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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: July 2019
The main reason was sailing from Liverpool and a return visit to the Fjords. From our arrival at Pier Head all went smoothly. Our Balcony Suite was perfect, spacious, clean plenty of wardrobe and drawer space, met our needs and I ... Read More
The main reason was sailing from Liverpool and a return visit to the Fjords. From our arrival at Pier Head all went smoothly. Our Balcony Suite was perfect, spacious, clean plenty of wardrobe and drawer space, met our needs and I don't travel light. My husband had also requested a table for two and this was met. The Glentanar was a lovely, light, spacious Dining room, the breakfast and lunch buffets were excellent as was the waiter service dinner with excellent menu. We had lovely waiters but there were one or two who were not the friendliest. For our Anniversary Dinner we dined in the Black Watch Restaurant which again of high standard, my husband declared his steak one of the best ever. The ship was spotlessly clean in all areas, the Neptune Lounge especially pleasing.The Captain and Crew helped to make this a very special time for us. Flower Arrangement, bottle of Cava when we arrived and on the Day a lovely card, gift and Cava in Ice Bucket delivered to our suite along with our card from the Queen. In the evening we were presented with a lovely Happy Anniversary cake. These were all done in a very tasteful, no fuss way which we appreciated very much. My husband did have to visit the Cruise Doctor, again efficient attention.All in all this was a most memorable holiday, with wonderful scenery, off shore excursions and very relaxing on board atmosphere. Our first Fred Olsen Cruise but hopefully not our last.Thank you to everyone who helped in making this a very happy memorable occasion. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and were just viewing it as a means of getting to Orkney and Shetland and really were not expecting much. However how wrong we were. We found our inside cabin clean and spacious with a good ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and were just viewing it as a means of getting to Orkney and Shetland and really were not expecting much. However how wrong we were. We found our inside cabin clean and spacious with a good sized shower room. The food was excellent and we found the entertainment some of the best we have come across. We have cruised many many times with Cunard, Holland America, Princess, Carnival, Celebrity and Costa always having had either a suite or balcony so feel I am in a position to give an honest review of the Balmoral. We found the size of the Balmoral easy to walk around especially when in heels of an evening. The crew and staff were very friendly and there was none of the hard sell for good reviews from the restaurant staff or the maitre d. The only thing I would change is the disembarkation/embarkation at ports of call. This is the first ship where both have taken place on the same gang plank but I guess this may be due to size. The ports of call - Invergordon, Kirkwall and Lerwick were good and we were blessed with excellent weather. We toured independently and hired a car for the day in Lerwick through Bolts car hire who had car waiting on quay upon ships arrival at a reasonable price. The age range on board was varied and yes there were some people who had mobility issues and how nice it was that they too could enjoy a lovely holiday. I would definitely consider cruising on the Balmoral again. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
From the moment we arrived at Southampton arrived bang on time 1 o’clock like ticket said staff could not be more helpful cases gone in a blink of an eye , no que in the terminal got the cruise card and straight through customs on to the ... Read More
From the moment we arrived at Southampton arrived bang on time 1 o’clock like ticket said staff could not be more helpful cases gone in a blink of an eye , no que in the terminal got the cruise card and straight through customs on to the ship in less then 20 mins and can I just say she is a lovely ship . we didn’t go for lunch instead we headed for the morning light pub to have a pint of Stella and a whiskey and coke they don’t sell Stella here but the staff are more than willing to go and get one from the neptune bar like always can’t do enough for you . cabin ready 2.30 pm couldn’t wait to unpack and start my holiday the cabin no 8004 what can I say, really nice size ,very clean , nice size bathroom with bath plenty of storage space .the balcony is to die for , nothing above apart from blue sky, I worked it out , it is 67 steps from balcony to the observatory bar , no draft but cocktails and cans of largar , the food in the Thistle restaurant was very good as too was the palms cafe , as for the service nothing too much . entertainment was good can’t praise all the staff enough . all of the ship was clean and tidy all of the time , sea days , plenty to do . if you wanted or just lounge about like we did the weather was great , unexpected for that time of year in northern Spain . Passengers mixed ages all up for a laugh . getting on and off the ship at ports was effort less thanks to the stafff.didn’t what to leave but had to ,just like to say ,£15 a day drinks package no brainier thank you Fred Olsen see you soon Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Plenty to do on the Black Watch, throughout the day and plenty excursions to enjoy when in port whether you choose to do it yourself or through one of the organised activities. The ship was very clean considering her age and constant ... Read More
