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21 Fred. Olsen Transatlantic Cruise Reviews

We thought it would be fun to cross the Atlantic and a 16 day Re-positioning Cruise offers quite good value for money, We flew to Barbados, visited Antigua, Tortola and St Kitts and, after 6 days at sea crossing the Atlantic, stopped at ... Read More
We thought it would be fun to cross the Atlantic and a 16 day Re-positioning Cruise offers quite good value for money, We flew to Barbados, visited Antigua, Tortola and St Kitts and, after 6 days at sea crossing the Atlantic, stopped at Ponta Delgada in the Azores and then called in at La Coruna before docking in Southampton. We had never traveled with Fred Olsen before but had heard good reports from others. We thought the Braemar, a small ship relatively speaking, with just 900 passengers and just for grown ups (i.e. no children) would suit us well. We had lovely weather, pretty calm seas and the staff were delightful and very attentive. Our cabin (an outside one with a picture window) was reasonably spacious and had all the facilities we would expect. Importantly, the beds were very comfortable! When at sea I enjoyed playing Bridge and we liked the Quizzes. Some of the talks were interesting but the selection of films in the cabin was not so good. I thought the extras were very expensive (drinks packages, WiFi and short excursions) and was disappointed with the standard of the entertainment and some of the food, though the Breakfasts and the Food Stations were good. The overall conclusion is, therefore, that we enjoyed ourselves but would not rave about it and would probably choose to go for another P & O cruise next time, as there is a wider age range. Most of those on board were quite a bit older than us (and we are in our early 70's!) and they were - for the large part - loyal Fred Olsen repeat travelers! Horses for Courses, as they say! ps. A note of caution when booking: While the actual cruise is excellent value for money, when you add on additional costs for insurance (more expensive in the Caribbean and USA), gratuities, on-board expenses for WiFi, bar bills and excursions, rail fares, taxis, overnight hotel stays and also - in our case - kennel costs, your outlay is doubled! It is still a lovely holiday but it is too easy to overlook these when making the decision to go! Enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
The cruise was excellent for the food, entertainment, staff, and cabins. But the quality of the AI drinks package was poor. The brands of the drinks were hidden so couldn’t see the bottles but saw the whisky le Valletta never heard of. ... Read More
The cruise was excellent for the food, entertainment, staff, and cabins. But the quality of the AI drinks package was poor. The brands of the drinks were hidden so couldn’t see the bottles but saw the whisky le Valletta never heard of. Ginger ale tasteless out of a cheap plastic bottle. Would not pay for AI again as it would have been cheaper to go on the cruise and buy a few quality brand drinks. Too much ice in them too even when asked for no ice. Shame on fred olsen. The rest of the cruise was very good. The food was excellent in the dining room and the Palms restaurant. The shows were excellent but poor layout of seating. The pools and jacuzzi were nice and warm and plenty of sun beds. Most of staff were very pleasant and polite and helpful. The captain and officers were very friendly. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We were very apprehensive With regards to the trans Atlantic part of this cruise as we thought we would be bored being st sea for so long but were extremely pleased with the amount of entertainment on board such as lectures, classes and ... Read More
We were very apprehensive With regards to the trans Atlantic part of this cruise as we thought we would be bored being st sea for so long but were extremely pleased with the amount of entertainment on board such as lectures, classes and facilities available that in the end there was not time to do everything. The quizzes were very good and my wife joined the choir run by Claire-Marie who was very professional finalising with a concert on the last Friday afternoon with the drama and ukulele groups which was well attended by the guests on board. An overall memorable cruise with special attention given on my birthday aboard the ship without needing to tell Fred Olsen anything. The entertainment team, lecturers and guest entertainers were excellent with a variety of entertainment from opera to song and dance, comedy, and the staff evening was excellent. We also were very impressed with all the musicians on board Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
This was our first Fred. Olsen experience, a repositioning cruise from Southampton to Barbados ending just before Christmas. Perhaps it was for that reason that the ship was only 2/3 full. We had picked just the right time to get caught up ... Read More
This was our first Fred. Olsen experience, a repositioning cruise from Southampton to Barbados ending just before Christmas. Perhaps it was for that reason that the ship was only 2/3 full. We had picked just the right time to get caught up in the Gatwick drone chaos - but we anticipate. Read on for The Case of the Disgruntled Bridegroom. The deck plans for Braemar show no facilities for children or teens. This was rather a plus point as we are both in our early 70s and like a quiet life, but it was a bit startling to discover within a very few hours that the ship was essentially a floating old folks' home. We were well on the youthful end of the spectrum. Interestingly, there was a surprising number of singles. Embarkation was totally painless: 20 minutes after arriving, both we and the cases were in the cabin. This was pretty basic (hand wash dispenser, 2-in-1 in the shower is as much as you get in the bathroom) and at the lower end of the range for space, but clean and perfectly adequate. The food was excellent. We've cruised with half a dozen other lines and this was the best we've ever had. It's fixed time dining only in the Thistle and Grampian restaurants, there is also the Palms buffet which we used infrequently. The service from the staff was as attentive and efficient as we've had anywhere - there was the occasional misunderstanding but you can get that with any line. Another first-class aspect was the ship's song-and-dance team - only 4 singers and 4 dancers, but they had people on their feet applauding with a Queen-themed evening. We took 3 ship's tours and they were a bit of a curate's egg: the basic coach tour of Lisbon was just not particularly interesting; at St Maarten, Someone Had Blundered - it took us an hour to get the mile to a beach bar because the water-taxi we were promised didn't start till noon on Sunday; on the other hand, the St Kitts Scenic Railway was a great experience. Having given the basic facts, let's turn to the overall experience, and it seemed to us that Fred. Olsen inhabit a faintly surreal alternative universe that gave a unique flavour to the cruise: - we found tea-making facilities in the cabin - but they live in the wardrobe; - the cabin TV information system was a delight. When we boarded (Monday) it was showing the activity programme for last Thursday; the ship locator shows either the entire world, a patch of blue about 20 miles across or (apparently) a line of buoys in the Amazon or River Plate. Ship's time and TV time are not always the same thing. - dining in Thistle when the ship is manoeuvring in port is an experience not to be missed: the engines thunder, everything shakes, the glass and cutlery chink and rattle. Shut your eyes and pretend you're Jim Lovell taking off in Apollo 13. - if you want to change table or sitting, they will CHARGE YOU (if you're Anchor class, viz. you've got a cheap deal). - whatever you do, watch the video on how to put disembarkation labels on your cases BEFORE trying to do it yourself. I could go on. The fact remains, we had a thoroughly enjoyable cruise: the weather and seas were good, there were plenty of sunbeds, I put on 6lb ... With disembarkation, they rose to the occasion. Half the guests were due to fly back to Gatwick, but couldn't because the outcoming flight was cancelled thanks to drones. We were given reallocated cabins for an extra night on board. The empty cabin we were allocated had wedding bells and a Do Not Disturb sign ready for the arriving couple. The trouble was, they were already in residence when we tried to get in ... Someone Else Had Blundered. They got us away effectively 24 hours late, and I think they handled it as well as anyone could reasonably expect. Not an enjoyable experience but not their fault. One last point about the flight back: apparently Fred. Olsen charter a Thomas Cook Airbus. As one can, I went on the TC website and paid for extra legroom seats. Apparently they take no notice of this because the boarding passes we were given were for quite different, standard, seats. However, all's well that ends well: we raised this with the cabin staff and they put us in 2 spare Premium seats. Had the flight been full, though ... worth thinking about. A good trip. Would we go again? Definitely. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
