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26 Fred. Olsen Europe - Western Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

Just back from 28 day cruise on Olsen’s Black Watch. We are in our early 60 s and very active, most on the cruise are in their eighties plus, low mobility and not active. Great for them to get a cruise holiday but frustrating if you want ... Read More
Just back from 28 day cruise on Olsen’s Black Watch. We are in our early 60 s and very active, most on the cruise are in their eighties plus, low mobility and not active. Great for them to get a cruise holiday but frustrating if you want plenty of activity. Golf putting, carpet bowls in the corridor, whist, bingo, British singalong dress nights did not appeal. Ship was being constantly worked on so noise all over including windows being replaced on upper decks, toilets not working, information about destinations not great or non existent. The entertainment ranges from amateurish to good, the crew provide a lot of input. It is an old creaky ship which during storms bounced around. Disembarkation was appalling with low mobility people having and causing problems. A double decker bus shuttled people to trains with lower deck for suitcases including zimmer framed etc. and upper deck for passengers. The late arrival and departure of these ‘coaches’ caused many of us to miss our connections. Food is okay, staff ok, gym a bit limited, all areas busy and yapping all the time. All in all a great cruise for those who have low mobility but a snooze fest for others Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Mystery cruise was great fun ,no idea where we were going until we entered port .very well organised and the crew kept the secrets well .Fellow passengers were annoying in their determination to tell you they knew where we were going . I ... Read More
Mystery cruise was great fun ,no idea where we were going until we entered port .very well organised and the crew kept the secrets well .Fellow passengers were annoying in their determination to tell you they knew where we were going . I did not want to know and told them so .Way to many passengers were doing cruise price paid comparisons which I never understand , if you booked you must have been happy with the price you paid otherwise you would not book surely ?I think the price of extras in the ships general shop are excessive as in £5 for a standard size bar of Cadbury’s milk chocolate ,silly .service in the pub lounge was poor but the observatory bar was brilliant . The single travellers get together at the start of the cruise was a shambles and served no purpose . Balmoral is a great small ship well maintained and nicely appointed. Shame about some of the passengers !The food is 4 star country house hotel food nicely presented and good choices daily with good main course portions .The shows were very mixed but that is subjective I suspect . The classic piano recitals were superb . Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
A bit like a care home especially the lounge areas. A lot of elderly people with their carers on board and ambulance often waiting at the dockside. Some good points and some bad. It certainly would not suit everyone this ship or the type ... Read More
A bit like a care home especially the lounge areas. A lot of elderly people with their carers on board and ambulance often waiting at the dockside. Some good points and some bad. It certainly would not suit everyone this ship or the type of people. This review in 3 sections. 1. the Good 2. The Bad and 3. Some other general observations GOOD: Classic elegant salons Small ship - easy to get around Good service Uncluttered well designed interior Informative lectures Clear TV screen in cabin Good drinks prices. Good docking locations - due to small ship. Quick and easy to get off Good choice of wines Lovely library Some very interesting Norwegian works of art throughout ship No children Reasonably priced excursions THE BAD Amateurish shows including comedian Bad smells Maintenance work Average food Lack of friendly personable staff - extremely perfunctorily manner. Bored Only Stella lager on tap and Boddingtons beer Extremely unfriendly future sales - some kind of issue here Catastrophic port talks, the worst I've ever experienced Old peoples home atmosphere Very class based - various comments made - I.e. by comedian - reference to 'High Brow’ A Rough old crowd Extremely slow walkers Lack of current and/or forecasted weather conditions on in cabin screen Inaccurate Google Maps weather info on in cabin screen. 2nd restaurant sitting quite late @ 2100 2nd show sitting quite late @ 2230 Library can get very crowded. Strange games being played. Some general Observations: * There was Noise issue during 3 of the lectures which included the game of quoits as general maintenance work. I informed the GS about this in good time but they took a long time to stop the noise. Unacceptable. Even less acceptable was that they repeated the disruption on subsequent lectures and had to go to GS AGAIN to ask them to stop the noise. * Yellow water from taps * Guest Services seemed unable to take decisions or act with efficiency and basically not very happy with their job * Sticky handrails * Coaches not at ship in good time due to security at Casablanca delaying disembarkation. This should have been anticipated. Not good enough. * No current or forecasted weather conditions on TV * Google maps ship locator TV screen showed inaccurate information such as weather * Some girls lack warmth and performed duties with perfunctory boredom. * The port talks extremely poor - the worst I've ever experienced. * Guest Services - somewhat insolent. Not understanding questions. Impatient, tired, unsmiling. * Garden Cafe - matre D very good. But still there's a detectable uneasy malaise * Bookshelf Cafe - surly personal * No apology for maintenance wk * Special mention to staff of Observations bar plus William Rodriguez. Plus Chandra. Read Less
Sail Date October 2017
We chose this cruise to meet up with old friends in Bermuda. Whilst the ship is old and lacking in any glitz (as we commented it was like stepping back 50 years, except the portholes would have opened then) the enthusiasm of the crew in ... Read More
We chose this cruise to meet up with old friends in Bermuda. Whilst the ship is old and lacking in any glitz (as we commented it was like stepping back 50 years, except the portholes would have opened then) the enthusiasm of the crew in all departments was outstanding. The shows were probably the best we have seen in some 40 cruises. Embarkation was very swift, about 5-6 minutes from entering the terminal to getting to our cabin, including a short walk. However this highlighted a lack of security as the scanners for hand baggage 'shoreside' were inoperative and presumably the ships security being unaware did not check our bags on boarding. We were in the lowest class of outside cabin on deck 3 aft and whilst clean and with lots of cupboard space it was quite depressing, with fabrics worn and faded, but we must admit you are shown this in the photographs when booking. OK for a few days but not a month. The biggest problem is that at low engine/prop revolutions the noise is incredible and the deck , deck-head bulkheads et-al shake like an earthquake and things fall about. This is particularly so from the pilot station to the berth, which in the case of Liverpool is over two hours.We feel very sorry for the crew but at least they haven't paid! Air- conditioning was good and we could set it to the minimum of "shops factories and railway premises act". Beds very comfortable. Good shower with plenty of hot water. Room service limited but quick. Dining was very good, not first class, and an absence of steaks or lobster was evident. Variety is always going to be a problem on a longish voyage but the main courses were filling, tasty and reminded us of our youth. Soups were over salted so that they tasted of a higher salinity than the sea. More home cooking than cordon-bleu. Service was attentive and quite swift. Reasonable prices for drinks. The main port of call (four days) was Bermuda, which was buzzing with the "Americas Cup" Many lectures were focussed on sailing and the sea but some presenters had little or no skills. There were no children on board and the average age seemed like 75 but all out to enjoy themselves, some getting particularly good value from their all inclusive packages. Overall fares are expensive, even the 'anchor fares' when compared to(say) Cunard but from what I could gather not many passengers shop around and have little experience of other lines. I can't quite see why they return in such numbers for what is taken overall a middle of the road offering, the prices are of course a function of size Would we go again, possible if the ports of call were what we wanted and the price discounted. Ratings have been given against comparison with many lines, large and small ships, luxury and otherwise. Read Less
