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11 Dover to Canary Islands Cruise Reviews

I boarded the ship at Doper which is the most convenient cruise port for me. I parked my car in the port which efficiently organised. After check-in I boarded immediately and my luggage followed only a few minutes after. It was one of the ... Read More
I boarded the ship at Doper which is the most convenient cruise port for me. I parked my car in the port which efficiently organised. After check-in I boarded immediately and my luggage followed only a few minutes after. It was one of the quickest start to a cruise I have experienced and I have taken 40+ cruises. Our cruise took us to three of the islands in the Azores, Madeira, Lisbon and Oporto. The "Balmoral" is a fine ship and looks to be in a very good condition. I still have some difficulty in recognizing the the grey hull livery. I expect I will accept it in due course. I had a single outside cabin on deck 4 which is ideal fro my needs. It had a picture window, effective air conditioning and was spacious. There was plenty of storage, in fact enough for two on this relatively short cruise. The safe and the tea/coffee facilities was additional benefits. The cabin was serviced twice daily and kept in good condition. I dined in the Avon restaurant on deck 10 which is an ideal place. The food was very good as was the service. I ate in the Spey and Ballindalloch restaurants for the occasional lunch and breakfast. The Palms Cafe was ideal for coffee, afternoon tea and the occasional speciality night, sadly only one on this cruise. The daytime activities followed the normal pattern. Some of the lecturers were very good indeed. The occasional classical concerts were first class. The evening cabarets in the Neptune lounge were very good with the Balmoral Show Company performances and, of course, the Crew Show outstanding. One of the strong points of Fred. Olsen cruising is the high quality of their staff.They are efficient, friendly and cheerful. I booked excursions for all ports of call. Those in the Azores and Madeira were excellent mainly because I chose take 4x4 (Land Rover) trips which meant there was a driver cum guide and 3 or 4 passengers. We visited sites which were inaccessible to coaches and taxis so we saw something of the real life of these islands. We sailed from the UK in warm sunshine but sadly on the voyage South the weather was disappointingly damp, grey and windy. The sea was occasionally choppy but nothing to upset all but the inevitable few. The weather in the Azores was mixed but didn't spoil the visit. In Madeira, Lisbon and Oporto we rediscovers the sun. The return voage to dover was on calm seas. Overall, it was a good cruise on my favourite ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
This was our very first cruise and we loved every aspect of it! Saga really look after their passengers. The pick up and journey to Dover was excellent, as was the embarkation organisation and process. Our cabin was lovely, kept ... Read More
This was our very first cruise and we loved every aspect of it! Saga really look after their passengers. The pick up and journey to Dover was excellent, as was the embarkation organisation and process. Our cabin was lovely, kept beautifully clean by Willy, our cabin steward. The food was excellent and so was the service. The All Inclusive package was very very good. I would although have liked fizzy wine included too. The entertainment was really fabulous and actually our favourite part. We would pay to see those shows! They all are extremely talented and give 100% on and off stage. The live band are fantastic too. We particularly enjoyed participating in the passenger choir with the professional vocalists, Hannah, Michelle and Kurt. We loved the atmosphere and friendliness onboard the ship. Disembarkation and our journey home was also very efficient. We would definitely recommend and will be booking again. Happy customers! Read Less
Sail Date December 2015
First ever cruise and we were very happy overall. We selected Fred Olsen as the passengers seemed to be of the age group that suited us best. I would say the best way to describe the cruise would be "comfortable with a little splash ... Read More
First ever cruise and we were very happy overall. We selected Fred Olsen as the passengers seemed to be of the age group that suited us best. I would say the best way to describe the cruise would be "comfortable with a little splash of luxury". It was amusing to be in the library and hear the daily symphony of snoring, or see that false teeth were not an obstacle to eating, sadly worrying was that it was like looking at your future. There was a slight air of nursing home. All that said it was clean and with good staff. Plenty to do all day long, and generally well organised. Highlight for me was seeing Des O`Connor, an excellent entertainer. I did find that you go on a cruise to cruise. I really don`t think you can honestly say you see much of the places you visit, with shore excursions being a bit expensive. The one sad thing was at the end of the cruise the organising did appear to break down a little. One passengers wife was taken to hospital in Tenerife and he appeared to have had little help from the port agent and minimum from Fred Olsen at the time we spoke to him. I did not like this, especially as ever noon the captains broadcast reminded us "to take care of one another" , and these are overall elderly passengers. Be warned, shop around to get the best price for any cruise. The old sea dogs we spoke to bagged the same cruise as us in a better cabin, paying 50% less for a drinks package for half what we paid for the cruise, transfers and return journey!! No wonder they slept so contentedly. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