Plenty to do on the Black Watch, throughout the day and plenty excursions to enjoy when in port whether you choose to do it yourself or through one of the organised activities. The ship was very clean considering her age and constant maintenance takes place to ensure this. Our cabin 8005 with balcony was adequate for our week's holiday and it was cleaned and maintained daily by our wonderful young lady who looked after us for that week. Dining was excellent, we requested first sitting and had a table for two, although we were in close proximity of 4 other people whom we struck up good conversation with. The waiters could not do enough to please you, along with bar staff in all the bars. Evening show was well presented and varied with some talented artists. Although there were a high percentage of elderly people on board that did not make the experience less enjoyable, in fact it was nice to see older people enjoying themselves. Trip was so good, we booked for another one next year to the fjords and the port being 5 minutes from our door. Couldn't ask for more. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Yet another superb cruise – our 7th so far. This was the second time with Fred and Black Watch for my wife and I and we chose this cruise for the ports of call and the fact it departed from a local port. The only slight drawback was that ... Read More
Yet another superb cruise – our 7th so far. This was the second time with Fred and Black Watch for my wife and I and we chose this cruise for the ports of call and the fact it departed from a local port. The only slight drawback was that this cruise seemed to attract much older clientele than previous cruises we’ve been on so there weren’t too many folk our age or younger (we’re early 50s). Sadly we didn’t make Mull (Tobermory) due to weather and anchoring issues but we disembarked at all the other ports and did a variety of walks under our own steam. The Fred Olsen excursions are a bit pricey and we instead used the Walkhighlands website to plan trips. Everything lived up to (or exceeded) expectations so it’s probably best to call out the highlights. 1. Food – everything was top quality and the service invariably good. We had requested a table for two but ended up sharing with a tee-total couple in their 80s. We feared this might not be a good match but ended up having a great laugh with them. 2. Lido Lounge – located aft on Deck 7 it’s the place to go if you want to party a bit on board. You need to seek it out as it’s hidden away. Lovely staff in here and great music too. A special mention for The Secret (Jane and Andrew) who are not only extremely talented musicians but also really nice people. They would take time to stop for a chat and a laugh if you met them on-board or in port. 3. Entertainment – the Show Team performed a number of times over the course of the week and each show just seemed to get better and better. The other evening entertainment (Gerry Graham/Leo Shavers) was decent too. 4. Ports of call – a friendly welcome in all ports and I personally loved them all. Lerwick possibly my favourite and a visit to the museum highly recommended. Loved being back on the (refurbished) Black Watch and we will certainly consider further cruises with Fred. Olsen in future. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2017
Five nights Norwegian fjords, our first cruise. What a revelation! Self catering holidays are now well and truly in the shade. Impressive organisation from start to finish, friendly efficient service, good food and entertainment, high ... Read More
Five nights Norwegian fjords, our first cruise. What a revelation! Self catering holidays are now well and truly in the shade. Impressive organisation from start to finish, friendly efficient service, good food and entertainment, high standard of cleanliness. Super spacious suite. In short everything ship shape. Couldn't fault any of it. Dined in Spey restaurant at table for 2 by a beautiful circular window. We want one of those at home now complete with waterfall. Lovely waiter and room stewardess looked after us very well. I wasn't expecting to enjoy entertainment and activities but the jolly atmosphere was infectious and ship's company great. Despite the ship being fully booked we never felt crowded. We had booked this cruise to celebrate our 30th Wedding Anniversary and it was a memorable and romantic way to mark the milestone. It was also my husband's birthday so the waiters ended up singing to us twice and presenting 2 celebration cakes. A delightful time was had and we are now converted. Next year's Fred Olsen brochure is open on the coffee table... Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2017