I had only been on one cruise previously. It was on Braemar and I enjoyed it so much that I decided I would go on Braemar again in December. The destination wasn't important. It was the Carribean and it was a wonderful experience. ... Read More
I had only been on one cruise previously. It was on Braemar and I enjoyed it so much that I decided I would go on Braemar again in December. The destination wasn't important. It was the Carribean and it was a wonderful experience. The most important thing in my opinion was the wonderful staff and the great food on the Braemar. Entertainment was good - but wouldn't be really important to me. The lovely staff and the great people I met on Braemar was amazing. One thing which really impressed me about Fred Olsen was the way they dealt with the problem of Gatwick airport being closed. I took the Farewell Barbados tour on the last day of my holiday, December 20. It left us off at the airport. When it was discovered that Gatwick was closed we were transferred back to the ship, given our original cabins, dinner, breakfast and lunch the next day before being returned to the airport. They could easily have left us at the airport the previous evening. Needless to say we were all so very grateful. So thanks Fred Olsen! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
For the Mardi Gras Celebrations in New Orleans - which were tremendous. The voyage started 7-8 hours late, this did not really affect us. Many passengers travelled down by pre-arranged coach from Scotland, Wales & North of England ... Read More
For the Mardi Gras Celebrations in New Orleans - which were tremendous. The voyage started 7-8 hours late, this did not really affect us. Many passengers travelled down by pre-arranged coach from Scotland, Wales & North of England and these passengers were held for 7 hours or so at Southampton departures terminal as the coaches would not/could not change their schedules. Very few disabled facilities were provided at Southampton departures terminal. Some tours very over priced, eg New Orleans Steam Boat tours both day and evening, we have a complaint outstanding with Fred currently. Food on board quite repetitive, breakfast and lunch time salads were very repetitive. We are still trying to work out why on St. David's Day we had a Scottish menu and on St Patrick's very little except expensive Guinness & Irish Whiskey was pushed in the Morning Light Pub. The itinerary was not well thought out; as for safety reasons linked to weather meant that the Captain quite rightly had to miss 4 ports of call. 1 Missed port - OK, 2 seems too many, 3 shows a profile and 4 means to me that who ever set the itinerary that the Ship and Captain tried to follow doesn't understand the weather patterns for the cruise very well at all for the time of year. Only 1 out of the 3 comedians was worth listening to. Other two were embarrassing/crude. The hot whirlpool tubs up on deck 11 were far too hot sometimes, too hot to get into, more like a cannibal's cooking pot... Our evening dinning room Waiter was rubbish and left most of the work to our Assistant Waiter who was great. We have raised two complaints back to Fred Olsen HQ, one has been rejected saying that the 10% off another Fred cruise with a sailing date of 31st March 2018 or before is low and just too soon for many of Fred's passengers to save up to book before the 31st. Lifeboat hoist problems meant that one of the Ship's life boats (our assigned actually) returned to the UK strapped on the foredeck and re were re-assigned. It could be some time before Fred gets our money again.... Read Less
Sail Date February 2017
Lovely cruise from Tenerife to the Caribbean, everything excellent apart from:- The engines on the boat are extremely smokey, particularly noticeable at night, also leaving a layer of soot on the pool deck at one point one of the pools ... Read More
Lovely cruise from Tenerife to the Caribbean, everything excellent apart from:- The engines on the boat are extremely smokey, particularly noticeable at night, also leaving a layer of soot on the pool deck at one point one of the pools was closed for a day as it had soot on the bottom. As an asthma sufferer I am pretty aware of this health hazard and I think this needs immediate attention. Also whoever was at the helm when we docked in Bridgetown, very scary, we were coming in quite fast and the bow just missed the two dock cranes. I watched the safety officer shout at the people standing on the deck at the bow to get back, he thought we were going to hit the cranes I watched him brace for the impact. A lovely holiday, food was varied but superb, We ate mainly in the buffet restaurant on deck 6 which suited our needs, we twice had steak in the evening grill restaurant outside on deck six, this was also superb. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
Chosen fro nights at sea and atlantic crossing. We had a major fire on board we were without water, sanitation, lights and power for many hours and adrift without engines or steering for 10 hours in the atlantic ocean. The crew saved ... Read More
Chosen fro nights at sea and atlantic crossing. We had a major fire on board we were without water, sanitation, lights and power for many hours and adrift without engines or steering for 10 hours in the atlantic ocean. The crew saved us but the management were dreadful. There were no contingency plans on board, No proper torches only key ring, no hot food for 3 days, having said that the food was not hot before the fire. After 1 day they could cook it but it was congealed cold eggs, cold bacon, cold beans etc actually served on the table. No bars open after dark we were told to go to bed. Even when arrived port on Saturday no help was given, no entertainment, no ice for cold drinks, hot tea and coffee turned off by 10.30 no alcohol available. We had to leave ship on Sunday to get food and drink which we had to pay for we also had to find places to charge our phones etc. We had not been allowed to contact the outside world. We were treated like moaning school children by reception staff who seemed to think giving information was beneath them. We asked many times how and when to pack and was told we would be informed however they finally told us at 8.45pm that we had to pack 1 case only and leave it outside cabin by 12 midnight. It had to be done in the dark and 1 broken torch was initially offered. We were finally dumped in Dover at 10pm with no means of getting home after 18 hours travelling and no hotels available. We are all physically and mentally traumatised and Olsen has even had the nerve to deduct the 3 days all inclusive charge for the days that we had nothing. They have offered a refund as the law reuires as they did not fulfill their contract but so far no compensation for all these out of pocket expenses and our severe distress Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Rugged & Rural Canada: May 14th to 30th 2016 This was our second cruise with Fred Olsen, having previously sailed on the 'Black Watch' some years ago. We were attracted to this cruise by our recollection of the wonderful ... Read More
