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730 Fred. Olsen Cruise Reviews

My wife and I having celebrated two special birthdays this year decided to culminate the year with a cruise. Unfortunately we chose not to go on one of our tried and trusted cruise lines. We chose to go with Fred Olsen for 14 days on ... Read More
My wife and I having celebrated two special birthdays this year decided to culminate the year with a cruise. Unfortunately we chose not to go on one of our tried and trusted cruise lines. We chose to go with Fred Olsen for 14 days on board Black Watch. What a disaster We were not aware that a feature of their cruises is extensive maintenance program . Virtually on a daily basis one or more public areas were closed off for repair or decoration Outer decks were on occasion strewn with hoses electric cables and machinery, on three days we had to suffer paint varnish and staining odours. W were advised on a daily basis by the Captain always to use the handrails when moving around - what does one do when the rails were being stained. Thinking it was a one off matter we wrote to customer services only to be told that all Fred Olsen ships cruised throughout the whole year which means that all maintenance has to be carried out during cruises. One last thing if you are blind or partially sighted (like me) F O is not for as you are not welcome. All in all we wasted £4000 Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We could not dock at the Faroes as the Braemar was in and no room for us, pilot not able to manage to get us in, rough sea, so another day at sea organized. We have had 5 Balmoral cruises (very good) 1 Bouddica (ok) but would not recommend ... Read More
We could not dock at the Faroes as the Braemar was in and no room for us, pilot not able to manage to get us in, rough sea, so another day at sea organized. We have had 5 Balmoral cruises (very good) 1 Bouddica (ok) but would not recommend or go on the Black Watch, avoid deck 7 lido deck. We had a large deluxe junior suite. Woken at 1am by deck crew pulling chairs along and then most of the other days at 5.30 onwards by deck hands banging, washing the deck down, others complained about them talking loud, we reported it twice. Moved cabin to equivalent as strong smell of diesel in bedroom, this seemed to be all round the ship. Restaurant like a canteen, and never had any moans before, but waiters not as quick and friendly as the Balmoral, never offered tea or coffee with dessert at lunch time, food good but breakfast often cold, good variety. Brenda Collins comedienne was fantastic and the male singer, team shows were good, dancers seem snobby. Special thanks to Chandra the Mater D who got us into the Orchid Room for dinner. Quizzes good with Olly, Jonny and Liam, not as good in the day with the dance team (one in particular). Met some nice people, but seemed a lot of snobs on board. Back on Balmoral Sept and trying Braemar in October. Never saw our cabin maid in 2nd cabin, name tag was not even in room. On other cruises they have gone out of their way to meet you." Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We had requested a disabled room with a walk in shower, We could not fault the room, lovely bedding ( quite a few people had commented on this to us also) everything we wanted, lovely balcony we were on floor 7 and did not have any ... Read More
We had requested a disabled room with a walk in shower, We could not fault the room, lovely bedding ( quite a few people had commented on this to us also) everything we wanted, lovely balcony we were on floor 7 and did not have any problems. Yes a little noise from the shipmates but they have to clean the decks before everyone is up. We did not get into The Faroe Islands this was because of rough weather but I would rather be safe than risking docking, the captain explained the reason correctly and it wasnt because another ship was in our place. The food was amazing and so much, we are younger travelers in our fifties and found the fellow travellers we spoke to were lovely. It was so nice to be on holiday and everyone said hello and always chatted ( yes there were a few moaners but most people avoided them) I would definately reccomend the Black Watch if you want a smaller ship and lots to do. The organised trips were excellent and again we found them very disabled friendly if you needed extra help always there (reserved space on a coach or a taxi if required). We went on the flight ICE AND FIRE GLACIERS AND VOLCANOES yes more expensive but if like me you cannot walk to see these places just an unforgettable experience. The pilot made sure you got to see everything. The Spa dept were very good Elise organised a personal physio session for me to help with my mobility. She was truely wonderful and wrote it all down for me to continue when I got home. If you want a holiday were you lose track of time visit amazing places with lovely company, with great talks, shows as good as The West End singers and dancers who were so approachable and seemed to have lots of other activities they helped with and ( it was nice that the a lot of the main staff ate in the buffet restaurant so you were able to chat to them over lunch or afternoon tea. Also if you had any food allergies they went out of their way to assist. A VERY ENJOYABLE HOLIDAY Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
I went on a previous cruise in March - see my review "Absolutely magical experience" - this time with my wife, so the previous cruise was fresh in my mind and my descriptions in hers. This time departing from Rosyth, we found ... Read More
I went on a previous cruise in March - see my review "Absolutely magical experience" - this time with my wife, so the previous cruise was fresh in my mind and my descriptions in hers. This time departing from Rosyth, we found the port facilities inferior to before when I departed from Southampton, although actual embarkation was much more painless.There is no left luggage facility which made if complicated sending luggage ahead. It was not made clear that there is no taxi rank at the small Rosyth station, better to stop off at Inverkeithing which is a more major station (indeed some of the London trains stop there). The actual cruise got off to a slow start because the first and second days were taken up with port visits - there was no captain's welcome until the third night (and the captain couldn't even come to that) - this meant that ship-bound activities such as Bridge and similar (which we were looking forward to) didn't start until the third day, which was very disappointing, for example for disabled people unable to go on trips. The "at sea" days where there were more activities so crowded the timetable that many things we wanted to go to all clashed. The Bridge sessions were very well-run and enjoyable. Having come up from London on the train, we were disinclined to launch into 4-hour bus trips to Loch Ness and such on the first full day so we stayed on-board feeling we were wasting time. However with the first sea day things picked up well. We didn't end up going on port excursions as we chickened out of going on tenders to some places and I had had the experience of missing trips I'd booked because of injury before. I thought that the food, although very good, wasn't quite in the same league as before. The soups weren't as good and the desserts were mostly very disappointing. The main courses remained excellent. Unlike before there wasn't wholemeal bread, which we like, and none of the speciality breads such as walnut were on offer. We took out the "all-inclusive drinks package" which was a huge mistake. The only things included in the price for free were the very poor house wines, a cava which we soon got bored with and a limited ranges of beers and spirits. Yes you can get other drinks for 50% of the price (reducing good wines from 3 times the price to 1.5 times) but not basics like tea and coffee for which full price was still applied. I think we averaged out losing out by about £10 per night between us. We definitely won't get that again unless they refine it sensibly. We didn't go to many of the entertainment offerings, but those we did go to were very good, all things considered although the lack of a proper theatre hampered things.There was a theme of a detective mystery run over several nights which was good fun. I even got the answer right (but didn't win the prize). The crew were uniformly good-humoured and friendly - some remembered unprompted my likings from my previous trip which was amazing! Still we enjoyed it enough to wander round to the "future cruises" office and book one for next year - this time on the "Black Watch". Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
This is my experience. Everybody has a different experience so these are my opinions on what i found onboard this cruise. I booked 2 weeks prior to departure and booked a balcony cabin. Fred Olsen kindly gave me a free upgrade to a ... Read More
