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3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We booked this very short cruise at exceptionally short notice (book Monday sail Saturday.) We were accommodated in a suite on Deck 9. During the booking procedure I made it clear that we wished to dine at 8-30 pm but were later told that ... Read More
We booked this very short cruise at exceptionally short notice (book Monday sail Saturday.) We were accommodated in a suite on Deck 9. During the booking procedure I made it clear that we wished to dine at 8-30 pm but were later told that we must eat at 6-30 pm. It took very many telephone calls to unravel that situation but having paid an extra £12 we were granted our wish. We have sailed in Balmoral on a previous occasion and felt confident that we would enjoy ourselves. The parking arrangements by ABP and the boarding procedure were excellent. Our suite (9028) was large and well decorated if a tiny bit tired. Our cabin stewardess was charming and efficient and worked exceptionally hard. We had asked for a double bed but were provided with 2 singles I expect that this was because I booked so late. The Champagne (Cava,) the fruit and the fresh flowers were a nice touch as were the canapes in the evening. We were assigned a table in the Ballindalloch Restaurant which is large and very noisy. We breakfasted in the Spey Restaurant. Breakfast was a very generous buffet arrangement. Dinner was a five course affair with good variation. Generally we felt that the standard of the food was good to very good without being exceptional, the one exception was the roast beef that was exceptional. The wine was perfectly acceptable if one chose carefully. There was no draught bitter beer apart from Newcastle Brown Ale which is not to everyone's taste. A disappointment! We attended the entertainment in the Neptune Lounge on all three evenings. The dance troop worked tirelessly and with professionalism, the music was not to our taste but it suited most people. The comedian was very sharp and his act in the top flight. We visited Rouen and Honfleur, in both places it rained but we enjoyed wandering about. We chose not to use the organised tours as they seemed to be very expensive. We felt that the service on board was not quite as good as we have experienced on other cruises. It may be that the staff are being worked too hard. All in all this was quite a fun break in a monotonous winter. Will we choose to sail with Fred Olsen again? I am not sure. There are many cruises on offer and the competition is fierce.. We will decide soon. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
It's always nice to do something in the rather dismal month of January. We secured an excellent deal (just £199 each) on this 3-night short-cruise to Rouen and Honfleur and were not disappointed. We had previusly spent a week on ... Read More
It's always nice to do something in the rather dismal month of January. We secured an excellent deal (just £199 each) on this 3-night short-cruise to Rouen and Honfleur and were not disappointed. We had previusly spent a week on Balmoral in 2016, but after her recent refit she was noticeably fresher in her decor. We normally go 'inside' and were pleased with our cabin (5150) with its very comfortable beds and (well done Fred Olsen!) extremely well-lit bathroom. It was also nice to see that Fred still offers Twinings teabags! We prefer second-sitting dinner and elected to pay the £2 per head per night to switch from our assigned first-sitting in the excellent Bendarroch. The food was very good throughout - as had been expected. Lunch in the smaller Spey and Avon on Deck 10 is our preference and is recommended. We enjoyed two excellent shows staged by the hard-working resident company of ten. If both are still running for a while to come, make sure that you go and see the nautically-themed 'Bon Voyage' and the raunchier 'Ministry Of Rock' (I might have got the show names slightly wrong). Whilst many fellow-passengers chose to stay on board - it was extremely wet unfortunately - we walked to and from Rouen on the Sunday afternoon and it was good to see the famous clock and the magnificent cathedral with its lovely tinkly carillons in the afternoon. The weather was better on Monday in Honfleur, which is always a delight ot visit. We will be looking out for more short cruises like this and can heartily recommend Balmoral for a pleasurable 'sensible-sized ship' experience. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We sailed with Fred Olsen on the Braemar. We are not usual Olsen guests, probably slightly too young in our early fifties! we prefer more modern vessels. There are a number of issues; The ship is tired, built in 1968 she shows her age, ... Read More