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
Sail Date June 2017
Having sailed with Fred Olsen 5 times previously, we had high expectations of this longed for trip to Italy. However, it was the first time we had sailed on the Boudicca. The first thing that was a shock was the embarkation from Falmouth, ... Read More
Having sailed with Fred Olsen 5 times previously, we had high expectations of this longed for trip to Italy. However, it was the first time we had sailed on the Boudicca. The first thing that was a shock was the embarkation from Falmouth, which was the first time this port has been used. I can only describe it as like going through a cattle market. It was a large storage facility on the dock, with no-where near enough seating for everyone. It was cold, draughty, with no facilities available. The check in process seemed chaotic, the security was a joke, since the customs check did not bother with many of the passengers bags. We were just waved through. Once on board, we were disappointed with the ship, again, it did not seem to have enough space and seemed crowded. We were disappointed with our cabin, which seemed dark and dingy. The boat was very noisy and vibrated the whole time, making sleeping difficult. We could not fault the wonderful staff, or the entertainment, which was spot on, but we did think the food wasn't as good as on their larger boats. We booked the trip specifically to visit Rome and Pompeii. The trip to Rome would have been good, but for the fact that we were visiting the Vatican City, and had to stand in a 2 hour queue before even getting inside. We didn't bother in the end and just did our own thing. The trip to Pompeii was advertised as a 5 hour trip, but we actually got less than 2 hours in Pompeii. The trip to Palmero, Sicily, was awful. Was a horrible place. The whole experience this time around has put us off booking with Fred Olsen again. If we did, we would be sure to book the larger boats. Would never sail on the Boudicca again. It was also beset with illness among the passengers and some crew. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Having cruised on P & O and enjoyed the experience, we thought that Fred Olsen with its smaller ships stopping at ports unavailable to larger ships would be better. There are many positive things to say about this cruise including the ... Read More
Having cruised on P & O and enjoyed the experience, we thought that Fred Olsen with its smaller ships stopping at ports unavailable to larger ships would be better. There are many positive things to say about this cruise including the very friendly atmosphere. The accommodation was fine, the staff were fantastic, with nothing being too much trouble. The entertainment was exceptionally good throughout the cruise. The shore excursions were somewhat hit and miss, but overall fine. The great let down was the food. The restaurant food was passable, however the buffet options were the worst that I have ever experienced. The menus suggest that for health reasons, passengers should make sure that the food was thoroughly cooked so as not to risk individuals health. Unfortunately I was unable to find a single egg which you would consider safe to eat or even hot. For those who ate in the buffet areas when they opened, the majority of the food was cold. A breakfast of partially cooked fried egg, cold beans and cold sausage and bacon is not ideal. One fantastic plus for this cruise were the Phillapean staff who were amazing. Despite a very busy working schedule - they smile Day and night. Their attention to detail and warm personalities provide the kind of atmosphere that can only be admired. We did enjoy the cruise - shame about the food. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
Some things on the cruise were terrific. The waiting staff were. The food generally was of a high standard, at times excellent. Nothing was too much trouble and in that respect the cruise was 5 star plus. When I needed my trousers ... Read More
Some things on the cruise were terrific. The waiting staff were. The food generally was of a high standard, at times excellent. Nothing was too much trouble and in that respect the cruise was 5 star plus. When I needed my trousers repaired, the tailor appeared in moments, disappeared briefly, and reappeared with the trousers totally repaired. A lot of the staff were actually incredibly nice. In other respects it was a bit wide of the mark. The wifi was very poor, but that is being upgraded, apparently. The communal seats were sprayed with some sort of deodorant, so every time I sat on them, I had to change my trousers because they stank of something nasty. The washing machines all injected with a washing liquid automatically into the system, so after I washed my clothes, I couldn't wear them because I need a non-bio powder, and am allergic to the chemical ones. I was left with a couple of T-Shirts and a few pairs of pants that I had to recycle manually. There is a notice in the launderetter - an A4 laminated thing in black and white ink, that was stuck behind someone who was ironing- that alerts you to the fact the washing machines are self-powdered. i never saw it. Not sure I would have seen it had the person ironing not been there either. The downstairs launderette boasted 4 machines that didn't self powder...I tried one. it also automatically injected detergent. WhenI got back to the UK, I needed 5 washes to remove the strong chemicals from my clothes so that I was able to wear them again. So 10 washes in all. I raised these issues with F.Olsen, and they replied a stock reply. I pointed out that the reply was factually incorrect, and they replied that I was wrong and they were correct. I took umbrage. I wrote to their head office. They wrote back and said they were taking my complaint seriously. That was the last I heard. I could easily have gone for a 2 star rating here, but I feel that is unjust to the 1000 staff who work very hard onboard. There were other niggly things. A major problem is what happens when you dock. In Casablanca we experienced Taxi Wars. Eventually a gun toting policeman came in and starting physically fighting with the taxi drivers. A bit eyebrow raising at the best of times, even more so when you have a disabled person with you. As I waited for the scheduled bus, I was harangued and harassed by the same culprits as before...I then got totally lost in Casablanca, and ended up in the slums; as sundown approached I realized I could have a serious problem. If I had known how louche and potentially dangerous the place was, I would have been more circumspect. A decent map would not have gone amiss. I am surprised the Cruise Companies don't work together, and have a Local Guide in major ports who can handle things like....taxis...and so on. The Southampton Port Authority is a joke. Staff are rude and hostile. Lots of people were getting very irate. Don't suppose F.Olsen care, as they would say once off the ship it is not their responsibility. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
The price for two cabins were over priced as we were given cabins on the front of ship with port holes only. Cabins 5003 5001 Two Adults and three children. Cabins very dark . We were advised of children's club when booking only to ... Read More
The price for two cabins were over priced as we were given cabins on the front of ship with port holes only. Cabins 5003 5001 Two Adults and three children. Cabins very dark . We were advised of children's club when booking only to find upon our arrival on the ship that they had indeed a kids club but the children had to be accompanied by an adult at all times. Rather defeated the whole object !!!! Main Restaurant staff excellent and professional . Palm café and breakfast was very sub standard and staff tended to rush you out very quickly. Very little extras in the room other than shower gal and hand wash. The staff in the bar area 11th floor were very slow and although not busy we had to wait to be severed on and average of 25 minutes One port La Rochelle, that we arrived at, we had to wait for a shuttle bus to take us in area out of the port for one hour only to find that we had to wait another 45 minutes to get on a bus to take us into the town the day was nearly over. We had only one hour in the town centre as the boat was leaving early. We shall be looking for another cruise line next time!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