This is my experience. Everybody has a different experience so these are my opinions on what i found onboard this cruise. I booked 2 weeks prior to departure and booked a balcony cabin. Fred Olsen kindly gave me a free upgrade to a suite. Boarding at Liverpool was great, far more comfortable than Sounthampton. Very pleased with the cabin, all comforts and nice fresh flowers, sparkling wine, canapes, fluffy bath robe and free slippers. Also use of binoculars and umbrella if needed. Lovely bathroom, and great for smokers as you can smoke on the balcony. Unlike other cruise lines where you have to trek around the decks to find a smoking area. Bravo to FO for their smoking policy. The ship is looking its age. Sun deck tired and decor very low key and dull. All staff friendly and polite. Lifts very small and always a wait for one to arrive. The Glentaner dining room was one of the worst i have ever been in on a ship. A large version of a nursing home dining room. Very harsh lighting and too bright. Food was a let down. On Boudicca and Balmoral it was fine but not on this cruise. Were they on rations ? I ordered shrimps to start with which i know means prawns. I was served 3 prawns on a plate !!! gone in seconds. Then an Italian tomato salad. One tomato cut in slices drizzled with oil !!! useless. Main course was poor and also long waits in between courses. Not impressed. The garden cafe is lovely and food is far better and nicer surroundings. Mini cruises attract a totally different type of passenger than a proper cruise would so i seen a wedding party was onboard. Bad news ! By evening the females were drunk and swearing and bawling walking around the ship, drinks in hand. Horrendous language. FO need to curb this fast. Next day i heard other passengers say they were kept awake all night due to the noise in the cabins from these women. This is really bad that people like this spoil peoples cruises because of their drinking and bad behaviour. Half day trip to Dublin was enjoyable, only 27 on the trip. Rather bossy tour guide but it was a good trip. I would not travel on Black Watch again. She is near retirement now and her age shows. Entertainment was poor. Comedian who was not funny, a weak choir and the ships singers and dancers very amateur. I do wish people who want to sit and talk would not come in to see a show as they do not watch the show, just loud voices non stop. Go to one of the lounges if you want to talk. Its bad manners to the acts who are trying to entertain. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This was the second cruise on Braemar following 4 on the Black Watch. As on all 6 cruises, from embarkation, 5 from Dover and 1 from Southampton, everything was straightforward and very efficient. The same remark applies to disembarkation. ... Read More
This was the second cruise on Braemar following 4 on the Black Watch. As on all 6 cruises, from embarkation, 5 from Dover and 1 from Southampton, everything was straightforward and very efficient. The same remark applies to disembarkation. I make particular reference to the friendliness of the crew on both ships who could not be more helpful. The quality of the food was of a very high order as was the evening entertainment at all of the various venues throughout the ships. The cabins booked, 1 with balcony and 5 superior outside, were comfortable, clean and perfectly adequate. Over the 6 cruises we went on a number of excursions in Norway, Iceland and the Baltic. All well organised and we have been left with numerous happy memories of visits to interesting and beautiful locations, particularly in Norway. I am booked again on Braemar next year visiting Germany in April. I hope to continue my association with Fred Olsen for some years to come who, in my opinion, cannot be equaled in the service the company provides. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
The ship was fantastic, small but very friendly as you got to know lots of people. The food the entertainment and all the staff were fantastic. This was my first cruise and I worried that there may not be enough to do.What a joke we ended ... Read More
The ship was fantastic, small but very friendly as you got to know lots of people. The food the entertainment and all the staff were fantastic. This was my first cruise and I worried that there may not be enough to do.What a joke we ended up running from deck to deck in order to do all the quizzes, table tennis and every thing else we wanted to do. The out door pool even though we were in the Arctic was 30 degrees so we swam nearly every day. The cabin was amazing but we did have a suite. Some of the information was incorrect. We were told we could get on the ship early due to our suite.We got to Dover early and that information is wrong you have to wait like every body else.We took priority disembarkation and this was excellent we got off the boat at least 2 hours before everybody else. The cruise was excellent except we never knew exactly where we were. The day sheet for all the on board entertainment was great but we needed one to tell us where we were passing and where we were. We took the drinks package. For me that was fine but for my sister it was a waste of money. Strongbow cider was included but Kopperberg cider which cost 5 pence more was excluded so she had to pay 50% of the price every time but she could drink rum and brandy until she fell over. Read the small print before you pay. DO NOT BOOK ANY TRIPS WITH THE CRUISE COMPANY. They are a total rip off. Example in Bergen a trip to the Funicular including price up and down £40. Distance from ship a slow 5 mins walk. Return trip £10 on the Funicular. Do the maths yourself. And this was a cheap trip most were at least £90 each and you did not get the right time off the ship and you had no time at the attraction. The Atlantic Road was fully booked up price £80 each. We got a taxi and did it alone for less than £50 for the 2 of us. The ship photos are good but expensive choose carefully but the video is great. All the services on the ship were amazing nothing was too much trouble. I would do another Fred Olsen Cruise but not book any trips. Research them before you go and do it yourself. Would recommend the Braemar to anyone it is a first class ship with a great crew and Captain. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We are very recently retired couple, and due to sensible investments we have acquired the funds we will need to ensure that our retirement is as enriching as our both extensive working lives have been. Our closest friends of the past ... Read More
We are very recently retired couple, and due to sensible investments we have acquired the funds we will need to ensure that our retirement is as enriching as our both extensive working lives have been. Our closest friends of the past 36 years 4 couples have insisted that we cruise with them on Fred Olsen Line! My wife and myself have cruised for the past 29 years and are very experience destination worldwide cruisers - and often we belong to the highest membership "tier" of several Cruiselines loyalty ( return cruisers club) We have never fancied Fred olsen before as we adore Silversea and crystal and celebrity and most of All Hal (Holland & America) However, our great friends wanted to cruise with us together as 3 coup,E'S! We thought this might be fun, - but we were still trepidation so regarding Fred Olsen!!!!??? The cabin was superb as was our cabin steward exceptional service ( suitably rewarded) The bar staff and Restaurant waiters and Maitre-D! Superb! We tried 5 excursions no problems even though other repeat cruisers told us that this was rare waitng for Northern lights! A particular nice touch was an official ( keepsake) certificate stating , the correct longitude and latitude crossing the "Artic Circle" However , and this MUST BE SAID !!!!!! the absolute HIGHLIGHT of this cruise was the visiting guest Cabaret act! First there was an old fashioned type comedian Barnaby - but then we were treated to the sublime talent's of the comedy impressionist CHRIS GEE! He was so brilliant my wife's ulcer kicked off as she was holding her stomach by laughing so much!!! And yet, not a bit of "smut" , The ENTIRE SHIP was talking about him- with the rather disappointing result that not enough people could get in for his second show!!! (which we were thrilled to witness was completely different to his initial show) Then the funniest spectacle on the entire cruise Chris Gee then did adaptive show with the executive chef " CAN'T COOK - WON'T COOK n what an amazing hysterical shambles!!!! Also, two of our ladies in our party were not able to dance as their husband's had recent knee surgeries etc, but this wonderful guy also turned out to be a very good (and keen) ballroom dancer so he danced with our gals. EVERY DAY ,which really added to the whole cruise experience. Suffice to say we are NOW!!! FRED OLSEN converts!!!! And are telling everyone at our cruise club! We are hoping to get a group booking as Chris Gee said he will be back next year with a wee bit of luck! Love the tea making facilities in the cabins too!!! Great, scenic cruising Can highly recommend!!!! Book it - we guarantee you WON'T regret it!!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
With a small ship you get to know people easier. There are no long queue's for the dining rooms or bars. You get to know your crew and the work they all do. Going ashore for visits to interesting places with the smaller ships means ... Read More
With a small ship you get to know people easier. There are no long queue's for the dining rooms or bars. You get to know your crew and the work they all do. Going ashore for visits to interesting places with the smaller ships means you can reach places the larger ships can't. Embarking and disembarking is much quicker because of less people to do this. Having sailed on much larger ships I think I can honestly say I do prefer the smaller ones.. When sight seeing by coach in certain ports you are away long before the passengers on the larger ships because there are less people. Activities and entertainment are equally as good as on the larger ships. The smaller ships have voyages for adults only. Although children have every right to go cruising with their parents, the older adults who have been through all this with their own children now want to cruise without children for the peace & quiet that can bring Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
for those of you considering a cruise with Fred Olsen, i can definately recommend it. I wasnt sure whether I would enjoy it or not - hence a mini cruise. The boat is not too big, but has plenty to do. The cabins are lovely and the one ... Read More