We sailed with Fred Olsen on the Braemar. We are not usual Olsen guests, probably slightly too young in our early fifties! we prefer more modern vessels. There are a number of issues; The ship is tired, built in 1968 she shows her age, no amount of tinkering or refits will hide this. Loyal customers talk about how friendly it is, how they love the smaller ships, but they don't have the refinements of the larger more modern vessels. Staff; Hard working, but mostly chaotic service, our Head waiter apologised in the grampian restaurant almost every night bout the poor service as he had more tables to serve, the wine waiter had gone, so he had to double up for that also. Food was poor to adequate, not really the fine dining Fed Olsen goes on about, we had one meal at what I would call cruise standard, and that was when we paid an extra 40 pounds to dine in the "Grill", beautiful scallops, steak and desert served very well by an attentive waiter as he only had 4 tables to look after. Lunch and Breakfast was a joke, waiters spent more time chatting to themselves than serving and if you were there towards the end of service, most of them stared laying up for lunch. Fred Olsen appear to be on a cost cutting mission, no Baked Alaska parade, no Fish n chip friday's, no curry night, on the last night, it was decided to host a BBQ and dancing on the back end at 10:30, right after second sitting guests had finished dinner?! the only people who ate anything were the crew. The cabin was OK, but again the age of the ship is evident with small shower with shower curtain, instead of a modern glass door and chipped sink unit. For some reason during the last docking period, a decision had been made to take all the shelves out of the wardrobes? so we were left with 3 small drawers to fit everything in. We suffered noise almost every night and early morning, our cabin was, unfortunately, right under the Marquee deck furniture which the crew put away and put out very morning, I think by throwing it across the deck, complaints were listened to and apologies given, but it didn't stop it happening time and time again. I don't know what the future holds for Fred Olsen, their price point does not match what is offered and many other cruise lines offer better quality experience at a much lower price. The show team were very good, but the magician and the comedian on this cruise were awful, tired old magic and jokes, although it appealed to some of the passengers. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
30th anniversary .spoilt by inferior cabin.not reaching Jamaica.there was unrest but the captain said Ochoa Rios safe but weather was poor this was not the case ,we then had 3 days at sea doing nothing. Santiago unsafe and polluted, ... Read More
30th anniversary .spoilt by inferior cabin.not reaching Jamaica.there was unrest but the captain said Ochoa Rios safe but weather was poor this was not the case ,we then had 3 days at sea doing nothing. Santiago unsafe and polluted, Tortola devastated should not of gone very upsetting . Continually being disturbed by captain announcements whilst resting(unimportant announcements.just like butlins 1970. Jakuzzi not working 3 days no info from guest services after enquiringly several times permanent repairs at sea ,decks closed. Pool closed 2 days . No more Fred Olsen your not on holiday your just bossed around. Could not get a free cup of only on 1 deck and and we were inclusive but nice food and entertainment. Shore excursions very poor no imagination ship left most ports early lack of shuttle buses. Had to have mixers separate as drinks were drowned in cheap post mix. Casino inadequate two tables in a corridor Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
I chose this cruise for the Caribbean itinerary and also because I expected to experience the fine dining boasted about in the brochures and on the internet. The public spaces and our cabin were immaculately clean. With one or two ... Read More
I chose this cruise for the Caribbean itinerary and also because I expected to experience the fine dining boasted about in the brochures and on the internet. The public spaces and our cabin were immaculately clean. With one or two rather surly exceptions, members of staff were pleasant, friendly, approachable and helpful. Excursions and transfers were very efficiently organised. The ports were an excellent choice. The Braemar Show Company was exceptionally good. Other entertainers ranged from poor, through average to good. The traditional Crew Show was good but fewer crew seem to be willing to give up their spare time to perform. The Cruise Director, Elliot Taylor, sometimes just didn’t know what day it was. He sent out a note to cabins to change their clocks… but on the wrong night… and failed to send out a note on the night that clocks did have to be changed. A farewell BBQ was to coincide with second sitting guests leaving the dining room after dinner! Like many second sitting guests, we were unhappy that we were being charged for food that we couldn’t eat. The Cruise Director kept on saying night after night… how fabulous the food was… despite the rather desultory response from guests. The food was well below what we have experienced on many of the 15 previous