4 Dover to Baltic Sea Fred. Olsen Balmoral Cruise Reviews

Although first impressions are good I was very disapointed overall in my experience as a first time cruiser on the Balmoral. My cabin, a superior single on the Lido deck, may be described as 'tired'. Surfaces worn, a drawer ... Read More
Although first impressions are good I was very disapointed overall in my experience as a first time cruiser on the Balmoral. My cabin, a superior single on the Lido deck, may be described as 'tired'. Surfaces worn, a drawer chipped and the bathroom poorly patched up (when I entered the cabin there was a rust hole at the bottom of the metal bath panel which was dealt with at some time during the voyage). I was particularly concerned about the position of the television and its tangle of wiring in relation to the only possible place to use the electric kettle.I may also say that the position of the bedside light in relation to the way the bed was laid out (pillows at the far end of the bed adjacent to the outside door) meant that the bed was fine during the day for lounging or watching television but in order to read in bed I had to set the bedding out the other way round at night.The door to the balcony wouldn't remain completely closed since, even though locked, the catch would slip and there was considerable wind noise, which was rather disturbing.I had expected excellent food in the Spey restarant, this surely is one of the high spots of any cruise. I have to say that in some cases it was hardly better than superior school dinners! Neither pork nor the chicken tasted of anything. I did have some acceptable meals there but the quality was very uneven. The Palms Cafe was better, at least one could see in advance what was on offer and choose accordingly. In addition the service at times was rushed. On the penultimate night plates were being removed from our table and the next course brought while some of us were still eating. The waiters also clearly forgot to ask for our orders for pudding. The restaurant was also very noisy. I have good hearing but at times it was difficult to have a conversation because of the noise from other tables. My elderly father who is rather deaf (I was travelling with my parents) found it impossible.I also have to say that the whole dressing up in DJs for men on four evenings was completely unnecessary and pretentious. I just looked in on the entertainment since nothing appealed. The ports' lecturer was terrible. I could have done better with a quick look at Wikipedia and other internet sites. He was really just advertising the excursions. The guest lecturer, a retired MEP was a bit better. Excursions were generally ok but highly priced and most satisfactory were the trips out I made on my own in Tallin and elsewhere. It was a waste of money to do both the coach panorama trip around St Petersburg and the Waterways tour but the trip to the Palaces of the Romanovs with the opportunity to see the suburbs and countryside around St Petersburg was good and the restoration work after the destruction by the Germans, extremely impressive.I was surprised by just how elderly and infirm many passengers were and at 65 I was one of the younger ones. It is clear that this ship or this cruise line appeals to the Daily Mail reader. That was the daily internet produced newspaper paper available and the paper that headed the list in the survey of passengers. I left the comedian's performance when he started telling jokes about immigrant benefit scroungers.This trip was my first experience of cruising. There were many things that I enjoyed about the experience but most of those are not related to the ship or its facilities. In all this cruise cost me getting on for £4,500 including the fuel surcharge. I don't regard that as good value for money and I will certainly not be recommending Fred Olsen cruise lines to friends.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Our cruise commenced from Dover, Kent.England. This was a 15 night cruise to Spitzbergen taking in the sights of the Norwegian Fjords. As our cruise ship was smaller than the main lines we were able to cruise the Inside Passage in calm ... Read More
Our cruise commenced from Dover, Kent.England. This was a 15 night cruise to Spitzbergen taking in the sights of the Norwegian Fjords. As our cruise ship was smaller than the main lines we were able to cruise the Inside Passage in calm waters and see such stunning scenery. Our Captain was Norwegian and very familiar with the waters and took us into some extremely interesting fjords, e,g. Troll Fjord which was so pretty. We stopped at 6 ports on this itinerary and they were as follows. Narvik We decided to go on Tour A, which was sightseeing in Narvik. We visited the Commonwealth Graves and in particular paid tribute to the British memorial. There were also memorials for Poland, France and Germany. After a brief journey around the town we went to the War Museum. It is a small museum but very interesting. You are given a booklet which explains everything in English. The cost to enter is 5 Krone but they will accept payment in Euro's and Sterling. Narvik is a nice little town and worth a visit. Shuttle buses were provided at a cost of £5 for unlimited travel all morning. Honingsvag This translated means Honey Bay. We took a walk up the high street and popped into a couple of shops. Honingsvag has an Icebar which may be worth a visit. There is also a nice little church at the end of the high street. The souvenir shop and museum is right