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48 Southampton to France Cruise Reviews

We chose this ship because we have a world cruise booked on her in January 2020 (she was the only P&O ship available for a world cruise). We wanted to test the water so to speak by booking this 3 day mini cruise where we had the same ... Read More
We chose this ship because we have a world cruise booked on her in January 2020 (she was the only P&O ship available for a world cruise). We wanted to test the water so to speak by booking this 3 day mini cruise where we had the same cabin we have booked on the world cruise. We were very pleasantly surprised, Arcadia is a lovely ship, smaller in size than we are accustomed to but we actually preferred it. It's much friendlier than larger ships where you actually talk to someone and then run in to them again on another day! The organization from embarkation through to disembarkation including a trip ashore by tender was amazing and hassle-free. The cabin (de luxe balcony) was very clean and comfortable, the entertainment was fabulous and the staff were always very polite and couldn't do enough to please. To be honest we weren't too impressed with the quality of the food in the Meridian restaurant although it was quite acceptable and I also found that the air conditioning throughout the ship was a bit severe. We were unable to turn it off in the cabin and there was no dressing gown provided, but to be fair I am a person who feels the cold very much and absolutely hates air conditioning. Nothing is ever perfect and this ship is the closest you will get I'm sure and we can't wait to sail on her again in January. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We headed to Southampton on a bright autumn afternoon - looking forward to our 16th cruise on our largest ship to date. We entered the port of Southampton via dock gate 8 - dock gate 8 is near the holiday inn - it can be tricky to find ... Read More
We headed to Southampton on a bright autumn afternoon - looking forward to our 16th cruise on our largest ship to date. We entered the port of Southampton via dock gate 8 - dock gate 8 is near the holiday inn - it can be tricky to find as the sgins are not clear. AB Parking were on duty at the city cruise terminal - as it was a short cruise it was self parking - we got a great space close to the terminal. In my opinion the staff were not as jolly as the CPS (cruise and passenger services) staff who service the carnival ships (p and o etc ) There were no porters around to take luggage - as it was just 3 nights we carried our bags on with us. At City Cruise Terminal security is done first then check in - so there is a fair bit of queing in the first instance but once the security is out of the way check in and embarkation were swift with the whole process taking less than 45 mins. We had a balcony cabin on deck 7 and we had ordered the anniversary room decorations which were in place for our arrival - I think RCI are the only cruise line to offer room decoration packages for special occasions and they were great - we got pillow cases, beach towel, photo frames and more to take home. We had pre ordered the soft drink package and the souvenirs cups were waiting in the cabin for us. The cabin was lovely and the bed comfortable - this was one of the nicest cabins we have had in our cruising "career" even the hair dryer was acceptable and the shower had proper shower doors rather just a curtain. We met our friends in the Windjammer buffet and enjoyed lunch - be careful of the burgers that have sat around .... I was sick on the first night after eating them and had to miss dinner ... Something I have never ever had to do. There was a strange and unusual mix of fellow cruisers as two separate companies were holding their annual conferences aboard, on embarkation day the vessel seemed very over crowded - and the crowd very over excited. INDIE as she is known by regular cruisers is really more suited to warmer climates the indoor venues are too small for the vast number of bodies on board. For Northern Europe I would recommend ships with sliding roofs over the swimming pools. Dinner reservations made on the online system for our two parties for my time dining had not made onto the ships system - they accomadated our party with a table for 5 second sitting in the king Lear restaurant deck 5. Food was acceptable but nothing special - not a patch on Fred Olsen for example - however they are cooking for a vast and wild number of people. Lobster etc is at a surcharge. Staff were very friendly, attentive and helpful possibly more so than any other line we have been on, possibly because of the very wide range of nationalities (our waitress was Chinese) Johnny Rockets was a lot of fun at a surcharge of £6.95 Sorrentos pizza was FAB. The ice show and GREECE were both amazing, the best we have seen on board ships with on pitch singing at all times !! We had an elderly lady of 88 with us using a "whizzy" small compact mobility scooter - it was accomadated everywhere. At The port of zeebrugge my friend and I used the Cruise Express into Brugges which was accessed by taking the port shuttle (free) at the bottom of the gang plank to the port gate - this is provided by the port not the line - we pre booked our tickets using Viator website. Be wary of using the other bus service to Brugges which waits at the bottom of the gang plank as it is unreliable and there were many worried people clutching raffle tickets waiting for it in Brugges. My husband went on a private battlefield tour with Andre from The Dugout BnB in Ypres - he collected my husband and gave him a private tour for 150.00 euro - the ships battlefield tours are usually very interesting too. At the port of Le Harve - we took the RCI transfer to Honfleur - a beautiful little Norman town well worth the visit - don't stay in Le Harve it is an industrial port town flattened in World War Two, but the Norman countryside including pont du normandie are well worth seeing. Disembarkation was swift and painless - we choose self disembarkation before 7am - I recommend this if you are able to carry your own luggage. In summary - an enjoyable "cruise fix" at half term and a useful insight into how large resort ships compare to our usual choices of adults only medium - small size ships. Probably not a great reflection of RCI cruises - the short cruises never give a true picture and the conferences on board may have affected the demographic. Nappy changing in the spinnaker bar during the evening quiz (which we won) was revolting and there were rowdy noisy balcony antics in the early hours of the morning - but this might be down to the conferences and relatively low price - regardless of this it was great value for money and our whole party enjoyed themselves. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
Short break. Old ship but friendly and very clean Adapted cabin Well positioned Close to lift.. Twin beds . Bed next to window very cold. Impossible to sleep even with extra quilts and heating full on plus very noisy children ... Read More
Short break. Old ship but friendly and very clean Adapted cabin Well positioned Close to lift.. Twin beds . Bed next to window very cold. Impossible to sleep even with extra quilts and heating full on plus very noisy children running up and down corridor till early hours.. Cabin basic but shower suitable for disabled. Food good in Ballindoloch restaurant but strangely no vegetables included. Buffet Very good in Avon and Spey restaurants Entertainment .Lots of noisy screeching and manic dancing.. Not to our taste. We love the headliners on P &O Ballroom dancing between shows very pleasant but spoiled by young children racing around dance floor. Very dangerous. Nobody stopped them.. There was a disco on another deck and they could have had their own fun and games but nothing was organised . No separate pool for adults only and a visit to jaccuzi in beautiful sunshine spoiled by lots of children jumping in and out. They were completely out of control and again nobody stopped them. We were very disappointed and abandoned it. My wife is disabled and it was too risky. Honfleur very pleasant , beautiful weather. Would only go again on an adult only cruise . On other ships they have a kids club and their own programme and it is not a problem. We love kids but not running wild. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
I wanted to go to Paris from Le. Harve. Also wanted to go to Amsterdam . Paris tour was wonderful. Our driver took us to all the main sites then we had free time in Paris. The weather was glorious for October, best tour ever. ... Read More
