8 Southampton to Europe - Western Mediterranean Fred. Olsen Balmoral Cruise Reviews

Mystery cruise was great fun ,no idea where we were going until we entered port .very well organised and the crew kept the secrets well .Fellow passengers were annoying in their determination to tell you they knew where we were going . I ... Read More
Mystery cruise was great fun ,no idea where we were going until we entered port .very well organised and the crew kept the secrets well .Fellow passengers were annoying in their determination to tell you they knew where we were going . I did not want to know and told them so .Way to many passengers were doing cruise price paid comparisons which I never understand , if you booked you must have been happy with the price you paid otherwise you would not book surely ?I think the price of extras in the ships general shop are excessive as in £5 for a standard size bar of Cadbury’s milk chocolate ,silly .service in the pub lounge was poor but the observatory bar was brilliant . The single travellers get together at the start of the cruise was a shambles and served no purpose . Balmoral is a great small ship well maintained and nicely appointed. Shame about some of the passengers !The food is 4 star country house hotel food nicely presented and good choices daily with good main course portions .The shows were very mixed but that is subjective I suspect . The classic piano recitals were superb . Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
Having cruised on P & O and enjoyed the experience, we thought that Fred Olsen with its smaller ships stopping at ports unavailable to larger ships would be better. There are many positive things to say about this cruise including the ... Read More
Having cruised on P & O and enjoyed the experience, we thought that Fred Olsen with its smaller ships stopping at ports unavailable to larger ships would be better. There are many positive things to say about this cruise including the very friendly atmosphere. The accommodation was fine, the staff were fantastic, with nothing being too much trouble. The entertainment was exceptionally good throughout the cruise. The shore excursions were somewhat hit and miss, but overall fine. The great let down was the food. The restaurant food was passable, however the buffet options were the worst that I have ever experienced. The menus suggest that for health reasons, passengers should make sure that the food was thoroughly cooked so as not to risk individuals health. Unfortunately I was unable to find a single egg which you would consider safe to eat or even hot. For those who ate in the buffet areas when they opened, the majority of the food was cold. A breakfast of partially cooked fried egg, cold beans and cold sausage and bacon is not ideal. One fantastic plus for this cruise were the Phillapean staff who were amazing. Despite a very busy working schedule - they smile Day and night. Their attention to detail and warm personalities provide the kind of atmosphere that can only be admired. We did enjoy the cruise - shame about the food. Read Less
Sail Date March 2017
Some things on the cruise were terrific. The waiting staff were. The food generally was of a high standard, at times excellent. Nothing was too much trouble and in that respect the cruise was 5 star plus. When I needed my trousers ... Read More
Some things on the cruise were terrific. The waiting staff were. The food generally was of a high standard, at times excellent. Nothing was too much trouble and in that respect the cruise was 5 star plus. When I needed my trousers repaired, the tailor appeared in moments, disappeared briefly, and reappeared with the trousers totally repaired. A lot of the staff were actually incredibly nice. In other respects it was a bit wide of the mark. The wifi was very poor, but that is being upgraded, apparently. The communal seats were sprayed with some sort of deodorant, so every time I sat on them, I had to change my trousers because they stank of something nasty. The washing machines all injected with a washing liquid automatically into the system, so after I washed my clothes, I couldn't wear them because I need a non-bio powder, and am allergic to the chemical ones. I was left with a couple of T-Shirts and a few pairs of pants that I had to recycle manually. There is a notice in the launderetter - an A4 laminated thing in black and white ink, that was stuck behind someone who was ironing- that alerts you to the fact the washing machines are self-powdered. i never saw it. Not sure I would have seen it had the person ironing not been there either. The downstairs launderette boasted 4 machines that didn't self powder...I tried one. it also automatically injected detergent. WhenI got back to the UK, I needed 5 washes to remove the strong chemicals from my clothes so that I was able to wear them again. So 10 washes in all. I raised these issues with F.Olsen, and they replied a stock reply. I pointed out that the reply was factually incorrect, and they replied that I was wrong and they were correct. I took umbrage. I wrote to their head office. They wrote back and said they were taking my complaint seriously. That was the last I heard. I could easily have gone for a 2 star rating here, but I feel that is unjust to the 1000 staff who work very hard onboard. There were other niggly things. A major problem is what happens when you dock. In Casablanca we experienced Taxi Wars. Eventually a gun toting policeman came in and starting physically fighting with the taxi drivers. A bit eyebrow raising at the best of times, even more so when you have a disabled person with you. As I waited for the scheduled bus, I was harangued and harassed by the same culprits as before...I then got totally lost in Casablanca, and ended up in the slums; as sundown approached I realized I could have a serious problem. If I had known how louche and potentially dangerous the place was, I would have been more circumspect. A decent map would not have gone amiss. I am surprised the Cruise Companies don't work together, and have a Local Guide in major ports who can handle things like....taxis...and so on. The Southampton Port Authority is a joke. Staff are rude and hostile. Lots of people were getting very irate. Don't suppose F.Olsen care, as they would say once off the ship it is not their responsibility. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