This was our first time with Fred Olsen and cruising on a smaller ship. First impressions were that it was almost exclusively British and was like a larger ship in miniature, making it easy to find the main areas quickly. The standard of ... Read More
This was our first time with Fred Olsen and cruising on a smaller ship. First impressions were that it was almost exclusively British and was like a larger ship in miniature, making it easy to find the main areas quickly. The standard of food was very high, probably the best we have had on a cruise. Cabin seemed no different to others we have been in on other much larger ship and there was no exotic towel folding to admire. The ships compact nature and friendly atmosphere meant that it was easy and natural to have chats in passing with many other passengers over the course of the cruise. Not so impersonal as other much larger ships. The crew were mostly from the Philippines and always gave the impression that it was a pleasure to serve you. You take a chance with the weather at this time of year, and it delivered some of its worst with 2 days of force 9 gales and rain in the destination ports. The first couple of sea days on board were very peaceful with most passengers having taken to their cabins and the restaurants being less than half full. I have read elsewhere that Braemar may be susceptible to the effects of bad weather but it was certainly spectacular to witness the seas splashing up as far as the deck 8 observation lounge. However, all in all, we enjoyed the Olsen experience and would definitely consider them again for another cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
After travelling with royal Caribbean we were very disappointed at how we think there standards have lowered. There have been lots of cuts overall. We travelled on the independence first time in 2008 and and it was first class since then ... Read More
After travelling with royal Caribbean we were very disappointed at how we think there standards have lowered. There have been lots of cuts overall. We travelled on the independence first time in 2008 and and it was first class since then all of main holidays have been on royal Caribbean our next will be a beach! Here's a run down of our holiday. Check in was very well organised and being platinum travellers very quick no problems there. Once on board we discovered they now have and all-inclusive premium drinks package which we decided to take up which included all cocktails, beers, champagne cocktails and house wine. Very good at first until we realised they had stopped promoting most of there cocktails by not putting out menus on display (possibly to cut down costs) Also the waiters only had there eyes on the single paying guests who were tipping! hence to say we did not get waited on anywhere throughout most of the cruise. We had to go and wait at the bar or sit and waits ages twisting out heads and waving out arms!! Wasn't allowed to order another drink cause i had half drink in my glass was told twice that they only serve one at time! did they not realise we had to wait ages in between!! and I'm sure if we were not package this would not be the case!! Found a lot of guests on board rude! Room was nice and clean but toilet smelt constantly of urine! attendant was lovely and polite and went out of his way to says hello all the time. Nice big balcony with sun beds. They have cut down on the towel animals you get in the room 2 per cruise now opposed to one a day! OK you may say but having two children who used to love going back to the cabin to find out what we had today was very disappointing. Ice show tickets queued and were gone in an hour or so waste of my time, when complained at guest relations go the reply well there is nearly 4000 people on they ship! apparently nothing they could do. next day we received a private viewing of the other ice show because we were platinum guests but not because we complained no mention of this the day before. Dining, not bad not great. We had my time and once we were in a regular place was good service with the waiters. on one side the waiter was not listening to us i.e. we would say no white wine and he would pour it and keep walking of before we had finished speaking hence to say he did not know what were requesting. Food was mostly nice found towards the end of the cruise meat was highly salted and not very nice, Had to back some dry fish and some meals bit dry no gravy, overall 50 50. Snacks great in the cafe promenade and sorrentos loved the pies however don't think they should heat up the pork pies!! Tables constantly dirty and had a job finding a clean one at times in sorrentos. Portofinos murder mystery entertainment great food was outstanding!! Pool area hard to find a bed unless very early we did not use the pool very much as weather was bad hate to think if it was sunny!. first time in the pool my sons shorts were covered in paint! they washed for us got most out didn't bother going back as were cheap but should of. Drinks and plates were hardly ever picked up we had to take them back ourselves and stack them up!! no one walking around serving drinks. (usually loads of people). Kids club activities excellent, kids loved them had a few problems with older child and some other children not really sorted out, Our was given time out for not listening a few times most of what he said was not his fault other children talking to him act but who knows? ( we know there was a lot of kids and they need to keep control) over all though very pleased younger son loved it staff were good. Son cut his arm on a arcade machine that had button came off they just said do you want to go to the medic. Entertainment very good loved the morning show i took part in the thriller dance