I wanted to go to Paris from Le. Harve. Also wanted to go to Amsterdam . Paris tour was wonderful. Our driver took us to all the main sites then we had free time in Paris. The weather was glorious for October, best tour ever. Amsterdam also good. Azura is a lovely ship. I love the cinema open air and the lovely blankets you can wrap in. Loved the feel of the ship and going again at Christmas on her. The cabin we got although just an inside was spacious and the stewards very attentive. Loved every moment. Azura is fun, beautiful and well designed I like all the rooms and love the sea screen on the top of the ship . I also like to be around the adult pool area. I like the pizza and burger bar on the top deck for snacks and the general feel of all public areas. Only down side was have seen all the theatre acts before but we have been on 17 cruises with P and O so to be expected I suppose. Overall please give this lovely ship a try. Read Less
Sail Date October 2016
we chose this short cruise for the entertainment it being a 60s cruise which was excellent. afraid it stops there, the food in the buffet was very good but the seating arrangement was not good to say the least the tables were much too ... Read More
we chose this short cruise for the entertainment it being a 60s cruise which was excellent. afraid it stops there, the food in the buffet was very good but the seating arrangement was not good to say the least the tables were much too close together it resembled a school canteen. the evening food was over cooked and quite boring,we requested a table for 6 or 8 and got a table for 2 squashed between two tables of 4,it was so close the waiter had to lean over diners heads to serve .Our drinks took 40 minutes one night to arrive as there were not enough waiters. we usually cruise 2 to 3 times a year and this was our first and last Celebrity cruise. we should have taken more time to read the reviews before we booked still the groups were amazing. the sunset balcony room was ok. not a patch on P& O or Cunard. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
This was our first ever cruise. We chose the 4 nights trip from Southampton to Zeebrugge and then the trip to St Peter Port (Guernsey) returning to Southampton. We upgraded to deck 11 and had a lovely balcony in a luxurious state room. Our ... Read More
This was our first ever cruise. We chose the 4 nights trip from Southampton to Zeebrugge and then the trip to St Peter Port (Guernsey) returning to Southampton. We upgraded to deck 11 and had a lovely balcony in a luxurious state room. Our room number was 11074 and we were travelling with family who had rooms 11070 & 11064. We found the service and the facilities perfect. The crew were exceptional and made us feel so much at home and relaxed. Evening meals in the Britannia Restaurant was magical and it was a lovely touch that the waiters all stand in a line at the doorway in to greet you when you arrive each evening. Food in every Restaurant was absolutely brilliant and we all ate like kings for our whole voyage. The evening shows were superb as was the Planetarium show. If I had to say a negative about the cruise it was the very expensive alcohol on board. We really spent far to much money on this and really should have brought more with us to reduce the costing. The fact of the matter is that you pay extortionate prices for all drinks and then to slap you really hard in the face they then add on a Compulsory Automatic Service Charge. On our first night we selected two bottles of wine one Red & One White. The two bottles came to $112:50 and then they added on the Service Charge $16:88 which gave us a total of $129:38. This was far to much and kind of set the theme with costing which made us feel uneasy with Cunard and this policy. Even if you went to the bar yourself and bought two pints of draught San Miguel this would set you back $14:95 which included the service charge of $1:95. Not sure how they get away with this extra costing. One tip we took from friends was to visit the Pursers office when we first got on board and we requested they remove the Automatic Gratuity they put on each day. If we had not done this then the 6 of us would have had to have found between us approx. £300 sterling. Anyway forgetting the moan about the extra chargers we did have a great time and enjoyed a wonderful opulent experience. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
We had a week aboard the Britannia along with my elderly parents who had never cruised before. We had been a little concerned having read previous reviews, but went with an open mind. The ship itself is spacious, spotlessly clean and ... Read More
We had a week aboard the Britannia along with my elderly parents who had never cruised before. We had been a little concerned having read previous reviews, but went with an open mind. The ship itself is spacious, spotlessly clean and very well laid out. We were all able to find our way around it quickly. The concerns around the lack of stairs mid-ship were well founded, but I would say that even with my Mother who is a wheelchair user, coped well. Although it would have been even better if some impatient able-bodied people had not been so keen to push their way in front of her to access the lifts. We used first-sitting in the Oriental at night which suited us well. Food was lovely and the waiters professional and friendly. It was a pleasure to eat each evening. We also used the Horizon buffet during the daytime, again the food here was hot and varied. One evening we ate in the Limelight club where we saw Eric and Ern. It was a great evening all round. All entertainment was first-class and I would especially recommend the show ‘Gravity’. We had balcony cabins which were roomy with plenty of storage space. Our cabin steward Edward was so helpful and opened up our balcony divider between the cabins so we were able to sit outside with my parents and we spent quite a time out there. We had a wonderful week and we can’t wait to get aboard the Britannia again! Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
This cruise was planned for Brugges/Belgium. It was changed at the last minute, but I won't comment on that because the change was understandable and couldn't really be helped. This was our 6th cruise (and the first one on ... Read More
This cruise was planned for Brugges/Belgium. It was changed at the last minute, but I won't comment on that because the change was understandable and couldn't really be helped. This was our 6th cruise (and the first one on Britannia), I had high hopes for Britannia, but unfortunately it was a bit average The good points were the bathrooms were great (other than the lack of handwash or soap in cabins), food in the main dining room and pay extra venues was good, it was very clean and staff were very polite. One of us did a cookery class and the cookery school was very good!! In terms of negatives, this is a new ship, I expected to be wowed and it was very underwhelming. The central areas were very bland and lacked the glamour of other ships I had travelled on, the bedrooms were a bit like a travel inn, safe but bland! The layout was confusing, staircases that went nowhere and lifts were too busy. We booked a balcony cabin for 2 adults and 1 child, thank goodness it was only for 2 nights! When the bed was down we had to crawl under it to get to the kettle or balcony, not workable for a longer cruise, 2 days was more than enough! We have travelled with P&O and Celebrity before, we were really hoping that Britannia would give Celebrity a run for its money, sadly it didn't! Such a shame for a new ship. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
We have just returned from a 2 night "Taster" cruise that was originally booked for Bruges, however due to the recent attacks, the destination changed to Le-Harve. This was OK with us as it was more about what holiday life on a ... Read More