next to the pier. It is quite a nice shop as they go and the prices are not horrendous. We went on a ship's tour of Megaroy Island. We first stopped off at a tradition reindeer farm and see the family in traditional clothing , their tents and of course reindeer. After this we visited two fishing villages, one of them called Skasveg. In Skasveg we went to the Christmas House and had some gluhwein and traditional Christmas cake which was nice. The Christmas House is also a Christmas gift shop which is nice. As we toured the villages it was interesting looking at the houses and seeing the fish hanging off the roofs. The Norwegian people are so friendly and talkative. The houses are beautiful and very colourful. Longyearbyen We decided to walk into town. We visited the Svalbard Museum . The entrance fee was 75 Krone. The museum told the history of the island and the wildlife. It was very good and well worth a visit. After the museum we did a bit of shopping, most of which is tax free. The prices are very good considering we are in the middle of nowhere. Of course we had to pop into the bar for an arctic beer. A reindeer wondered into town, but there are no sightings of polar bears. The Church on the hill is also worth a visit. We also got some good views of the glaciers. We wrapped up warm to go into town, I wish we hadn't. It is so warm, especially when that sun is shining. I telephoned home, the signal is very good. Also in one the cafe's they offer free wifi. Ny Alesund This is a science and nature research centre, 600 miles from the North Pole. The last inhabited place before the North Pole. It is a bit desolate but in many ways very nice. We were able to walk around the centre as long as we stayed on the authorised track. We got to see some huskies, arctic foxes and Arctic Tern's. Those who went too close to the nests of the Arctic Tern's were attacked on the head by the Tern's. Those who were attacked deserved it as they ignored instructions and were seen by the Tern's as threatening. Ny Alesund is the base camp of Roald Amundsen as he began his trek to the North Pole. There is a small souvenir shop and post office open to cruise passengers. Tromso We are a 30 minute walk from town. A shuttle bus has been laid on at a cost of £5.00 for unlimited use. We went to the Polaria Centre. This is well worth a visit. There is a slide show on the Northern Lights, A Navigation Simulator, A multi Screen film on Spitsbergen, An area that rein acts life in the Arctic. It can get cold and then there is the Aquarium and seal pool. This place is well worth a visit. I wish we stayed longer. I bought the video of the film show we saw, it was spectacular. We then went on a Cable Car ride up the hills, mountains and saw some spectacular views. It is a lovely area to go for a gentle walk. Finally we had a sightseeing tour of town. A good tour and well worth the money. Bergen We are doing a tour on the Old and New Bergen. Bergen is a beautiful city. The buildings are outstanding and well worth a visit. Our tour took us just outside Bergen. We visited several islands, my particular favourite was Oen. The views were magnificent. We also visited The West Coastal Museum were we were served pancakes and coffee. The museum was OK. I wouldn't go to it again. We also visited a local gas refinery station. Bergen is so beautiful and I intend to visit this city again someday. Although it was not a Port Call we visited the Magdalenfjord. Surrounded by glaciers. This place is so beautiful. In the distance we can see reindeer, unfortunately no Polar Bears. We also passed by Bear Island on two occasions, on both days it was shrouded in fog and mist. Facilities Room 9089 We had a Superior outside balcony cabin. The room was spacious and light. The bed was a large double although it can be split into single beds. There were 2 armchairs and a table. There are two large wardrobes with plenty of drawers. Each side of the bed are two bedside lockers with 3 drawers and light and radio control buttons. There is a safe provide, as well as tea and coffee faculties , hairdryer and Television which had Sky News, Sky Sports News, BBC World, MSNBC, a British News text service, Fred Olsen promo channel, a movie channel and FO!, the online service for checking your account and booking excursions and room service. A very good system by far the best I have seen on any cruise line yet. The bathroom had a full size bath and shower. Two sets of toiletries were provided in a nice gift back. Bath Wash and Shower gel are also provided, the brand is Cole & Lewis. Pool towels are also provided in the room. The balcony was a fair size, but not the biggest I have ever had. It had two chairs, a sun lounger and a table. We spent plenty of time out there. The only downside to this balcony is as it is the end cabin the right hand side is a glass wall as opposed to a plastic screen. This means anyone on deck 10 looking over could see you. So this is a little bit of a privacy issue there. It didn't bother us. Also the other problem is that at the Aft of Deck 7,8,9 on the starboard side is the smoking area and sometimes the smoke waft's into the balcony. It didn't bother us but I can see that it could others. Our Stewardess was Malou. She was very friendly and helpful. She looked after us very well. Internet Room There are 12 Pac's and one printer. You have to swipe your key card to gain entry. You are charged roughly 40p per minute for use. The charging system is calculated on the amount of information you download. There