for those of you considering a cruise with Fred Olsen, i can definately recommend it. I wasnt sure whether I would enjoy it or not - hence a mini cruise. The boat is not too big, but has plenty to do. The cabins are lovely and the one we stayed in had Lots of storage space and kept beautifully clean. We dined in the Grampian and waitors there were so welcoming. The food was lovely with plenty of choice and the service was extremely good - best we have ever had to be honest. We had lunch in the palm cafe restaurant which is self serve, and enjoyed food from mussels to roast leg of pork, with cinnamon rice pudding, bread and butter pudding and peach cobbler to enjoy for dessert. Breakfast had everything you would wish for,and the cakes at afternoon tea were fantastic, although we only tried this once as we werent hungry after the first day. We didnt sample the late night supper but i am sure that would have been as good as the other meals. We dont normally go to the evening entertainment, but the start time of 10.30 meant we were able to get a seat ln both evenings and enjoyed some singing and dancing from musicals for the first night and then a really funny comedian the second night. We wanted to stay up and the watch a tribute to the jersey boys, but were just too tired, as it didnt start until 11.45. So if you are thinking of trying Fred Olsen - give it a go and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We flew to Singapore and spent the next 35 days sailing back to Southampton. This was to be a cruise of a life time combined with our honeymoon. This was my 6th cruise and my husbands 3rd so we knew the ropes , more or less. The 1st ... Read More
We flew to Singapore and spent the next 35 days sailing back to Southampton. This was to be a cruise of a life time combined with our honeymoon. This was my 6th cruise and my husbands 3rd so we knew the ropes , more or less. The 1st week was fine, nice However later on we went on excursions tho even then there were disappointments. WE were taken to a museum in Thailand that was empty apart from a few photos on the walls, WHY? then we went on to a fishing village and were treated to some allegedly authentic native dancing. This was just a line of women swaying to some caterwalling singing, and wearing clothes they must have bought recently in a local market. Later on this tour we were taken to magnificant temples so that made up for the shortcomings. WE had noticed a lot of coughing all round the ship, people referred to this as The Balmoral cough". My husband contracted this in our second week, and I got it 2 days later. It was a nasty cough, sore throats and flu like symptoms, which made us feel really ill. WE saw the Doctor after 7 to 10 days as we were no better. WE were given antibiotics and pills, which worked for me, but not my husband. He had to go back to the Doc and get more medication (which didn't work either). All had to be paid for of course. Captain and crew were only concerned about the norovirus, not at all worried by all the coughing etc going on. WE started to recover, but about a week later we had the bug again. THis was common amongst the passengers. However we did manage to enjoy some of the cruise. BUt we felt FRed Olsen was cutting costs everywhere. The food wasn't good. On a cruise that is the least you can expect! The entertainment wasn't up to much either. WE felt that the tours were expensive and most not really worth the money. For instance the visit to the Maldives was ridicuous. WE opted out of that, but other passengers said it was just a hike through a building site! To top everything off, on asking reception about booking a taxi home we were told, no they had no provision for bookings but there would be plenty of taxis. There were NOT. Hordes of fellow passengers trying to hire a taxi, with no luck at all. WE ended up walking to the railway station, lugging our cases, and getting a taxi at the station.This was about half an hours walk! So, now we will never cruise again, and certainly not with Fred Olsen. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was my first cruise on a Fred Olsen vessel. I usually cruise with Royal Caribbean and P&O. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised, as have previously read negative reviews about this ship. I can only compare with my previous ... Read More
This was my first cruise on a Fred Olsen vessel. I usually cruise with Royal Caribbean and P&O. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised, as have previously read negative reviews about this ship. I can only compare with my previous experiences, but although small, this ship exceeded my expectations. The food is excellent and the best I have had on a cruise. The staff are welcoming and so friendly and give 5 star service 24/7. Great onboard activities and entertainers, especially the Braemar Show Company who were the most talented bunch of singers and dancers I have come across. The ship is kept spotlessly clean, with great attention given to hygene. Embarkation was super speedy and luggage was waiting for us upon reaching our cabin. Quite a good mixture of age ranges onboard including some families with children. The only thing the ship lacks in my opinion is a proper theatre, as the main show lounge isn't really big enough to accommodate everyone at peak times. Restaurants onboard were excellent, we were in the Grampian on Deck 8 which is light and airy with large porthole windows all the way round. The self service Palms Cafe is superb, with tables laid properly with starched white cloths and waiters allocating you a table, which is better than other ships I have travelled on. Sadly, there was one big downside for me, the fact the ship is small and flat bottomed, there is a lot of movement which was a problem to me as I am not a good traveller. I spent two sea days feeling unwell, which was a shame. For that reason alone, I would probably not choose to cruise on Braemar again, but for those who travel well, I highly recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Went on Braemar to the fjords from 23 to 30 May 2015 My husband and I love cruising been on twenty two been with all the big hitters you may says his was first time with Fred Olsen we were a little doubtful after reading some of the ... Read More
Went on Braemar to the fjords from 23 to 30 May 2015 My husband and I love cruising been on twenty two been with all the big hitters you may says his was first time with Fred Olsen we were a little doubtful after reading some of the reviews about this cruise line how wrong we were we have never had such a good cruise The staff were excellent food superb the choice was unbelievable cabin great we had an inside we found it good ten metres from the stairs and lifts so accessible but no noise from them We were on deck four room 4067 room maid excellent she replenished tea coffee every day Bed comfy and two wardrobes 30hangers which was adequate the only minute problem was safe was not big enough to put husbands lap top in Smallish ship but we found observatory good Neptune bar good coral club good morning light pub good in fact the age group approx sixty years upwards wasn't a problem we found all passengers charming friendly and wanting to have a good cruise The attention to detail as far as the food was concerned was excellent beautifully presented And what a choice from beef en croute smoked salmon steaks shepherds pie to fish and chips so there was something for everyone We had a marvellous cruise best ever would we go with Fred Olsen again definitely Not p & o or royal Caribbean or princess the cuts are obvious on these lines try Fred you will not be disappointed Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We had chosen this cruise because of the ports of call, and from that point of view the cruise was extremely good. Being able to see so many different places in Canada in the one journey was really good and we had some nights in port as ... Read More
We had chosen this cruise because of the ports of call, and from that point of view the cruise was extremely good. Being able to see so many different places in Canada in the one journey was really good and we had some nights in port as well so we could sample the ports by night. The ports included several areas where we could see national parks and the big cities of Montreal and Quebec as well as smaller towns. Embarkation from Liverpool meant a mere 20 minutes taxi journey for us. We especially like Liverpool as an embarkation point as the cruise terminal is centrally. This means that once you have left your main luggage and checked in, there is no need to just sit and wait like you do in other terminals. Hence we did our usual and, once we had spoken to the staff to find out how long it would be before our embarkation, we made the most of the lovely afternoon by strolling along the river front and sat with a snack and drink from one of the vendors. There are also pubs and hotels very near the terminal. We were told our embarkation would be about 45 minutes time so, as we still had plenty of time before final embarkation, we returned about an hour later and were then able to embark immediately. Our luggage was waiting for us when we arrived at our cabin (5052) which was a superior outside midship on deck 5. We moved to cabin 5052 a couple of days later. Please see cabin review(s) below for explanation. Both cabin stewardesses were excellent. We were given our chosen dining arrangements of first sitting and table for two. There are not many tables for two, so this was an advantage of our early booking. Our waiter, Danny and assistant were very good, as were the other restaurant staff. We found the food to be very good overall, but there were two occasions when I had chosen chicken and it was not cooked properly. On both occasions these were replaced swiftly with a completely new meal. The ship was in fairly good condition for its age and furniture in the restaurants and bars was in good condition, but some aspects were not to our liking. The only bar