The price for two cabins were over priced as we were given cabins on the front of ship with port holes only. Cabins 5003 5001 Two Adults and three children. Cabins very dark . We were advised of children's club when booking only to ... Read More
The price for two cabins were over priced as we were given cabins on the front of ship with port holes only. Cabins 5003 5001 Two Adults and three children. Cabins very dark . We were advised of children's club when booking only to find upon our arrival on the ship that they had indeed a kids club but the children had to be accompanied by an adult at all times. Rather defeated the whole object !!!! Main Restaurant staff excellent and professional . Palm café and breakfast was very sub standard and staff tended to rush you out very quickly. Very little extras in the room other than shower gal and hand wash. The staff in the bar area 11th floor were very slow and although not busy we had to wait to be severed on and average of 25 minutes One port La Rochelle, that we arrived at, we had to wait for a shuttle bus to take us in area out of the port for one hour only to find that we had to wait another 45 minutes to get on a bus to take us into the town the day was nearly over. We had only one hour in the town centre as the boat was leaving early. We shall be looking for another cruise line next time!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We have just returned from a great cruise to the Azores & Maderia. Thoroughly enjoyed visiting some of the islands in the Azores and spending time in Maderia Cabin was very clean and comfortable even if it was an inside, not my ... Read More
We have just returned from a great cruise to the Azores & Maderia. Thoroughly enjoyed visiting some of the islands in the Azores and spending time in Maderia Cabin was very clean and comfortable even if it was an inside, not my choice but booked at the last minute (our fault) much prefer an outside. There was problems on the ship due to the Novovirus which was still evident from the previous cruise but we must congratulate the staff who worked tirelessly to ensure our cruise was as comfortable as possible. In actual fact we got spoilt by them serving us all the time even in Palms cafe. This problem did not effect our time on the ship. I must congratulate the Balmoral Show Company which put on excellent shows and also the Crews Show which was brilliant specially the engineers so funny. I will be travelling with Fred Olsen again in the future. Our stewardess was excellent in making our cabin looking clean and tidy and she always had a smile on her face. The waiters who served us in the restaurant were very polite and helpful and the drinks package good value for money. The excursions we went on were very interesting and informative but also it was nice to be able to stroll around these lovely places on your own Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Embarkation was from Southampton, following a long coach journey with Portlink (which was quite pleasant). Not an entirely smooth embarkation, passengers sat around for sometime until called by batch numbers, 20 a time. Initial ... Read More
Embarkation was from Southampton, following a long coach journey with Portlink (which was quite pleasant). Not an entirely smooth embarkation, passengers sat around for sometime until called by batch numbers, 20 a time. Initial impressions of passenger mix - mainly UK & older clientele. Although we are in our early 60s, we felt a little young - although, to be fair, many were in 60s & 70s fit & healthy...but there were a significant proportion who were 85+ (regular medical emergencies happened throughout the cruise). Cabin was a bit of a squeeze, but sufficient storage & wardrobe space. However, soundproofing was poor - you could clearly hear neighbours' conversations. Cabin steward very good. Ship's facilities were very good for a medium sized ship, easy to get around, signposted quite well & stable ship. Several bars / lounges / good library. Crew were well organised. Quite a few spaces outside, sun deck, promenade deck, & tiered stern for quiet (if cramped) areas. Food was of average to good standard UK fayre, reasonable variety with efficient dining rooms + buffet at Palm's cafe, which we used for lunches. Dining room staff were attentive & efficient; good basic variety of wines. Entertainment was UK style shows, although the crew show was better than the professional company...demonstrating a rather talented crew, especially the engine room guys who were an absolute hoot! Standard fayre for organisation & information. Docking & free time excellent. A variety of tours were available, enjoyed the visit to Mini-Hollywood, where they film the spaghetti westerns. As mentioned, this was a themed cruise...& I undertook art classes under the tuition of Maurice Greenwood who inspired us to produce our own styles of watercolours...very gentle approach, fun & learned a great deal for someone who had never painted before! Overall, fair value for money with lots of daytime activities. Read Less
Sail Date May 2012
Myself and my husband are brand new to cruising and thought we would try a mini cruise to 'test the water'. Fred Olsen was recommended by (an older) relative, as it is a smaller ship and not overun by kids.Perhaps our ... Read More