which i didn't know what it was at the beginning. Production Shows good even though they have not changed in 4 years!! only saw some headliners as not what we really liked. team good. Overall queued a lot for things staff not great a few stroppy attendants in the casino! a lady from the barbers crying in the toilets to another member of staff about how she did not want to smile and pretend to people! Pianist in schooners friendly but not very exciting music bit dull and overheard him saying to others guests it was his last cruise and couldn't wait to get off! asked for drinks all the time. Guest relations not great found the man quite rude and condescending . When did complain on number of things he often shrugged his shoulders told us it was due to cut backs! One time i left my card in the room got another one went up to room it did not work tried several times , Went ll the way back down asked to check he said well there is no reason it shouldn't work!! What was i stupid?? We were booking another cruise with friends but am not so sure if we receive they type of holiday. We normally recommend to friends saying its 5 star now we would not! Read Less
Sail Date March 2012
We returned last week from a Canaries Cruise on board Fred. Olsen's 'Braemar'. Let me say straight away that we have cruised many times before over the last fifteen years, including all of Fred. Olsen's ships, so we ... Read More
We returned last week from a Canaries Cruise on board Fred. Olsen's 'Braemar'. Let me say straight away that we have cruised many times before over the last fifteen years, including all of Fred. Olsen's ships, so we speak from experience. Overall we had a lovely relaxing cruise. First the positives. Our cabin (inside, Atlantic Deck) was surprisingly spacious given that it was low grade, clean and very quiet. The bathroom was small and a bit the worse for wear but everything worked well. As always the ship's staff were incredibly friendly, and some cruisers shed tears when they said goodbye on the last night! The food was great, amongst the best we've had on any cruise and certainly better than P. & O. in the last two years. We lunched and dined in the main restaurant (Thistle) and a couple of times had fish and chips on deck in the Marquee Bar. No complaints at all. On board currency was sterling and prices about the same as UK Pub prices - £3.10 for a pint of Boddingtons or Stella and cocktails about £4.50. Reasonable wines varied between £14 and £25. The Braemar Show Company were up there with the best we have seen on ships, and other entertainers were good too. Now the negatives. The ship is showing its age in places. It's certainly not the 'rust bucket' previous reviewers have alluded to, but it does look tired in places. If you want 'swish and snazzy' then this is not for you. The Neptune Show Lounge is terrible, with no stage and seats crammed in. If you're not in the front row you will see very little. In theory, first sitting diners choose from one of two shows each night, in the Coral Club and Neptune, followed by second sitting diners (as we were). In practice the first seating diners started in the Coral Lounge then got to the Neptune for the second show, meaning that second sitting diners never get a good seat for the show. The passenger profile on Fred. Olsen cruises is older, but on this cruise was ancient! We weren't told that it was a KENT Active Retirement Association chartered cruise with just a few of us extras to make up the numbers. Average age looked about 75 and of course most people came with groups so it was very difficult to break in to established friendships. We changed our dinner table because our fellow KENTARA diners did not want anything to do with us. And boy could they moan! This nearly took the edge off our cruise. Shame on you Fred. Olsen for not making this clear when we booked. The on board shop is small and was always in a mess, leaving us to climb over Hoovers and boxes to get near perfumes etc. We felt that we were an inconvenience. Despite all this we had a lovely cruise - we went for sun and relaxation and we had loads of both. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
As Newbies (new to cruising and new to dancing) we booked this cruise specifically to learn to improve our dancing with Warren Bullock and Jane Phillips of Zig Zag dance factory.We didn't expect to be able to dance with dance ... Read More
As Newbies (new to cruising and new to dancing) we booked this cruise specifically to learn to improve our dancing with Warren Bullock and Jane Phillips of Zig Zag dance factory.We didn't expect to be able to dance with dance instructors provided by the cruise line and even to learn line dancing with one of the entertainment team too. Each evening there was a chance to dance for at least two hours and on two occasions there was a ball , hosted by the cruise dance team which combined ballroom and Latin, sequence and some party and barn dances. although we had never danced sequence before, the hosts ensured that there were experienced dancers to lead and even some youngsters who would be more attuned to disco and club dancing joined in with the party Samba. It all meant that some days we danced for five hours (who said you put on weight on a cruise?).But on days in port, we could be totally chilled out and wander round the local area and relax in the sun. The choice really was ours to be active or relaxed as we wished. We opted for 'Freedom dining' which meant we could plan our days and not be tied to fixed meal times. It also meant we could join in with other people if we wished or spend time together on an intimate table for two. The choice of restaurants was just perfect for us as there was a specialist Indian restaurant (with lobster to die for) and an Italian trattoria. Would we cruise again? Certainly! The only decision to make is where and how soon can we go! Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