cruises with Fred Olsen in the course of the last 5 years. On his website, Fred promises “expertly prepared, five-course a la carte dinner at the Thistle and Grampian Restaurants” but nothing could have been further from the truth. Service in the restaurant was the slowest that we’ve experience in the 20 years that we have cruised with Fred. The 8.30 pm second sitting guests frequently weren’t able to leave the table until almost 10.30 pm. On our second evening on board we, and almost everyone else, waited 35 minutes for a simple appetizer to be served. Menus on this cruise were bland, boring and banal. We saw not a single “five star” dish in over two weeks. The “Gala Manu” had little or nothing to distinguish it from any other of the second rate menus on board. Chocolates on Gala evenings seems to have for the most part been replaced with mini meringues… (Diabetics also beware…. we are now being charged for Fred to leave boiled sugar sweets on the pillow!) The amount of Turkey and yellow/grey, wet, overcooked Brussels Sprouts on offer gave the impression that we were being offered the Christmas leftovers. The Chef’s concoction one evening of a bit of pork, a bit of beef all mixed together with prawns gave us that idea that Chef was cleaning out the bottom of the freezer. Almost all meat was served in identical mechanically rectangular slices. Starters were tiny scraps that looked as if the latest trainee recruit had thrown them onto the plate. An “Oslo Platter” contained what seemed to be one quarter of one small rollmop. Soups frequently seemed to be just over-salted, boiled potatoes flavoured and processed until they were a glutinous gunge with all of the charm of wallpaper paste. “Chilled tomato soup with fresh basil” seemed to be carton tomato juice blitzed with woody basil stems leaving the “soup” full of fibers. “Chilled coconut soup” seemed to have been poured straight from a can taken from the fridge and a pinch of nutmeg sprinkled on top. Salads were roughly torn shreds of bitter lettuce with tiny fragments of tomato and cucumber. A single olive and two flakes of cheap canned tuna do not make a “Salad Nicoise”. These are, of course, part of the “five course a la cart dinner” that guests are charged for. “Classic Dishes” were often suggested by the menu but the evidence on the plate was very different. Classic “Wiener Schnitzel” had been replace on the plate with a thin, dry slice of fried pork; classic “Chateaubriand” looked like “boil in the bag” tenderloin with gungy “Béarnaise sauce” and “Classic” (Fred seems to like that word… he uses it a lot) “Roast Duck” was a dry, emaciated scrap that left us wondering where the missing duck meat would turn up in the following days. Main courses were often abysmally poor; mechanically sliced, bland, preformed turkey in a gluey “gravy” accompanied by a plug of bready stodge that was described as “stuffing”; “Venison Stew” with dire “dumplings” made out of reconstituted bread; paper thin slices of “Beef Wellington” welded to the plate by a film of dehydrated “gravy”; “Pasta” so dry that the sauce didn’t even touch the bottom of the plate… and no parmesan on offer. “Roast Potatoes” that varied from so crisp that they could have been newly fried to so rubbery and dehydrated that they could have been left-overs from a previous sitting… both on the same plate! Never have we seen so many meals being sent back to the Galley or so many meals being left unfinished. It was really embarrassing to see staff apologizing so much for the quality of food that they were being asked to serve. Desserts were often appallingly inconsistent… one “Crème Brulee” had a pool of sugar syrup rather than a caramalised topping, Pear and Apple Pudding with Calvados that was bland, stodgy and totally unappealing… selections of “British and International cheeses” (are there any others?) made up of minute portions of processed plastic unidentifiable cheese a single dried apricot, three grapes an eighth of a small radish and a match-stich sized portion of celery. Gone are the Lobsters, gone are the Racks of Lamb, and gone is the Fillet of Beef Mignon (except on the advertised sample Gala menu). Gone too is the Baked Alaska on parade and gone too is the Gala Buffet… (Now replaced with a choice of a Hot Dog or a Burger… immediately after second sitting dinner!) Gone too are Fish and Chips on Fridays! Gone too are the American steaks in the Grill… replaced by a cheaper alterative! Gone too are the popular Curry nights! Gone too… it would seem… are many of the skilled posts in the galley The “Late Night Buffet” offering is now a truly dismal affair. We looked in one night halfway through the cruise and only one guest had chosen to sample the mean and uninspired offering. The Cruise Director, announced at one evening show late in the cruise, “And ladies and gentlemen… the good news is that food costs are down on this cruise!” Fred’s promise in his brochure that “Dining on board is sure to be the highlight of your holiday… with a range of mouthwatering