We joined the ship in Liverpool which is very convenient for us as we live locally, so as we only needed luggage for one week, we were able to get the bus into Liverpool. Apart from the proximity of the port we always like to sail from ... Read More
We joined the ship in Liverpool which is very convenient for us as we live locally, so as we only needed luggage for one week, we were able to get the bus into Liverpool. Apart from the proximity of the port we always like to sail from Liverpool as the terminal is in the city centre so there is no need to sit and wait for embarkation. As usual we went over fairly early in the afternoon, dropped off our cases and checked in and asked about what time we would be able to board the ship. Then we went off into the town to buy some bottled water for the cruise and have a stroll around. On our return we were able to go straight on board and our cases were ready waiting for us.
This cruise was around Ireland and had four ports, with two days in Dublin, so there was just one sea day, which was good from our perspective. We had an outside cabin on deck four which I will review below, though I must say here that we had a lot of problems with the air conditioning which was not able to make the temperature any lower than 23C at a minimum and was frequently higher than that even when turned down to the lowest temperature setting. It was also very noisy. We complained, but they could not improve the situation, so we decided to cope with it as the ship was fairly full and there were no other problems with the cabin and it was well placed. We have found that there have been problems with inefficient air conditioning on our last three Fred cruises. Our cabin stewardess was excellent (cabin 4044)
The ship was in fairly decent condition for it’s age, but we do not like some aspects of the design, particularly the position of the pool deck, as it was necessary to go through the Neptune lounge to get there and If something was happening in the Neptune the only access to the rest of the ship was via the deck above or below. There was also no outside bar on pool deck, so bar service could be slow. Also the Secret Garden self service restaurant is not big enough for the number of passengers. This is important as the only alternative for dinner was a set early or late sitting and also they closed the main restaurants for breakfast at 9.30am some days, leaving a queue outside The Secret Garden, even coming up to its closing time of 10.00am.
The service from the staff was excellent as usual, both in the restaurants and the bars. We do not often go to the shows or use the daytime activities, but enjoy the lounge musicians. On this cruise there was a very good Rosario trio in the Secret Garden Lounge and a good pianist in the observation lounge. On the first night we stayed up for what was billed as the late night disco, starting at 11pm in the Lido lounge and a good atmosphere was obtained there, though at one stage it did look as though the ballroom dancers were going to take over. That did seem very unfair as they had had the chance to dance during much of the earlier night in the Neptune lounge and The Lido had featured 50’s music prior to 11.00pm. Various requests, put what was billed as a disco back on track. For the rest of the cruise the late entertainment in the Lido was often things like Karaoke or game show type entertainments, so there was no further opportunity for disco dancing unfortunately. The musicians in the Lido, where the Mardi Gras Duo, who were not very good and Colin James, who was good, but who tended to do nothing more modern that rock and roll. We do find Fred’s entertainments very disappointing in that respect, especially when you consider that people who were in their teens in the fifties are now well in their mid seventies. I am not suggesting that they should not cater for ballroom dancing and rock and roll, but do not see why that should be to the exclusion of anything more modern. Fred’s passengers are older than average compared to other cruises, but many are below seventy five!
The cold food buffets for breakfast and lunch were quite good, but the dinner’s (particularly the hot food) was quite poor at times. The soups were largely tasteless and, for instance, carrot and coriander showed no sign of either carrot or coriander. A chicken curry turned out to be a piece of hard, previously cooked chicken with a curry sauce spooned on top and a salmon pasta was pasta with a sauce and an extremely hard, dry almost crispy, overcooked piece of salmon just put on top. Some other things were OK, but I would not have called anything I had particularly good, which is a great shame as one thing Fred could always be relied upon for was good food.
Overall, I would say we enjoyed the cruise, but largely because of the ports, rather than the cruise experience. At least Fred still go to less visited ports which we appreciate. Read Less