serving the outside was the Lido on deck 8, with the bar higher up not open on this cruise, even in warm weather. Bar staff did come round the other outside decks, but sometimes it took a while to get a drink outside. We found the Lido bar very confining at night as there was a barrier across the floor and the bar protruded a long way to one side, making the seating area difficult to access at busy times. Apart from a few evenings when we were in the upper reaches of the St Lawrence, the net curtains were always closed in the restaurant, even though it was fully light at the time. We have been able to see out of windows when dining on other ships, including all the other Fred Olsen ships. All windows on the ship were dirty when we embarked, especially our cabin window. The only windows we saw ‘cleaned’ while we were on board were the ones in the Observatory. That must have been with dirty water as they looked much dirtier after ‘cleaning’ than they were before. The water supply was turned off from 2am until 5am on at least four nights during the cruise. It seems that affected the supply to the whole ship, including public toilets and staff accommodation, so it is lucky and perhaps surprising, that we did not have some sort of illness on board. We do not take part in many of the daytime activities. but I listened to some of the talks, most of which were not particularly good, apart from those by Mick Testoni who spoke about his time on RNLI lifeboats, which were good. The port speaker was a pleasant person, however, the content of his talks were very confusing in that he flitted from here to there and did not make clear how to get to places he mentioned, or even if they were walking distance from the port or up to twenty miles away. When talking about the trips he was equally vague about what was to be expected and even got details totally wrong at times. My husband used the gym a few times which he described as ‘massively underused’ so there was plenty of availability of equipment which he found to be good. The one highlight of the daytime cruise entertainment was when a number of senior officers, (including the captain), took to the pool one afternoon for what was called 'Dolphin Racing'. This was extremely funny and like a ‘crossing the equator’ type of event. I think the staff concerned were really good sports for taking part in that. The evening entertainments were mixed, with some cabaret artists being very good and others not so good. Some shows were good, but many were designed for people who were in their seventies or beyond. Ballroom dancing was extremely well catered for, but as we have found more recently on Fred Olsen cruises there was no option for a disco style of dancefloor unless you stay up until after midnight! This always irritates us as there are two lounges with dancefloors and we do not see why they both have to be used for ballroom dancing, to the exclusion of more modern styles. In the past we have known music requests to be allowed, but not on our more recent cruises. Fred has even stopped the sixties night, yet that was the era when people who are now in the sixty to seventy age range were teenagers (and a lot of them cruise). It seems to us Fred has no wish to encourage anyone under about seventy onto their ships, unless they have ballroom dancing as a hobby. Some of the entertainment staff did cabaret style singing in the evenings and while some were OK, I cannot say that sort of thing is particularly to our liking. The staff all worked hard though. The crew show was excellent as usual. The first evening we were in Quebec there was a group of local musicians brought onto the ship and they were exceptionally good. We found the observation lounge to be about the best place to sit on the ship, both during the day and at night. There was a Rosario trio playing there. This was the best Rosario trio we have heard on any of Fred's ships. As well as the excellent, restaurant, bar, reception and cabin staff, we found the vast majority of the other staff to be extremely good as well, with the notable exception of the shore excursion staff who we found to be unhelpful and rude. In Charlottetown as we went ashore we walked into the cruise terminal, which was opposite the disembarkation point. The senior shore tours member of staff was there and asked if we were on tour, we said, 'no', and she immediately pointed to the door on our left and said, ‘Out that door and turn right to the town’, in a very brusque manner. If we had done what she told us, we would have been denied access to the very helpful local people who were in the port terminal to greet and advise us and who could be clearly seen just ahead! Needless to say we went straight ahead. We had researched the ports before the cruise and had booked four excursions, mainly to some very good national park locations which we could not have easily seen independently. None of these excursions went according to plan, the one to Louisbourg Fort from Sydney, being particularly bad. We have done a lot of trips on four different cruise lines previously, (including two with Fred in Greenland) and they were better organised than the majority of the ones on this cruise. I will cover these trips fully in port reviews below if possible, or will post them on the 'ports of call' forum for Canada if not. Fred’s planning of this cruise could have been improved on. Although we know port times can always be changed, we did not get notification that we would be leaving Montreal two hours earlier, (and hence missing our late night), until about 10.00pm the night before our arrival. It seems that Fred’s office had miscalculated the travelling times in the river, so we had to leave early to reach Quebec the next day. Details of the port times had not been properly researched either. We were constantly assured that there would not be a time change the night before we reached Corner Brook, even though a number of people had queried it. The next morning the Captain woke us up at what we thought was 7am to tell us it was actually half past eight! I was subsequently told by the cruise director that the Captain knew about this mistake by half past ten the night before, yet not even people who were still in the public areas of the ship were told about it until the next morning. Most of the staff were not told either, which was unfair to them. A one and a half hour difference is a lot. It was good to visit the area of Canada at this time of year, as it was before the main season started and we were the first ship of the season in a number of ports, so many places were very quiet. The temperatures were as expected for this time of year, with the maritime regions being still fairly cold, with some mist which is common there in spring, but luckily it did not rain in most ports and there were only a couple of days affected by mist, so we did well. The weather was quite summery in the Quebec and Montreal area, as expected there at this time of year. The sea was kind to us the whole time and the ship kept steady, but dull breezy weather followed us back across the Atlantic, so it was not really an out on deck journey. We made all ports which was lucky, as a few ships had missed their calls to St John’s because of sea ice prior to our visit. In fact the Maritime areas had only been free of sea ice about 3 weeks before we arrived and we were sailing through areas where there were icebergs around, but not near enough to be seen. Disembarkation went smoothly although the retracting handle on one piece of our luggage was not working properly when we picked it up. Luckily the manufacturer was prepared to replace the bag, but it is the third time we have had a retractable luggage handle damaged by Fred in our last seven cruises. Hence we are beginning to think it must be a speciality of theirs. Overall, a successful cruise and I would even like to repeat with something similar, but probably later in the summer or early autumn and preferably as a fly cruise. We would be looking for another ship as well. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
As seasoned travellers with many years of road tripping under our belts (to most parts of the UK, Europe, Eastern Europe & Canada) we wanted to try a tour of Norway, a country we'd never been to before but had been considering for ... Read More
As seasoned travellers with many years of road tripping under our belts (to most parts of the UK, Europe, Eastern Europe & Canada) we wanted to try a tour of Norway, a country we'd never been to before but had been considering for quite some time. However, as we started planning it, it became evident just how expensive such a trip would be, plus there was also the issue of there being no ferries to Scandinavia from the UK anymore, which would have meant a very long drive via Holland, Germany, Denmark & Sweden before we even reached Norway. We’d never tried a cruise before, but as an alternative to a road trip we looked at some Norwegian offerings, which appeared to be a more cost effective way of getting / staying there than going by road. We eventually ended up booking with Fred. Olsen for a cruise on the 'Black Watch' leaving Liverpool on 11th May bound for the Norwegian ports of: Alesund, Hellesynt, Gerainger, Olden, Bergen, Eidfjord & Stavanger. The Black Watch is quite small for a cruise ship, it accommodates just over 800 passengers, its compact size meaning it can access the smaller fjords. Being so early in the year meant that we were the only ship in most ports on a given day which was a plus.. The first thing that struck us about the ship as we embarked was how 'well used' and dated it is. On board it's quite jaded in places and in need of a good spruce up and some modernisation. Some people - Fred. Olsen and a few dedicated fans of cruising - call it charm, we call it, 'wearing out'. The exterior of the ship also looks quite bad with it's many “battle scars”, looking at it