We have just returned from a 2 night "Taster" cruise that was originally booked for Bruges, however due to the recent attacks, the destination changed to Le-Harve. This was OK with us as it was more about what holiday life on a ship would be like as this was our first cruise experience before we think about booking a longer 2 or 3 week holiday. On the back of this experience, I would not return to P&O. As with a lot of other passengers, we were considering booking a cruise as our main holiday and thought this would be a good way to try things out. Although the ship itself is great, clean, plenty of space in public areas, the whole experience from check in to disembarkation was one of the worst examples of customer service and service delivery I have experienced. Check in staff - Can’t recall one of them cracking a smile. When you board and go through security, our cards were snatched out of our hands before we could present them and then were pointed to a queue to join with as little enthusiasm and engagement as possible. Its difficult to give further examples of the poor service level as there simply wasn’t any. Remember, this is supposed to be a taster cruise.... a chance to sell and promote a product and this is the first experience we have. Once on-board, the experience continues in the restaurants. Waiting staff simply looked borderline angry, little dialogue, interaction, recommendations. I asked for a jug of water and was told "No....is not possible” before I could respond...he had turned his back and walked away. When asking for a clean cup, the waiter gave a long sigh followed by him walking away again with no idea if her was coming back. a short time later, he returned with a cup and just put it on the table....no dialogue, no interaction, no eye contact. They would be better placed in some kind of zombie movie, as Oscars would be a guarantee. Waiting time for drinks - gave up, and asked if we could order drinks and actually have a look at a menu as none on table. Again, remember...taster cruise....a chance to sell and promote a product. As for checkout - carnage. a 200+ queue to exit that had no organisation - people joining the queue wherever rather than the back, people jumping the cornered off areas whilst staff just stood there presumably rehearsing for the upcoming part in P&O Zombie "Apocalypse at sea" movie. Its such a shame as the Britannia as a ship is large, quality finished ship. The rooms are good and the beds are very comfortable. The whole experience is let down by those on shift over this last weekend. I am not sure if the tie in with Ant and Dec's Saturday Takeaway is part of the problem, in any case, as a paying customer, it shouldn't matter as part of customer service is delivering this in a reliable and predictable manner. We will not be booking P&O Cruises again and encourage others to avoid at least until some explanation comes from P&O to explain or justify such as poor delivery of there product. Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
As elite celebrity members we dicided to sample a RCi cruise on the new Anthem of the Seas. We were ported automatically to Diamond class which was giving us similar benefits that we have been used to on Celebrity. Our first ... Read More
As elite celebrity members we dicided to sample a RCi cruise on the new Anthem of the Seas. We were ported automatically to Diamond class which was giving us similar benefits that we have been used to on Celebrity. Our first impressions were as follows Southampton check -in only half the check in desks were being used and although were were priority boarding , had to wait about half an hour in a line which was longer than the non - priority line. It seemed that all classes of crown and anchor was in same line and not split into different ones depending how high up you were, so with 4500 passengers it was pointless. Once upon ship, the first impression was wow, big, but beautiful. We are avid coffee fans so looked for the equivalent of celebrity s class cafe bacio.... Oh dear. A self service Starbucks where you had to ask for a cup rather than cardboard which was the preference of the staff. Opposite on the esplanade was a cafe with free coffee where you helped yourself from machines. Ughhh. No seating apart from a couple of tables on the concourse. So people got their cup and took up seats on the patisserie where we paid for our cappuccino. No waiter service and no atmosphere .. Not a place to relax and read or meet fellow passengers. The stateroom was released at 1.30 so we decided to get lunch. Having been many years ago on independence of the seas , we remembered Johnny Rockets were we had. a great time with singing waiters . What have they done ??? A self service area open to the elements , similar to the burger mast cafe on s class (which is complimentary ). Nice burger , but no entertainment. We then went to cabin. Very nice , similar to a standard balcony on s class , same glass shower cabinets...plenty of space to move about. We unpacked then decided to get a cold drink, we went to two 70. , an amazing venue which comprises a cafe, show room for spectacular shows and a bar.. We asked for some sparking water. To be told sorry we have run out...the ship hadn't even left Southampton, I suggested going to the supermarket down the road to stock up.... We left there and went to the schooner bar to be told the same thing....not very good. We had booked our dining venue some 6 weeks before which was the cleverest thing we did, night 1 we went to chops , a pay for speciality restaurant. Night two the American icon ,(complimentary) which. We lined up for a half hour even though we had pre booked , we did not like the choices of the other complimentary restaurants so night 3 went back to chops , btw they had San pelligrino by the bucket load, so why not the bars. Entertainment was the best, we will rock you (again had to book or not get in). Was fantastic. , nearly two hours of queen music, couldn't go wrong. Good bar entertainers BUT not one venue where we could sit and relax to a nice jazz trio...for us it was too busy, noisy And not relaxing...this was our second foray into RCI world, but will stick to Celebrity, a premium line is by far the more relaxing for us. The better thing was diamond club gives a dedicated lounge to relax in and get away fom it all, but the continental breakfast was no way as fresh and well presented as the one we get in Tuscan on s class. Apart from the gripes, we had an interesting weekend , but wouldn't want to be on for longer. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
This new ship was clean and new on arrival. The cabin was immaculate. We booked for the shows and restaurant. However we had to wait for long periods of time for a table in the evening and had to stand outside the theatre waiting to be ... Read More
This new ship was clean and new on arrival. The cabin was immaculate. We booked for the shows and restaurant. However we had to wait for long periods of time for a table in the evening and had to stand outside the theatre waiting to be let in. At breakfast we ate at the buffet in the windjammer. It was packed and very difficult to find a seat. The food was cold by he time we got a seat. In the bars it was just as crowded and there was not enough staff available to serve drinks. Staff were rude and insulting. Royal Caribbean staff are usually friendly and helpful. Most were arrogant, unhelpful and insulting. The food in the Grand Restaurant was of poor quality. I ordered Duck a la' orange. I got a dry leg of duck with no sauce or orange and it was like rubber. On one day the bread rolls were hard. Wine would arrive after we had eaten our meal. In the casino I asked how to play on one of the tables. I was shocked to find the croupier insulting and trying to make me feel stupid because I didn't know the rules. When complaining to staff we were often met with a smirk. They seemed to think it was funny and made no attempt to help in any way. The adult only Zone advertised was not adult only. I was shocked at the poor standards on this ship. The tables in the bars, restaurants and pools were dirty most of the time because there was not enough staff to clear up. There was queues for everything. If this is the way Royal Caribbean are treating customers we won't be cruising again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Ship was full of glitz, computerised booking for dining, shows etc. Over-run by unaccompanied kids right up to midnight. No timeslots for the pool for kids. Windjammer, excellent as always, but over-full. Crew unable to speak much English, ... Read More
Ship was full of glitz, computerised booking for dining, shows etc. Over-run by unaccompanied kids right up to midnight. No timeslots for the pool for kids. Windjammer, excellent as always, but over-full. Crew unable to speak much English, little interaction with guests.most crew recruited from different areas to other cruises I have been on, and again, not able to answer queries due to little understanding of English. Bad value for money. Booked for the show. Got there, the theatre was full! Only offered seats on the front row and deafened by a 20ft speaker. Ended up sat on a step. everyone we spoke to over 50 had the same low opinion. Duty free closed! Not heard of the 3 mile limit. We were well out of that. ports were literally a dump! Charged $24 for a shuttle bus journey to a small shopping area. Advertised a packed lunch service. Only available if going on an excursion. suggest R.C.I. change to Rotterdam and Ghent. for a sampler cruise on a glitzy interactive ship.Not everyone wants to pay a fortune for a coach excursion. This cost me more than Scandinavia and Russia 12 days. not recommended at all.Delighted to be on the transfer coach going home. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