Rugged & Rural Canada: May 14th to 30th 2016 This was our second cruise with Fred Olsen, having previously sailed on the 'Black Watch' some years ago. We were attracted to this cruise by our recollection of the wonderful crew on the 'Black Watch'; the opportunity to visit parts of Newfoundland and Labrador; and an offer to book three cruises for the price of two. In general, we were not disappointed with the service provided by the crew, or with their attitude to their tasks and to the passengers. However, there were two negative incidents. Firstly, at breakfast on May 23rd a waiter treated my wife's request for soya very rudely. He brought a carton of soya to our table, and on being asked for the soya to be placed in a glass, his facial expression displayed his displeasure. On bringing the glass of soya to the table he told my wife quite rudely that she should get the soya herself from the buffet in future. We immediately complained to the Assistant Maitre d' who handled the situation admirably, and this was a satisfactory end of the matter. However, there was no satisfactory end to the second incident which occurred on May 25th when four of us were playing cards in the Card Room. During our game, we were brusquely told by the Bridge Instructor that we were making too much noise. I do not believe that we were making too much noise, and I am certain that it is not in the remit of the Bridge Instructor to tell us how we may enjoy a game of cards with friends, which is one of the simple pleasures that should be enjoyed on a cruise. We were interested to hear from two other passengers playing dominoes at the next table, that they had previously been 'told off' for making a noise when clicking their dominoes! Subsequently, two Scrabble players confirmed that this was not an isolated incidence of rudeness. I was informed that I could not register a formal complaint on the day of the incident, and was required to include it in my end-of-cruise comments - it would have been more satisfactory if there was a proper system on-board to enable a complaint such as this to be dealt with immediately. Regrettably, the Boudicca did not visit two of its scheduled ports. This was particularly disappointing to us as these two ports would have been the highlights of the cruise. Combined with the fact that of the six days that were actually spent in ports, five were on a weekend or Bank Holiday when the majority of tourist attractions were not available, exacerbated the disappointment. Although I do not hold the view that seemed to be held by the majority of passengers that there was a hidden agenda relating to economics that resulted in us not visiting Corner Brook and Red Bay, it is noteworthy that the Captain's letter to passengers provided us with pointless information regarding the speed of the ship under various scenarios. After spending the first night of the cruise in Suite 5001, we were moved to Suite 7016, due to an urgent requirement to fix a problem with a safety hatch nearby, that would be a noisy operation. This move was described as an 'upgrade' but, in fact, 7016 had few advantages (and some disadvantages) compared with 5001, except for the provision of a terrace. The move was made efficiently, but we would have expected some acknowledgement for the inconvenience caused, eg a 'Welcome Bottle of Sparking Wine' that was not provided in Suite 5001. Our waiter (Freddie) and our stewardess (Loubelle) gave us excellent service, and we would also like to praise Melvin, whose cheerful and extremely efficient service in the Neptune Lounge was much appreciated. Compared with more modern cruise ships, the 'Boudicca' is now somewhat dated in its appearance and facilities. The lack of theatre style seating in the Neptune Lounge made it difficult to appreciate some of the shows, which were otherwise extremely enjoyable. Suite 7016 lacked the charm and design of more modern ships. To counterbalance these factors, I feel it is important that the ship's crew provide a friendly and efficient service at all times, without the type of incidents detailed above, and that proper recognisance is taken of any changes made to customers' expectations, whether it is regarding changed accommodation, changed itinerary, or other disappointments. After two disappointingly bland dinner menus on the first two nights, the food throughout the rest of the cruise was of a high standard, both in terms of choice and the quality of the food, except for the British Night where the food was poor - Potted Shrimp with too much butter and few shrimps; Yorkshire Pudding that was inedible; and Treacle Sponge that was not served hot. It was disappointing that coffee is no longer served with chocolates, and it is a pity that other minor cost-cutting measures have been introduced given my comments above regarding the somewhat dated aspects of the ship. The Port Talks were good, even though we didn't get to two of the ports! We enjoyed the Lectures by Peter Varley, but those by Louise Le Marquand were generally lightweight, yet managed to miss out some basic information. We particularly enjoyed the 10pm quizzes, and all the 8:45pm shows, despite two minor irritations: the poor presentation skills of the Cruise Director and the infuriatingly repetition of the 'no recordings' message prior to the start of the shows. Of course, minor irritations are inevitable in the provision of such a complex operation as catering for some 750 customers on a cruise ship, and these would generally be accepted when the promised itinerary is delivered. However, when two ports are omitted under dubious circumstances, minor irritations grow out of proportion and the following may be added to those detailed above: - the cabin keycard failed on two occasions; - the amount of our On Board Credit being initially incorrect (£25 short); - tender boat not working in St Pierre; - creaking noises in cabin at night; - glasses rattling on glass tabletops in the Neptune Lounge; - varying and unpredictable temperature of water in the shower; - bags not fitting beneath beds. Perhaps realising that the Captain’s letter circulated on board regarding the omission of Corner Brook and Red Bay from the itinerary was inadequate, we received a letter from Fred Olsen dated June 20th. This stated that “Our itineraries are planned at least two years in advance and analysed by our panel of Captains. This itinerary was passed without any weather or navigational concerns and similarly no concerns were raised by the local Port Authorities when booking the berths. Additionally, one month prior to sailing the itinerary was further reviewed by our senior Captain and again based on the latest ice flow charts available no concerns were raised. Indeed post cruise our port agent has stated that ‘whereas there is usually ice at this time of year, most certainly not to the degree experienced on this cruise. The high winds and high tides drastically changed the situation.’ Shortly prior to our call in Sydney, Nova Scotia, the wind speed had been forecast at between 10-15 knots which would not necessitate tug assistance, subsequently none was booked. However, once on the berth the winds rose to 30 knots and without tug assistance available within a 24 hour period, owing to the requirement to pre-book, the Captain had no option on safety grounds but to extend our stay in Sydney.” As with any ‘Health & Safety’ issue, it is impossible to disagree with the decisions made. However, passengers will still be disappointed, and this disappointment will only assuaged by a sensible offer of compensation. Inevitably, Fred Olsen’s offer is a 25% discount on a future cruise, excluding existing bookings and other restrictions. This type of offer only made me more disappointed with Fred Olsen’s attitude towards its customers, and makes me think that the company has lost the plot. In summary, an enjoyable cruise on which we were disappointed not to get to two ports, and that disappointment was exacerbated by the ‘compensation’ offered. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This was our sixteenth cruise and our first with Fred Olsen. What a brilliant find. We thought the whole experience was fantastic from the minute we saw the ship in Bridgetown to when we left Braemar in Dover. It was such a pleasure to ... Read More
This was our sixteenth cruise and our first with Fred Olsen. What a brilliant find. We thought the whole experience was fantastic from the minute we saw the ship in Bridgetown to when we left Braemar in Dover. It was such a pleasure to be on a small, VERY friendly ship, we have tired of the glitzy, enormous floating resorts and have now found a cruise line that treats you as an individual rather than a number. We booked last minute finding an absolute bargain in the national press. Fifteen nights cruise, free drinks package and tips plus £200 cash back. We usually book a balcony or outside cabin but this time decided to try an inside. This was perfectly adequate and was very spacious as it was designed to take 4 people, so loads of wardrobe space. What made the cruise special was the Crew, from Captain down to room steward nothing was too much trouble and you were always greeted with a smile. Food was excellent and the Palm Café was another brilliant find. Entertainment was very good and varied with some excellent guest performers. All in all a great 15 days and one we shall definitely repeat. Well done 'Fred' Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We are all retired young at heart couples travelling for a birthday celebration with my husbands brother and his wife. We travelled on the door to door service organised by Saga which was very good. Embarkation was very good. We ... Read More