This was our 4th cruise but first on Royal Caribbean. We traveled with our 2 teenagers and 10 yr old. We flew from Hawaii to London 3 days before sailing, and saw the local sites. Booked transit to Southampton through a local travel agency ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise but first on Royal Caribbean. We traveled with our 2 teenagers and 10 yr old. We flew from Hawaii to London 3 days before sailing, and saw the local sites. Booked transit to Southampton through a local travel agency for a good price. The cruise before us was hit hard with norovirus so no one knew quite what to expect at embarkation as everything had been delayed a bit. As it turned out, I think we boarded maybe 2 hours later than normal without problem. Went right to the Windjammer and found a table, did the obligatory first day on board lunch with the honey stung chicken (which wasn't quite my thing after all)then set out to explore the ship. Along the way we were waylayed by a bar person with a bucket of drinks who was selling the new all inclusive drink packages. Doing the math in our heads, we quickly snatched them up- $29 per day for beer and wine for my husband, $39 for beer, wine and liquor for me. This was a smart investment, and we greatly enjoyed our "magic cards" all cruise long.The ship was *beautiful*, it was decorated wonderfully and everything was spick and span clean. The crew was hyper vigilant about the noro threat and had hand sanitizing stations at each doorway in public areas and they would ask each passenger upon entry if they had sanitized. Efforts paid off, as we had no outbreak on our cruise.We really enjoyed all of the entertainment venues- especially "Rock The Boat" singing rock n roll songs in the Pyramid lounge nightly, and Kory the piano man after hours. The main theatre shows were beautifully done, if a bit short lived. The ice show was *magnificent*, we saw "Strings" and the violinist was wonderful!Food- here is a mixed review. We found the main dining room food to be very disappointing compared to previous cruises. Menus seemed limited and seemedto repeat similar dishes nightly, the meat was over or under done each time we ate in there, the plates were not garnished and presentation greatly lacked. No complaints with the servers- just the food itself. We ate there the 3 formal nights (and were disappointed, no lobster??) but stuck to Windjammer or speciality restaurants the other nights. The Windjammer was very pleasing- with a large selection, I especially enjoyed the Jade side with its various Indian and Asian dishes. Johnny Rockets was fun, quite hat we expected... we also did the Murder Mystery Dinner in Portofino- our opinion was the show was lacking, and not worth the cost- but the company we met was great and the meat we had was the best of our cruise.Amazing filet and that tiramisu in a white chocolate cup... delicious!!!Quizzes on board varied in fun factor- some staff were wonderful at making everyone laugh and others not so much. Cruise Director Joff was wonderful- and hilarious!! We really enjoyed when he hosted events. My husband was one of the team leaders for The Quest and that was the most fun game of the cruise.Drinks were generally very well made. Coffee exceeded expectations based on former complaints. We brought 2 cases of bottled water on board with luggage tags and they made it fine- the ids enjoyed their soda packages and we sure enjoyed our alcohol packages so no complaints at all.Kids clubs- the 10 yr old LOVED hers, we dragged her away kicking an screaming nightly. The 17/18 yr old loved his- he was gone from embarkation until debarkation! The 13 yr old on the other hand-she was disappointed they did not keep the teens segregated as advertised, but instead the older and younger kids shared the living room space most of the time- she is a YOUNG 13, and to boot she didn't want to be around her 17/18 yr old brother. As a result she shied away from so many activities. I felt bad for her. She did enjoy ice skating, and ping pong, and the arcade and the free ice cream *a lot*!All in all we had a FABULOUS time, and we would not hesitate to sail Indy again!! Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
We chose to cruise on the Braemar for our first ever cruise as the dates suited, we loiked the idea of no flying and I thought the weather would be kind!!! Embarkation at Dover was a breeze, as suite customers we walked straight into ... Read More
We chose to cruise on the Braemar for our first ever cruise as the dates suited, we loiked the idea of no flying and I thought the weather would be kind!!! Embarkation at Dover was a breeze, as suite customers we walked straight into lunch in the Thistle restaurant then up to our suite. Loved 7043, the suite is L shaped and you can partition off the sleeping area with a curtain. Large balcony and being mid to rear seemed well placed. Lots of wardrobe space. Bathroom small but excellent shower and efficient loo! Friends had 7010 which was lovely and bright but just one room and their balcony was smaller. They were very near the front of the ship and you could feel the difference. As other posts say the first three days were rough! We did not realise how bad it was until more seasoned travellers and the crew put us right. Our friend was very poorly. At this time I thought the ship was really spacious but soon realised everyone was in bed! Gym small but good equipment. when we finally got to dry land it rained, the first week was a washout but the second week was lovely and I can see why people cruise.The sailaways were great but short and a free drink would not have gone