11.15am - Joined a queue to get on which was over 100 yards long. "Computer glitch sir". 11.55am - got on board. Tried to log on to my pre-paid unlimited internet package with my iPhone. Error! "Computer glitch sir, try ... Read More
11.15am - Joined a queue to get on which was over 100 yards long. "Computer glitch sir". 11.55am - got on board. Tried to log on to my pre-paid unlimited internet package with my iPhone. Error! "Computer glitch sir, try later. 12.45pm queued for 25 mins at Customer Service to get internet sorted. "Seems to be on iPhones sir, try turning your phone off and back on". Did so - Error! "Try again later sir". 13.45 - went to cabin. Bathroom dirty, towels in plastic bag on bed. Had bite to eat - very nice food and very good service. 16.30 - queued for 26 mins at Customer Service to Dort out Internet. "Have you tried turning the phone off and on sir?" About 6 passengers (holding iPhones and iPads) through their hands in the air, laugh and walk away. Tried on board ' Anthem app' all it ever did for 3 days was crash. Deleted and downloaded it 5 times. All it ever did was crash. Can't be bothered to write about the ship or service other than to say there were not enough staff on board and everything took an age. Diamond Club had very little (actually none) security checks in place. If one of you could open the door with your sea card then you could all get in. The first night was spent watching a family of brothers, sisters, dad, mum and one child spend over 1 hour on the computer with the Diamond Club host and believe it or not - they all got served with drinks. Were they Diamond Club members? Well the mother was because she kept giving her cruise card to each of them when they went out and came back in. Last night was the worst. Put two very large cases out at 7.05pm. They were still there, all on their own at 10.30. We queued for 20 mins to complain (you're getting the gist now aren't you) "oh dear, I'll send someone up to take them". 11.30pm - cases still outside our room. I queued at...20mins..."it will be dealt with"...1.15am...queued...got very angry. "We'll sort it sir". I should point out that all this time, now over 3 hours, my wife was telephoning Customer Services and getting: "we are experiencing...please wait while we... Please wait"...dial tone. She tried over 20 times. I went back 3 more time until gone 2am and was very tired and very angry. We carried all our own cases off in the morning and I drove home in a poor state, which I'm not proud of because I shouldn't have driven in such a state. Will we go RC again? Well we have a 14 days cruise with 2 cabins (our son wants to cruise) held for us but we are going to cancel it once I've finished this review. Back to P&O and Celebrity. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
This ship is nowhere near as impressive both visually and with the package delivered to the guest as other RCI ships. One of its main problems is the sheer number of people on board? They have increased the number of passengers on board ... Read More
This ship is nowhere near as impressive both visually and with the package delivered to the guest as other RCI ships. One of its main problems is the sheer number of people on board? They have increased the number of passengers on board but have not increased the length of our number of sessions of each activity. It was almost impossible to get involved in any of the onboard activities unless you arrived long before they started and stood in a que. The flow rider which I did get on and it was as wonderful as I remembered it but the sheer number of people meant a 90 second go and then a very long que for another go. Everything else except rock climbing was impossible to sample. The food was overall disappointing with the exception surprisingly of the American Grill which was excellent.The Grande is not very Grand at all and really does not have any wow factor. It's very ordinary. One Evening in Silk the kitchen overheated and was closed for a period of time. I didn't the starter that I ordered but my partner did and was then not offered a replacement when the kitchen reopened. My main meal was like warm, the sea bass watery and tiny and the noodles in a pool of grease and tasteless other than the oil. The waiter said that it wasn't their usual standard or size but the kitchen was in chaos. Another morning we went to the windjammer for breakfast, it was impossible to get a table even after walking around the entire restaurant 3 times. When we did get a table it was dirty and full of other people's waste. We didn't go again!! It was impossible to get on any of the activities as there are too many customers and not enough spaces in sessions and not enough sessions. The ship has too many passengers and not enough staff or activity sessions to match the numbers. Overall compared to independence of the seas this ship falls far below my expectations. I will NOT go back on that ship again! I am quite shocked how bad it was! Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
We were travelling for a surprise birthday party for our relative which was held on board the cruiser. The ship was exceptional, furnishings and decoration throughout the ship was first class with every detail thought out, not only design ... Read More
We were travelling for a surprise birthday party for our relative which was held on board the cruiser. The ship was exceptional, furnishings and decoration throughout the ship was first class with every detail thought out, not only design but comfort also. Everything was well signposted and ships information and activities were communicated to us the day before in order for us to plan ahead. Our cabin service was outstanding and our cabin steward attended to anything extra which we required (one of our party has mobility problems) big thank you to Nigel Davenport. There was a lot on offer for excursions for those who wanted them. Port experiences were good with staff on hand to direct us to buses and taxis as we wanted to make visits to other places previously seen. Dining was a good experience and we tried several restaurants although I preferred the Windjammer which offered a very wide selection of International food and specialist foods (gluten and sugar free). Lots of entertainment on offer to suit most tastes and I enjoyed everything I saw. Embarkation and disembarkation were well organised and there were no hold ups. Checking in for embarkation the staff came to our group to accommodate our wheelchair member. All staff were courteous, helpful and made us feel special. The only suggestion I would make is perhaps to offer coffee sachets in addition to tea in the cabins. A thoroughly enjoyable experience for us - congratulations to all staff and Royal Caribbean for a memorable experience. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
It was our first Celebrity Cruise, we were looking forward to it, until two days before the date of embarkation when we received a very strange e.mail from agent informing us that Celebrity does not allow a holder of a Syrian passport ... Read More