This cruise was for Bermuda and the Azores. We've both always wanted to see the Azores and my wife wanted to go to Bermuda. As this was her 50th birthday and the year of our 25th anniversary, as well as leaving Liverpool less than an ... Read More
This cruise was for Bermuda and the Azores. We've both always wanted to see the Azores and my wife wanted to go to Bermuda. As this was her 50th birthday and the year of our 25th anniversary, as well as leaving Liverpool less than an hour away from our house, it was the perfect fit. I thought 26 days was too long for a first cruise but I now know that it's not enough. The staff couldn't possibly do more to ensure our trip was first class, there was a very wide variety of excellent food and the drinks were good; we went all-inclusive. This doesn't cover everything by the way so beware. Every aspect of the ship's hygiene is spot on, it is cleaner than any hospital I've visited... NHS could learn from it. Although she isn't any spring chicken any more, Boudicca is very well maintained and we found her to be a beautiful ship. We found that there was so much to do, shows, meals, concerts, gym with good equipment, deck walks, dolphin and whale spotting, shopping, swimming, hot tub, reading and sunbathing were a few things on the menu. The bars are great with their own character and the staff so very friendly: thanks to Allen and his team, Caterina and her team to mention but a few. Restaurant staff also excelled and again there would be so many names I can't mention them all but people like Tom and Wetter became friends. We could honestly say that it's the best holiday we've had together. Cabins on decks lower than 7 are a little small but ingeniously set out and soon felt big enough for the short time we spent there each night. There are excellent laundry facilities, if you don't want to do it you can have it done for you! There is a good room service. Beds, rooms and linen are without fault, there is a good shower (you are on a ship and the pressure won't blast you against the wall) and towels are changed when you wish. There are also towels supplied separately for the pool area and gym use. Sea days offer much to do. The excursions are a little expensive and some are frankly not worth the money, a local taxi tour can work out cheaper especially if you share like we did with like-minded people. Only one island required a tender service which is well organised. A but tricky for those with moderate or more mobility issues but staff are very attentive and helpful and a number of cruisers took wheelchairs ashore! Fred Olsen often attracts a more mature clientele and people can be put off a little. We were a decade or two younger than most on board but that didn't detract in any way from the cruise. Most people were really friendly, very active and really knew how to have a good time. We were sometimes surprised. Of course some of the activities are tailored to a mature age group, which is normal since they are the majority and some things didn't suit us. All you need is a little imagination to find other things to do, or, if the worst comes to the worst (I doubt) you could always go through the bar list! We loved it, enjoyed all of the destinations and enjoyed having our hotel right by us when on land. We were treated like kings! Thanks Fred! Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We chose this cruise because of the convenience of a Newcastle departure,we live in the north of England and wanted to avoid flying. Check in was easy and boarding was well organised. We had a cabin in the forward section on the 4th ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the convenience of a Newcastle departure,we live in the north of England and wanted to avoid flying. Check in was easy and boarding was well organised. We had a cabin in the forward section on the 4th deck,lots of storage and kept nice and clean by housekeeping. When we sailed away the sun was shining and temperatures made us feel as if in the med ,not Tyneside! The ship was a good size,and although full we always found little quiet spots. I made use of the pool and Jacuzzis as the sun shone throughout. We ate dinner in the Ballindalloc restaurant most evenings though enjoyed a delicious Asian buffet in the Palm cafe on last night. We loved the group 4th dimension in Lido lounge which got going after the show in the theatre. We had a drinks package that we took full advantage of! It was great to be able to explore Bergen independently,very easy as we docked in the centre. Likewise with Eidefjord,where we took a scenic walk along the river up to some Viking graves,with good views on the way back. The ship then sailed along the beautiful scenery. We felt sad to be leaving. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2016