With a small ship you get to know people easier. There are no long queue's for the dining rooms or bars. You get to know your crew and the work they all do. Going ashore for visits to interesting places with the smaller ships means ... Read More
With a small ship you get to know people easier. There are no long queue's for the dining rooms or bars. You get to know your crew and the work they all do. Going ashore for visits to interesting places with the smaller ships means you can reach places the larger ships can't. Embarking and disembarking is much quicker because of less people to do this. Having sailed on much larger ships I think I can honestly say I do prefer the smaller ones.. When sight seeing by coach in certain ports you are away long before the passengers on the larger ships because there are less people. Activities and entertainment are equally as good as on the larger ships. The smaller ships have voyages for adults only. Although children have every right to go cruising with their parents, the older adults who have been through all this with their own children now want to cruise without children for the peace & quiet that can bring Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
for those of you considering a cruise with Fred Olsen, i can definately recommend it. I wasnt sure whether I would enjoy it or not - hence a mini cruise. The boat is not too big, but has plenty to do. The cabins are lovely and the one ... Read More
for those of you considering a cruise with Fred Olsen, i can definately recommend it. I wasnt sure whether I would enjoy it or not - hence a mini cruise. The boat is not too big, but has plenty to do. The cabins are lovely and the one we stayed in had Lots of storage space and kept beautifully clean. We dined in the Grampian and waitors there were so welcoming. The food was lovely with plenty of choice and the service was extremely good - best we have ever had to be honest. We had lunch in the palm cafe restaurant which is self serve, and enjoyed food from mussels to roast leg of pork, with cinnamon rice pudding, bread and butter pudding and peach cobbler to enjoy for dessert. Breakfast had everything you would wish for,and the cakes at afternoon tea were fantastic, although we only tried this once as we werent hungry after the first day. We didnt sample the late night supper but i am sure that would have been as good as the other meals. We dont normally go to the evening entertainment, but the start time of 10.30 meant we were able to get a seat ln both evenings and enjoyed some singing and dancing from musicals for the first night and then a really funny comedian the second night. We wanted to stay up and the watch a tribute to the jersey boys, but were just too tired, as it didnt start until 11.45. So if you are thinking of trying Fred Olsen - give it a go and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We have just returned from a great cruise to the Azores & Maderia. Thoroughly enjoyed visiting some of the islands in the Azores and spending time in Maderia Cabin was very clean and comfortable even if it was an inside, not my ... Read More
We have just returned from a great cruise to the Azores & Maderia. Thoroughly enjoyed visiting some of the islands in the Azores and spending time in Maderia Cabin was very clean and comfortable even if it was an inside, not my choice but booked at the last minute (our fault) much prefer an outside. There was problems on the ship due to the Novovirus which was still evident from the previous cruise but we must congratulate the staff who worked tirelessly to ensure our cruise was as comfortable as possible. In actual fact we got spoilt by them serving us all the time even in Palms cafe. This problem did not effect our time on the ship. I must congratulate the Balmoral Show Company which put on excellent shows and also the Crews Show which was brilliant specially the engineers so funny. I will be travelling with Fred Olsen again in the future. Our stewardess was excellent in making our cabin looking clean and tidy and she always had a smile on her face. The waiters who served us in the restaurant were very polite and helpful and the drinks package good value for money. The excursions we went on were very interesting and informative but also it was nice to be able to stroll around these lovely places on your own Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We were encouraged to try a cruise after friends visited the Fjords last year and loved it. So as a sort of last holiday with older teenagers, us and 4 other families-17 people in total decided on a western Mediterranean trip for 14 nights ... Read More
We were encouraged to try a cruise after friends visited the Fjords last year and loved it. So as a sort of last holiday with older teenagers, us and 4 other families-17 people in total decided on a western Mediterranean trip for 14 nights departing Southampton. We all booked separately through The Liverpool Cruise Club-and despite reviews I have read, they were very accommodating and helpful in that we were all sited near to each other on board, had the same time dinner sitting in the same restaurant on the same or adjoining tables with a wonderful view of the sea through huge portholes. TLCC were cheaper than booking direct and we made interim payments. We booked a year in advance due to the size of our party and are governed by school holidays, although better deals can be had if you are able to book at the last minute which many of our fellow travellers seem to have done and paid far less for better cabins. As we are a family of 5 and the cabins only sleep up to a max of 4 (there are 2 pull down wall bunks)we had the extra expense of 2 cabins so paid full price as if for 4 adults instead of just 2. Despite this and the cabins being fairly spacious it would have been quite cramped with 4/5. Prices vary on which deck you are on-the higher up the dearer it is and also varies on inside/outside cabins. We were on Coral Deck 4 in inside cabins. They are dark so lamps are needed at all times. Next time I would have an outside cabin as I did miss seeing outside, especially on waking. Embarkation at Southampton is painless and efficient. Lovely men take your luggage and the next time you see it is in your cabin. One of our cases did get damaged. We were given free parking vouchers but didn't use them as we all travelled together by coach. There was a bit of waiting around but nothing to moan about. Each person is issued with a cabin account card. When swiped this contains your personal details and photograph. This is also your room key and for getting on/off at stops. All purchases are made using this and can be viewed on your cabin interactive TV so keeping a check on your spending is useful especially with children. Mostly you just tell them your cabin number then sign the chit, but obviously you should keep it with you at all times. We had £140 on board credit for each cabin but this was used up by end of the first week. The card is also printed with lifeboat number and assembly info. You will need sterling for playing bingo £2 per board, and the dolphin/greyhound racing-£1 per bet. (They are only cardboard dolphins!) On the last day the bingo costs £5 per board but some lucky chap won £635! Cabins have huge storage space (cases fit under the beds) TV, air con, a self-combination safe, nice en suite with shower and only hand/shower gel in dispensers. There is a hairdryer fixed to the wall which is very slow so if you have long hair or get ready in a hurry, take your own. A european 2-pin plug is needed. Towels are provided as well as deck towels for sunbathing and can be changed for fresh at any time. However, you will need your own towels if you want to go to the beach at any of the stops. Beds are very comfy! There is very minimal noise from adjoining cabins. You have your own allocated hard working housekeeper