It was our first Celebrity Cruise, we were looking forward to it, until two days before the date of embarkation when we received a very strange e.mail from agent informing us that Celebrity does not allow a holder of a Syrian passport aboard the ship ! However, after so many prolonged e.mails providing proof of documentations to seek a final decision, only 'by the day of boarding', someone from the company in USA did call and confirmed that it was wrong information given by the Immigration Officer on this Ship. No compensation of the stress caused or even apology of any kind has been delivered to us for that awful time, unknowing if we were going on our holiday or not after we booked a taxi and an overnight Hotel in S'hmton. Leaving that unforgettable tensed experience behind us, we were extremely satisfied during the express embarkation process, helpful desk staff, early boarding and ready room at 11AM. The ship was absolutely beautiful and modern, great dinning restaurants and to our taste. Very smiley and welcoming staff in general. Relaxed dress code in all occasions. Entertainment was very good especially the ship own show and the singer (Ben). Buffet Food and beverages were tasty, good variety and presentation. Select Dining was great in all means, Personalized friendly service which was a credit to them (Jesus, Sheilish and Alina), loved the New York Steak and Onion soup. We had easy wondering across the floors/amenities using the panoramic lifts, and enjoyed the different ambience of the public rooms. The ship motion was very stable and smooth. Missing on the excellent: - Dining/Buffet (night buffet was poor, buffet restaurant's carpet needed frequent vacuuming) - Embarkation (ship was noticeably vibrating when disembarking at ports, had to pay shuttle bus to zeebrugge 12 Euro return ! - Definitely needs diversity of activities for Young adults, LGBT and new movies in the Cinema. - Entertainment in other areas than the Theatre was unrecognized - Lack of directions to the Sauna made us unaware of its existence till the last day, and no steam room. - Some public rooms were unutilized or required some promotion - Shore Excursions were highly priced - of course as a Cruise fanatic, I will always ask for additional discounts towards the cost. I Will Cruise Again on this Ship - if Celebrity made some courtesy towards the mess they created on my expense. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Before this cruise I had only been on NCL 5 times, so I had expectations of Royal Caribbean to exceed the experiences I have had on NCL. Unfortunately I was disappointed in several areas, and amazed at others. So in the round it was ok, ... Read More
Before this cruise I had only been on NCL 5 times, so I had expectations of Royal Caribbean to exceed the experiences I have had on NCL. Unfortunately I was disappointed in several areas, and amazed at others. So in the round it was ok, but there are lots of issues. Boarding: This was an absolute joy, we were given a time to arrive to board the ship. We were foot passengers so finding where to leave our luggage was not signposted but not impossible. This was the only blip in the perfect boarding. We had previously uploaded photos and arranged a payment card on the website, much to our advantage. Once we entered the terminal we were greeted by a guy with a tablet who found our details very quickly, logged our luggage barcodes, and checked our passports. This took about 2 minutes! We then proceeded to security which was very quiet, this took about 5 minutes. We were on time so could proceed straight to the ship and board. That was it, about 15 minutes from arrival to ship! Interior Stateroom: We had an inside stateroom, which is where we found our sea passes and chipped wristbands, more on those later. Our room was spacious, well planned and had lots of storage. I had been in an interior stateroom on NCL Breakaway and that had felt compact, and tight. This was the opposite, we didnt feel our stateroom was just a bed, it was also a space you didnt mind spending a bit of time in. The TV balcony was excellent, a large TV on it's side displayed a live feed from a webcam, with sound if wanted. Complete with curtains and remote control it added a touch of excellence to this fine stateroom. The bathroom felt nice and spacious also. The Ship: A beautiful ship, very well presented and very clean. Lots of things available to choose from such as the Waverider, the skydiving thing we called the Blender, the North Star viewing POD, a large theatre, a casino, shops and numerous bars and restaurants. We particularly like the Solarium at the front on deck 14 with its relaxing pools and atmosphere. Other than the top decks the ship is really missing some nice outside space, I suppose we were spoilt on Breakaway but that new ship really catered for spending time outside. Getting Around: There are only 2 lots of lifts although one lot had 10 lifts and the other had 8 lifts. But because they are concentrated in 2 areas it means they are often not near to where you want to get to. Our stateroom was a 5 minute walk from the nearest lift, maybe that was bad choice on our part? Buffet & Restaurants: Being on the ship for only 3 nights meant we couldnt try everything, but we got a good idea. The buffet was standard fayre, in fact I felt they didnt have as much variety as you get on even the smaller NCL ships. But the bread counter was lovely and offered freshly baked cookies all day long. For breakfast you have to visit the correct egg station or you get told to go away as they only do omelettes! One morning we went to Silk one of the main dining rooms for breakfast. It all started so well, nice welcome order taken, coffee, water and juice. My huevos rancheros was 2 fried eggs with some sliced tomatoes & avocado, and a couple of chilli rings. I was disgusted, but no-one asked how we were doing, no-one offered any more coffee or anything. We noticed this was not just our problem as you could see people all over lacking coffee refills. Needless to say I ate my 2 fried eggs and then went back to the buffet. Of course we proceeded to tell the restaurant manager about our bad experience, who took our stateroom number and then we never heard anything else. For my partners birthday we made the tragic mistake of visiting the American Icon main dining room, we had seen online before our cruise a lovely menu. What we got offered was a mish mash of tastes from all 4 main dining rooms. Nothing matched each other and it was not very good at all. The following night we went to Chops Grille which thank god was amazing, the best food on the ship. The Devilishly Divine or something similar restaurant provided a very nice lunch buffet one day too. The hot dog stand & Johnny Rockets were tasty too. The shows and other activities: We Will Rock You is the resident musical and was expertly put on, I believe it was not edited from the West End version I had seen before. Bingo did not make an appearance until the last night when we were eating at Chops Grille at the only time we could book. I did notice a quiz going on once, but most promoted activities were the things built into the ship. Crew were not being utilized to engage with passengers, no dancing classes, no daily bingo, no poolside line dancing. So if you dont wanna pay to rock climb, get blended or WaveRider then all thats pretty much left is to swim or drink more alcohol! Crew: This is where my biggest gripe is. On NCL the crew really engage with passengers and try to make everyone feel special, they make the cruise special. On Anthem the passengers felt incidental. Only the room stewards said hello, and ours was great. They did not seem happy, or pleased to serve or make anyone's experience a great one. It just made me frustrated that they were so distant. There was only one crew member who was amazing, she was our waitress in Chops Grille, she was so attentive and happy to do anything to make us feel like valued guests. She was what was missing across the rest of the ship. If it hadnt been for her I would probably avoid Royal Caribbean in the future. If they have one member of crew like her, there is hope that other ships will have more of them. Wristbands: We were provided with wristbands that we could use to open our stateroom door with and pay for stuff, but they were just annoying to us so we just used our sea passes instead, but we could see some good advantages for kids etc for them. Leaving The Ship: This was a nice simple process, you were given bag tags which related to a departure time, our time was reasonable and after breakfast we only had to wait about 20 mins before our number was called to depart. We got off quickly and found our bags easily. No issues here. Overall: The ship is lovely, maybe missing some outside dining possibilities. Our stateroom was great, and the food was distinctly average until you went to a paid for restaurant, where the quality went up dramatically. The crew were dismissive and inattentive. Getting on and off was very easy and stress-less. We did not choose to pay for any of the extremely expensive excursions so no opinions of how they were run. There were no organised gay meetups, you had to visit the library to see the gay noticeboard to see if anything was happening. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
I've been on a number of cruises, none with Royal Caribbean before and never on a ship so fantastically technological - it was an experience. Firstly; Royal Caribbean were very good. Their embarkation; provided you fill in all the ... Read More