is an onscreen notification of the cost of your usage as you go along. The speed is not too bad. The room is nice and quiet. I didn't see anyone in the room who would be able to assist you if a problem arose. Neptune Lounge This is the main Showtime are. It is a fair size room. There is a small stage and a dance floor. However when the shows begin the dance floor raises to create a larger stage. So one word of warning, it doesn't pay to grab the front row seats as you will have to look up at the show so it could hurt your neck. Lido Lounge This is the second showcase area, smaller than the Neptune Lounge. This is were the quizzes are held as well as the Wii games, line dancing and dolphin racing. The dolphin races enable you to bet a £1 a time on a race. I was lucky to win some big money, £6. The Lido Lounge is also home to the Roulette and Black Jack Tables. I went to the teaching classes they provided which were informative. On sea days the tables are open in the afternoon and "Happy Hour" is in place meaning the minimum amount to bet is halved. Library This is a nice quiet room with plenty of seating with good views. The library is well stocked up with books of all sorts to read. It is here that you can also collect the Daily News newspaper. Card Room This is adjoining the library and had quite a few tables. There were daily whist and bridge games carried out. Arts and Crafts Room This is situated on Deck 3. It is a nice fair sized room. The arts and craft classes charge an additional fee of £1.20/£1.50 per session, but this included everything you needed to make your craft items. This room also doubled up as the Table Tennis room. Morning Light Pub This is a nice place to have a drink. There is entertainment in the pub. During our cruise it was a duo called Overeasy Duo. They could not sing. Everytime they came on we had to leave the room. Avon/Spey Restaurant These restaurant's are on Deck Ten and offer some wonderful views. We ate in these restaurants for our evening meal on table 337. It was a table for 2. The waiter was Putu. He always had a smile and was very friendly. Ballindoch Restaurant This is on Deck 6 and is the main dining of the ship. Marquee Bar This is a small bar next to the Observatory Lounge. It is also the place for morning and afternoon tea. Observatory Lounge This is on Deck 11 and has the best views of the ship. Each night the pianist Jacqueline Waugh played. It was a nice peaceful place to be for a drink. Palms Cafe This is open for breakfast, morning tea. Lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and the supper club. I found it to be a very spacious and very nicely laid out cafe. We ate here on a number of occasions. Fitness Centre This is adjoining the Atlantis Spa. I never visited this facility. Swimming Pools. There are two sea water pools which are heated at 27.5 degrees each day. There are Jacuzzis next to the pools. Laundrette There are two launderettes' on board, one on deck 3 and the other on Deck 9. The cost is £2 a go and tokens are obtained from the reception. The Launderette offer good facilities which also include irons. Hand Wash There is plenty of hand wash all over the ship. You can not miss it. As you enter food places staff make sure you get a squirt. What amazes me are the few who are determined to avoid them altogether. They don't care about the effects of Norovirus. Lifts There are plenty of lifts to get you between decks. One world of warning if you are a wheelchair user. For some reason the lift doors close a bit too quick and it is possible to get trapped. One lady we spoke to got her arm caught and as a result got a nasty gash. Apparently the same thing happened on the previous cruise. Tax Free Fred Olsen arranged for the Norwegian Customs authorities to come on board at the last port of visit to arrange for the repayment of the tax paid on the tax free goods. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
We sailed from Dover in very warm sunshine and calm seas. The "Balmoral" is an older ship but had been well maintained over the years. There were approximately 1300 passengers on board, most of whom were British. The officers are ... Read More
We sailed from Dover in very warm sunshine and calm seas. The "Balmoral" is an older ship but had been well maintained over the years. There were approximately 1300 passengers on board, most of whom were British. The officers are mostly European with a superb Master, Captain Olav Sovdsnes. The staff is multi-national with the domestic members mainly from the Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and India. The entertainment staff were mostly European and of those most were British. As with all Fred. Olsen ships the standard of service was excellent. Excellent service with a smile. The food was very good with a wide choice and many Norwegian items on the menu. Wine was very attractively priced and there were some good wines on their list. Bar prices were very reasonable indeed. The daytime entertainment followed the normal pattern with deck games, bingo etc. There were some first-class lecturers on board who gave presentations on a wide range of subjects. There also classical recitals which were excellent but too few in numbers. I was in a K grade single cabin on deck 4. It is 165 square feet and with a (large) single bed was very spacious. The large picture window added to the value of the cabin. There was a safe, a more than adequate shower room (sadly no bath tub)and effective and easily controlled air