior,” a “tour to picturesque Alhambra Palace from Malaga” and lots, lots more! But Fred overpromised, overcharged and underdelivered. It was a real pity that our first experience on board this cruise was the poor service in the Thistle Restaurant for lunch. Although there weren’t many people seated and a large area of the restaurant was “mothballed”, there was just too few waiters. They just couldn’t cope with filling water glasses, clearing plates or laying tables. Sadly it was the same in every restaurant, every day at breakfast and lunch. The service at dinner was sometimes excruciatingly slow with second sitting queueing through the ship and up the stairs because restaurants just didn’t open on time. While the “Fred Olsen Difference” is supposed to be “service with a smile,” we saw one waiter running about serving dinner wiping the sweat from his brow on the sleeve of his jacket. The service in the bars was slow as well. The staff in the line-up at the captain’s farewell drinks looked frightened. The “tour to picturesque Alhambra Palace from Malaga” didn’t happen because we were late into Malaga. The excuse was ‘headwinds, currents, etc.” So many disappointed people! We were at first pleasantly impressed by the food offering and sirloin steak was really pretty good for mass catering on an Olsen ship but as the cruise went on, the food offering became pretty mundane. While there’s nothing wrong with bangers and mash, fishcakes, or “spag. boll” for a quick mid-week supper, it’s not what we had paid thousands and thousands of pounds for. We could have used the “speciality dining area” of the grill on the outside aft deck, at times when the weather wasn’t too cold, too windy, too wet or the sea was too rough but we couldn’t see why we should pay and extra £40 for something that’s included in the price of Fred’s competitors. The entertainment, including the show company, guest entertainers and lounge musicians was pretty good. Although, we did sit next to one chap who had seen a comedian so many times that he was able to tell his wife almost every single punch-line before the “comedian” was able to utter it. The real problem with entertainment is the lack of decent seating in the Neptune Lounge and in the Coral Club. Higher chairs are put in front of lower couches, and so many chairs have been crammed in that these areas have become painfully uncomfortable. The least movement is really difficult, sight-lines are seriously affected by pillars and despite having a thrust stage with the majority of the audience to the far left and far right the entertainers have to perform to a camera in the very front. We wouldn’t pay for uncomfortable seating, obstructed views and being seated almost behind performers in any venue on land. Excursions were often eye-wateringly expensive and sometimes the arrangements seemed to take us further and further away from the excursion bus. First it was a long walk along the length of the ship to pick up a sticker in the Neptune Lounge and then back again the length of the ship to the gangway and then back along the quay the length of the ship and… then a bit more to get to the bus. It seems so pointless to make passengers walk back and forward and back again when Fred’s competitors issue excursion passes at the top of the gangway and busses are often located at the foot of the same gangway. We’d paid a pretty high price for our cruise and for the same daily rate we could have booked into a decent country house and enjoyed far, far better accommodation, a fabulous dinner every night with a bottle of decent wine. In fact we could also have afforded theatre tickets for shows of the standard that Fred put on. On the other hand, we could also have travelled with one for Fred’s closest rivals in a far superior cabin, enjoyed immensely better food and been able to watch stunning shows in comfortable seats with unrestricted views in a proper theatre. Fred’s ticket price for this cruise was just the start. Hefty “Gratuities” are automatically added to cabin accounts... at the end of the first week about £280 was added to our bill and more was to come. WIFI would have cost another £300. On other ships ice-cream is included but Fred even changes extra for that. Spa treatments are in the region of £1 a minute. The drinks package offered onboard would have cost another £1,450. Fred’s “all inclusive” drinks package isn’t all-inclusive… I mean coffee is extra, branded spirits are extra, decent beers are extra, cocktails are extra, all bar one of the ciders are extra and even most of the modest wines on the list are all extra. A lasting memory of the Corinth Canal…. Being offered a couple glasses of champagne as we stepped back from the ship’s rail at the end of the transit. It was a very nice gesture we thought… but then, after we had sipped half of the bubbles, we were handed the bill. It was well over £20. Fred doesn’t miss a trick! Even my local posh gastro-pub doesn’t charge that much for proper champers! After having enjoyed so many cruises with Fred in years past, it is so, so sad and disappointing to now see that he’s charging so much more for so much less. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Local departure Liverpool Ships staff very friendly and well trained in serving guests. Some of the ship has been refurbished in a very modern and pleasing way other parts are rather lacking in style and colour and need bringing up to ... Read More
