6 Dover to Europe - British Isles & Western Fred. Olsen Balmoral Cruise Reviews

First time with Fred Olsen and got a great saver deal. Sailing from Dover was so easy with excellent parking arrangements at the port and easy embarkation. This smaller ship is has a very friendly crew and staff. Excellent shows and ... Read More
First time with Fred Olsen and got a great saver deal. Sailing from Dover was so easy with excellent parking arrangements at the port and easy embarkation. This smaller ship is has a very friendly crew and staff. Excellent shows and entertainers in the bars and loung areas. Drinks and spa treatments are a reasonable price - much better than any other cruise line I have been with. Five course evening meals were excellent and although the size of buffet seemed small at lunch and in the cafe - actually the range of food on offer was good and quality good. Shore excursions were reasonable and shuttle bus service cheaper than other cruises. Disappointed that only got one full day in each port in spite staying overnight but it was very pleasant gliding down the Seine and watching the world go by. As it was half term, there was a kids club on board. Really, really enjoyed the trip and would go with Fred Olsen again. Overall it was an excellent break. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Embarkation went smoothly. Entertainment team good. Meals in main restaurant good. Palms cafe under staffed and food ok. At times very unclear where soup, gravy was being served and under staffed, no clear direction. The lounge areas I ... Read More
Embarkation went smoothly. Entertainment team good. Meals in main restaurant good. Palms cafe under staffed and food ok. At times very unclear where soup, gravy was being served and under staffed, no clear direction. The lounge areas I felt were under staffed, on several occasions after waiting to be served then had to wait up to 15 mins or more for our drinks, which necessitated me having to check that we had not been forgotten. Cabin corridors dents and marks on walls, pool loungers shabby, seen better days and overall appearance of a 3 star hotel, definitely not worth the price we paid. Disembarkation was a shambles with many elderly folk having to stand for an hour or more which I found unacceptable, not enough seats for them to sit on. Excursions we felt were very expensive. Did not feel,we had value for money. This was my first cruise with Fred Olsen and was expecting something better doubt if we will cruise with them again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
ISLANDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES CRUISE - L1009 Booking We booked this last minute deal with Fred Olsen Cruises on Balmoral just 3-4 weeks before we were due to sail. We were taken by the itinerary as we have always wanted to go to the ... Read More
ISLANDS OF THE BRITISH ISLES CRUISE - L1009 Booking We booked this last minute deal with Fred Olsen Cruises on Balmoral just 3-4 weeks before we were due to sail. We were taken by the itinerary as we have always wanted to go to the Isle of Man and the Orkney Islands. The price was good and the tickets and cruise details arrived very quickly. Once the tickets arrived we found we had been allocated an inside cabin on deck 8 and a second sitting table in the Ballindalloch restaurant. Travel and Embarkation We pre-booked to leave the car at the offsite Relyon car park, which we eventually found after following a long diversion. Then it was a short coach transfer to the Port of Dover. The embarkation process went like clockwork and before long we were boarding the ship. We found our cabin (8009), freshened up and went up to the Palms Cafe for afternoon tea and a drink. Our cases arrived quickly, we unpacked and then went up to the promenade deck to watch as we sailed away from Dover. We cast off from the quay at around 5.30 pm. Our first impressions of Balmoral were that it was very clean and well looked after ship. Cabin Cabin 8009 is a twin bedded inside cabin on deck 8. There was more than enough space for all of our clothes. The cabin was of a good size, larger than on some cruises I have been on, and had a bath with a shower. The cabin contained all we needed - Interactive TV, Tea making facilities, Safe, Radio, Hairdryer, Telephone, Complementary toiletries etc. Our cabin stewardess was very thorough and anything you requested she provided. The cabin was cleaned and tidied in the morning and the beds turned down in the evening. Dining and Drinks We ate in the main Ballindalloch restaurant every evening and were allocated a table for 8. The food was of a good standard as was the wine selection. We chose a selection of Rose and Red wines during the cruise which were all nice and very reasonably priced. We all got on very well with our table companions and the conversations flowed nicely. We ate our breakfasts and lunches in the Palms Cafe each day where there was a very good selection on offer. Drinks and wine were reasonable priced, for example a G&T was £3, and wines started at £12.75 a bottle. Ports of Call We visited St Peter Port - Guernsey, Dublin - Eire, Douglas - Isle of Man, Greenock - Scotland, Kirkwall - Orkney Isles, and Invergordon - Scotland. We pre-booked tours to Loch Lomond, an Orkney Island Tour at Kirkwall and a tour to Loch Ness. These were all very good and all fairly good value for money. The best tour by far, in my opinion, was the Orkney tour. The Orkneys are now on our list for a longer holiday in the next couple of years. Staff All the staff that we came across on the cruise were polite and smart. Our table waiter was pleasant and helpful, as was our cabin stewardess. The drinks service at most of the bars and theatres was good, although it sometimes took a while to get served. Entertainment We went along to see most