who makes up your bed and turns it down each evening leaving you a chocolate on the pillow. There are tea/coffee making facilities and a large bottle of water which if you open, it is charged for. The crew and staff are mainly Philippine's, very friendly, polite and hard working although there is a grumpy waiter in Ballindalloch restaurant who we avoided. The waiters and waitresses (especially Layla in the 'observatory' and Mary in the 'Lido')are wonderful with great senses of humour and can remember your name, drink and cabin number after only a few days. Don't miss the 'crew show' at the end of your holiday. You are sort of expected to pay and charged to your account, 'tips' to your housekeeper and dinner waiter averaging £4 each per day from each person in your party which added up is quite costly (£40 per day for us which you wouldn't pay at home!) This can easily be removed by visiting reception during the first couple of days and telling them you wish to pay them directly at the end of your cruise. It's then up to you what you value their service at. On board and during the first couple of days of sailing when its still too cool to sunbathe there is plenty going on (even for teenagers). We enjoyed the nightly shows in the Neptune, the show company are talented, young and enthusiastic and also around and about doing various activities during the day. 10/10 for them! A mention also to comedian Taffy Spencer who had us in stitches. We had 3 formal evenings-black tie/evening dress, 3 theme nights which hardly anyone bothers with dressing up, hence only all our 'men' in grass skirts and coconut bra's on Hawaiian night! We had a laugh but very strange looks from others. 'Sail-aways' are fun. Informal nights still require jacket or tie, 'smart casual' you can wear jeans but no shorts/crops-this the men found tough especially when it got hotter the further south we sailed. As already mentioned an a la carte dinner is served you each night in the same restaurant, same time, same table. There is a good choice on the menu (these are posted outside during the day) and a children's menu. If you are a couple then you will be placed on a table with others. We were in Spey, Deck 10 at 8.30pm. The earlier sitting is 6.30pm or you can opt to go to the food themed evenings in Palms Cafe which is open seating. We enjoyed Indian and Chinese. All restaurants are open seating during the day. We loved supper club in Palms between 11.30pm and 12.30am. There is also morning tea/biscuits served as well as afternoon cakes/rolls and room service if you wanted it! We could not find fault with any of the food served anywhere on this ship (hence a 71b weight gain!) although talking to others they felt standards had dropped due to cost saving. Sara Sipek, the english executive chef and her team are amazing in that the same quality of food came out each time. Our restaurant waiters were Made (said Maddy) and Toddy who has the loveliest smile. They are whizzes at their jobs and Made was very entertaining with his after dinner tricks and posers. Unfortunately there was an outbreak of Gastroenteritis on Day 7 so self service was withdrawn which did slow down the process. You had to wait a while for toast or milk/sugar to go in your hot drinks. Even with the extra workload the staff were still polite and friendly. Sanitising your hands is a constant must! Stops included Gibraltar (a 10 minute walk in to town) then a 15 minute walk to the bottom of the 'rock'. We paid a local guide 20E each for the tour up to the top, this included the 'cave' tour. Taking the cable car costs 18E excluding the cave tour. The views are amazing but watch don't touch the apes! Barcelona, catch the free courtesy bus from the port. We did the open top city tour which takes 1-2hrs and costs again 20E each. Palamos, the beach is a 5/10 min walk from the ship. Mahon-you dock right on the edge of the town, alas sunday so very few shops open but a small market at the port. Saw lots of dolphins and 2 small whales between here and Portimao-This is an anchor port and you are tendered in which if there is a strong swell takes an age. Not a lot to entice you here though some did get a taxi to the beach. Lisbon is lovely, loads of shops and we went up the tower with fantastic views over the city. Cost 5E pp. We did not pay for any of the organised ship excursions. There is lots of info in your cabin about each stop and The Daily Times delivered each evening is essential to what's going on next day and where, dress code, entertainment etc. Cruise director Joanne Haley and deputy Jamie Clarke are great assets to the Fred Olsen company. We really enjoyed hearing the ship's Master, Robert Bamberg's daily announcements from the Bridge. On board there is a Spa with many treatments, beauticians, hairdressers, fully equipped, popular gym overlooking the ocean, launderette Deck 3(tokens £2 from reception, just press the button on the front for 5 secs for automatic liquid detergent dispensing)also free tumble dryers/ irons etc. There is a disco nightly in the observatory, Deck 11, which goes on quite late if your cabin is on or below that forward deck. There are also a jewellers (free to look and wish), a shop if you forget essentials or fancy a bit of choccy, a boutique and duty free with daily offers. Library and card/games room. Reception is expertly manned or I should say womanned and euro's can also be purchased here. Cabin accounts can be settled the day before by cash or euro's and the remainder taken automatically by credit card (this is registered when you board). Smoking is allowed in several places and on cabin balconies. You can use the free telephones around the ship to phone your's or other cabins. Loads of toilets on the decks and in all the right places. Disembarkation. Suitcases are left out the night before-take a holdall for overnight. This is done by Deck, starting at the top, but is quick and stressless, don't pack your cabin card as you need this. Cases can then be found in a set area by deck number. A few warnings: Loungers get snapped up very early around the pools on Deck 7 and 11. The pools are salt water and several times had to be emptied twice daily due to children being sick in them. The photographers are everywhere and catch you at your worst and best and not particularly bothered if they get somebody else in them too. We soon learned to always stand as a family rather than individually. They then charge you £6.50 for the small and £14.95 for the large prints. You are under no obligation to buy them. There was a mixed age range on board from a group on a lads only holiday, youngsters and elder teenagers with parents, up to the quite elderly. We did hear a few grumbles in passing from them about how many children were on board (only 77 up to age 16 out of 1350 passengers!)but hey ho our money is as good as theirs and they can go any time out of school holidays! In general we found most friendly, chatty and fun. Duty Free is limited to 1 ltr strong liqueurs, or 2 ltrs of fortified wine or 4 ltrs of still wine, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 250g of tobacco. Customs staff are vigilant and were stopping many going through the green channel. It's your risk! For our maiden voyage, Balmoral was everything we hoped for and more, we thought this was a last holiday with our boy's but they and the friends we travelled with loved it and all want to go again....guess we'd better start saving! And from the Bridge......'All is well'. Read Less
Sail Date August 2012
Our friends invited us along on a cruise this year. They have done a few and love it. We did a cruise years ago with our boys with Island cruise line. This was family oriented and we knew Fred Olsen would be different. A little nervous we ... Read More