I've been on a number of cruises, none with Royal Caribbean before and never on a ship so fantastically technological - it was an experience. Firstly; Royal Caribbean were very good. Their embarkation; provided you fill in all the forms online prior to arriving; is the best I've ever used. From port to ship in under 5 minutes - basically just walked on. Their service on board was very good, a few rough edges, but it's a new ship. The amenities and facilities on board are out of this world, never have I seen so much to do & been so spoiled for choice. Secondly; their technology is breaking waves. It's certainly out there, on the right tracks but needs some refining and tweaking here and there. I loved the ability to open my room door with the RFID tag wrist bands and I liked that this could be scanned for a number of things including dinner reservations and purchasing drinks. However, this is where it falls down a little bit, after scanning the band to pay for drinks I still needed to sign the receipt, this for me, just interrupts and spoils the customer interface with the technology. Same at the Bionic Bar - another great idea, but it's slower than a bar tender & you have to collect drinks on at a time. Like I say, they are on the right tracks, but refinement is required. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
I have previously been on two Quantum of the Seas cruises: Maiden Voyage November 2, 2014 from Southampton and 12 Nt. Southern Caribbean Cruise from Bayonne, January 11, 2015 . It was my primarily interested to see the difference ... Read More
I have previously been on two Quantum of the Seas cruises: Maiden Voyage November 2, 2014 from Southampton and 12 Nt. Southern Caribbean Cruise from Bayonne, January 11, 2015 . It was my primarily interested to see the difference between Quantum ond Anthem. Interior but also functionality and service. And I was not disappointed. Anthem is certainly delivering as promised - and expected. Ship was nice and staff was very helpful and friendly. A summary: A very nice 3 nights cruise. Compared to the Quantum maiden voyage everything worked very well and service was top notch. Anthem of the Seas is truly a sister ship to the Quantum of the Seas - it is a true copy. The only immediate difference is the decoration. Therefore, The VIA also is the place, where I have experienced the most visible difference. Overall it was a high level of attire on this trip compared to my Quantum cruises, and people were also festive dressed for the 'Royal Evening'. Embarkation: We did have a 12:15pm to 12:45pm arrival appointment - we did arrive close to 12:30pm . Check-in and boarding went very smoothly and efficient, and at 1pm we got access to our cabin. Royal IQ: For this short cruise we did have carry-on luggage only so we did not use luggage tracking. We did not make any dinner or show reservations in advance. Once onboard we did register Royal IQ and made our reservation for dining and shows. Did work very well and much better than for our Quantum cruises. Also possible to make reservation for the time we vanted. Cabin: See my special Cabin review of cabin #8282, category D8 Superior Ocean View Stateroom w/ Balcony Dining: We have Dynamic Dining Choice, but as mentioned not booked any restaurants in advance. At this short 3 nights cruise it is the same 'Taste of Anthem' menu in all four complimentary Dynamic Dining restaurants. The menu card changed every day, and was created two showcase the best dishes from the four venues - at longer cruises they will still have different menu's in the different restaurants. The 'Taste of Anthem' was OK for this cruise, however I really do not see the reason for not having the dedicated menu's for each restaurant! Dynamic Dining Classic Here you eat together with the same group every night but in different restaurants. The group has the same waiters every night. On this trip was the order Chic, American Icon Grille and Grande. The only change I have seen for restaurants until now is Jamie's Italian is now A la Carte restaurant. We did not eat at Jamie's Italian, but based on individual prices for the dishes it's likely more expensive to eat in the restaurant now. We were eating at Chops Grille, Chic and Silk. Nice meals and good service.No queuing and we got a table for two. Windjammer The concept of Windjammer Marketplace is the same all over the Royal Caribbean fleet. We used Windjammer for breakfast and Lunch. Wash your hands In windjammer they have introduced a new routine of washing hands with soap and water instead of the usual dispensers with alcohol disinfection. It gave a small queue at the wash basins at peak times. Shows: We Will Rock You is a great Show. Fantastic singing. Spectra's Cabaret is an electric multi-dimensional cabaret with a blend of live performance and cinematography together with music, sound and light. Impressive graphics on Robo and Vistarama screens, but the music was not quite my taste and difficult to follow the story line. However a impressive show. Royal Evening and "Dress Your Best": From 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm there were Royal reception with a glass of champagne and a short speech by Captain Claus Andersen. The dress code was "Dress Your Best" I have not the proper definition of "Dress Your Best" but I it is an invitation to attend the 'Royal Evening' at the Royal Esplanade in the 'best dress', albeit not formal because most restaurants is smart casual except Grande. Bars: We did use Vintage and Schooner bars. No difference from equivalent bars at other ships Shops: Shops are very similar to Quantum. Now there is Bobbi Brown & Tom Ford with mainly perfumes instead of Kiehl´s at Quantum. Also Armani Jeans with clothing, accessories and purses instead of Michael Kors. Internet: The only internet challenge was to get the account created and we had to see customer service to get the problem solved. Professional support and then Internet worked fine. At this cruise we could choose between 3 packets: Super Cruise Special is for the entire cruise at $20 per day for two devices ($140 for a 7 nt cruise). Cruise Special is for the entire cruise at $15 per day for one device ($105 for a 7 nt cruise). Daily Plan $30 for 24 continuous hours. Disembarkation: We arrived into Southampton at 6am. Gangway opened at 7:15 am and the disembarkation process went very smoothly. We did have a coach to Heathrow at 9:45 am and left the ship at 9:00am. No queues and it took less than 15 minutes to get off the ship. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
This was our 34th cruise and second with Royal Carabean. It was dreadful. This is not cruising, there needs to be another name for this type of holiday, "Pontlins on the Water" suites so much better. I do appreciate this was a ... Read More
This was our 34th cruise and second with Royal Carabean. It was dreadful. This is not cruising, there needs to be another name for this type of holiday, "Pontlins on the Water" suites so much better. I do appreciate this was a short break over the Bank Holiday and the Stag and Hen parties were fine. However what has happened to the care and attention from the staff? Why is it suddenly okay to queue for 20 minutes for a drink at the bar and be grunted at by the bar man. What has happened to the waiters, or is that not required on this type of cruise? Why can I buy any glass of alcohol on my drinks package but not a cup of coffee ( vending machine only) Why don't any of the staff apolagise, sorry your bill was wrong? Sorry we have no staff to serve you? Sorry my English is not good enough to answer your query? Time to go back to real cruising and leave Pontlins on the water to...........WHO? Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was our 3rd Cunard cruise this year. The first was on the Queen Mary 2 Atlantic crossing from West to East, as this was our 40th wedding anniversary treat we traveled Britannia Club class and we were very happy with it. We then ... Read More