options all planned to perfection (and) sumptuous dishes” was not kept. We felt that Fred’s Chef and Cruise Director on the Braemar had simply lost the plot. It was clear that despite the guests having paid a hefty premium for what was promised to be an “award winning” “sumptuous” “five star” “dining experience” that the Cruise Director was were prepared to publically celebrate that guests on board had been subjected by the Chef to a well below average, mean, penny-pinching boring, bland diet… and that Fred was able to pocket the savings! If Fred won’t provide the food or the service in his restaurants that he promises and that we have paid for, he can’t compete with the stunning facilities and more economic prices of the bigger ships! Top Tip. The Maître d’hôtel has to write a report each day. It is emailed to the Chef, the Hotel Manager and the powers that be in Fred’s HQ. If the food is not as good as it should be… based on the brochure and Internet advertising… send it back to the kitchen and explain why. The message will slowly filter through! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
We had not been to the Caribbean before and this cruise made it simple to visit nine destinations which were all different and gave as an insight into those islands we would like to return to. Despite initial reservations we were ... Read More
We had not been to the Caribbean before and this cruise made it simple to visit nine destinations which were all different and gave as an insight into those islands we would like to return to. Despite initial reservations we were impressed with the chartered Thomas Cook flight and the smoothness of the disembarkation from the plane - it was lovely not to see our luggage from Gatwick until it arrived outside our cabin. The staff were friendly and polite and there was a good ratio of staff to passengers. The itinerary had promised ten destinations but a strong (force 5) headwind reduced our speed so the captain changed our route and we missed our Tortola stop. We were very disappointed to miss Tortola, particularly as the Braemar was one of the few cruise ships due to dock there following last year's hurricane. We assumed a Force 5 wind is fairly common in the Caribbean and wondered whether Fred was trying to include too many islands in the itinerary. If this is the case we would suggest omitting Jamaica and keeping Tortola. The Braemar Show company were excellent as were the two crew performances. The resident live music acts were also good but the visiting entertainers were a mixed bag - a brilliant comic/magician who I thought I would not like, a mediocre multi-instrumentalist and a very poor comic who was really past his use by date (although some people loved him). Shore excursions were good - we chose to explore the islands rather than just visit beaches but were disappointed that two of our excursions were cancelled one (cycling in Grenada) due to poor equipment and complaints from earlier cruises and one due to heavy rain (rafting in Jamaica). The food was good and there were plenty of public spaces to sit and relax in. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
On the first night a burst pipe on the tenth floor flooded our cabin on the ninth floor and the hallway carpets were soaked. Noisy machines to dry out carpets. Took 5 days. At breakfast we were served cold tea and breakfast. Dirty ... Read More
On the first night a burst pipe on the tenth floor flooded our cabin on the ninth floor and the hallway carpets were soaked. Noisy machines to dry out carpets. Took 5 days. At breakfast we were served cold tea and breakfast. Dirty breakfast plates. Complained to manager. Not enough seats for entertainment in the Neptune Lounge. Probably due to wet carpets husbands pneumonia kicked in. 2 hour wait for doctor £61 for 8 tablets.Need two doctors!!! The swimming pools and jacuzzis not ready after a small refit. Were being worked on 24 hours a day.( Retiled etc) Some were ready five days after cruise started. Lift doors dangerous as closed too quickly.At least 2 people injured .Left Lisbon early to miss storm. Too many days at sea.Fireworks in Funchal were lovely though.Epidemic of coughing called apparently Balmoral cough as it happens a lot. A lot of time spent in bed due to illness probably caused by damp carpets. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
The itinerary sounded interesting. Sadly, Norway was closed between Christmas and New Years! So nothing to see unless you bought a lot of tours. This was not mentioned when we signed up. The food and service were great. The ... Read More