Our friends invited us along on a cruise this year. They have done a few and love it. We did a cruise years ago with our boys with Island cruise line. This was family oriented and we knew Fred Olsen would be different. A little nervous we checked out videos and reviews. The age range of clientèle was slightly higher and some reviews were a bit bad.We got our holiday pack which we read excitably and discovered dress codes and theme nights. Off to the shops we went!! Me and the husband both re-newed our holiday wardrobe, not a bad thing I might add! The day of boarding we were very excited and the excitement never ended till we embarked again back at Dover! The crew were fantastic, our waiters were wonderful. The crew made the holiday! We watched the end of cruise, Crew Show like proud parents! The ship is small and intimate so you get to know other holiday makers and you become like a community. Catching up with each other as you bump into one another around the ship. The hosts were great and extremely friendly. I know its there job but it was more. They were great fun. Our cabin was nicely decorated and furnished. Adequate size even for me as I am claustrophobic. We were on deck 4. Two small port holes more than enough light for us. There was however a funny smell now and then which puzzled us. We could not put our finger on what the smell was, however it was not enough to trouble us and spoil our holiday. More than enough cupboard space. Cleaned every day. The entertainment was top class and appealed to all ages. The singers were great and the comedians were hilarious! Even though the majority of holiday makers were elderly there was a right mix off people from families with little ones, who splashed around in the pool. Families with teenagers, who looked very smart on formal dinner nights and us young at heart 40+'s!! We loved it and would do a cruise again with out doubt! We saw some beautiful places, Alhambra Palace! We were truly spoiled, 5 star all the way! Read Less
Sail Date July 2012
Having been left some money by my late adored mother I decided to spend some of it on a cruise ,something I hadn't done since about 1979 when I took a party of school children on the Uganda to the eastern Med. That had been amazing ... Read More
Having been left some money by my late adored mother I decided to spend some of it on a cruise ,something I hadn't done since about 1979 when I took a party of school children on the Uganda to the eastern Med. That had been amazing and I wondered if cruising was still as good as it had been then. Well, the ship may be more modern but the atmosphere was just the same and heavily dependent for success on having a happy and efficient crew. No probs there as it would be impossible to be better looked after.Three cheers"and one cheer more" for an amazing crew. We had booked the Southampton to Venice via almost everywhere cruise from 6th June but at the last minute were offered the previous cruise to the Fjords at an unmissable price so took that as well and so were away for 28 nights. As followers of cruising will probably now know we never got to Norway because of a pilots' strike and so had to make do with an ad hoc tour of N. Germany,Denmark ,Sweden and Belgium. Disappointing of course but nobody's fault and I still enjoyed it as an hors d'oeuvres before the main meal. Apart from severe gales in The Bay of Biscay, fog ,which meant we never saw the Rock of Gibraltar, and being late into Almeria(well worth missing in my opinion!) and Tunis everything else went like clockwork and the weather was glorious.Wonderful , eye opening visits to Corfu, Dubrovnik, Split, Venice( is there anything in the world as miraculous as sailing into Venice as the sun bursts through the morning mist?) No I didn't think so!Sicily, Malta,Ibiza and Lisbon completed the itinerary of a fabulous voyage and I was seriously reluctant to leave the ship even after a month (oh the joy of retirement.) Nothing to fault about the food(close at times to haute cuisine) and the cabins, we had lovely cabins on Coral deck for the first cruise as well as our super SS for the second. Only niggles might be a couple of poor value excursions and a few tour guides with "interesting" english and an inability ever to stop talking and allow us to watch the scenery pass by! Oh, and the presence of The Daily Mail "highlights" as ship's newspaper.Why does Fred Olsen assume that we are all right wing bigots? In real life I'd rather take poison than read that apology for accurate news. Anyway I'm hooked! Apart from The Fjords in August 2013 I've already booked The Canaries and Azores on Black Watch in November this year and I can hardly wait. I've at last found my dream holiday style that means I can take plenty of stuff with me and I NEVER HAVE TO DRIVE!!In the second we dined in the Spey restaurant which I thought magical as one dines while watching the sea and land pass by. And we had wonderful table companions in a couple from Brisbane which meant every evening had good conversation as well as good food. We also enjoyed the "special" food nights,Indian ,Thai, Chinese and Spanish in The Palms Cafe. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Embarkation was from Southampton, following a long coach journey with Portlink (which was quite pleasant). Not an entirely smooth embarkation, passengers sat around for sometime until called by batch numbers, 20 a time. Initial ... Read More
Embarkation was from Southampton, following a long coach journey with Portlink (which was quite pleasant). Not an entirely smooth embarkation, passengers sat around for sometime until called by batch numbers, 20 a time. Initial impressions of passenger mix - mainly UK & older clientele. Although we are in our early 60s, we felt a little young - although, to be fair, many were in 60s & 70s fit & healthy...but there were a significant proportion who were 85+ (regular medical emergencies happened throughout the cruise). Cabin was a bit of a squeeze, but sufficient storage & wardrobe space. However, soundproofing was poor - you could clearly hear neighbours' conversations. Cabin steward very good. Ship's facilities were very good for a medium sized ship, easy to get around, signposted quite well & stable ship. Several bars / lounges / good library. Crew were well organised. Quite a few spaces outside, sun deck, promenade deck, & tiered stern for quiet (if cramped) areas. Food was of average to good standard UK fayre, reasonable variety with efficient dining rooms + buffet at Palm's cafe, which we used for lunches. Dining room staff were attentive & efficient; good basic variety of wines. Entertainment was UK style shows, although the crew show was better than the professional company...demonstrating a rather talented crew, especially the engine room guys who were an absolute hoot! Standard fayre for organisation & information. Docking & free time excellent. A variety of tours were available, enjoyed the visit to Mini-Hollywood, where they film the spaghetti westerns. As mentioned, this was a themed cruise...& I undertook art classes under the tuition of Maurice Greenwood who inspired us to produce our own styles of watercolours...very gentle approach, fun & learned a great deal for someone who had never painted before! Overall, fair value for money with lots of daytime activities. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Pro's 1 The food was very good with an excellent variety. 2 Friendly helpful staff. 3 Good layout with tiered decks at the stern. 4 Cleanliness and safety are key factors observed in line with the Fred Olsen policy. ... Read More
Pro's 1 The food was very good with an excellent variety. 2 Friendly helpful staff. 3 Good layout with tiered decks at the stern. 4 Cleanliness and safety are key factors observed in line with the Fred Olsen policy. 5 Entertainment was very good, staff, singers, comedian, show company and choir. 6 Embarkation and disembarkation procedures are well practiced and good. Cons 1 The size of the ship limits the speed and its ability to be stable in moderate sea conditions. 2 At maximum speed the vibration experienced in our cabin and throughout the ship was unacceptable. It made me feel nauseous and my joints ached from the constant vibration. 3 In moderate seas the ship pitched, rolled and shuddered, making movement around the ship difficult especially for people with a disability. 4 Not wheel chair friendly on some decks with narrow corridors and limited access through cabin doorways. 5 Our room 6003 creaked, groaned and shuddered, making it difficult to sleep. (5 out of 11 nights). On day 9 we were given a key to a cabin on deck three which was not used because sea conditions improved. 6 The Neptune lounge is situated below therefore you could not retire until midnight also artists practising in the afternoon prevented one resting during this period. 7 Room above was noisy on occasions resulting in being awakened very early. 8 Fittings in the bathroom were tired and well used some with 90% of the chrome plating missing. 9 The shower base leaked and needed resealing. 10 The Thistle restaurant tends to be noisy which made conversation difficult especially for the hearing impaired. Also the service was not so efficient probably due to reduced staff numbers. 11 Finally we left the last port of call Lisbon early for no apparent reason. No explanation given. Only to proceed through the channel at a snails pace. I hope readers will find the above comments helpful. I have tried be constructive and give a true account of my personal experience Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