We are all retired young at heart couples travelling for a birthday celebration with my husbands brother and his wife. We travelled on the door to door service organised by Saga which was very good. Embarkation was very good. We were so looking forward to our cruise booked for my brother in laws 70th birthday year. The Cabins which were supposed to be superior outside, were awful. We have been cruising for nearly 20 years and superior these cabins were not. Once we set sail things went from bad to worse. The vibration from the engines and creaking and rattling of the ship prevented any of us from a decent nights sleep the whole holiday. We resorted to earplugs but these did not help with the vibration. When we put our heads on the pillows it was rattling our heads. I would advise avoidance of cabin nos. 5059 or 5061 arghhh! Needless to say we all complained but the situation went unresolved. The daily information on the ship was excellent. The food was very good and our waiters Chai and Arnold really looked after us and we had them the whole holiday which was great. The staff in the dining area and bars worked extremely hard and nothing was too much trouble for them. There were activities onboard such as Quizes and quoits but unfortunately a couple of these flew overboard Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
This was a a relocation cruise back from winter in the Caribbean to Dover. The first week was a cruise round the islands. The flight out from Gatwick on a Monarch Airbus was cramped and we were in the premium seats!. The hot meal was ... Read More
This was a a relocation cruise back from winter in the Caribbean to Dover. The first week was a cruise round the islands. The flight out from Gatwick on a Monarch Airbus was cramped and we were in the premium seats!. The hot meal was inedible tasteless rubber chicken. Just hand out some good sandwiches! At least we were on time but the Manchester passengers were four hours late and were plunged straight into the emergency drill. The crew were excellent but passenger tempers and nerves were frayed. Balcony cabin on deck 8 was comfortable though cramped. Everything worked and the cabin was kept immaculate by the friendly stewardess. Meals were very good with meat and fish excellent. Decent cheese too but dreary overcooked veg. Please, no more broccoli. Certainly not fresh but mainly out of a big packet. Waiter service in the Grampian was fine but Captain Waiter not good at keeping an eye on things. If I order an expensive bottle of red wine in advance I expect it to be opened and St room temperature. I did not appreciate his attempt to divert the blame onto the over stretched table waiters. Tours were uniform ally good and the tours people lacked the arrogance that is sometimes seen on Balmoral. Good value for money, too. Cruise Director Ricky Jermy excellent and a good comedian and excellent RAF Red Arrows chap gave nine talks. Pat in the Fitness a Centre also engaging and helpful. Captain Bamberg is lightening up and conveys a calm confidence and a sense of humour. Thanks to all of them. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
My husband and I had the worst cruise in 25 years of cruising. We were due to leave Southampton on 20th December but the Captain announced that due to heavy storms we would have to stay in port overnight and leave the following afternoon. ... Read More
My husband and I had the worst cruise in 25 years of cruising. We were due to leave Southampton on 20th December but the Captain announced that due to heavy storms we would have to stay in port overnight and leave the following afternoon. We have subsequently discovered that we believe the delay was due to technical problems with the ship, bearing in mind this ship had a 2 day breakdown on the previous cruise, and a further breakdown on the following cruise. So because we were late leaving, our stop in Madeira was cancelled and our first stop would be Barbados after 11 sea days. We actually sailed past Madeira half a day later than scheduled so we could have had a stop there. The P&O ship Aurora left Southampton on the day we were due to leave so how did that ship weather the storm.? We could have left on time we were sure if the ship was mechanically fit. The first week onboard was a nightmare, the weather was awful and a lot of passengers were seasick, me included, I couldn't wait to reach a port, any port. The captain announced that we were only going to be able to have three and a half days port stops instead of the scheduled seven stops. We emailed Fred Olsen to show our disappointment and eventually the port stops were extended a bit, but still only 4 and a half days, everyone was disgusted. On top of all this people were so upset at having to pay £2 a day to have their dining time changed, it is an absolute ripoff. People should ask for the opposite sitting to the one they want because it is a money spinner for Fred. Then they closed one of the bars for 4or5 daysto redecorate it, can you beleive this. The next bombshell was workmen turned up and started moving a companionway on two decks. There was drilling and sawing all day for days on end, and tarpaulin coverings which looked so shabby, So many people complained that they stopped daytime work and started nightwork on both decks.You couldn't make it up. So many people couldn't sleep with the noise that the workmen went back to daytime work. It was so disrespectful to all the passengers onboard, no compensation was offered, not even a complementary bottle of wine on each table. Can you imagine it, sitting on deck, or eating lunch on deck and looking at men working on your deck and the one below, I could go on and on about our total disappointment with this cruise, the food was very average, not up to previous Fred Olsen cruises. We have cruised with P&O, Holland America, Royal Caribbean and Princess and never ever experienced anything like this. We have used Fred Olsen cruises for years, we are gold members, and have always recommended them as good value for money and really lovely waiters, cabin crew and reception staff, in fact all the crew have always been exceptional, but since old Fred handed over to young Fred it has all gone to pot, it is such a shame. I really think because of all these cutbacks and lack of consideration for their passengers enjoyment that their days are numbered. We are very upset by this and so are many other Fred Olsen passengers that we know. Bring back original Fred please. I would never cruise on the Black watch again. Read Less
Sail Date December 2013
I also just returned from this truly exceptional cruise. This was organized by the Miles Morgan agency and the speakers, activities, meals, etc. were well planned and enjoyable. However, as noted by the previous reviewer (Bollinger ... Read More
I also just returned from this truly exceptional cruise. This was organized by the Miles Morgan agency and the speakers, activities, meals, etc. were well planned and enjoyable. However, as noted by the previous reviewer (Bollinger Babe) departure in New York City from this cruise, the responsibility of the Fred Olsen operations staff, was a total fiasco. I inquired early in the cruise about arranging private transportation from the cruise terminal to the airport. I was assured the line had arranged "plenty of taxis" and that personal arrangements were unnecessary. Thankfully there were porters in the terminal to assist with the luggage but they had no choice but to dump all passengers and their bags in two very crowded waiting areas. There were nearly no taxis available and it was clear no arrangements were made in advance. After waiting nearly an hour for a taxi, and still a long line to go, I was lucky to find by phone a private transport company that was able to dispatch help immediately. The cruise thus ended unnecessarily with a very stressful day of transport. Fred Olsen employees were either totally ignorant of the conditions in New York City or simply didn't care and neither option is acceptable. I have sailed on approximately 75 cruises disembarking at ports all over the world and I have never seen such a disorganized departure. Given this very callous treatment of a large number of their passengers, I would never sail with Fred Olsen lines again. Note that my ratings apply to this very unique cruise that included special activities, entertainment and meals. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