Local departure Liverpool Ships staff very friendly and well trained in serving guests. Some of the ship has been refurbished in a very modern and pleasing way other parts are rather lacking in style and colour and need bringing up to date. I had cabin 7041 which was quite spacious with a terrace balcony, the bathroom was dated although well maintained and clean bed quite comfy and linen of good quality pillows not the my liking next time I will take my own. The ports of call were all very interesting many of attraction were within walking distance of the ship. The food on board was excellent the executive chief was very visible and asking her guest how they enjoyed the food. Enjoyed most of the entertainment by the show group. There is a cinema room onboard and as we had a number of rather rough days at sea it would have been nice to watch a film in the afternoon but they were only screen in the evening overall I like the ship and the staff are very pleasant and professional Fred just needs to up his game a bit by bring his ships up to date. Still I've booked another cruise for next year on the same ship from same departure point in the same cabin so I must like it. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We chose this cruise because the sailing date and the itinerary suited us. The cabin on deck 4 was very small but well designed and the large window was beneficial. The food was excellent and the service also very good. The drinks ... Read More
We chose this cruise because the sailing date and the itinerary suited us. The cabin on deck 4 was very small but well designed and the large window was beneficial. The food was excellent and the service also very good. The drinks package was ok but we were often charged on our account for drinks that we had not had. This did not matter materially as we were not paying but we did wonder what happened to all the drinks on our account which we had not consumed. 10 minutes with the Doctor on board resulted in a bill for £88 which was ridiculous, particularly as he then sold me a mouthwash for sore gums (which I did not have) which was marked at £3.20 yet charged at £5.80! It is good to have medical facilities on board but they should not be at exorbitant prices. Entertainment was generally very good. One superb comedian but he was replaced half way through with the most pathetic comic imaginable. The show company were excellent. However, the Neptune lounge was not fit for purpose. The seating was completely inadequate for the numbers attending. The port speaker's presentations were informative but also inhibited by the dreadful lounge and also by his tedious presentation and frequent errors. The Bridge room was too small, too deep within the ship and there were no adequate duplicate sessions due the room being used for other activities. We were never able to play more than 14 hands. This was our first cruise and we are currently undecided whether it should be our last. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
My wife and I have sailed many times with Fred Olsen but rarely since they ended their Flagship golf package. However, we chose to sail again with them due to the interesting ports of call on the way to Venice and back from Southampton. ... Read More
My wife and I have sailed many times with Fred Olsen but rarely since they ended their Flagship golf package. However, we chose to sail again with them due to the interesting ports of call on the way to Venice and back from Southampton. The Good Points: - Overall good food, excellent waiter service - Superb singing and dancing from the entertainment team - Excellent itinerary - Comfortable balcony cabin - A happy ship - Excellent bridge teacher - Well-informed port lecturer, good slides but marred somewhat by his needing to read his well-prepared script in a rather flat way. The Bad Points: - As keen bridge players we were appalled by the way this activity has been downgraded by Fred Olsen. We were forced to play in a totally inadequate, crowded inside room down in deck three, shared with table tennis players, ukulele players and with staff interrupting activities to collect or return trestle table in an alcove. Meanwhile the company has decided to create a large gymnasium area at the rear of the ship in a prime location on deck 7 which was largely unused. Given that the ship appears to cater for retirees, many of whom have mobility problems, this seems to be a very poor use of limited space resources. - We, and many passengers we spoke to, felt that the music played in both the Neptune and Coral lounges was unnecessarily loud. - The overall standard of visiting entertainers was variable. The comedian, introduced as "the Fred Olsen favourite", was appallingly bad. On the credit side, however, the history lecturer was excellent. - It was surprising that no handouts were given to passengers giving a map and various informative details covering each port of call. This was a serious omission. - The coffee served in the restaurants was pretty dire! - As ever, shore excursions were substantially over-priced. In particular I would mention the apparently unexciting toy-train ride around Cartagena for £50 a head, which was just outrageous profiteering. - Unacceptably high charging for Wifi In summary, a very enjoyable cruise, particularly due to its excellent itinerary. However, as bridge players, we would not return to Braemar unless its bridge room and table tennis facilities were greatly improved. Notwithstanding that, an additional incentive could be the reintroduction of their previous flagship golf packages. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We usually cruise on larger ships than Braemar, mainly P and O and Princess, but were attracted by the itinerary and timing of this cruise. We need not have been concerned about the ship being smaller as it turned out to have many ... Read More