After seeing the fjords of Norway on a previous cruise, we wanted to go further afield and see the fjords of Greenland too! We had a suite on Deck 9. Departure from Liverpool a bit odd -- the building is temporary and I think they are ... Read More
After seeing the fjords of Norway on a previous cruise, we wanted to go further afield and see the fjords of Greenland too! We had a suite on Deck 9. Departure from Liverpool a bit odd -- the building is temporary and I think they are building a proper one soon. A bit delayed, but Fred not to blame for the triathalon and road closures. Gorgeous weather as we left. We would have really appreciated it if they had opened the pool and jacuzzis given that it was glorious weather, and seemed a shame not to watch Liverpool receding from the jacuzzi. Weather stayed glorious the whole trip. The Faroes was interesting, with lovely scenery as we left and a well-planned route so we could appreciate it. We had a nice coach trip, saw some typical villages, beaches, a wide selection of scenery from sounds and fjords to the tops of hills and wonderful panoramas. Reykjavik, Iceland we went on another coach trip, got to see lava fields and boiling mud, plus a viking museum. Very good coach tours at both ports, a nice wide range of scenery and good guides. There is a limit to how much you can see in just a day or an afternoon, but I felt they were well thought-out, and the guides were enthusiastic and knowledgeable. Greenland and Prince Christian Sound were absolutely amazing! The scenery at points was so stunning you felt you couldn't take anymore, and needed to go inside for a little lie down with the curtains closed! Good narration and lectures on the ship. Overall, absolutely stunning, things I will remember for many years. And on top of all that, we had a stunning display of northern lights one night (unusual for summer). We were very, very lucky with the weather, both terrestrial and solar! Port visits in Greenland were very good too, although facilities very limited since it is Greenland, we got to see real working ports and met some real people! Cabin was very nice. We went for formal dining and the food was really excellent. But best of all were the staff (waiters, cabin stewardess etc) who did a really marvelous job. A few niggles as regards opening the pools and keeping them open until the scheduled time, and lack of waiting staff near the pools (I don't think they thought so many people would be in the pool whilst we sailed around Greenland!). A fabulous cruise route, amazing scenery and if you are very lucky with the weather................... Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2016
We have been on Balmoral before, and we have been to Norway lots of times before - but who could ever tire of Norway? We chose the "Fred's Favourite Fjords" cruise because the departure port was from Newcastle, which is ... Read More
We have been on Balmoral before, and we have been to Norway lots of times before - but who could ever tire of Norway? We chose the "Fred's Favourite Fjords" cruise because the departure port was from Newcastle, which is very handy for us in Durham. Embarkation was straightforward and efficient, and we found ourselves on board by about 2.30pm. We had wanted to sit out on deck with a cold cocktail, but the grey and drizzly Newcastle weather made this impossible. It was, however, the only grey and drizzly weather we saw, because there wasn't a cloud in the sky once we reached the fjords. We were allocated cabin 4125, a spacious outside cabin with a large window and two single beds in an L-configuration. There was ample wardrobe and drawer space, tea and coffee making facilities, a flat screen TV and a small-but-adequate bathroom with a shower stall. Not the Ritz, but certainly enough to ensure we would have a comfortable cruise. I like the Balmoral (indeed, all the FO ships) because they actually look like ships and not like floating apartment blocks like some of the RCI monstrosities. Balmoral is the flagship of the FO line with 1350 passengers, and is just a nice size to ensure there is plenty to do on board without being overcrowded. We ate in the Ballindalloch restaurant on the 6.15pm sitting and the food was the high standard we have come to expect on Fred cruises. Service was quick and done with a smile. We were travelling on the all inclusive package and this is well worth the money if, like us, you enjoy a drink. Even premium brands and cocktails were half-price. Entertainment was very good; the Balmoral Show Company put on original, lively performances and the guest entertainers included a funny comedienne and an amusing comedy magician. I must also mention John Smithson, the resident entertainer in the Morning Light pub, who played the keyboard, guitar and violin (not all at the same time) and had everyone's feet tapping and hands clapping with his lively fiddle tunes each night. The cruise itself was fantastic. As I mentioned, the weather was perfect and the scenery, cruising along through the beautiful fjords, was stunning. Think of the Lake District but on a grander scale - all mountains, waterfalls, mirror-like water and glaciers; absolutely beautiful. We did an excursion in most of