of the theatre shows which were all high quality and the normal mixture of show songs, tribute shows, and musical numbers. The violinist was excellent and the musicians in general were very good. We spent a couple of evenings in the Observatory listening to the pianist, who was again very good. Disembarkation We arrived back at Dover at approx 6am and the first passengers started to disembark at 8am. We disembarked in deck order and deck 8 was called at 8.20am. All went very smoothly, as did our minibus transfer back to the Relyon car park. Overall A well run ship which offers good value for money, good quality food & entertainment, and friendly & helpful staff. We visited great ports and had reasonably good weather. In comparison with other recent cruises we found the average age of passengers a little higher on Balmoral although this could be due to the itinerary. Additionally, the day time activities were less comprehensive than with other cruise lines. There were no real negatives on this great cruise, which was made all the better by our visit to the Orkney Isles and the great company of the people we met on board and dined with. Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
First timers with Fred Olsen Line This was our 12th cruise and the first one with Fred Olsen on the Balmoral.We selected this cruise because we wanted to sail from Dover/Southampton and avoid the present problems associated with flying. ... Read More
First timers with Fred Olsen Line This was our 12th cruise and the first one with Fred Olsen on the Balmoral.We selected this cruise because we wanted to sail from Dover/Southampton and avoid the present problems associated with flying. The checking in procedure was brilliant, we were invited for lunch on the Balmoral prior to departure which was a lovely touch and were in our junior balcony suite with our luggage waiting by 2.30pm. The size (more cupboard and drawer space than any other ship ever),decor,cleanliness and layout of the cabin was very good and the bath tub with shower was an added bonus. The balcony also was larger than most of the ones on other ships. Our stewardess was very helpful on the few occasion's we asked for something and the fresh flowers and fruit placed in our cabin made us feel special. Although the in-service cabin menu had a limited selection, when we did order food it was delivered very quickly and was excellent. In cabin tea and coffee making facilities was another great service not often supplied by cruise liners Our request to change our evening dining to 2nd sitting and to have a table for 2 was done immediately. We dined in the Avon restaurant which had wall to ceiling windows which made the outlook breathtaking. The food was very good,the menu changed daily and there was sufficient variety to suit everyone.This high quality food was served in all three restaurants. Our waiters (Nestor and Roland) were from the Philippines and they gave excellent service, were courteous,efficient and sometimes very funny. The main reason we selected this cruise was the itinerary as there were many ports of call we had never visited especially the ones in Scotland. We booked our excursions prior to departure via the internet. All excursions started and finished on time and were good value for money. My husband and I are in our early 70's and are both in good health, it appeared that over half the passengers were aged over 60 years and a number had mobility problems. Fred Olsen crew were marvelous to those passengers who needed assistance on the excursions especially when the trips needed tenders to get off and on the Balmoral. No wonder many of the passengers are repeat cruisers. The evening entertainment was excellent and as well as the two formal evenings there was also a "western evening" where the crew put on a show and a "British evening" with a sing a long and lots of flag waving. There was no casino as such on board just one blackjack table and a roulette table but these did not appear to be very popular anyway. This is the only cruise line we have travelled with who have not automatically deducted gratuities from your on-board account but allow the passenger to decide the remuneration. This in fact resulted in us giving more to the ones who had given us a good service. Also all drinks were as cheap as chips!. What wonderful value for money Read Less
Sail Date July 2010
As a regular cruiser with Fred. Olsen having taken several longer cruises eg sectors of the world cruise I decided to take a festive short cruise to escape the Winter weather in the UK. It was my third cruise on the "Balmoral" ... Read More
As a regular cruiser with Fred. Olsen having taken several longer cruises eg sectors of the world cruise I decided to take a festive short cruise to escape the Winter weather in the UK. It was my third cruise on the "Balmoral" and it still impresses me as a real ship compared with the floating blocks of flats which seems to be the model for modern cruise ships. The ship is well maintained although, being an old vessel, it occasionally has its problems. Getting to Dover to board the ship had its problems due to the closure of the Channel Tunnel and the consequent traffic problems on the motorway leading to the port. The ship was tastefully decorated for the Christmas season and the atmosphere was really festive. Christmas was very traditional with carol services, a visit from Santa Claus (mainly for the children on board !) and festive fare in the restaurants. New Year was equally enjoyable. On New Year's Eve there was a splendid banquet which included haggis and a "wee dram". After this meal there was an entertaining cabaret in the Neptune Lounge. Towards midnight the deck party really came to life with champagne flowing, lots of music and general enjoyment to welcome the year 2010. The ship's