We usually cruise on larger ships than Braemar, mainly P and O and Princess, but were attracted by the itinerary and timing of this cruise. We need not have been concerned about the ship being smaller as it turned out to have many advantages over the larger ships. Embarkation and disembarkation were swift and efficient, more so than on many larger ships. Our cabin was on a lower deck than we are used to and a little smaller, with portholes, but was spotless with pleasant furnishings and sufficient cupboard space. We had tea making facilities in the cabin which is something we like that some cruise lines do not have. We also had a flat screen smart television with pre- loaded films which made up for the lack of a cinema on board. The screen was placed so that you could sit comfortably and view. My husband has poor eyesight so it was a bonus to see the screen clearly. . You are also able to view your on board account and other information on this screen. Our room stewardess was very efficient and cheerful. The cabin was quiet and we were fortunate to have calm seas throughout the majority of the voyage. The Bay of Biscay was a little rough on the return journey so movement was noticeable but for a smaller ship we were pleasantly surprised by the stability! We were assigned second sitting dining but did not use the restaurant as we preferred to use the buffet for all meals and dine when we wanted too. On many ships we have had difficulty finding a free table in the buffet but not on Braemar. We were impressed with the amount of space available, and with the food. The waiting staff were very friendly and efficient bringing tea / coffee to your table at breakfast which meant no queues to get a drink. The whole ship was kept in a spotless condition by a hardworking crew. The weather was excellent for the majority of the voyage so this meant people were able to eat outside. At lunch time there was an outside menu from which you could order fish and chips, burgers etc. We never had any problem with finding somewhere pleasant to sit outside and really enjoyed a prom deck that you could walk right the way around. Braemar has an excellent gym. For a smaller ship it is large, spacious and has all the equipment you could want. It was never crowded. The sauna and steam room were small but adequate for the number of people using them. There was a variety of entertainment on board to suit different tastes. We didn’t go to many shows but the couple we did were enjoyable. We attended a few lectures. These were interesting. The ship included a dedicated games room which was popular with many and a pleasant, comfortable library / reading room. There is a show lounge with slightly tiered seating rather than a larger theatre. This was fine as long as you sat where pillars did not block your line of site. The Captain during our time on Braemar gave ship / port related information at 12 noon over the address system which was a nice touch. We did not do any ship excursions as we were able to do what we wanted independently. Courtesy shuttle buses were provided in the places where there was a longer walk to the main attractions. Port talks on board were helpful and interesting. Reception Staff were very pleasant and dealt with any queries we had efficiently and cheerfully. We were on an all- inclusive drinks package which included house spirits, wines and soft drinks. This worked out very well for us. There were also managers specials included in this and half price cocktails. Fred’s all- inclusive package is said to be one of the best value of any cruise line. The thing which stood out most for us on this ship was the cheerful and friendly attitude of the staff. It was exceptional. Being a smaller ship has the advantage of staff that remember your name and your preferences. Well done to all the Braemar Crew on such a welcoming, happy and fun attitude. This was a very enjoyable cruise with some superb ports of call on a comfortable and exceptionally friendly smaller ship that has managed to fit a lot of facilities into the space available. We would definitely go on this ship again. Ports of call. We would highly recommend this itinerary especially for people interested in history and historical buildings. Malaga We walked up to the castle. Hard work but worth it. There is a public bus, number 35, to the castle if you need it. On the way down we visited the Alcazaba. We bought a joint ticket for both attractions from the castle. Very good value. Valetta, Malta Only a short distance walking distance to the elevator up to the town. Lots to see and do. We visited the Lascaris War rooms and the Saluting battery. Cannon fired at noon. Venice (overnight) Bought a 24 hour Vaporetti pass on arrival and used this to ride on the Grand Canal and to two of the islands in the Lagoon, Burano and Murano. Also took a ride to the Lido. Good value and with a bit of research fairly easy to