we got a last minute cruise and paid for an inside cabin on the lowest deck because we have had some big bills this year ,but we were given an outside cabin, and it was lovely.people said we would not sleep at night for the noise , but we ... Read More
we got a last minute cruise and paid for an inside cabin on the lowest deck because we have had some big bills this year ,but we were given an outside cabin, and it was lovely.people said we would not sleep at night for the noise , but we heard hardly any , and the very low ""hum"" put us to sleep no problem. food was absolutely magnificent,as were the dining room staff ,the ship is beautifully laid out , and i found getting to different activities very easy..we got plenty of time ashore and even when we were put behind schedule due to having to go back into port due to illness, the captain made up the time and we arrived at our next port of call in good time. of the places we visited . ,toulon stands out as a really super place.with a fantastic supermarket and department store next to the footy ground , which is right next to the berth in the centre of the water front.,and swimmimg is a little town train ride for about five minutes. they go all day round the town ""hop on -hop off"". olsens ships may be smaller , but we met people every day ,from the day before , so most people knew each other by the end of the cruise . it was a great holiday .thanks fred. ..brian little Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Myself and my husband are brand new to cruising and thought we would try a mini cruise to 'test the water'. Fred Olsen was recommended by (an older) relative, as it is a smaller ship and not overun by kids.Perhaps our ... Read More
Myself and my husband are brand new to cruising and thought we would try a mini cruise to 'test the water'. Fred Olsen was recommended by (an older) relative, as it is a smaller ship and not overun by kids.Perhaps our expectations of a cruise were too high, but speaking with other new cruisers who were doing the same as us on this 'taster weekend', I don't think so. This was Fred Olsen's opportunity to capture a new market and they failed miserably.Firstly admin: I had to call Fred Olsen twice to tell them that we hadn't received our tickets and in the end were issued with an e-ticket. They managed to send the bill to the right address so why not the tickets?The ship was delayed getting into port so embarkation was delayed by 3 hours. Fortunately we were emailed by FO to alert us to this so didn't leave home until later in the day, but many passengers didn't or couldn't. Needless to say check in was horrendous - lengthy queues and disorganisation ruled the day. This set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Queues and lengthy waits for everything including breakfast seating and drinks just made what should have been a relaxing break into alot of frustrating hard work.We booked a superior outside cabin which was reminiscent of a ferry cabin, and though it was clean, was very shabby and in much need of decoration and a new bathroom.We were booked into the Spey restaurant for dinner and even though on second sitting, we felt rushed all the way through. Waiters were surly and it was very difficult to attract their attention particularly at breakfast time when it was hard to get coffee and toast served in time to go with the rest of the meal.On the third morning we went into the Ballindalloch restaurant for breakfast and have to say that service was marginally better in there.Food could hardly be called 'fine dining'. It was adequate 'function catering' if rather boring - alot of it was based on roast meat and veg, starters and desserts were OK if generally tasteless. It's a pity that 'hot' food arrived at the table tepid, and cold food really was very chilled. We ate once in the Palms cafe - afternoon tea on the day of embarkation - after that we avoided it like the plague. It was noisy, tables were dirty, glass seating dividers were smeared with grease and upholstered seating was badly stained... not nice.The Captains Welcome Cocktail party was a joke - more rugby scrum mentality and shockingly bad service. The party took place in the Neptune lounge. It took us 30 mins to get a drink and no canapes got as far as the area in which we and 40 others were sitting. To us, it just felt like a 'hard sell' for tours, future cruises and of course the obligatory photo with the captain.Outside sitting areas were generally tidy and there appeared to be enough loungers and chairs, but then it was a bit breezy so maybe not everyone wanted to be outside. It did became quite difficult to move around when everyone sprawled out on loungers and grouped them together. It was also worrying to see passengers sitting in jacuzzis holding drinks in glasses, despite their being notices displayed forbidding it. Staff didn't seem to care. We will probably try cruising in the future, but definitely not with Fred Olsen. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We have just returned from a 8 day cruise on Boudicca.Embarcation port Liverpool.The cruise was wonderful.Staff could not do enough for us. The problems started when we returned to our port of embarkation.We were informed that Boudicca ... Read More
We have just returned from a 8 day cruise on Boudicca.Embarcation port Liverpool.The cruise was wonderful.Staff could not do enough for us. The problems started when we returned to our port of embarkation.We were informed that Boudicca was unable to dock due to high winds.I was on deck at this time and have to admit to feeling frightened as the vessel was listing quite dramatically.I have to agree with the decision not to attempt to enter the lock at that time. The captain informed passengers at just after midnight that we would try again in 8 hours time.The following morning I looked on the cabin television only to see that our vessel was aproaching Dublin! The captain informed us that we were docking in Dublin as this was the nearest available port. No tugs in Hoyhead.The passengers to whom I spoke thought that Boudicca had diverted to Dublin becouse the vessels NEXT CRUISE WAS LEAVING FROM THERE! To the credit of Fred Olsen staff were most helpful. We travelled home via Holyhead on Stena Line ferries. We were accomodated in a most luxurious 5 star hotel, with meals and a show. Thank you Mr Olsen! Most passengers travelled back via air .We arrived back in Liverpool on the Monday afternoon having been delayed by 30 hours.Will we travel with Fred Olsen again? Yes .However we would not travel from Liverpool again.There are rumours of a disagreement between Fred Olsen and the port of Liverpool. Next year Fred has no sailings from the port! We were throughly exhausted upon return home. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
Departed on 23 April 2011 from Southampton, having stayed on the previous night at the Dolphin Hotel. For anyone cruising from Southampton, this is a cheap and cheerful option due to it's location and car-parking deal, but not ... Read More