conditioning. The interactive TV was useful if only to keep a check on your on-board spending! The first port of call was Narvik and we expected to sail to there direct. However, the Captain took us on the scenic route of the "inside passage" which afforded us some glorious scenery all the way North. The increasing length of days added to the enjoyment and when we crossed the Arctic Circle we had 24 hour daylight. The Midnight Sun was awe-inspiring and high point of the cruise. Narvik with its long history was an interesting port of call as was Honningsvag, the gateway to the North Cape. We proceeded even further North to Svalbard the archipelago which is the most Northern part of Norway. In the largest island, Spitzbergen we called at Longyearbyen and the outpost of Ny Alesund - both great experiences. On the way home we visited Tromso and Bergen, both towns if great interest and no little beauty. Norway is a beautiful country with friendly and hospitable people. This was a really good cruise. It is a great way to see the great beauty of the Norwegian coast. We were also blessed with lovely weather and calm seas. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
hi there i thought i would do a review of my cruise. BOOKING i booked this as a group cruise. i managed to get a share in an outside cabin which saved me £100. EMBARKATION i got train from waterloo east to dover priory where a free ... Read More
hi there i thought i would do a review of my cruise. BOOKING i booked this as a group cruise. i managed to get a share in an outside cabin which saved me £100. EMBARKATION i got train from waterloo east to dover priory where a free shuttle bus was waiting to take me to the cruise terminal. the newer terminal terminal 2 was used. i entered and filling out form to say i have not been ill. i went upstairs to go through x ray and check in. there was only a short queue for check in. i told them that i had the only ticket, they said when he turned up he would be allowed onboard. after having my picture taken i entered the ship showing my cruise card. then was told where my cabin was. CABIN i had 4136 on coral deck 4 i entered to to find mike's bag already there. a large cabin with a picture window and another locked window inside spoiling the view a bit. loads of drawer space much more than both of us needed. nice size bathroom with a shower, a safe that did not seem to work! after meeting mike my cabinmate who seemed very nice. we saw our stewardess NOON who i told about the safe. they got some batteries and it was up and running. MEET AND GREET as i had a welcome aboard at 1800 i had a quick meet in the observatory lounge with a few couples which was very nice. WELCOME ABOARD at 1800 a welcome aboard was arrange from ships monthly at the lido lounge with wine and canapes which was a nice way of meeting the other 39 in our group. DINING at 1830 1st sitting we went to deck 6 the BALLINDAROCK RESTAURANT we all were seated together which was good. the food was nice, the waiter was very helpful TEN. but they were trying to push the bottled water a bit. later we all got tap water which was free. i ordered a bottles of wine which was cheaper than a glass of wine everynight, as mike did not want any wine. we had 2 formal nights,1 western, 1 british night and 1 casual. there was turkey served and christmas pudding and the baked alaska parade which is always worth seeing. the creme brulee was ok but not as good as others i have had. i went to the buffet in palms cafe one night it was indian buffet which was nice. there were 6 of us there. for breakfast there was open sitting in palms cafe and ballindarock restaurant both doing a buffet. the other 2 restaurants spey and avon we did not try. they had the swiss muesli in the dining room it was good but not as good as i have made at home(there was something missin) EXCURSIONS the ones they had for AAHUS did not look very good but through SHIPS MONTHLY we got a free excursion in each port. AAHUS we had a trip to eemshaven to see the wooden frigate that was the highlight. unlike the christmas market that was the LOWLIGHT. as it was dark only a few stalls there and a few old houses to look at. we did not want to wait another hour to get on the coach. so we made our way back to the ship on our own. HAMBURG we did a did on a steamship and the refrigerator ship CAP SAN DEIGO i thought it was an english tour but it was a self guided one. AMSTERDAM we had a canal trip and saw a lot, the captain had great sense of humour and was passed very close to our ship. ENTERTAINMENT was 1st rate DON REID comedian was good, as was ANDREW ROBLEY thew singer. the highlight was DOMINIC HALPIN AND THE HONEY BEES a fantastic group. the production show i missed but hear it was not the best dave SHOPS not a great selection of souvenirs, no t shirts with the ship on, no pin badges. or the key ring with the ship on i got on the braemar. PHOTOS good selection but no prices up 8.95 for most but portaits were 19.99. the dvd wasc good value though. MY THOUGHTS i love the ship after hearing many mixed reviews she was very easy to get around,. shame we could not get a bridge tour though Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
Balmoral Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 3.9
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.6
Family 2.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 5.0 3.4
Service 5.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 3.8

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click