find the required stops. Chioggia We were here on a Sunday so many shops closed. Easy to find your way around. We walked through the town to the beach and also took a look at the fish market. Half a day was enough to explore. Kotor This is a beautiful walled city, perfect for an interesting stroll, lots of shops within the walls and lovely town squares. Split Another lovely town. 5 minute walk from ship to Diocletian Palace within the walls. Parts of the palace are free but ticket needed for the Bell tower, Jupiter’s temple and the Cathedral. Can buy a 3 in 1 ticket for these. We did not do this though as we decided to find the small but fascinating Froggy Museum which we found interesting and very unusual if strange. Dubrovnik Lovely day. The ship shuttle bus dropped us at one of the city gates (Pile Gate) and once there we got a ticket to walk the walls. We walked past the crowds near the gate and turned to the left where people show their tickets before entering. The member of the staff there directed us to a ticket office on the left which had no long queues. Initial steps hard work but once on the walls it was easier. Very crowded to start with but crowds thinned out away from the city gates. Hot day, with very little shade. Go prepared. We then walked through the main street in the city (Stradun). Found it quite easy to find our way back to this street when ventured into the narrow side streets. Cartagena Docked right near town. Easy walk turning right along the promenade to shopping streets. We then walked back past the ship towards the free Arquelogia museum. Spent an hour in the museum and then continued right and found the elevator to the castle. Bought a combo ticket for the Elevator, Civil War Shelters museum and Castle. The castle was very interesting with great views over the town. Trapani Shuttle bus took us to the town. Only place we had rain. In fact a thunderstorm so we didn’t spend much time exploring. A lot of the shops were closed for a long lunch. Mainly walked around the edge of the town, near the sea . The salt pans near where the ship was docked looked interesting although as it was so wet we didn’t venture there. Lisbon Not our first visit here so we decided to ride the metro and the trams. Bought a ticket which covered all buses, metro and most trams from the nearest metro station to the ship (Terreiro do Paco). Staff very helpful showing us how to purchase the ticket we wanted. Took metro to Parque. Lovely views from Parque Edwardo VII downhill to the harbour. Then we went to Rossio to catch number 12 tram through Castle Hill. This was certainly an interesting experience even though it was very hot and crowded. Riding through the narrow streets of the old town was slow but different. After this we took a larger, less crowded bendy bus to the Belem area. A fun day if frenetic. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We chose the cruise because of the ports it was visiting, we have sailed on all of the other Fred Olsen ships in the last few years. This was our first and and is definitely our last cruise on Black Watch, she is a tired old ship from a ... Read More
We chose the cruise because of the ports it was visiting, we have sailed on all of the other Fred Olsen ships in the last few years. This was our first and and is definitely our last cruise on Black Watch, she is a tired old ship from a bygone era and it shows, they really are papering over the cracks with this ship, she is a tired old lady who should be put out to grass or advertised as a ship for the over 70's and especially single older ladies. We don't wish to be rude to any one but, just pass by the Library at any time and you will see what we mean, we nicknamed it the dormitory, it was full of old people fast asleep. We like traditional cruising and enjoy formal nights and all of the other things that go with it and we like smaller ships, we don't want to go rock climbing and surfing on board or wish for a 6000 passenger super ship but, Black Watch is past it. The specialty restaurant was dark and uninviting with people queuing outside for the main restaurant staring through the lattice grill whilst you ate, not a good option. The self service restaurant is tiny and full of staff members so we could never get in. The saving grace was the crew, they are very good and try hard to get things just right for you. The Observatory Bar Staff in particular were excellent. We chose the all inclusive drinks package, it wasn't worth it, the longer the cruise went on the less wine refills seemed to be available in the restaurant, the spirits are short measures and mixers from the pump so very sweet in taste and not much flavour. Beware when in the outside spaces as great chunks of oily soot from the funnel make an all too regular appearance on you clothes, in your drinks and in the swimming pool! I am sure some people reading this review love Black Watch and will howl in protest at its content but, we are in our early 60's so not 30 year old's wanting a "Night Club" ship, and this ship in our view is not up to standard for the 21st century. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
The entertainment was excellent on board, especially the Braemar entertainment team with their amazing new " queen" tribute, stunning harmonies from the singers and fast strong dancers, really a highlife of our trip. The team ... Read More