This special charter trip was booked three years ago at great expense. Unfortunately our devoted travel agent left the industry and from then on we were treated like a number and not discerning cruiser. Not only were we slugged with a ... Read More
This special charter trip was booked three years ago at great expense. Unfortunately our devoted travel agent left the industry and from then on we were treated like a number and not discerning cruiser. Not only were we slugged with a fuel surcharge in AUD,much cheaper for UK passengers(when I asked Fred Olsen if everyone had to pay and also the same amount, answer was in the affirmative , yet when we asked fellow passengers, this was incorrect). Front office staff and more importantly Miles Morgan staff on board treatment of passengers was high handed. Embarkation was badly organised in spite of all passengers getting info beforehand. This spoilt all the fanfare that had been planned for the trip, resulted in delay in leaving and arriving too late in Cobb Ireland, where the local population had waited very patiently for us to arrive and excursions being cancelled. The ship, Balmoral is falling to pieces and polluting as she goes. We had sailed on her in 2010 and not much has been repaired. Our cabin and dining room staff were fantastic as were all the guest speakers and as everyone has something in common viz an interest in the Titanic, most passengers were very nice as was the very special memorial service over The Titanic site. We had ordered the DVD namely for the memorial service but I regret to say the DVD had not been edited very well and the moment was not captured. Toiletries was like using paint stripper. I strongly feel robes and slippers should be provided free of charge especially if one has paid extra for a balcony cabin. For passengers travelling from Australia and with luggage restrictions carrying an extra item is futile when it should be supplied. What is happening to cruising? Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
We have just returned from the much-publicised Titanic Memorial Cruise on board the MS Balmoral and we'll never experience another cruise like it again. My husband and I are veteran cruisers and this was our 29th cruise and 4th ... Read More
We have just returned from the much-publicised Titanic Memorial Cruise on board the MS Balmoral and we'll never experience another cruise like it again. My husband and I are veteran cruisers and this was our 29th cruise and 4th with Fred Olsen. The Balmoral is a similar size to the Titanic, being 43,000 tons against the Titanic's 46,000 tons. We sailed from Southampton in the wake of the Titanic, 100 years after this luxury liner's ill-fated transatlantic crossing. When we boarded at the cruise terminal, the staff (and a lot of the passengers) had really got into the spirit of the thing by dressing in 1912 period costume, and this was to be a theme throughout the voyage. I like the Balmoral because she is a proper, traditional ship and not a floating block of flats like some of the modern monstrosities. In fact we had been on the Balmoral when she was the Norwegian Crown in 2003, but the ship was refitted in 2008 and we didn't recognise anything from the NCL days. As we were commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Titanic's maiden (and only) voyage, everything had been organised and carefully thought out to the finest detail. As well as the excellent food and service that FOCL are renowned for, we were offered the Titanic "dish of the day" so we could enjoy fare typical of that which was served on the Titanic. In addition, there was a string quintet that played music from the Titanic bandsmen's repertoire and on the formal evenings everyone made the effort and dressed in the sartorial elegance of a century ago. Each day there were a couple of lectures / presentations given by maritime historians and descendants of Titanic passengers and crew members; they were superb and really gave Titanic buffs the chance to hear true stories that had been passed down through the generations, as well as dispelling some of the ridiculous myths that have sprung up about the Titanic in recent years. The highlight of the voyage was the special Memorial Service that was given on the evening of the 14th/15th April. The Balmoral was in the exact spot in the Atlantic in which the Titanic struck the iceberg and sank, 100 years to the very minute later. After a memorial service we were invited onto the aft decks, where the ship's padre blessed three beautiful wreaths before they were cast into the sea. At 2.20am, the ship's whistle was sounded in salute and we all sang "Eternal Father, Strong to Save" (the hymn of the Royal Navy) before the band struck up - yes, they even had a band on board - with "Nearer, My God, To Thee". There wasn't a dry eye on the ship. They even had the White Star Line pennant flying from the stern mast. The Memorial Service really did the Titanic victims proud, and was such a moving and dignified occasion. To be there in the exact spot 100 years later was quite an experience, and one that we'll never be able to repeat. Titanic aside, the entertainment on board the Balmoral was very good. They have an excellent orchestra and the featured artistes were brilliant and had something for everyone. There were also three Captain's cocktail parties with copious free drinks and the Captain, Robert Bamberg, always used to end his noon announcements with "A very good afternoon Ladies and Gentlemen and, from the Bridge, all is well", which because an absolute catchphrase by the end of the cruise. :-) As we were following the Titanic's route we only visited three ports of call and these were Cobh (formerly Queenstown)in Ireland, as well as Halifax, Nova Scotia and finally in New York. The ship stayed in port overnight in Halifax and New York, which gave a chance to explore these interesting places further. In fact it was nice to be on terra firma after seven nights in a very rough Atlantic ocean. The only fly in the ointment of the entire holiday was the way we were just chucked off the ship and dumped in New York at the end. We had been told that we would be disembarking the Balmoral at 10.00am and would be taken, by coach, to the Milford Plaza Hotel in New York to await our airport transfers at 3.00pm. Instead, we were called to disembark just after 8.30am and just left on the pavement at the pier, where we had an hour and a half to wait for the coaches. It was chaos with several hundred people and their bags milling around outside the cruise terminal. When the buses did eventually arrive, we were taken to the hotel as promised, but just dumped outside. When we went into the hotel, thinking they would have a conference room and maybe some tea and coffee facilities for us, they had no knowledge of anyone from the Balmoral coming at all; they were not expecting us. We therefore had to kill about four hours before our airport transfer, lugging our carry-on bags with us everywhere. Maybe they thought they were doing us a favour, giving us a few extra hours in New York city centre, but our overall impression was that no-one was happy with this arrangement. Nonetheless, we didn't let this spoil our holiday: the ship, the food, the entertainment and of course the whole Titanic theme were just first class and we'll be left with unique and priceless memories of this trip forever. Read Less
Sail Date April 2012
This was our first (and only) Fred Olsen cruise. Started well - very friendly and efficient bar and restaurant staff. Small, intimate ship. Food was OK but not the best. Lacked variety - why so much pork??? Then things turned grim. ... Read More
This was our first (and only) Fred Olsen cruise. Started well - very friendly and efficient bar and restaurant staff. Small, intimate ship. Food was OK but not the best. Lacked variety - why so much pork??? Then things turned grim. Atrocious weather (in August!) meant that that we had two ports-of-call cancelled. No substitutions arranged by humourless captain. We were begging for landings in the Faeroe Islands, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Isle of Man, Republic of Ireland, England, Wales, Scilly Isles, anywhere! "Entertainment" was amateurish. The singers/musicians in the upstairs bar were fun but the so-called dancers in the Neptune Lounge were dreadful. Perhaps we've been spoilt by American cruises but these were more like unimaginative, lazy junior school productions! Other passengers were ancient. Lounge looked more like a care home than a cruise ship! Lectures were also delivered in the Neptune Lounge - rubbish venue. Loads of view-obstructing pillars and not enough seats. Why no proper theatre? However, we did like that we could order discounted cigarettes and alcohol from our cabin. And they would be delivered discreetly in a brown paper bag!Also, the ship was great for discounting certain drinks. And we had two nights of free drinks - the Captain's Welcome Party and a Gala Party. I can see why this company attracts repeat clients! However, like another reviewer, I too was irked by having to pay a hefty fuel supplement (after paying full price!) when other customers paid only £700 for a £2000 cruise! Not fair! Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