This was our 3rd Cunard cruise this year. The first was on the Queen Mary 2 Atlantic crossing from West to East, as this was our 40th wedding anniversary treat we traveled Britannia Club class and we were very happy with it. We then treated ourselves to a Mediterranean cruise on the Queen Elizabeth, also Britannia Club class and, probably due to the superb restaurant service we enjoyed it more than the QM 2. We then saw an offer for a 4 day trip to France and Bruges on the QM 2 again and as it was my birthday we decided to go again. I phoned to inquire about prices for Club Class as I assumed the headline price was for an inside stateroom(cabin). They said for £50 pp more we could have a balcony. I asked about the price for Club Class as I had enjoyed the 2 previous trips on the QM2 & the QE. I was told there weren't any "special prices" on the better grades so we opted for the Britannia Class with a balcony upgrade, thinking it can't be much different and not worth the large price difference as it was only for 4 nights, how wrong could I be. The cabin was fine and comfortable but the dining was awful. Crowded without an option for first or second seating for dinner which meant a long time between lunch and dinner and late to bed after the show. The waiting staff were either under pressure due to over crowding or poorly trained as there we often mistakes, such as the wrong cutlery, no cutlery, items missing off the plate and food not arriving at all. Breakfast was the worst affected meal for some reason. On the day at sea the queue for breakfast stretched past the gaming machines and when we were seated I saw that the upper level was empty. I asked our waiter why that was when there was such a queue to get in, "we don't have enough staff to man upstairs" he said. Strange, did they jump ship overnight? The first night the show was a group singing soul and blues not my favourite music but we decided we'd watch it. We arrived about 10 minutes before the show started so as to get a drink as they don't serve drinks during the show. We called waiter over and asked for the cocktail list, he went and got one and gave it to us, then left before waiting for our order. He didn't return before the show started so we didn't get our drinks. The group were nothing special but OK but they obviously thought they were better than they were. Not having a drink we left as without a drink to fortify us they were unwatchable. They were on again 2 nights later so we didn't bother to go, 50% of the entertainment and we didn't watch it, the entertainments director must have been dragging the bottom of the "buy one get on free bargain barrel". We had trouble getting drinks most nights as there didn't seem to be enough waiters, the upside being my drinks bill was unbelievably small. The last night was the ship's singers and dancers who were great but had recorded music instead of the ship's band which was a shame as from what we saw of them on the first night they were very good. Cunard obviously wanted to fill all the cabins, hence the "special price". Well if they want to go down the "£10 holiday route" they're welcome to do that but don't expect those who want a little bit more from their cruise to stick with them. We had a cruise but it certainly wasn't a "Cunard cruise" in my mind. I sent Cunard Customer Relations an email about my dissatisfaction and received an auto response, telling me it may take up to 28 days to reply. :-( Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
My friend and I had received letters advising us that Braemar was arriving straight from Hamburg following a refit and that we should adhere to our check-in times (4.30 for me, 6pm for her) as she would not arrive until mid afternoon. As ... Read More
My friend and I had received letters advising us that Braemar was arriving straight from Hamburg following a refit and that we should adhere to our check-in times (4.30 for me, 6pm for her) as she would not arrive until mid afternoon. As we watched her arrive early at noon, we decided that she may start boarding earlier and so set off for the ferry at about 1.30, arriving at the Ocean Terminal at 2.15. Check in was swift but then we had a long wait of about 2 hours before finally being invited to go through security. Knowing how sensitive the security scanners are at Ocean, I was dreading having to take my boots off but thankfully the woman there suggested I try and go through the scanner and see if my boots set it off, in which case I would have to return, take them off and go through again – they didn’t! We finally got on board about 5.30 and set off to our cabins – mine on deck 6, my friend's on deck 2. I had a superior twin for sole occupancy, with obstructed view and best of all – no single supplement! It was a nice welcoming cabin with bed, sofa bed, very large window (with tender outside), twin wardrobe with safe in one half, three drawers and the smallest bedside tables I have ever seen! There was excellent storage in the bathroom with a corner mirrored cupboard and shelf under the basin. The large flat-screen TV was interactive and mounted on an adjustable arm. There was a hairdryer mounted by the dressing table and a tray with tea and coffee making facilities. Caryll’s cabin was not so nice, although it had all the same facilities. It was in the middle section of the stretched ship and had better wardrobe space and coded safe unlike mine which was opened with a key, but required a card to activate the lights etc. The trouble was that there were acres of empty space where they had just taken a bed away to make it a single cabin. Our luggage was there so we unpacked, changed and explored the ship before muster drill at 7.15pm. Dinner had been changed to an open sitting that night, with the restaurant closed while muster drill took place. My muster station was in the Coral Club and it was nice to sit with a drink while it took place! Finally, with all aboard, Braemar set sail as we settled down to dinner in the Thistle Restaurant. We had a table for four on this occasion, with a brother and sister (on her first cruise). After dinner we did a quiz in the Morning Light Pub but didn’t stay up too late as I wanted to be out on deck for the sail up the river Seine the following morning. After breakfast in the Palms Café, I went out to stand on Marquee Deck to watch the river transit. Unfortunately the weather was grey, damp and misty although you could see patches of blue sky above the cloud layer. People ashore and on the ferries waved at us as we sailed past, a few sounding their horns at the ship or stopping to take a photo of us. There were hedgerows and trees laden with mistletoe, half-timbered tumbledown barns and cottages, small towns and ruined abbeys and castles. As we neared the industrial outskirts of Rouen, Braemar was spun 180 degrees and reversed to her berth on the seaward side of the new lifting bridge. Our tour to Honfleur was leaving at 2.15 so we had lunch in the Palms Café before going down to the show lounge to get our tour stickers. It was not long before we were asked to go down to the coaches. Unfortunately it was one of the high-level coaches – great views but very steep stairs and excruciatingly limited legroom, at least on the nearside. I have visited Honfleur once before and loved it so I was happy to return. We followed our guide round from the Salt Warehouse and through the medieval street as far as the church and then had an hour of free time to return to the harbour and take photos of the pretty shops. Unlike my last visit, early in the day with blue skies, this time we were able to watch the sun slowly set over the harbour – a beautiful scene. I bought a bottle of Calvados with raspberries and we explored the shops and streets north of the harbour. It was dark when we set off to return to the coach for the hour and a quarter drive back to Rouen and Braemar. It was our only formal night that evening – a shame since many people were ashore in Paris. In view of this, in lieu of a Captain’s welcome party, free drinks were available in any of the bars for half an hour before our respective dinner sittings. That night we were back to set table dining and we were taken to table 52 – for 8, right at the stern with a view of the wake – perfect (even though we were in port on most of our evening). One of the nicest things about Braemar were the lovely passengers. There was a good mixed age range, which I wasn’t expecting from Fred!, but may have been because of the unusual itinerary. Whenever we sat to eat – open sitting breakfast or lunch, at dinner, we were all soon chatting like old friends, even in the bars. It was certainly a refreshing change from other ships where passengers tend to regard solo women with a degree of suspicion!! After a good night’s sleep (FO beds are wonderful!), it was time to have breakfast and explore Rouen. Once again, we had both been here before but felt the town deserved a further visit. FO operate a slightly complicated shuttle bus system. We first had to get a shuttle pass from reception – these were free for those who had booked Freedom fares (us) or chargeable to those on cheaper fares. Once we had those (a different one for each of the two days we were there), we then had to go get a shuttle ticket from the tours desk once we were ready to depart. This worked exactly like a tender ticket and saved