first port of call was scheduled to be Leixoes (Oporto) but due to rough seas the port was closed and the call cancelled. In succession we visited Funchal (Madeira), Santa Cruz (La Palma), Fuerteventura, Las Palmas (Gran Canaria), Arrecife (Lanzarote) and Santa Cruz (Tenerife). We were blessed with fine weather, warm enough for the odd swim in the sea as well as in one of the ship's pools. In the early days of the cruise the seas were relatively smooth as we crossed the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay. As we sailed down the coast of Portugal we were met with some rough Atlantic weather. The ship rode the waves pretty well. The cruise was enhanced by the performance of the crew and the staff. The Captain led the way with enthusiasm and he mixed well with the passengers. The Cruise Director worked hard and kept the entertainment going. The "domestic" staff, as usual, were great. They come from the Third World, mainly Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and India and with their courtesy, efficiency and smiling faces make it a pleasure to travel with them. The entertainers were good and I was particularly impressed by most of the performances of the Balmoral singers and dancers. The crew show (which I did not attend) was, apparently, as good as ever. On the downside, the ship had a serious outbreak of the gastro-bug (Norovirus) which struck down more than 200 people. From speaking to some of the sufferers they were treated by the medical staff with great professionalism. Overall I enjoyed the cruise and look forward to joining the "Black Watch" (and possibly the "Balmoral") in 2010. Read Less
Sail Date December 2009
My husband booked a weekend cruise on The Balmoral to celebrate my 30th birthday we sailed from Dover to Belgium on a 2 night trip. We are seasoned cruisers and have travelled previously on Princess, RCI, NCL and Costa so are quite ... Read More
My husband booked a weekend cruise on The Balmoral to celebrate my 30th birthday we sailed from Dover to Belgium on a 2 night trip. We are seasoned cruisers and have travelled previously on Princess, RCI, NCL and Costa so are quite experienced with regards to service, food and entertainment and The Balmoral didn t dissapoint. Embarkation.Embarkation was organised and fairly easy what did dissapoint is when we got on board and went for lunch. Afternoon tea was being served in the Plams Cafe and Neptune Lounge with sandwiches and cakes on offer what was strange was the waiters/waitress were serving the sandwiches and cakes and you were given very limited amounts as they obviously didn t have enough for veryone on board. It made you feel like you had to constantly ask for more food which wasn t a great start to our mini cruise. Getting from the car park to the cruise terminal was a nightmare one mini bus taking 6 people at a time huge queues no communication from staff, appalling our advice WALK in will be much quicker for you! The life boat drill was awful disorganised, long and lack of communication from staff meant people were getting restless and angry, the worst drill we have ever experienced.Cabin.We stayed in an inside cabin in the middle section of the ship which is the new section which was perfectly acceptable with the largest bathroom we ve had on any ship and we usually stay in balcony cabins. Service was from our steward was good although we didn t actually them so couldn t thank them personally as we didn t know who they were.Food & Drink.Food was good however the menu in the main restaurant offered lamb and beef and no chicken dish on our 2 night cruise which I found quite strange as I don t eat red meat which was slightly dissapointing. Food is of course down to personal taste Ive personally eaten from menu s that are more to my liking however my husband thoroughly enjoyed it. The daily late night buffet was great for a snack before bedtime especially if you were on early dinner seating and felt a little peckish lots of choice of both hot and cold. Alcohol was reasonably priced costing £2.55 fr a pint of lager and £3.00 for a tall glass of pimms and cocktails around £3.50 I can recommend the Chi Chi cocktail if you like coconut!Entertainment.This was the area that didn t meet our expectations compared with previous cruises we have been on. The theatre was small and entertainment amateur and not to the standard of other cruise lines however, the evening quizes in the pub were fun followed by the disco in the observation lounge which had great views out to sea whilst dancing the night away.Service.Service overall was good the first day/evening wasn t great but it did improve considerably on the second day of our cruise.Port.Our only port of call was Antwerp in Belgium my husband had pre booked a trip which unfortunately was cancelled due to lack of numbers. What was dissapointing was out of the 6 trips offered in there brochure only 2 of the 6 were running. However Antwerp is a very pretty town and we decided to do our own thing and walk around and enjoy the culture and what Antwerp had to offer so it probably worked out for the best for us especially as the excursions are so expensive.Overall we had a very pleasant trip on the balmoral she is a small ship compared to what we are used to and we are not sure if we could stay on her longer than a short break because we are in our thirties we prefer to have the option of more activities and restaurants. One tip if you are thinking of cruising on her choose a cabin in the middle (new) section as we walked past other older cabins we noticed they were not to the standard of our cabin. We would definietly cruise on her again for a short break great value for money and no complaints. Read Less
Sail Date May 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

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