close-up at the ports of call reveals some nasty looking dents in the hull, and some rust appearing in several places. There seems to be a never ending painting programme going on to cover up the rusty bits. In every port we called at, out came the bucket of paint & rollers to conceal a bit more of it. What this poor 43 year old lady really needs is to go into dry dock for a spell and have the rust properly treated – or better still she should be gracefully retired as her best days are most certainly now behind her. We’ve been on nicer cross channel ferries. When we booked the cruise, we opted for the 'all inclusive' drinks package at £220 for the 2 of us. Like a lot of other things with Fred. Olsen the details of this were very vague until we got on board and found out that 'all inclusive' actually isn't. Water is available at the bar as part of the deal but only by the glass so it can't really be taken back to the cabin and is probably only the tap water anyway. Bottled water in the cabin has to be requested and paid for. Coffee and tea and a kettle is provided in the cabins but in the bars aren’t covered under the all inclusive deal. Only very cheap wines and spirits are part of the all inclusive package on-board, the house “whisky”, as an example, is some cheap Spanish brew which is quite rough, if you want even the lower end brand blended Scotches, like Bells or Grouse etc you have to pay a 50% surcharge – despite it being listed as only 10p dearer than the nasty house whisky in the bar price list. The same applies to other spirits and wines, although it has to be said the red 'house' wine is more palatable than the spirits. For draught beers there’s very little choice – lager or Boddingtons bitter were all that was on offer in the bars. No Guinness or any other dark beers on draught – only tins & bottles which again are not part of the All Inclusive package so attract the 50% surcharge . Olsen need to be a little more transparent regarding things like this because the way things stand it's all just a little too vague in the pre booking information and can catch out the unwary. If we'd known beforehand that the all inclusive package included only the cheapest unbranded whisky and other spirits that nobody outside of the ship has ever heard of we'd never have taken it, we'd have paid for our drinks as we went along and bought the cheap branded stuff on offer, but having to pay 50% extra, even for the likes of Bells, Grants and Grouse made us feel a little cheated. Calling it 'all inclusive' is very misleading. We used the complimentary cabin service on a few days when we arrived back at the ship too late for lunch or dinner and found it very good. Our order was usually at the cabin door within 10 mins of phoning it through. Only things like sandwiches & soup and a few deserts were available but they were of good quality – better than the main restaurant food in some cases. Food in the main waiter served “Glentanar” restaurant was pretty average at best, with more emphasis being placed on the presentation rather than the taste & texture. To be honest it's all just a bit pretentious on what is a rather tatty little ship, especially the formal evenings where passengers have to dress accordingly for dinner. A lot of folk did seem to like that sort of thing though, which only added to the pretentiousness of the whole affair. We only ate in the main Glentanar restaurant on a couple of occasions, on our second and final visit our rather pompous waiter was quite rude to an elderly gent at our table who had complained about his soup. On that particular night we had what was allegedly pheasant which it has to be said was disgusting, it all looked very nicely laid out on the plate in nouveau cuisine fashion, but eating it was like chewing an old inner tube. I'm no expert on pheasant but I'm sure it shouldn't have been that tough and dry. After that experience we elected to eat in the Braemar Garden Café which is a self service buffet restaurant and the food all the better for it. This was a far less ostentatious atmosphere and the waiters were marginally more pleasant. We didn’t eat too may lunches on board, preferring instead to stay out using the limited time available to explore wherever we were docked, as no matter where we’d arrived it was always more interesting than on board the ship. We partook of breakfast most mornings, but found the cooked offerings to be invariably cold to lukewarm. The first morning we tried it the fried eggs were barely warm, as were the beans, sausage and bacon. The cold scramble egg was the particularly unappetising “piece de resistance”. The following few mornings were no better in either restaurant so we opted for the cold continental breakfasts after that which were an improvement even if the croissants were miniscule. We'd booked a couple of shore tours before we left home. The first was from Gerainger by coach up the Eagle Road which was spectacular and well worth the cost. Sadly the second one from Stavanger was a huge disappointment. This one consisted of a trip on the so called Jaeren Railway to Egersund which cost us £75 each. It promised wonderful views as we travelled through the “Breadbasket of Norway”. The reality was a ride by coach through Stavanger at rush hour to the railway station, where we got on to a commuter train. We then travelled for over an hour and a quarter through some pretty underwhelming countryside to the lacklustre town of Egersund where we then boarded the coach for the run back to Stavanger by road which was only slightly better. We did have an hour to kill in Egersund though so rather than stay with the tour guide (who at least had the decency to look a bit embarrassed), we took off to find a coffee shop instead. Talking to other participants of this tour back on the ship afterwards it transpired that we weren't the only ones who felt disappointed by it. We could probably have done the same trip ourselves for less than £20 Norway is undeniably beautiful, the cruise showed us a mere glimpse of what this wonderful country has to offer and we will return there, but next time will be a road trip - and hang the expense, it'll be worth it. As far as cruises go for us, never again. I'm too young even in my mid 60s. If this particular cruise is typical of most then they seem geared more to passengers in the 70 – 80 age group who's idea of fun and adventure appears to be stuffing themselves with as much food as possible, a game of bingo and a quiz chucked in now and then.... and dressing up for dinner whilst on an ageing ship being the icing on the cake. Just short of 3 days to get to and from Norway is excessive, and boring, I’d have preferred a quicker cruise and more time in Norway. Having experienced the open road for years, we simply felt trapped inside the ship. Having too little time to explore the places we saw became frustrating as we had to keep a constant eye on the time in order to get back in time for departure and we hated the stress of clock watching whilst on holiday. I can see the appeal of cruising for some people, but it's not for us I'm afraid. In future I’ll be firing up my car or the motorbike again and taking off for some real travel adventures Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
I was desperate the see the Norwegian Fjords, which by the way were spectacular, so my sister and I booked a trip with Fred Olsen which included the all inclusive drinks package. Embarkation at Liverpool was a breeze and the baggage ... Read More
I was desperate the see the Norwegian Fjords, which by the way were spectacular, so my sister and I booked a trip with Fred Olsen which included the all inclusive drinks package. Embarkation at Liverpool was a breeze and the baggage handlers at the port were slick and fast, however, you do have to fight through all types of walking sticks, Zimmerframe walkers and very slow infirm passengers. My sister and I, although not young, felt like teenagers in comparison as the average age on board was in the region of 70+. Although on the fully inclusive (FI) package, which is good value for money, the rules around what is included in the fully inclusive package is ambiguous and at best vague. This is compounded by the staff offering you items that are not on the FI package, although knowing that you are on the FI package. The result is that you find yourself being charged for a drink that you didn't realise you'd bought? There is a form of stealth sales that goes on as I think the staff receive an incentive to sell drinks and on several occasions I found that I'd unwittingly bought a coffee or a glass of wine in error. The other irritant is that on the occasion that you do order a drink on the FI package you're still expected to sign for the price of it which left us with a tree's worth of paper receipts. Make sure you always check the receipt which has a printed 'FA' on it if you've achieved the fully inclusive package as the staff don't tell you. We found this helpful piece of information from a fellow passenger. All communication is provided whilst on ship via a daily paper put into your room by the evening service staff. This is useful and provides you with all the information you need with regard to sailing time, ports of call, activities and services. We didn't pre-buy port and shore excursions but used the hop on, hop off, facilities that is available at each port. They were perfect for us as it gave us the opportunity to see what we wanted to see and was much cheaper than the excursions. Our cabin was small and dated but was kept super clean by our Cabin Attendant who was fabulous. Everything onboard is chargeable including the cabin bottle of water. We were on deck 5 which is perfectly based for reception, the restaurant one deck below and to disembark which is on deck 3 and the spa which is on deck 3. You don't have to use the lifts and can get everywhere fast. You'll never get in the lift