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

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
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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