Departed on 23 April 2011 from Southampton, having stayed on the previous night at the Dolphin Hotel. For anyone cruising from Southampton, this is a cheap and cheerful option due to it's location and car-parking deal, but not it's breakfast on the day we were there. Our cabin on deck 8 was lovely and much larger than we expected - after paying half- price upgrade in January. No bath, but the shower space was comfortable and the shower was a good strong one. We had a double bed, covered with two single quilts when we arrived. We requested a double quilt which was duly delivered, albeit on Day 2 of the trip.We had breakfast delivered to our room on all but two days, because we like to start our day in the comfort of our cabin, but did enjoy the breakfast in the main restaurant as well. The food we had throughout the trip was excellent and I found that I had the 'dish of the Day' on about 5 days, which included typical English fayre such as Cottage Pie and Fish Pie, which were very tasty. We also found that the portions were more than adequate, especially in light of the number of courses offered.We also felt that Casablanca was a disappointment, but we only went into the Town and not on a trip, so I can't comment on the experiences of thosebwho did. I have been to Gibraltar before but still enjoyed our independent visit here. We took a trip to Jerez when we visited Cadiz, visiting the Tio Pepe Bodego. The tourbaround Jerez itself was cut short because of the weather (agreed by all), but I felt that this trip was expensive for what was included. This w the only trip we took because we had to pay a fuel surcharge within a couple of weeks of paying our final balance. This was particularly galling as we had to pay much more due to our taking advantage of the upgrade offer.Lisbon was also a great independent visit, and we felt quite pleased with ourselves using the Metro, which was really cheap and so quick, it took us less than five minutes from the Centre back to the Ship. We were disappointed when we found that we were not visiting Portamao, as this was one reason for selecting this itinerary, but it gives us an excuse to make another trip!Embarkation was ordered and reasonably quick, but the disembarkation was the best we have ever had. We were at breakfast at 7.25 and back at our hotel in the town centre by 8.15 - fantastically well organised!All in all a great time. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
We were on deck four on an inside cabin. The noise and vibration were terrible.The walls shook.The bed shook. We had to wrap the glasses and cups in a towel to stop them from banging together and smashing. We asked to be moved and were put ... Read More
We were on deck four on an inside cabin. The noise and vibration were terrible.The walls shook.The bed shook. We had to wrap the glasses and cups in a towel to stop them from banging together and smashing. We asked to be moved and were put down on deck two in an outside cabin. Just as bad but at least we had a port hole. They did provide ear plugs but still got headache from the vibration. I got into the habit of sleeping on the top deck in the day and staying awake at night. Even at three in the morning you can't find peace. They have piped music all over the ship. The food was ok.Some passengers thought it was good. Not up to the standard of a Princess cruise. Very limited selection for my wife who is a vegetarian. Entertainment was average with the crew doing about 40% of the shows. They had a classical guitarist, a classical violinist and a comedian. Staff were very good and friendly couldn't fault them at all. Cabin was clean and kept to a high standard. If you do go on this ship. Go as high as you can afford and towards the front of the ship. Every where else really is very noisy and vibrating. I thought it was fairly calm but quiet a few passengers and crew suffered with sea sickness. Trying to find some good points. The embarkation was smooth and well organised. Better that Princess. But all in all I wouldn't go on it again.Lots of people complained we weren't in port long enough to do anything. Half day stops. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
We thoroughly enjoyed this, only our second, cruise. We were particularly lucky in that our dining arrangements, in the Grampian Restaurant, were with two other couples with whom we got on extremely well. We had really great fun at ... Read More
We thoroughly enjoyed this, only our second, cruise. We were particularly lucky in that our dining arrangements, in the Grampian Restaurant, were with two other couples with whom we got on extremely well. We had really great fun at mealtimes in the evening, helped no doubt by the fact that the table was hosted by an officer on each of the formal nights. The cabin was adequate. Because we had such good weather, we were able to spend most of the daylight sailing time on deck. It would not have been so good if we had wanted to spend lots of time in the cabin. I had originally wanted to go for a Marquee Deck cabin (which would have given a bigger balcony) but they did not look much better inside and the balcony can be overlooked from Deck 9. The embarcation process was relatively fast and efficient. So we did not need to wait too long in the relatively uncomfortable departure facilities at Dover. Undoubtedly one of the highlights of the cruise is the way in which the crew are so helpful and cheery (although that comment does not extend to some of the Beauty Centre staff who are of course working for a franchise). Overall, we preferred the Braemar to the Barmoral on which we had our first cruise: the only drawback being the location of the spa/fitness centre on Deck 3. We never experienced any real problem getting places to lie/sit on the Marquee Deck during the glorious weather we had for most of the cruise. Some of the shore visits were not so successful. First we visited Gibraltar on the day of the colony's National Day so all of the shops (except those selling tourist tat) were closed. The provided tour was reasonably interesting, but I'm afraid that our overall impression is that Gibraltar is a bit of a dump. Probably the best way to see it is on a shore tour from a cruise ship. The next port was Cagliari in Sardinia. We called at this port on a Sunday. Guess what, the shops were shut. Cagliari is quite pretty and has some moderately interesting things to see, but if, as here, the Cruise Company promotes the port as a shopping opportunity it does not help if there are no shops open. The next Port was Naples. We docked shortly before 1pm (when the shops closed) and had to be back on board by 5.45 (but the shops did not re-open till 4.30). Again much was made by the Cruise Company of the shopping opportunities in Naples. Our next ports of call were Civitavecchia (for Rome!) and Livorno (for Florance!). Each city is a good two hour drive from the respective port. The advance literature did, of course, make that clear, but in each case the journey took rather longer - Italian traffic - so the tours of each of those cities was somewhat rushed. In each case lunch was included. Unfortunately, in Rome it was virtually inedible and the wine provided was undrinkable! On the other hand, in Florence, not only did we dine in a splendid room in the Palazzo Borghese but the food was of a reasonable standard as was the wine. These issues are of significance because our experience of eating on Fred Olsen cruises is that the food on board is of a very high standard. But the really irritating thing about the Rome tour was the cost, £85 per head. Frankly it was a rip off. There is no doubt that the guide engaged in Rome itself was an excellent guide, but we were also provided with a separate Guide for the coach trip from the port to Rome and back. It is really not clear to us what her function was but her presence no doubt contributed to the cost. The preblem with the Florence tour was that although the literature made it clear that the tour was not suitable for passengers with limited mobility, one of the party in our group neede to use a triangular walking support and could only move at a very slow pace. This meant that the guide was constantly being asked to slow down. In consequence we were at least half an hour late in getting to the lunch venue and then the amount of free time after lunch was severely curtailed (and in Florence the shops were open!). The highlight of the port calls for uns was Elba. It is a delightful island with, of course, the historical link to Napoleon. But, as mentioned, overall we had a wonderful time on the Braemar and will certainly sail on her again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
Sailed from Liverpool A word about cruising from Liverpool... DONT!! as a "scouser", sad to say its not a pleasant experience. Held in an old portakabin , thru a derelict shed surrounded by scrap heaps and dereliction. Shocking. ... Read More