The itinerary sounded interesting. Sadly, Norway was closed between Christmas and New Years! So nothing to see unless you bought a lot of tours. This was not mentioned when we signed up. The food and service were great. The entertainment was mediocre, usually provided by members of the ship's company. There was a very interesting lecturer from the air safety board but he was the only bright spot. The ship supposedly had recently had a major refit. However, many public areas were very cold and our suite was either too hot or too cold. There were very few public toilets (a distinct problem for the large number of older cruisers aboard). There was sometimes rusty water in the bathroom and the overhead lights flickered on and off. During a rainy spell many tables in the diningroom (including ours) had to be roped off for several days as the ceiling was leaking. We certainly were not expecting a Cunard experience, but given what we paid we were disappointed and will not be cruising Fred Olsen again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We wanted to get away over Christmas and New Year. This cruise was ideal but the only one we could find. We had extreme trouble in the port on the embarkation day. The Port Authority could not cope with the volume of passengers. We sat ... Read More
We wanted to get away over Christmas and New Year. This cruise was ideal but the only one we could find. We had extreme trouble in the port on the embarkation day. The Port Authority could not cope with the volume of passengers. We sat in a non moving queue watching the taxi meter go from £13 to £20 finally getting out and carrying our luggage 100 metres to baggage check in. The cruise itself was great although we were struck down with a "Virus" for the last 5 of the 15 days. We didn't leave the cabin. Luckily this virus was in the form of a hacking cough and not stomach related. Many passengers were affected. Everything on board was good, food, service, cabin and most of the entertainment although we did have a guy called Christopher Gee who had, quite frankly, seen better days, dreadful. We did have issues with a couple of the port tours. We were disappointed that the catamaran used to take us Whale Watching was so large ( about 200 passengers) BUT we did see Whales so all good really. The other disappointing tour was Reindeer Sledding. Got to do it when you go to Norway. We arrived at the Sami Village and had a drink and traditional cake along with a talk about Sami Life, all very interesting. We were then divided into groups to go down to the reindeer. Bear in mind it was dark. We were led outside and a guy on a snow mobile helped a disabled person to get down to the lower level. He shot off with her on the machine and left the rest of us floundering around not knowing where to go. The Path was unmarked and unlit. We finally made it. They were having trouble controlling the reindeer! We were in a line of about 6 sleds, we were 2nd to last with a young reindeer behind us, well, we thought it was going to get into the sled with us and it was only my hand pushing it away which stopped by wife being injured. She was petrified and the trip was totally spoilt. I did complain at the time to the handler he admitted the problem. I complained again when back on board. I was given a 33% refund as a "Good Will Gesture" but I'm not happy. When taking these shore tours it's important to feel safe and that someone from the ship is keeping a lookout for you. Well this certainly wasn't the case. Definitely no Health and Safety procedures here. Other shore tours were good if a little more expensive than usual. Brilliant Northern Lights experience and an Igloo Hotel. This is my 2nd time to Norway so not sure would go back again but the scenery is amazing. My wife absolutely loved it. Seeing snow at Christmas really made the experience truly great. We've been travelling with P & O for our last few cruises on their smaller ships and I don't think there is much to choose between them. Hope this is helpful. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
to be away christmas and new year was the main reason to watch the fireworks in maderia was a memory i and my wife will remember for ever the great problems we had on the ship and on embarkation was in my opinion could and should have ... Read More
to be away christmas and new year was the main reason to watch the fireworks in maderia was a memory i and my wife will remember for ever the great problems we had on the ship and on embarkation was in my opinion could and should have been avoided 2 hours stuck in a taxi prior to embarkation is not acceptable get it right fred olsen the pool area was not completed prior to sailing we were only informed by the captain that this area would be out of bounds for the first three days it was in fact four days we were offered £75 per person i refused the offer after paying £16000 for this holiday i exspected to have all the ships facilities££ for my use and not be insulted by offering me£150 for two people the food in the main restaurant first four nights was superb but went down hill after that we had to send food back why the change i do not know the ship and crew and fellow passengers were the most friendly on any ship i have ever been on i do not exspect fred olsen to react to my review then again i might be wrong cheers brian lee Read Less
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