The entertainment was excellent on board, especially the Braemar entertainment team with their amazing new " queen" tribute, stunning harmonies from the singers and fast strong dancers, really a highlife of our trip. The team could also be seen throughout the day chatting and helping passengers, VERY PROFESSIONAL. All staff on board friendly and helpful, what a brilliant short break we had. The food was excellent. A lovely touch to have the hand made chocolate shop available to take delicious gifts back home. The tour to Monet's garden was worth every penny, the guide was also very good on our coach, leaving us to explore the gardens after a very good speech first. The cruise line had organised a brilliant coach shuttle into Rouen which ran every half hour making our exploration of the town relaxed knowing we could come and go as we pleased. Our cabin was bigger than we expected, comfortable beds and everything we needed including tea and coffee facilities. Having a large picture window did make the trip more enjoyable as we could relax with a cuppa and enjoy the views with our feet up when we wanted to. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We chose this cruise with Fred primarily because it sailed from Liverpool and Fred was recommended by trusted friends with good taste and judgement. Also because it is a smaller traditional ship. We have had several cruises on oceans and ... Read More
We chose this cruise with Fred primarily because it sailed from Liverpool and Fred was recommended by trusted friends with good taste and judgement. Also because it is a smaller traditional ship. We have had several cruises on oceans and rivers but this was 10 out of 10 for all aspects; excellent well trained staff, crew and passengers. No lager louts or badly behaved families. Took us back to more genteel and well mannered times. Food was incredibly good, cabin very comfortable and restful, tastefully designed public rooms, no minimal sterile decor, a discreet casino area instead of it dominating the ship. Boarding and disembarking very efficient but with adequate security. Port lectures were professional with no pushy sales talk with regard to the excursions. Wonderful entertainers and a great cruise director. Just could not find fault with any aspect of cruising with Fred Booked for next year out of Liverpool again, which is so convenient for us in the North West. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Fred Olsen have earned good reputation and as they were sailing ex Newcastle which is near for us we decided to give it a try. We have done 9 cruises with Thomson, which we would highly recommend but thought we needed to try another ... Read More
Fred Olsen have earned good reputation and as they were sailing ex Newcastle which is near for us we decided to give it a try. We have done 9 cruises with Thomson, which we would highly recommend but thought we needed to try another company. The ship was really friendly and we met some lovely people. The cabin and all inclusive deal were OK for what we paid. The entertainment was good and probably the best show team we have experienced. The main problem was the dining which was very disappointing from start to finish, both in quality of food (much lower than expected) and times available to eat The 2 set dining times in the evening were 6.30pm wich is too early and 8.30pm which is too late (we were on the latter.) We also had reservations about having to sit with same people every night and without going in to chapter and verse during our second week we opted to dine mostly in the self service cafe in order to avoid! I would point out that we weren't missing out on food quality as it is pretty much the same in all the restaurants i.e. disappointing and can be summed up in one word - EDIBLE. We found the other meal times too restrictive e.g. breakfast ends at 10am and lunch is from 12noon to 2pm. The emphasis seems to be on afternoon tea which goes down very well with the elderly clientele this cruise line attracts. Perhaps if we hadn't been used to Thomson's super flexibility and hot food available 24/7 we may not have found this an issue. In fairness I would add that most people seem to find the food to be out of this world but I witnessed lots of full plates going back to kitchens and we know how some people like to kid themselves. Read Less
Sail Date July 2017
My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed this cruise around the Amalfi coast to places we gad never visited before. We have been on the Boudicca many times and we are pleased to say that the overall standard of service and cleanliness was as ... Read More
My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed this cruise around the Amalfi coast to places we gad never visited before. We have been on the Boudicca many times and we are pleased to say that the overall standard of service and cleanliness was as good as ever. In the bars the service was prompt, in the restaurant the food was a very good standard and our cabin was spotless. The public areas were always clean and tidy and the entertainment was very good. Everyone of the staff seemed to have time to talk to you even though they were very busy. We enjoyed most of the trips out, the main reason for choosing this cruise, the guides were very good and the local transport used was of a high standard. Highlight for me was the isle of Capri, a beautiful place with excellent views from almost everywhere. The only downside is the price of goods in the shops.& Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