anyway as 2 walkers fill the entire lift and there are only 2 lifts in the centre of the ship. The food is good although typically British themed with it's target passenger being the older demographic. I was however, so tired by the end of the trip by the continual chorus of 'Happy Birthday to you' which is sung by the staff and an attempt to get you to buy your table a round of expensive liqueurs. Although, we met some lovely passengers, the more mature passenger can tend to feel superior and will reserve the best seats, push you out of the way and tell you to move if you're in their way, although they've reserved seats for their friends. You having to stand wherever possible to enjoy the evening is an insult to them. Some would go into the library and put all their belongings down and then disappear for a couple of hours, returning at their leisure expecting their seating to be there waiting upon their return. This resulted in my sister and I roaming around the ship looking for somewhere to sit during inclement sea days, eventually going back to our cabin. The only place that would guarantee us an escape from the infirm was the Gym which was well equipped, clean and tidy with showers and a steam room. The most modern part of the ship in fact. On day 8 of our trip there was a terrible smell across our deck which was attributed to the water refuse tanks being full. They had to dump it into the sea but because we were still in the Fjords the ship had to keep hold of it. All deck passengers complained and we were offered a move to another deck but only for the night which meant we would have had to pack up and then move back - we declined and stayed wishing we'd brought pegs with us for our noses. The reception staff are all poe faced women who know nothing and are accountable for the same. We had several encounters with them and at no time do their faces crack into a smile which is accompanied by 'the computer says no' mentality. The 'can do' ethos is nowhere to be found on this ship. The restaurant staff are polite and friendly, however, have to be because the Management in charge seem to run the place with a fear culture,as we saw staff being told off in public areas in view of passengers which was very uncomfortable to witness. We would cruise again but not on this line - an expensive disappointment to say the least. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We booked last October for a cruise of the fjords. At embarkation, our luggage was delivered to outside our cabin on third deck. The cabin was clean and throughout the cruise was well-serviced by Rodell. We found the entertainment very ... Read More
We booked last October for a cruise of the fjords. At embarkation, our luggage was delivered to outside our cabin on third deck. The cabin was clean and throughout the cruise was well-serviced by Rodell. We found the entertainment very good, and we saw a few great shows, and a funny comedian. As we bought the all-inclusive drinks package, we were limited to what and where we could drink, no drinks included on deck seven, and a limited number of drinks on deck six, which meant we were drinking house rum or Stella. We used the buffet for most of our meals, and the food was reasonable to good, the service was good to indifferent. The Reception staff were helpful and polite, and the staff in the Braemar Room were very cheerful and funny. The pianist Ronald is very good indeed, and we enjoyed our time in their as well as the quizzes at 10pm. Wi-Fi is available on board but is very slow,and some days doesn't work atall, It is very expensive if you only buy a few hours, so I would suggest paying £30 for a 24 hour package,not £5 for half an hour. The excursions are very expensive, so think about making your own way around when you dock. Overall, we enjoyed ourselves, but felt that we didn't get the value for money we should have got, and considering we booked so far in advance, should have been given the all-inclusive drinks package and gratuities free of charge, which were later advertised as included. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was our second cruise on Black Watch - she is an old ship but we find her comfortable with a good ambience - no glitz or glamour and traditional but we quite like that and also much prefer the fact that she is a 'small' and ... Read More
This was our second cruise on Black Watch - she is an old ship but we find her comfortable with a good ambience - no glitz or glamour and traditional but we quite like that and also much prefer the fact that she is a 'small' and elegant ship. Car parking service and embarkation at Liverpool were easy. We walked easily to the ship but there was a mini bus for people with mobility issues. Port of Liverpool staff were friendly and helpful. The seas were very rough for our first day out of Liverpool and many passengers were unwell - unfortunately not a lot can be done about this, but the remainder of the trip was fine. The ship was spotlessly clean with good hygiene standards and we were not aware of any problems in this regard. Our cabin was 5039, centrally situated and with everything we needed. The beds were comfortable and our room stewardess, May, was excellent, in fact, the Black Watch staff generally are superb - they are extremely polite and friendly and cannot do enough to help, we could not fault them at all. The food was once again delicious with a great choice whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner (we didn't visit the Supper Club so can't comment on that) - I would think that there was food available at every meal for all tastes. We always ate in the Glentanar Restaurant and had faultless service from our waiter Jimmy. For dinner we sat at a table for 6 and our fellow diners were great company. Passengers on Black Watch (and I believe the other Fred ships) do tend to be 'older' - everyone was very friendly and most had excellent stories to tell! The itinerary for this trip was excellent and a perfect introduction to Norway for anyone who hadn't travelled there before and enjoyable for 'returners' like us. It was a good mix of towns, cities and beautiful small ports in heart of the fjords. Our thoughts on these are below: Alesund - normally an interesting town with a good atmosphere but unfortunately it was bank holiday when we were there so pretty much everywhere was closed (this is generally the case in Norway on a Sunday too). A visit to the top of Mount Aksla for the view is a must. I did an excursion to Giske & Goday which was interesting with excellent cake at the lighthouse. Hellesylt, Geiranger, Olden and Eidford - all in beautiful locations. If you do not want to do an excursion in any of these places maps for walks are available at the tourist information (or shop in Hellesylt) and can be recommended. One different excursion in Eidfjord was to the Sima Hydroelectric power plant - worth a visit. Bergen - the highlight of the trip was to be in Bergen on Norway Day - an unforgettable experience to see the parade and the joy and pride of the Norwegian people. If you get the chance to be in Norway on this day (17th May) do take it. For the slightly energetic can recommend the walk down from Mount Floyen (take funicular up) about 45 minute walk down through woodland and then streets of old wooden buildings that are beautiful. Stavanger - nice city with few streets of beautiful old wooden buildings - we didn't go into the commercial part of the city so can't comment. We did the Jaeren Railway excursion which was okay but wouldn't recommend. On leaving Stavanger the Captain took us to Lysefjord to view Pulpit Rock which was an 'extra' and much appreciated. Our only minor niggles - we would have like the evening show for second sitting to be after dinner as it was in the past - on this trip it was normally at 7.15pm which is when I prefer to have a pre-dinner drink! (Fred's all inclusive is excellent value at £10 day) and we would have liked announcements as to what the ship was passing occasionally as we sailed by (again this happened in the past). There was an excellent speaker, Jane Ann Davey - we would have liked more lectures. All in all, we had a good and happy holiday and feel that Fred is excellent value for money and look forward to sailing with Fred again in the not too distant future. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We have just returned from a great cruise to the Azores & Maderia. Thoroughly enjoyed visiting some of the islands in the Azores and spending time in Maderia Cabin was very clean and comfortable even if it was an inside, not my ... Read More
We have just returned from a great cruise to the Azores & Maderia. Thoroughly enjoyed visiting some of the islands in the Azores and spending time in Maderia Cabin was very clean and comfortable even if it was an inside, not my choice but booked at the last minute (our fault) much prefer an outside. There was problems on the ship due to the Novovirus which was still evident from the previous cruise but we must congratulate the staff who worked tirelessly to ensure our cruise was as comfortable as possible. In actual fact we got spoilt by them serving us all the time even in Palms cafe. This problem did not effect our time on the ship. I must congratulate the Balmoral Show Company which put on excellent shows and also the Crews Show which was brilliant specially the engineers so funny. I will be travelling with Fred Olsen again in the future. Our stewardess was excellent in making our cabin looking clean and tidy and she always had a smile on her face. The waiters who served us in the restaurant were very polite and helpful and the drinks package good value for money. The excursions we went on were very interesting and informative but also it was nice to be able to stroll around these lovely places on your own Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was our first cruise so we did not know what to expect. Fred Olsen customer service is terrible, I booked by 'phone, they got my name wrong and it took four telephone calls to get it corrected, their on line service ... Read More