Sailed from Liverpool A word about cruising from Liverpool... DONT!! as a "scouser", sad to say its not a pleasant experience. Held in an old portakabin , thru a derelict shed surrounded by scrap heaps and dereliction. Shocking. and then the Langdon Lock. OK going. but coming back... ( see later). One thing noticable was the number of VERY elderly and variously "infirm" passengers boarding. I am no spring chicken but I have never seen so many and it made for slow progress on board ( cannot imagine what it would be like in an emergency) I know everybody it entitled to cruise but this bordered on the very risky for some passengers.. if not all! Once on board, sorting the cabin, going thru the emergency drill, and waiting to meet up with some friends, have missed lunch we went for something to eat. First problem. The emergency drill was timed to co-incide with afternoon tea (Great planning Fred!). and nothing available except tea and biscuits..No thanks , after hours travelling chekcing in , queing etc, I wanted a sandwich, at the very least. Amazing!! After some strong "requesting , we got two small ones!! This strange way of timing food availability continued throughout the cruise. Unilke any cruise I have ever had before, there was no "open" eating. There were gaps , so if you missed lunch, or afternoon tea, for whatever reason, you had to wait for the next area/session to open. (except for tea and biscuits of course). I do not wish to eat 24/7 but this seemed a very arbitrary way of making food available (or not as the case may be) The meals and service was very variable, some meals and service were excellent , others not so good. but never bad. Well sometimes service was bad with long waits for, say coffee at breakfast, toast, wine, bread rolls etc. Staff generally were ok, with the exception of some at the reception staff whose enthusiasm and mastery of the Engish language were less than impressive. Entertainment was good. and the on board production team were very good, excellent at times and very friendly at all times. One significant negative was NOROVIRUS. We were warned by letter just before departing of an ourbreak on Boudicca en route Liverpool, and advised a deep clean would take place upon arrival Liverppol. On board there were frequent reminders to wash/disinfect and hand cleansers/disifectant dispensers were prolific. everywhere.. It was impossible to eat without first being hand cleansed by crew. not a problem. Good to see they took it seriously. Despite all these precautions, on day 3/4 we were advised that there was an outbreak and "condition red" was in force. This meant no self service, no passengers we able to self serve food or anything connected with food.. This meant long queues for breakfast, tea, sandwiches and other self service facilities. The jacuzzi's were emptied and despite constant reminders by the Captain "wash wash wash " was his mantra, the outbreak continued though no information about who , where or how the virus was located/spread, was given. As an aside the skipper was very amusing and in his dail announcements commented " we are exactly where we should be" to everybodys amusement. This was to come back and bite him later. The crew worked hard and tirelessly and they cannot be faulted in their efforts to limit the problem but this constant effort, added to the usual hard days work def seemed to ad to their sometimes negative attitude. Ports were Corunna, Vigo, Lisbon and Leixoes (15klms from Oporto. so not quite Oporto) all were ok as weather was perfect throughout the trip. For the final day/event, I cannot decide if to criticise or praise Fred Olsen. Due to high winds , on returning, we were unable to dock at the (infamous) Langton dock/lock. We awoke, early on the final morning to find we were not alongside the quay but in the middle of the Irish Sea en route Dublin For once the skipper mader no comment > no announcment now saying "we are exactly where we should be" Because were were clearly NOT where we should be. Why Dublin? Well seemingly the next cruise was due to leave from Dublin the they were clearly under some serious time constraints.(due to tide and lock issues as well as wind) Do they disembark the Liverpool bound passenger in UK and be late picking up the ourbound from Dublin or? Clearly the schedule integrity had to be maintained. But at what cost to both passenger and Fred Olsen To their credit they had overnight arranged charter flights from Dublin to Liverpool. Unfortunately many passengers were infirm and could not fly, and may other cruise because they will not fly. Despite the best efforts of the crew/info desk etc, who worked VERY hard, there were many VERY unhappy passengers. for my part it was no great problem as I dont mind flying and I appreciated their sterling efforts in organising return services but...I still feel perhaps they let the departing passengers suffer for the benefit of the passengers and schedule integrity . We finally arrived home 12 hours later after a very long and stressful day.. this followed 4 rather stressful days worrying about Norovirus. Not an ideal holiday. Cant really blame Fred Olsen for weather or virus... or can we? Why is Boudicca so prone to Norovirus? (Apparently crew dont seem to get the virus.and confidentially a crew member told me that they feel it may be something in the books/library or even the cabins, and being pre warned by Olsen ( correctly) we took precautions , brought our own strong spray disifectant and wiped all cabin surfaces , door handles, tv controls etc etc BEFORE we actually used the cabin. Might be wise for all to do the same. I should stress that none of our friends suffered from the problem and we were both cautious and constantly reminded by the crew to "wash wash wash" but.. should we have to?? I really feel Fded Olsen try very hard in a very competetive market and like them ... but!! I would say the vessel itself, Boudicca is a great sea boat. She travels well and looks good. Far better than any of the more modern "floating blocks of flats" In fact, I love the ship but will not go on her again unless and until they resolve the Norovirus problems. One final comment on the facilities at Liverpool Langton Dock on departure, and arrival back at Liverpool Airport. Sorry to say Both were very poor. VERY poor indeed. But if we dont tell them , they wont get better. Read Less
Sail Date April 2010
From a cruise we expect good quality food,hate buffets, good entertainment, good value for money. Friendly and helpful staff Sailed 5th Sept 09, Meditarian Western. Ship sailed approx 4 hours late, due to bad weather. Embarkation no one ... Read More
From a cruise we expect good quality food,hate buffets, good entertainment, good value for money. Friendly and helpful staff Sailed 5th Sept 09, Meditarian Western. Ship sailed approx 4 hours late, due to bad weather. Embarkation no one told us what the procedure was. 1st morning at breakfast the waiters didn't make any indication if waiter service, kept on pointing to the buffet. Noticed a menu so asked the waiter if we could order, he seemed put out, the food that eventually came was not edible. Same attitude for lunch the turkey that was presented was totally raw on the inside, so in the end we tried the buffet which was great if you like salads but the cooked food was very dry and tasteless. The evening meals were only ok some good and bad days. If you are vegetarian I am sorry but the menu is very limited even for meat eaters. Lots of fish some good and bad! If you like buffets then this could be your sort of cruise. The entertainment of a day was very limited, if you like a quiz or bridge, bingo, The entertainment of an evening was good but sometimes you could not get in the Coral Club as the ist sitting people would not move! I was worried about the health & Safety for the Neptune Lounge if the Breamar had a fire it would be very difficult to get out. They have added extra chairs which means you have difficulty in accessing the exits. Not sure why H & S have not picked up on this as there are many elderly people on this ship who have difficulty in walking. Staff some were excellent and some didn't give a dam, the waiter service standards were very poor compared to PO cruises. I think the reason for this is no one is checking what they do, also there is not enough staff now they have increased passenger numbers. Food is not replaced as quick from the buffet service. Also note ordering food from you cabin can take over 30 minutes and is not always what you have ordered. Also if you missed breakfast after 10 am then the only food you can get is biscuits and cake but are limited, once they have gone you will not get anything until the buffet at 12.00. The tea machine from the palms cafe kept on breaking down and running out of spoons.     Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
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