I selected this cruise as an ideal Spring getaway to interesting parts of the Mediterranean, some of which I hadn't previously visited. The "Balmoral" is my favorite of the Fred. Olsen cruise ships. it is a fine looking ... Read More
I selected this cruise as an ideal Spring getaway to interesting parts of the Mediterranean, some of which I hadn't previously visited. The "Balmoral" is my favorite of the Fred. Olsen cruise ships. it is a fine looking ship, in good condition, spacious but small enough to enter ports that the more modern, large simply couldn't visit. I had booked a twin cabin on a single occupancy basis on deck 6. It was well positioned for easy access to the main features of the ship. It was of reasonable size, had a large picture window and had excellent air conditioning. There was more than ample storage, had a safe, tea/coffee making facilites and interactive television. It was fully serviced twice daily to a high standard. I dined in the Avon restaurant on deck 10. This is one of the smaller restaurants on the ship. The meals were excellent with good, variable menus. The service was excellent. I took occasional breakfasts and lunches in the Ballindalloch (Main) restaurant. The Palms Cafe was a good place afternoon tea and occasional coffees. The Bookmark Cafe served an excellent choice coffees and other quality drinks too. The inclusion of a wide range of free drinks in the "all inclusive" package was an added plus. The on-board entertainment varied enormously. In the daytime I don't think that the guest lecturers were up to the normal standard. The afternoon classical recitals were first class but there were too few of them. There were, of course the usual cruising activities taking place across the ship. The evening entertainment was very mixed with some excellent cabaret acts. The Balmoral Show Company were enthusiastic, energetic a quite talented. The Crew Show was, as usual, vastly entertaining. The swimming pools proved to be good places to exercise and catch the pleasant Mediterranean sunshine. One of the best features of Fred. Olsen cruises is the quality of the staff. They were pretty efficient, keen to help and inevitably happy and friendly. The shore tours were well organised and, in most cases very enjoyable. We called at nine different ports in Spain, France, Italy and Portugal. this was, perhaps too many for we didn't spend enough time in some to fully appreciate the places of interest. I liked most of the ports of call but was especially impressed by El Ferrol (Spain), Ajaccio (France), Palermo (Italy) and Cartagena (Spain) mainly because it was my first visit to these towns. It was an enjoyable cruise. I would certainly go on a similar cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
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
Sail Date May 2016
After having booked our cruise via a travel agent and requested first sitting, we were told that a £2.00 per person per night would apply to the booking to get 1st sitting on Braemar .We were also told that we would have to pay extra ... Read More
After having booked our cruise via a travel agent and requested first sitting, we were told that a £2.00 per person per night would apply to the booking to get 1st sitting on Braemar .We were also told that we would have to pay extra monies if our luggage was over a certain weight,which I thought was rather odd for a Dover to Dover Embarkation and Disembarkation. We are seasonal cruisers and have used this line and this ship on several occassions.We were also asked whether we wanted a drinks package of £10 per person per day only on certain brands which we turned down as we thought in the past Fred Olsen prices were always reasonable.( We discovered to our horror on the ship that nasty rough bottles of wine were being served at the tables for the all inclusives .Even some of the most expensive wines were much to be desired ) ! We then asked to have our car booked into the old railway shed near to the ship at Terminal one with the Dover Port Authority.This was confirmed by our agent and no mention that the shed was under repair at the time of booking and our car would be left on the dock side exposed to the elements at Terminal 2 on our arrival. As we entered our cabin on arrival it dawned on us that there was not enough space to put our clothes for the 22 night voyage as Braemar is normally only used for a maximum of two weeks duration.This caused some upset from the passengers as clothes had to be left under the beds in suitcases for the duraton of the voyage. The weather turned out to be fine as the journey progressed until some nasty bug started going around the ship causing a chesty cough requiring antibiotics we so later discovered.The only form of antibiotic at the time was Amoxycillin at 500 mg given to severe cases.One had to deal with a rather curt Afrikaans nurse and a rather abrupt and rude Austrain Doctor later in the Cruise. The meal on the first night was much to be desired and the drinks rather hefty in price since we had last been with the shipping line. The food now and then improved ,but on the whole the Swiss Chief on Board quite frankly was serving up mudane food.Gone were the lovely fish dishes and displays at Luncheon time we remembered so well when the father