standing around on the quayside for the bus. The shuttle took about 10 minutes and dropped us off beside the river close to the famous Cathedral. We had intended to visit the Cathedral again and then head up towards the clock and explore the side streets off. In fact we came out through a different door in the church and spotted yet more intriguing narrow streets lined with the half-timbered medieval and 17th century houses which fill the central part of Rouen, so that was the way we started off. One street had several small shops selling the striking Faience pottery that is made in Rouen (not dissimilar from that made in the Breton town of Quimper). Nice as it was, the prices were too high to persuade us to take some home. In one of the shops the owner was moving a shelf to make room for some more pieces, when there was a horrible crash and some slid off it to the floor! Thanks goodness we were nowhere near. On the other hand, the home ware stores were filled with temptations, from the natural linen towels with red embroidery to the Christmas decorations filling the shops; pretty glassware with coloured bases to fabulous tapestry cushions with designs of liners and animals. After walking to the end of the old buildings, we headed back and sat with a coffee in a small square in front of the Church of St Maroc. Suitably restored we set off in the direction of our original plan. The pretty Christmas Market was just being set up in front of the Cathedral but would not open for another week. The shops in this direction were more common chain stores – C&A, Manfield, Bata etc. there was a small street market where we stopped to buy some Neufchatel cheese – a bargain at 1 euro 10 cents. The flower stall beside the renowned Gros Horlorge was so beautiful with bunches of Amaryllis in soft pink colours and glass bowls of moss and roses. Once we reached the Joan of Arc church we bought a pastry and found a seat by the Metro station to sit and eat. By then I was walked out so we headed back towards the shuttle stop, via a few shops of course. There was only a short wait before the bus came and took us back to the port. There was still a lot of work being done and a large quantity of glass panels was stashed at the stern ready to be installed – on deck?? The brown rattan deck furniture looked new and very stylish but I still do not like Fred Olsen sun beds – aluminium frame with white plastic strips. The games deck is right in the bow and is a great place to stand and watch a port arrival if not too windy or cold. In fact we stood there for sailaway for a while, until we neared the big grain mill and an ominous cloud started to waft our way. Back on board time was 4.45pm. Then started the announcements for four missing people! Then it was reduced to two missing people. As we were standing in the atrium we could see what was happening and hear the walkie talkies. It appeared that they called the missing couple on their mobiles and were told they were on their way. One youngish couple turned up in a taxi but there was no sign of the others. Just as we feared we might leave without them, they appeared at the far end of the security compound. The security officer sent someone to let them in and they walked up the gangway with no attempt at speed. We can only assume they looked at the sailing time rather than the all aboard time! We eventually left at 5.45, lifting off the berth and starting the six-hour transit back down the Seine. It was a calm crossing again and we arrived back in Southampton at about 6am. Disembarkation was by deck (luggage out by midnight) and we were off the ship at 8.30. All in all a delightful short break on a very attractive ship which restored my faith in Fred Olsen (although I still do not like Balmoral!). I would not hesitate to sail on her again, although maybe not for a long cruise as facilities and entertainment is limited.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
Although only a mini cruise - 4 nights - we assumed it would be a fair reflection of a longer cruise. So given our experiences that longer cruise will never happen, Boarding was easy and our balcony cabin was very good. However the ... Read More
Although only a mini cruise - 4 nights - we assumed it would be a fair reflection of a longer cruise. So given our experiences that longer cruise will never happen, Boarding was easy and our balcony cabin was very good. However the following list illustrates where we felt let down compared to the (many) other cruise lines we have sailed with: - The ship's decore is very conservative - lacking in colour and imagination. - The food in the Britannia Restaurant was not good. In particular the lack of vegetables was unbelievable - eg carrots were on the menu, What arrived was one small slice of carrot. Broccoli was on the menu. What arrived was a microscopic piece of broccoli. The dessert was supposed to include a pancake - it did but it was the size of a 10p piece. - The waiter rushed the serving and was clearing the table and resetting it for breakfast before we hand finished. - We never saw anyone cleaning handrails, mirrors, carpets.worktops etc. Cleanliness is not a priority on QM2 - The staff were uncommunicative - and quite dour. All in all a very disappointing experience and one that will not be repeated.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
A seven night cruiser my wife and myself.  Most of the passengers were elderly and a lot had cruised many times...thiIs was only our third time and our first on the Balmoral.  The ship is a nice size...not too big but big enough to ... Read More
A seven night cruiser my wife and myself.  Most of the passengers were elderly and a lot had cruised many times...thiIs was only our third time and our first on the Balmoral.  The ship is a nice size...not too big but big enough to loose yourself. The staff were on the whole very friendly and helpful The atmosphere was relaxed and leisurely... The entertainment was good if a little limited... more guest speakers would have been appreciated More activities on the Sea days would be appreciated Shopping was expensive and limited... The Library...our favourite room...needs updating more journals...more non fiction...some poetry perhaps. Food was always excellent and plenty of it... Excellent cocktails and hot chocolate were our staples.. We enjoyed afternoon tea in the Observatory... The land tours were very good...if a little rushed. The Guest Speaker was lazy..thirty minutes of quotes but no personal anecdotes...lazy... All in all we had a relaxing time enjoying dressing up for the formal nights...the formal pictures were very good...if a little expensive... Overall we would recommend this cruise and this ship if you looking for a relaxed get away vacation. Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Had a great 7 Night cruise to France our first time on Fred Oulson we have cruised mostly with P and O must say we enjoyed the smaller ship as it was very friendly.We had one and a half days in Rouen must say what a very nice place to ... Read More
Had a great 7 Night cruise to France our first time on Fred Oulson we have cruised mostly with P and O must say we enjoyed the smaller ship as it was very friendly.We had one and a half days in Rouen must say what a very nice place to visit we walked into the Town don't be fouled by paying for the bus as it is not far to walk. We took the trip the next day to Paris that was a good trip to go on must say the weather was not very warm. The next stop was Honfleur that was a most stunning place we also walked into the town would have liked to see it in the sun shine but again it was not warm and it also rained never mind still enjoyed it. The 3rd place was La Pallice for La Rochelle again DONT!!!! pay to get the bus into La Rochelle as the local bus takes you for 1 euro 30cents and people had paid £18 pounds but they don't tell you till the day before many people were not happy as they had booked it on line. The ship itself was great and we had a great time the staff were very friendly, the meals in the dining room were excellent ,we asked for a table of 2 and got it next to another table of 2 and we got on well with them. The entertainment was very good,except we didn't like the magicion but I am sure other people did you cant please everybody. The drinks package is a no brainer we had our moneys worth and I don't drink much just soft drinks alone would add up nearly to ten pounds a day. All in all we had a very great time and would go with Fred Oulsen again.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014

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