amiss! The Braemar is a lovely ship, small but we liked that. We ate in the Grampian restaurant, 2nd sitting and were very impressed with the quality of the food and the service. Drinks reasonably priced too Entertainment was good, resident band and show company were excellent but by the end of the fortnight had heard some of the songs a few too many times...Knock three times anyone? I am nearly 50 and I doubt if there were ten people younger than me on the cruise so maybe the entertainment was set accordingly. We won a few bottles of fizz at the evening quizzes, there was a lot going on during the day as well but this seemed geared for the older element. The mobility of a lot of passengers was impaired - this was not a problem for us but there was always a queue for the lifts. In an emergency people would not be able to get out. We ended up helping quite a few people up and down steps etc as well. We explored the ports independently but friends did the tours and thought they were good. Will definitely cruise again but not for a while...would love to do the Fjords and cruisers I know say this is Fred's forte Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
This was a cruise we planned to celebrate our retirement and 40th wedding anniversary. We had done a similar 7 day cruise with Thompson 5 years ago and thought that by sailing to and from the Canaries it would be so much better. THE ... Read More
This was a cruise we planned to celebrate our retirement and 40th wedding anniversary. We had done a similar 7 day cruise with Thompson 5 years ago and thought that by sailing to and from the Canaries it would be so much better. THE HIGHS. Getting on board at Dover was so slick. They had it so well organised. Because we had booked a suite we were invited to board early to have lunch while they took our luggage to the cabin. After lunch we had time to explore before the general boarding. The cabin was nicely laid out. It was clean and the housemaid assigned to our cabin kept it very well with clean towel every day. It not really a suite. Its a cabin with a small sofa and chair with a coffee table. The balcony also had 2 chairs and a table plus 2 sun loungers. We experienced wonderful sunrises and some great sunbathing. All the staff on board were just so helpful, nothing was to much trouble. The food was good with plenty of choice of food and places to eat. The entertainment was good and varied. THE LOWS. The first thing that struck us at dinner the first night was the number of old folk on board. I guessed the average age to be 70 - 80. This is not something you would pick up on looking at the promotion videos. Sailing from the UK is the attraction (Not having to fly). We found the best way to get from one end of the ship to the other was to walk along the deck so as to avoid walking frames. The first 3 days were a nightmare as the weather was not good. The ship rolled around like a tin can. We saw a tanker sail by as steady as a rock because it was so heavy while we were rolling from side to side due to the swells. So many passengers were confined in their cabins after £40 sickness jabs. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010
Upon arrival at Dover my face immediately dropped with disappointment at the sight of the old done up converted ferry of a rust bucket that my eyes beheld, I could have cried, in fact I nearly did. I held back my tears for the sake of ... Read More
Upon arrival at Dover my face immediately dropped with disappointment at the sight of the old done up converted ferry of a rust bucket that my eyes beheld, I could have cried, in fact I nearly did. I held back my tears for the sake of my elderly mother in law, who for years has sung the praises of Fred Olsen... 'small and friendly' she calls this company and rightly so. So small but the price does not reflect this, in fact after some research when we got home it would have been cheaper on the new Cunard Queen Elizabeth and I'm sure much better value for money. Ironically we sailed past the above ship on a river cruise on the Tagus in Portugal, our last port of call....ohhhhh how I wished we could have swapped ships there and then. How this company can describe themselves as 5 star is beyond me, unless it's because 98percent of the passengers have lived through the war and rationing they think anything better than a cheese sandwich and a cream cake is gourmet dining. I suppose I have been spoiled though having been on a 'proper' cruise on a 'proper' liner before this 'Princess' no less... even after all this time I still can't quite get my head around the fact that all these old people are being conned. Friendly, yes... you see, the thing is all these older people know no better and expect no better, they think everyone's being so nice and kind to them because they are nice and kind, well they're not... for they have a hidden agenda, they want you and your hard earned cash to part company on the premise you'll get treated like royalty, and they don't do that either but the poor old dears are just oblivious and carry on in ignorance. On chatting to crew members all I have said was confirmed... they told me their selling policy and their target market of predominantly 60-90 year olds who are 'easy meat'and 'rich pickings'... SHAME ON YOU Olsen's !!! I think you ought to have two new slogan's to use... There's no fool like an old fool' and 'A fool and his money are soon parted' !!! Oh and by the way... get some stabilisers fitted to your 'rust buckets', the poor old dears might be able to enjoy themselves a bit more if you do, you never know they might even spend more on merchandise than anti sea sickness jabs or is that just another money spinner ! Read Less
Sail Date October 2010

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