We've just come back from a transatlantic repositioning cruise to the Caribbean on Fred Olsen's Braemar. We are fast becoming seasoned cruisers and, having done this cruise with P&O two years ago, can make valid comments ... Read More
We've just come back from a transatlantic repositioning cruise to the Caribbean on Fred Olsen's Braemar. We are fast becoming seasoned cruisers and, having done this cruise with P&O two years ago, can make valid comments comparisons. Overall Fred Olsen is really very good - a bit of thought to some minor niggles and it could be excellent. We had an outside cabin on deck 2 that was kept spotless by our hardworking cabin girl. The cabin was made up, as requested, as a double. But with the dressing table and chair, tub chair and small table there was not enough room to manoeuvre around either side without performing acrobatics so we had it made up as two singles and that gave much more room. There was plenty of storage space and the suitcases slid under the beds. The bathroom was small but adequate with a good shower and, hurrah, a non-clinging shower curtain. Good quality shower gel and hand wash. The beds are quite hard but comfortable and have duvets with good quality bedding. Deck 2 is quite low down and so we spent time just kneeling on the beds watching the waves and enjoying the 'final rinse' when the waves splashed over the windows darkening the whole cabin - frightening the first few times it happened. The lifeboat drill was a bit worrying; we had a roll call and cabin numbers were called out where there appeared to be no occupants while some cabins were missed off the roll call. As the weather was bad we were glad that our meeting point was the library. I was looking forward to enjoying Fred Olsen's service standards as I'd read so much about it - and I was not disappointed! Every staff member was friendly and polite - even the 'known miseries' at reception. The bar staff remembered your name within a day or two and your preferred drink/s - even down to how I like my G&Ts. I think Braemar is beginning to show her age but overall the ship is clean and tidy and very easy to get around and navigate. There are plenty of public loos that have the new Dyson air hand dryers, what a clever invention, to save time, really get your hands dry and reduce paper towel waste. There are plenty of bars and lounges to sit and have a drink or watch the world go by. Our favourite was the Coral Lounge, while we found The Observatory lacked atmosphere. The Neptune Lounge is a nightmare, the seating arrangements are badly laid out and there are too many pillars that limit many of the audience's views. First sitting dinner people are asked only to see one show; but they seemed to see the first show in the Coral Lounge then come to the second house of the Neptune lounge show. This meant many of the second sitting dinner people could not get into the main show. Also, two people took up settees designed for four and others were reserving seats. I think it was a mistake to have dancing in the Neptune lounge between shows as this encourages people to stay in the lounge or hog seats. Sometimes it was difficult to get a seat in the Coral Lounge show due again to first sitting people wanting to catch both shows. Drink prices are the same as UK pub prices. The wine list is excellent and a bottle for dinner was so easily ordered via the interactive section of the TV - as was room service breakfast (that arrived dead on time). Apart from the problems with the lounges the entertainment was really good - a good idea to have two shows at night. The resident Braemar band and 4th Dimension group were excellent. Lee Carroll was the comedian - I'd heard the jokes all before but he was funny. Anthony Stuart Lloyd was a brilliant singer - and a lovely person. The Braemar show were very good - the shows are not our type of thing but seeing them on the TV cruise programme showed how talented they were. Jackie Probert, the assistant cruise director, has a lovely voice and she's a great personality. It was lovely to see Dong the lighting/technical guy being allowed to show his singing talent - certainly miles better than the resident's band singer! The speakers were awful; no presentations skills at all - death by very bad PowerPoint. Anthony Borradaile was the cruise director and was very good - not full of himself like others we have experienced. Hurrah for Fred - the buffet was not a rugby scrum. People waited to be seated at laid tables so you could settle yourself prior to diving in! This made for people actually having conversations with the people on your table. This was also good for making return visits to the serving stations. Waiters were quick to clear plates and pour/top up water. The Thistle restaurant was my favourite of the two main ones and we were allocated to it for dinner. We tried the Grampian for breakfast and lunch but found it lacked atmosphere. Given there was a choice of soups for lunch and dinner in all restaurants we did not have soup spoons. This is the best food we have ever had on a cruise. I think Fred's secret is to have less choice which means better cooking and the quality is very good. I have never eaten so much beef; all of it so, so tender and the slow roasted belly of pork was to die for (all you could hear from out table that night was the ooing and ahhing of delighted people). The puddings are lovely; they must be I am usually a cheese and biscuits person and think I only had that twice. The pool area was nice and large - but suffered the usual sun-bed blocking. The pools and jacuzzis were refreshing and cleaned/topped up often. The changing room was a good idea; and came into its own on disembarkation day for a post sunbathing shower and freshen up before the journey home. We were late out of Dover as the weather was awful (and we could not pass Balmoral who was berthed in front of us). The weather for the whole crossing was excellent and the rather smooth (got to 4-5 max. last time we had about 7-8s). The weather was excellent for the crossing too (cool and windy for the first day or two down to Madeira but we could sit out in a jumper). We hit the Caribbean on the back of hurricane Thomas so the seas were choppier than expected and the weather was changeable for the first few days. We had to miss out first Caribbean port of call, St Maarten, as the sea was too choppy and windy to berth or tender. After 7 days at sea that was a bit of a downer! But we pushed onto Tortola in awful weather and arrived in a downpour to overnight. Not many people went ashore that night as it was dark and tipping down and people were unsure of their surroundings. The sail away parties were fun - especially the British night out of Tortola with the people in the massive Norwegian Dawn enjoying our party. But, and for me this is a big but, the sailaways are at the back of the ship and there is not room for everyone to see the entertainment and/or join in. There is so much room on deck 9 (loose one of the golf net thingies to make even more) that the band can be up there with people partying on the sun deck (deck 8). I was not the only person disappointed with the tropical night - on a sea day and with no deck party. I felt so let down as on our previous repositioning cruise this was the highlight of the cruise - it was all rather flat on Braemar. There was loads to do if you wanted to. The dolphin racing was a laugh and the crew tug of war was great fun. The spa was OK with reasonable prices. There is a good sized, well stocked library. The photographers were a bit in-your-face (I am not one for having my photo taken when I am eating!) but you were not pressed at all to buy any photos and they were a reasonable price. There was a good balance of formal/informal/casual nights. But we were told in our pre cruise information that there was only three formal nights; onboard we found out there was four - a nightmare for us ladies! Most people dressed up to the nines on formal nights but some people's idea of informal is my idea of casual and their ideas of smart casual is my slobbing out! We took a couple of excursions that were good - but I think we'd do them independently in future. It was good to be able to book/pay online in advance. Our flight home was delayed; by, at first three hours, then four. I was delighted as this gave us an extra day and meant we did not arrive home at some ungodly hour of the day. This is where Fred really stepped up, keeping us fully informed, we were kept on board and an early evening buffet was provided. I am sure an afternoon tea was provided as I saw some people with sandwiches and cakes during the afternoon. When we finally disembarked we were only at the airport about forty minutes until boarding. This is the second time I have paid for an upgraded flight - even with the additional extra baggage weight and leg room it is not worth the additional money and I will not bother again. This is the second time I have paid for an upgrade and I felt the same on our previous flight - this confirmed it is a waste. Overall a great cruise and we will cruise with Fred again, picking them over another company if there was a choice given the itinerary/dates. If the niggles can be sorted out I would've given 5*. The niggles are not a show-stopper but little things that stop a great cruise being outstanding. 