the ports and these were expensive (aren't they always?) but well organised, with the exception of Hellesylt, where the cruise director made the mistake of announcing that the gangway was open, leading to a massive bottleneck as 1350 passengers all tried to disembark at once, leading to our tour starting over an hour late. This was the only blip, however, and everything went to plan after that. Our only complaint on this week-long cruise was that it wasn't long enough! We could easily have managed another week. Everything was spot-on and I cannot understand the negative reviews I have read here - it's hard to believe those people were on the same cruise. We are looking forward to our next one, and would advise anyone who hasn't been to Norway to go there at once; if there is a Heaven, it must look how the Norwegian fjords look. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2011
Various friends keen on cruising had suggested that we try it and so, after years of travelling abroad by plane and car, we chose Fred Olsen's Christmas and New Year trip on the Balmoral to Madeira and the Canaries to dip our toes in ... Read More
Various friends keen on cruising had suggested that we try it and so, after years of travelling abroad by plane and car, we chose Fred Olsen's Christmas and New Year trip on the Balmoral to Madeira and the Canaries to dip our toes in the water, as it were. In short, I have to say we both found it simply excellent. We stayed at the De Vere New Place hotel, 10 miles outside Southampton, the night before our embarkation and found their cruise package very good. It included dinner, bed and breakfast, 16 nights car parking and taxi transfers to and from the terminal before and after the cruise and we would certainly stay there again. At the terminal the check-in and embarkation process was trouble-free and we were delighted with our Superior Suite on deck 9. Our cabin stewardess, Ellen, was a delight, as were our two evening waiters. The food and entertainment was suitably varied and of high quality throughout our time onboard and what struck us most was just how friendly all staff were, from the Master down. It really was a happy ship. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day were simply superb thanks to the staff's efforts. We, in our mid 50s, were probably some of the youngest passengers aboard, but the age mix was not a problem for us as we made some good friends along the way. We tended to do our own thing whan ashore, but found the mix of land and sae days fine. Disembarkation was just as impressive, particularly compared to passing through airports. We enjoyed this trip so much that, whilst we will still look forward to other forms of overseas holidays, we will definitely look to cruise again and more than likely with Fred Olsen. In short, Fred and his team on the Balmoral made this the best Christmas and New Year we have ever had, and we are already eyeing up a trip for the same time this year. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2011
Our 8 day Balmoral cruise was quite stunning. Having previously sailed with QM2 and Celebrity, I tried Fred Olsen last year with Blackwatch and fell in love with the unique style of British food and unique personal experience of the ... Read More
Our 8 day Balmoral cruise was quite stunning. Having previously sailed with QM2 and Celebrity, I tried Fred Olsen last year with Blackwatch and fell in love with the unique style of British food and unique personal experience of the Fred Olsen staff, many of which seem to effortlessly remember guests names. I dined with my wife and mother in the Spey restaurant, waiters as usual were highly trained and nothing was too much trouble. The assistant Maitre De, Greg, was marvelous,courteous and extremely helpful as were our able friendly table waiters, Chai and John, and in the mornings the ever cheerful waiter Made'. Evening dishes were of the highest quality and varied, including venison rich in its game sauce, sirloin steak, lobster in herbed crust, and river trout. Our cabin 4071 was midship, noiseless and clean. Our cabin stewardess was attentive and cheerful. The Norwegian scenery was stunning, my mother who accompanied us in a single adjoining cabin thought the scenery of the Fjords heaven on earth. The Flam train took us through some of the most picturesque scenery I have ever had the privilage to see. This particular excursion is well recommended. Shows on Balmoral were particularly good, the comedians Bret and Bob were extremely funny, more so than what you see on TV, and jokes were clean. The show company dancers were entertaining and on international night, ship staff held an extra show singing their socks off. Highly entertaining. All in all a very enjoyable cruise indeed, we loved the Blackwatch, and I'm pleased to say the Balmoral was every bit as good. I hope Fred Olsen keep up the good work as after we got off this cruise we immediately decided to book 22 days with Balmoral to the Adriatic in October! Robin & Penny Farrant, Sidmouth. Read Less
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