This was our first cruise so we did not know what to expect. Fred Olsen customer service is terrible, I booked by 'phone, they got my name wrong and it took four telephone calls to get it corrected, their on line service didn't work and what ever you do don't give them an e mail address you cannot print from because they then insist on using it for everything including the tickets even if you ask them not to. The ship is lovely and the staff cannot do enough to help you, the only problem is the other passengers we dubbed "The Black Tie Ya-Yas" although if you eat in the Secret Garden and use that lounge where the dress code is always casual you can usually avoid them. If you want to dress up like a penguin don't prance around belittling those who don't want to take part in the pantomime. I tried the main restaurant for lunch on the first day but found the staff attitude very poor, probably because I was a woman eating alone so we used the Secret Garden after that where the staff were much more accommodating. One tip on this, make sure that the compulsory £4.00 per couple per night tip for the waiting staff is paid to the restaurant you dine in or it will automatically be allocated to the main restaurant. Don't pay for any excursions unless it is something you really want to do as you can do the same trips when you get there for a quarter of the price. When you get back to Dover take a taxi from the taxi rank rather that booking thru F/O again much cheaper. Bar prices are very reasonable and the all inclusive package is definately worth doing, we didn't see anybody take advantage. We were very pleased with our cabin, the maid service' entertainment on board, everything was good once we got on board so we will know what to expect next time although the stress caused by the poor customer service prior to the start of the holiday could have so easily been avoided if the promised new cruise passengers pack had been sent as promised. On board info wasn't that good either, the speaker on our radio was turned off so we missed the safety and lifeboat drill and it was Thursday before we found out that you could have sandwiches in the Lido Lounge and "short orders" in The Grill at lunchtime if you preferred. All in all a good experience and we will definitely be doing it again Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Mini cruise to Dublin from Liverpool on Black Watch. Fred.Olsen does not expect passengers on Mini cruises to complete a questionnaire so I'm not sure how they get feedback, perhaps they read Cruise Critic? Car parking with CPS ... Read More
Mini cruise to Dublin from Liverpool on Black Watch. Fred.Olsen does not expect passengers on Mini cruises to complete a questionnaire so I'm not sure how they get feedback, perhaps they read Cruise Critic? Car parking with CPS went well. Check in not as slick as Southampton. Boarding the ship entailed walking under a partially covered walk way which did nothing to stop the area being a couple of inches deep in rain water. We've not sailed with Fred.Olsen before, this cruise was ideal to check out Black Watch with a view to booking a longer cruise. The staff were probably the best we've come across. Their friendliness, use of passenger names, eye contact, made them stand out from other cruises companies. Ships officers were visible too, but not the captain. Drinks were reasonably priced, however in the Lido bar, being asked if you'd like a bottle of wine when you ordered a glass was a bit pushy. One evening I was asked if I'd like a large cocktail, this was served in a pint glass decorated with a slice of pineapple! Mixed age group on board plus a Hen Party who seemed to be enjoying themselves. Menu looked good on paper but not as good when it came to the dining experience itself. Breakfast was poor. Poached eggs, cooked to order, one of which was perfectly cooked the other was so cold it tasted as if it'd been in a chiller. Cabin was a terraced balcony suite on deck 7 I understand this cabin used to be classed as a junior suite before the refurb to include a balcony. The cabin was spacious with plenty of storage, good size bathroom. However the decor was dated, the bath had a sizeable chip which had obviously been repaired (badly) Double bed with two single duvets. Soft furnishings were dated, carpet completed the 'vintage look' The innovative balcony was slightly raised from the deck and so long as you don't mind fellow passengers promenading past you'll be fine. Don't expect privacy on the balcony and keep those net curtains closed! The balcony is a waste of time you may as well find yourself a chair on Lido deck Unfortunately Fred.Olsen doesn't have any photos on their web site of these cabins. Entertainment was fun and informal. Dublin was fantastic, great city to visit, plenty of wonderful attractions and friendliest of people. So, would we book a longer cruise with Fred.Olsen? Not on Black Watch. She may be sea worthy but she is far from luxurious, just a tired old lady who needs a lot of TLC. If Fred.Olsen consider Black Watch to be of a suitable standard for their passengers then Fred.Olsen is not for us. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We travelled from Liverpool to Ireland on Friday 8th May 2015 and had cabin number 9912. The room was very clean and everything that had been promised in the brochure, but the quality of the mattress and the pillows was very poor, both ... Read More
We travelled from Liverpool to Ireland on Friday 8th May 2015 and had cabin number 9912. The room was very clean and everything that had been promised in the brochure, but the quality of the mattress and the pillows was very poor, both being hard and lumpy. We found the indoor areas of the ship to be clean and bright, the standard of the food was very high and could not be faulted, and the staff were very friendly and eager to please. However, we encountered quite a few problems with our room. When returning to our room after dinner on the first night we found the wind howling around and under the door, making such a loud noise that sleep was impossible. We had to wait over one hour and make two calls to reception before maintenance attended our room. Only a temporary fix could be effected and this was only by placing a towel along the door bottom, but we were happy to accept this as we wanted to retire and were told that a permanent repair would be done the next day. After going to bed we were woken about 2.00a.m. by a loud intermittent clanging. It turned out that the metal balcony divider had come loose in the very wet and windy weather and this was swinging back and forth. After trying to fix it twice ourselves it still worked loose again after 10 minutes so it meant another phone call to reception and a visit from the maintenance man. We would expect that these type of items should have been checked as part of general maintenance before the room was allocated. We went off the ship on the Saturday and were very disappointed on our return at 5.00 p.m. to find that the howling noise under the door had not been attended to, so we called out the Customer Service Manager to explain how very disappointed we were with our experience so far. She apologised and offered to move us to another cabin but we were loathe to do that as it involved moving our belongings ourselves. She then called out the senior maintenance man who said he had listened outside our door earlier in the day but as he could not hear anything he did not think there was still a problem! He came back an hour later and effected a repair involving duct tape. On Sunday I went to use the hairdryer and it would not work, so this meant another visit from a maintenance man and the problem was found to be an electrical one in the razor point in the bathroom - yet again another item not checked to be in working order. In the newsletter we received we were told that on the last evening we would receive a questionnaire for completion - we did not, I wonder why? There a many good things to be said about Fred Olsen cruising, the embarkation and disembarkation was handled well and efficiently, the standard of hygiene is very high too. It may have just been our bad luck to have so many problems with our room but it did mar our enjoyment of the trip to a large extent. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Just returned from a 3 nighter to Dublin booked last minute. Went years ago on Black Prince and found it good, but haven't been with Fred since. Our premium twin cabin was spacious and everything worked well. The food was ... Read More
Just returned from a 3 nighter to Dublin booked last minute. Went years ago on Black Prince and found it good, but haven't been with Fred since. Our premium twin cabin was spacious and everything worked well. The food was excellent; better than I have eaten on more expensive cruise lines, and served with a smile. Passenger age mix was wider than we have experienced before. You don't usually get hen parties on Fred Olsen. They were a lovely bunch of girls who enjoyed themselves but respected other passengers. Nice to see children as well. All in all a lovely two full days in Dublin on a comfortable ship. We will travel with the company again. Embarkation was quick and efficient, and disembarkation was amazing! We were asked to vacate the cabin by 8 a.m and we're off the ship by 8.10. Incredibly efficient. Didn't go to the shows but others seemed to enjoy them. Only slight negative was limited choice of T.V channels. No problem for us; we don't go on holiday to watch T.V, but if you want to relax in your cabin there's not a lot except world news to look at. There's a nice little cinema with decent films though. Good experience which we hope to repeat. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was a Norwegian Fjords cruise. Embarkation went smoothly and our luggage was in our cabin as we got there. We had stayed B&B in the Holiday Inn, Southampton the night before and parked there as well. So about 12.30pm we walked ... Read More