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
A new cruiser and new-ish to these forums, this is my review, for good or bad! For me, like the curate's egg - the cruise was good in parts. Ports of call: I booked the trip based on the itinerary published in the brochure. This ... Read More
A new cruiser and new-ish to these forums, this is my review, for good or bad! For me, like the curate's egg - the cruise was good in parts. Ports of call: I booked the trip based on the itinerary published in the brochure. This was subsequently changed and substantial port changes were made from 14 - 27 October. F.O wrote that the Canadian authorities had advised that this sector was in breach of legislation protecting registered ships engaged in coastal trading. They had apparently vigorously disputed Canada's interpretation but said that they were not able to gain any concessions from the authorities. This did make me slightly concerned about how a company with F.O's reputation and experience could be caught out by such legislation at such a late stage in the process, how could they get it so wrong? After all, this had been planned for how many months. Bite the bullet, I thought, and make the best of it. I enjoyed most of the ports of call that I was able to go on, norovirus and ports cancellations preventing me from going ashore at Shelburne, Sydney, St Pierre and Miquelon and St John's, NF. Overall as some of the smaller ports of call had 'closed down' for the winter, more judicious planning would have given us more shore time at places like Bar Harbour, Oak Bluffs and Lunenburg where there was a lot to see and do. Sunny and warmer weather certainly would have added to the small town charm of the smaller ports in Canada - Cornerbrook, Baie-Comeau, Gaspe, Digby - though the welcome and hospitality of local people, waiting to host us even in cold and breezy conditions, was really heart warming. Tendering procedures were sometimes tediously long with F.O booked trips taking priority over we lesser mortals who had privately arranged our own excursions. So I missed one early and privately pre-booked trip in Bar Harbor and a planned bus tour of Martha's Vineyard was curtailed. I got ashore early at Lunenburg by booking a F.O tour at the last minute. I think it was here that others, who had to wait for tenders to get them into this beautiful area, were not called until early afternoon, then they had to be back on board for a tea time departure so they decided not to leave the ship. What a shame as this is a stunning area to visit. Maybe the cruise would have found better weather and sea conditions had it been possible to maintain the original schedule and if it had started a few weeks earlier. Public areas on the ship: Public areas were very clean, good looking - if in somewhat 70s' decor - and well maintained though at times it was difficult to get a 'window' seat in the library or the walk through area to the Morning Light pub - first come, first served! The Morning Light pub? A bit lacking in character and somewhat divided up by high backed benches and all 'curtained in', claustrophobic given the large area, but there was generally plenty of room there for a sit down. There were other areas on Deck 7 where sofas and easy chairs were available and the library of course (if you didn't mind snoring!) And it was enjoyable to hear the Trio playing in one of the seating areas there. The bars I used the Lido and Observatory bars mostly, sometimes used the Marquee Bar for afternoon tea. The Lido and Observatory both have a reasonable view of the outside world. It is a bit of a do to get to the Observatory and Marquee bars if you are at the 'wrong end' of the ship. Staf:. These lovely people made my time on board. I was really impressed with the ship's wait-on, bar and cabin staff, and pay particular commendation to the 3 waiters on table 107 in Ballindaloch, the Palms staff, the Lido and Observatory bars staff and my cabin stewardess Ong. They were really great, always friendly, cheerful and caring as were the majority of staff engaged in day to day chores around the ship. Reception staff were rather less cheery, a little bit forbidding, maybe instructed to maintain a certain distance and reserve, as was one of the senior European staff I had dealings with, whose manner was brusque and intimidating, perhaps to bat off complaints? Who knows? Entertainment: What I saw of the evening entertainment was good and varied but some performers had the edge. What stood out for me was the Balmoral Troupe and the Crew's Show - excellent. What a talented crowd they are! Day time entertainment, card games, darts, deck games, carpet games, quizzes and lots of people were participating and having a good time. A personal preference on my part is not to do games but I was quite happy with a book and a people watch! But there were some interesting lectures and the Arts and Crafts classes seemed well patronised as did the dancing. For singles travellers: I am very used to solo travelling, others less so, so my comments here are based on chats with other singles who were looking for introductions to like travellers. Not all of these have access to PCs so please bear with me if I am reporting their views. Arrangements would have benefited from a little more forethought and care and attention. After all, this line prides itself on being 'all about the people'. The growing demand from singles in the holiday market should be one that companies might respond to in a positive way. Several basic and achievable proposals were brought to the attention of the Entertainment/Cruise Director to try to introduce single travellers, maybe just to dine or maybe to team up for outings. (What was in place was not working). He agreed but nothing changed during the course of the 6 weeks. Maybe it was out of his hands but several passengers remarked that they felt rather let down by the apparent lack of care and cohesion especially when it was part of programmed events in the Daily Times. It was also remarked that cruise hosts should be more 'age appropriate' to the average age of guests, it could be too much like Blue Peter. Food and Drink: I am a real foodie. The food was OK overall but the main restaurant served tiny portions from the menu except for a number of notable occasions, such as the lamb shank and Beef Wellington nights. The buffet was more generous. It was rather less exciting than I had been led to expect but mass catering and economic constraints are undoubtedly a factor. Cruise food always had a reputation of being excellent, maybe that was in the good old days or maybe my expectations were too high. It sometimes looked better than it tasted. It didn't stop me eating it though as anyone else doing the cooking is a bonus! For me, there were some high spots in the 2 restaurants where I ate most of my meals. I loved the roast dinners and the Palms Buffet nights where the staff dressed up in costume. The stir fry cook there made some great dinners and there was sometime a queue for his cooking - your meal could be cooked to your taste and I thought that was super. The fresh omlettes were delicious in the moring as were the late supper fish and chips. Drinks prices were reasonable too without the surcharge sometimes levied by other cruise companies. Accommodation: The ship, whilst common areas are a bit spiffy, still has some shabby and well worn cabins, one of