Myself and my husband are brand new to cruising and thought we would try a mini cruise to 'test the water'. Fred Olsen was recommended by (an older) relative, as it is a smaller ship and not overun by kids.Perhaps our expectations of a cruise were too high, but speaking with other new cruisers who were doing the same as us on this 'taster weekend', I don't think so. This was Fred Olsen's opportunity to capture a new market and they failed miserably.Firstly admin: I had to call Fred Olsen twice to tell them that we hadn't received our tickets and in the end were issued with an e-ticket. They managed to send the bill to the right address so why not the tickets?The ship was delayed getting into port so embarkation was delayed by 3 hours. Fortunately we were emailed by FO to alert us to this so didn't leave home until later in the day, but many passengers didn't or couldn't. Needless to say check in was horrendous - lengthy queues and disorganisation ruled the day. This set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Queues and lengthy waits for everything including breakfast seating and drinks just made what should have been a relaxing break into alot of frustrating hard work.We booked a superior outside cabin which was reminiscent of a ferry cabin, and though it was clean, was very shabby and in much need of decoration and a new bathroom.We were booked into the Spey restaurant for dinner and even though on second sitting, we felt rushed all the way through. Waiters were surly and it was very difficult to attract their attention particularly at breakfast time when it was hard to get coffee and toast served in time to go with the rest of the meal.On the third morning we went into the Ballindalloch restaurant for breakfast and have to say that service was marginally better in there.Food could hardly be called 'fine dining'. It was adequate 'function catering' if rather boring - alot of it was based on roast meat and veg, starters and desserts were OK if generally tasteless. It's a pity that 'hot' food arrived at the table tepid, and cold food really was very chilled. We ate once in the Palms cafe - afternoon tea on the day of embarkation - after that we avoided it like the plague. It was noisy, tables were dirty, glass seating dividers were smeared with grease and upholstered seating was badly stained... not nice.The Captains Welcome Cocktail party was a joke - more rugby scrum mentality and shockingly bad service. The party took place in the Neptune lounge. It took us 30 mins to get a drink and no canapes got as far as the area in which we and 40 others were sitting. To us, it just felt like a 'hard sell' for tours, future cruises and of course the obligatory photo with the captain.Outside sitting areas were generally tidy and there appeared to be enough loungers and chairs, but then it was a bit breezy so maybe not everyone wanted to be outside. It did became quite difficult to move around when everyone sprawled out on loungers and grouped them together. It was also worrying to see passengers sitting in jacuzzis holding drinks in glasses, despite their being notices displayed forbidding it. Staff didn't seem to care. We will probably try cruising in the future, but definitely not with Fred Olsen. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Departed on 23 April 2011 from Southampton, having stayed on the previous night at the Dolphin Hotel. For anyone cruising from Southampton, this is a cheap and cheerful option due to it's location and car-parking deal, but not ... Read More
Departed on 23 April 2011 from Southampton, having stayed on the previous night at the Dolphin Hotel. For anyone cruising from Southampton, this is a cheap and cheerful option due to it's location and car-parking deal, but not it's breakfast on the day we were there. Our cabin on deck 8 was lovely and much larger than we expected - after paying half- price upgrade in January. No bath, but the shower space was comfortable and the shower was a good strong one. We had a double bed, covered with two single quilts when we arrived. We requested a double quilt which was duly delivered, albeit on Day 2 of the trip.We had breakfast delivered to our room on all but two days, because we like to start our day in the comfort of our cabin, but did enjoy the breakfast in the main restaurant as well. The food we had throughout the trip was excellent and I found that I had the 'dish of the Day' on about 5 days, which included typical English fayre such as Cottage Pie and Fish Pie, which were very tasty. We also found that the portions were more than adequate, especially in light of the number of courses offered.We also felt that Casablanca was a disappointment, but we only went into the Town and not on a trip, so I can't comment on the experiences of thosebwho did. I have been to Gibraltar before but still enjoyed our independent visit here. We took a trip to Jerez when we visited Cadiz, visiting the Tio Pepe Bodego. The tourbaround Jerez itself was cut short because of the weather (agreed by all), but I felt that this trip was expensive for what was included. This w the only trip we took because we had to pay a fuel surcharge within a couple of weeks of paying our final balance. This was particularly galling as we had to pay much more due to our taking advantage of the upgrade offer.Lisbon was also a great independent visit, and we felt quite pleased with ourselves using the Metro, which was really cheap and so quick, it took us less than five minutes from the Centre back to the Ship. We were disappointed when we found that we were not visiting Portamao, as this was one reason for selecting this itinerary, but it gives us an excuse to make another trip!Embarkation was ordered and reasonably quick, but the disembarkation was the best we have ever had. We were at breakfast at 7.25 and back at our hotel in the town centre by 8.15 - fantastically well organised!All in all a great time. Read Less
Sail Date April 2011
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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