of Fred Olsen Line was in charge of the helm.Since the son had taken over we noticed a vast change for the worst and were warned about this from other seasonal cruisers. We had been told that certain members of staff including the Captain had to vocate the decks if any of the passengers on board happened to be nearby.This never seemed to happen in port and the Captain was seen along with the Cruise Director sun tanning themselves and their singers and didn't seem to care about the passengers around them. The only place that seemed to serve a better quality of food was the free for all sitting at breakfast and lunch in The Grampain Restaurant. At this time we had no knowledge of the remains of hurricane Jude were about to hit Southern England and destroy approx 118 cars belonging to the passengers as they were not left under cover at the railway shed as we had been informed would be the case.She eventually struck and the last week on board was a ruined holiday of anguish and upset due to the lack of communication between the The Dover Port Authority and the Shipping Company. We eventually got some news and adverse weather conditions seemed to have been blamed for the carnage that occurred.( Unknown to the Cruise Company and The Dover Port Authority were a few passengers on board who mentioned that cars get damaged from the waves on the dock side throughout the year as they could see it happen from their homes in a block of flats on the sea front ).This made the ones who lost their cars blood boil as The Dover Port Authority clearly knew this happened and should have taken action ages ago instead of letting folks pay £170 up front for the priviledge of leaving your car on their private land to be damaged by salt sea water.We also heard that the damage news was not on National TV either ,only in the local news to clearly keep the news to a minimum. Why is Fred Olsen Line I ask myself advertising that you can leave your car with The Dover Port Authority in their brochure when they must know this goes on and two The Dover Port Authority are doing their utmost to avoid excepting liability for the damage and making our Insurance Companies cushion the blow. When we arrived back into Dover on our return the walk way broke down and we had to stumble across a walk way on Deck 2 to be ushered in the rain to the arrivals hall to see our appropriate Insurance companies.By that time most of the cars had been cleared to a holding site to avoid detection by passengers family and friends.I feel both parties are to blame for the said anguish and upset and The Dover Port of Authority should cough up for new cars for the passengers that had lost their cars due to their alleged negligence.As before they used to take the keys from you in the railway shed and move them around whilst you were away.If they had done this before the cruise the said cars could have all been put into a safe place before Jude struck to ruin them and The Black Watch passengers cars alongside ours.They will have the same nonsense we had to put up with when they return to the port on 16th November 2003. We returned by taxi late on Nov 5th and now have no car in which to drive thanks to the said companies.I wish to state that anyone who is asked to leave their cars at The Dover Port Authorities Facilities should not do so because of the said carnage above. From one of the very many unhappy passengers.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
We enjoyed the cruise - especially the sail-in to Venice - which was the highlight with the stunning views from our balcony. We've cruised many times with Fred, Olsen but were disappointed that this time - The savings that all lines ... Read More
We enjoyed the cruise - especially the sail-in to Venice - which was the highlight with the stunning views from our balcony. We've cruised many times with Fred, Olsen but were disappointed that this time - The savings that all lines are having to make are beginning to show on this Cruise, initially the lack of toiletry bag in the cabin was an indicator of savings yet it was just the start of more to come. The food is now acceptable, rarely excellent and only occasionally good. - There was no 'Orchestra' on the Cruise - a big saving - we understand they will be back!!!! - We had a car written off whilst in the care of Port of Dover, one of MANY to be written off, and many more badly damaged. We will never park at Port of Dover again and would advise all our friends that your car is at risk of weather damage when parked there too. Remember YOU pay the Insurance excess and lose YOUR No-Claims, YOU have to source and pay the extra for a replacement car when your car is written off.....when in the care of Dover Port. The positives - The Show Team, - The waiters and cabin staff, - The 'hidden' staff All of them were were, as always, exceptional Dover - when we arrived late to survey the scene of many cars severely damaged we couldn't get off the ship for ages. Dover seemed unable to connect the Ship to land - the air-bridge didn't work - electrical failures we were told. We finally 'escaped' along a jury-rigged gangplank from Deck 2. A fellow Cruiser remarked that we'd been to some of the poorest European Countries on our Cruise and at none of them was the facility as poor as at Dover. We agree.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2013
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