This was a Norwegian Fjords cruise. Embarkation went smoothly and our luggage was in our cabin as we got there. We had stayed B&B in the Holiday Inn, Southampton the night before and parked there as well. So about 12.30pm we walked our cases to the passenger terminal (102) passing City Terminal on the way, were able to check in and then returned to the hotel as we had a late check out there. We then had another cup of tea and went back with our hand luggage about 2pm and we were able to board the ship straight away. We have stayed in this hotel before and found it good, with great views and convenient location to go into Southampton town for a meal in the evening. We were surprised at our inside cabin as it was bigger than we expected, well laid out and with lots of storage space. The ship had been refurbished a few months earlier and everything was in very good condition. Likewise the rest of the ship pleased us, as it was well presented throughout. The first day, which was at sea, went well and we settled in nicely. Port talks were given and could be seen on the cabin TV. Our cabin stewardess, Wilhelmina, was excellent and we had nothing but smiles and efficiency from her, even though we were fairly late leaving our cabin at times. Likewise our restaurant waiter Bobby and his assistant, Prie, in the Avon restaurant were also excellent and very friendly and the food was also very good. The self service restaurant was big, but there was not much view as the windows looked out onto prom deck and some of the view was obstructed. It was worse than need be as the curtains were never drawn back fully, which was a shame. The meal times, were quite limited, lunch only available form 12.00 – 2.30pm for instance and breakfast finished at 10.00am. This was quite problematic at times. Unusually, we had chosen second sitting for this cruise as there was scenic cruising on the itinerary. We do not regularly go to the shows, but as Fred has started having the shows before second dinner instead of after, we did not attend any, as it was too early for us. We did use the observatory lounge quite a lot and bar service was very good. We took the drinks package and the drinks were of a quite decent quality, even the wines which we had found to be of very poor quality on a previous cruise. We did not purchase any excursions on this cruise. The Captain had warned us there could be some rough seas and he later announced that we would not be able to get into Stavanger the following afternoon, but would go straight on to Bergen arriving late afternoon, instead of the next morning. The sea was a bit bumpy as we passed through the storm overnight but was OK the next day, only catching up with us the first evening in Bergen. The second morning, as we were travelling to Bergen the relaxing cruise turned into a very stressful time. The Captain announced on that morning that there was a gastro enteritis outbreak and that the usual procedures for this would be adopted and we were regularly reminded to wash hands etc. We went into Bergen later that day and took the funicular up the hill, only to find we were asked to wait a while before we got into it as someone had been ill and it had to be cleared up. The real severity of the outbreak became apparent when we went into the restaurant that evening and saw that at least 25% of people were missing from the restaurant, and probably more than that. As I was eating my sweet, someone vomited on a table very near me. At that stage everyone nearby walked out of the restaurant and this left me feeling very wary every time I went to eat for the rest of the cruise. There were obvious signs of ill people in a lot of cabins as the ‘do not disturb’ signs were left out all day, room service trays were left in the corridor in big plastic bags and dirty linens and waste were left in bags in the corridor. Even if we asked no one would tell us how many people were ill and even now Fred will not disclose numbers, but presuming it was on a rolling basis, a large number of people must have been infected. It has to be said though that the staff took their extra duties without complaint, although they were obviously very hard worked at this stage. On the third night of what should have been an 8 night cruise we had a letter to say that the cruise needed to be curtailed because of the infection rate. We would still go to Flam the next day and they would do scenic cruising then, omit Olden the next day and stop at Stavanger instead, hence restoring the call we had missed. We would then arrive back in Southampton one day early, making the cruise 7 nights instead of 8. The scenic cruising originally scheduled on the return journey was also missed. We were never actually told directly that it was norovirus, although one letter did refer to the infection, then in the next sentence went on to say things about norovirus, so it seemed to imply that was the problem. However a news article on this site, (accessible from the news tab above), and dated 11th May, says, ‘a Fred. Olsen spokesperson said the line had a sample tested and it had come back negative for Norovirus’. Also, as we were disembarking, a member of the port staff said, ‘I believe that it is not thought to be norovirus’. I did not think that was the case myself as the normally busy ship on the first day, suddenly became a very quiet ship after that. Fred has been reported as saying that someone was sick on the first day and that she had brought the virus on board. As a biologist, I must say that one person being ill on day one and a very large proportion of people being ill almost 2 days later is not my understanding of epidemiology, especially as people whom we knew were ill did not seem to pass it on to their cabin companions. Although the staff were working hard through the problems, I do not think the company dealt with it well in all ways. A member of staff told me one night that she had been sick that morning. If she was a passenger, she would have had to stay in her cabin for 48 hours after symptoms subsided, yet she was in the public areas of the ship, dealing with passengers. Also the antibacterial hand gels (which do nothing to viruses) were still being used and I only saw two containers of antimicrobial foam that would be effective against viruses. We managed to get back to Southampton without suffering with the infection, but feeling very stressed after the whole experience. We docked at 10.00am in Southampton, so normal disembarkation would have been after midday. We were thankful that as we had a long journey ahead we were given priority disembarkation, so we did not need to stay in a hotel on the way home. Disembarkation was straight forward for us, as we left the ship just after we had to be out of our cabins, which was at 11am. We just want to put the whole experience behind us and are not looking to gain financially but for the record I would like to clarify a couple of points that have been mentioned in the press. The one day’s refund given to passengers on this cruise was actually for the one day’s cruise that we did not get as we returned a day early. Also the vouchers given as a goodwill gesture, were for a few specific cruises, most of which are from embarkation ports which many people would find difficult to reach. There were also other restrictions on the use of the vouchers. We can see a lot of advantage with Fred, given the unusual ports visited and other reasons as well, so I would like to see Fred get this sorted. If not, they will lose our custom as well as that of many other people. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Did not stay at a hotel. Sailed from Dover, embarkation was swift as the ship was only 75 per cent full. Cabin was clean. we have cruised with Fred Olsen before but this was the first time on the Boudicca. We have avoided this ship in ... Read More
Did not stay at a hotel. Sailed from Dover, embarkation was swift as the ship was only 75 per cent full. Cabin was clean. we have cruised with Fred Olsen before but this was the first time on the Boudicca. We have avoided this ship in the past as it hit the National Press for being struck down with Norovirus. We should have known better than to risk it. Within 3/4 days the infection started on board and when my husband got it, I was asked to stay confined to the cabin with him to protect other people. Having agreed to this, it ensured that I contracted it from him. We missed two ports of call and were isolated until we docked at Dover. Keeping us separated on disembarkation, we were able to see approx 60/70 suitcases with ours indicating many more victims. It was common knowledge that the ship was only 75% full - we are lrft to wonder why. We suggest FredOlsen examines their food preparation as not once did we receive hot food - at best it was warm and at worst it was tepid. We have read in today's paper that the Balmoral has been similarly affected. Olsens need to give this matter priority as it seems immoral to keep selling cruises knowing the very high risk they are putting people at. The entertainment was good, the performers worked hard especially with a much reduced audience both from the number of people sick, but also because the ship was not full. Dining was a mixed bag, due to the self service being discontinued and staff hard pushed to serve. Disembarkation was swift as we were held back for all the healthy people to go off first. We have returned from our "holiday" in far worse health than when we left and we have paid financially for the doubtful privilege of it. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
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