which I was allocated. I did not think that this was worth the money I paid, nor would I expect my B&B guests in my home to occupy such poorly re-furbed bedrooms. I had an older cabin on Deck 4. It had new-ish soft furnishing but was well worn in the bedroom and the bathroom with really poor refurbishment of the fixtures and fittings, screws holes left un-Polyfilla'ed, bathroom shelf rails loose, the bath really looked unwholesome with a stained bottom and anti slip strips that were partially peeled off, paintwork that had been given a lick and a promise - all things that would have taken a couple of hours at most to fix and look well cared for. Sickness: Infections can and do occur all too frequently in establishments where large numbers of people congregate for any length of time but on this ship Norovirus made its presence felt again after having been on board on the British Isles cruise earlier in the month. There was also a nasty throat and chest infection that has followed people home, with serious repercussions in a couple of cases I heard about. As well there is what seemed to be a viral ear infection (or streptoccocal bacterial infection, take your pick) that continues to plague us, I now have both of those a week after coming home. All part of the risk of travelling with so many people at such close quarters, I know. Regarding NV I think that any efforts made by management to restrict the spread - isolation, hand washes everywhere, closure of self serve buffets, washing down of banisters, lifts' handrails etc and the fumigation of cabins after release from 'custody' - might have been somewhat snookered by the less than hygienic habits of some passengers. I'll leave that to your imagination. It has been suggested elsewhere on the forums that we oldies are less than careful in our personal care -not me, matey - but I now understand why such comments are made. I lost much of the third sector of the cruise to sickness, isolated for over 48 hours and then a further self chosen isolation for a further 20 hours. Believe me, the after effects of the virus are enough to dampen one's enthusiasm for partying so I was rather glad to get some air at Cobh and to arrive back home 2 days later. To add insult to injury the coach driver on the way back from Dover - Victoria locked the toilet and said it was for single use only - we weren't sure if he meant that was only for one person to use or if it was only for Number 1s - who dared ask after that? God forbid that one of us really DID need to use it! Noxious fumes in cabin: What really made me anxious - as a single traveller - was not only contracting NV, though that was bad enough, but what happened in my cabin in the first week of October. I had the heating switched on and fell asleep whilst reading, then awoke briefly and registered this smell, fell asleep again (at least I hope it was sleep), woke again and the smell was stronger, enough to get me off the bed with a pounding violent headache and dizziness, the former lasting for a number of days. It was coming through the aircon vent. I switched it to the cold position immediately. I reported it to reception by phone, checked to see that the couple in the next cabin was OK, went on deck to get fresh air, then went to Reception in person and demanded that they make a log of it. I heard nothing else so eventually went to see the Guest Relations officer. You can take your pick of the reasons given for the fumes: 1) It is caused by routine maintenance, the engineers say it will clear soon (reception) 2) the engineers know there is a problem and are working to fix it (reception) 3) the ship was bunkered the day before in port (?was it) and the fumes were as a result of that and/or (GRO) 4) the fumes were not in your cabin, they were in the corridor and this happens when the door to the engine room is left open (GRO) This problem, as I reported it, was denied verbally and in writing by the GRO, who inferred that I was making it up to get a free upgrade. (I should add that I had asked for an upgrade when I went to see him on the first occasion and even offered to pay so that I could get a fresh air flow in the cabin - he said that no upgrade was available, unpaid or paid. Instead he offered me a cabin on deck 5. I saw no benefit in going from one sealed box to another so declined). Make what you will of that. This has happened on the Braemar too, according to another poster, so maybe it is an accepted part of being aboard a ship. If it is, it's potentially very dangerous, the immediate and long term ill effects of exposure are well documented, especially from bunker fuel fumes, as I have since discovered. My overall review is this cruise varies between excellent and downright frightening! As I said, I was a first timer - would I go again? That is very doubtful. I am quite put off. I am not a whinger about the smaller things in life, but this was a substantial investment for me in terms of money and time, having got over a health scare earlier in the year, I was determined to try to push into life all those things that I never had an opportunity to do before - but it didn't come up to the mark. As a single passenger I paid a lot of money for this cruise, £6000, and certainly expected a 4* service, if not a little more, judging by the Fred. Olsen brochure's description and many passengers' complimentary reviews. The fact that I was subsequently offered the cruise for £3400 does grate. Was it value for money at £6000? For me, definitely not! Nor would it have been at £3400. I am disappointed by parts of the cruise (maybe the ship/itinerary planning more than the 'cruise') but the port days were very enjoyable in the main and I met some really pleasant travelling companions. I had anticipated cruising - and with F.Olsen for their UK departures - as a new holiday-ing phase in my life as I get older and less enthusiastic about DIY flights and touring. I am having to think again. I know that there will be many who had a great time, I only wish I had been one of them. My overall marking is 1 and the reason for this is based on GRO's lack of care and concern over the 'fumes' incident and the his intimation that I was making it up to get a free upgrade. This is a pity as it detracts completely from other areas where far higher grades have been awarded and the overall mark suffers as the result of one man's action Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
This was my first cruise on the "Balmoral" although I have taken many cruises with Fred. Olsen. Although small (43537 grt) compared with today's superliners it is large in comparison with the rest of the Fred. Olsen fleet. ... Read More
This was my first cruise on the "Balmoral" although I have taken many cruises with Fred. Olsen. Although small (43537 grt) compared with today's superliners it is large in comparison with the rest of the Fred. Olsen fleet. It is good looking ship which appears to have been well-maintained. We sailed from Dover to the Caribbean via Madeira and Teherife. This entailed a six-day Transatlantic voyage. The weather was reasonably good and the seas not too rough. The ship is very stable and rode the weather well. We called at Barbados, Grenada, St. Lucia, Antigua, St. Maarten and Tortola (BVI) in successive days. The weather was glorious and I managed to enjoy a combination of sight-seeing and relaxing on small boats enjoying swimming and snorkeling. We had another six-day sail to the Azores where I enjoyed an interesting island tour. Once again the weather and sea conditions were kind. The last three-day voyage back to Dover was untroubled by rough seas. The Bay of Biscay was flat calm! The food and service on board was excellent. The Filipino/Thai/Indonesian/Indian domestic staff were, as usual, excellent. They always deliver very good service with a smile. The entertainment was good. The visiting lecturers were excellent. The cabaret acts were mixed, some good other rather run of the mill. They changed in the Caribbean so at least we had variety. The ship is comfortable and is a good acquisition to the Fred. Olsen fleet. The only downsides of the cruise were the restrictions caused by the Norovirus bug which had played havoc with the ship's previous voyage around the UK. These well justified infection controls were very limiting in the various restaurants but I am glad to say that they were able to lift these just before we reached the Caribbean and normal services were quickly restored. Overall it was a relaxing and enjoyable cruise. I look forward to my next cruise on board this ship next Spring. Read Less
Sail Date October 2008
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