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731 Fred. Olsen Cruise Reviews

This was our 37th cruise. Some have had spectacular destinations, some have been full of excitement and entertainment. Until this cruise, the Braemar to and through the Panama canal was overall our best ever cruise. Four days before this ... Read More
This was our 37th cruise. Some have had spectacular destinations, some have been full of excitement and entertainment. Until this cruise, the Braemar to and through the Panama canal was overall our best ever cruise. Four days before this one on Boudicca I received a phone call advising that we had a complimentary upgrade to a 7th deck cabin with terrace and wet room. When we opened the cabin door, Wow!!! So much space - the wet room was brilliant as well. We have never been disappointed with the dining rooms on any of the ships - Braemar stands out a mile in particular at lunchtime, with different flavours of diet bread and butter puddings each day! Most excellent waiters and captain waiter. There have been many cruises with great entertainment each night - one in particular (which was not a Fred Olsen). So to this cruise on the Boudicca. We were amazed by the organisation of the timings of the secret garden being open. There were a few mornings when we were too late for the normal breakfasts, but were able to break our fasts there. One day however we arrived just in time for lunch! The variety of food was most welcoming particularly for two diabetics. Our water glasses were topped up frequently and Captain Waiter seemed to take extra care with us (my wife being in a wheelchair). A big thanks there. We were on ship for the majority of the time and had plenty of options to bide away the time in the way that we wanted. Dolphin racing, bingo, quizzes, relaxing and reading and of course eating and the shows. The comedian, whose name I have forgotten was brilliant. Clean and very funny. Hope Fred Olsen has him as a regular. Stress free is a simple way of saying how enjoyable this cruise was. The place we stayed the most was in our cabin. It was excellent. We are not drinkers or pub people, but we did have our diet lemonades to take back to the cabin, where we played Cribbage. THE WATERFALLS AT goodolfusen (can't spell it) were splendiferous. Well worth a visit. I have an old friend and acquaintance who regularly cruises across the Atlantic and back again, without getting off the ship. A bit surprised at this, but now with this latest experience I can well understand why. Sorry Braemar, but you have been knocked off no.1 spot as the best ever cruise. A big thanks for the crew of the Boudicca for helping to make this one the best ever. Thanks Fred Olsen. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
It was an ideal way to get to Iceland without having to fly (which I refuse to do any more). Embarkation was smooth and fast with scarcely any queueing. Disembarkation was equally fast and efficient. We had an internal cabin which was ... Read More
It was an ideal way to get to Iceland without having to fly (which I refuse to do any more). Embarkation was smooth and fast with scarcely any queueing. Disembarkation was equally fast and efficient. We had an internal cabin which was adequate in size, pleasant decor, very comfortable bed, and efficient shower in the ensuite. The stewardess was very pleasant and efficient, like all the other staff and crew we encountered. There was a good choice of restaurants and bars, with a different ambience in each. The food was superb and the waiting staff very efficient, besides being the pleasantest and friendliest you will meet anywhere. There were plenty of different activities available, from watercolour painting to ballroom dancing, to ukulele playing and on to games like quoits and shuffleboard. Two excellent swimming pools, jacuzzis and a gymnasium catered for the more energetic - you could be as active or as laid-back as you liked. There was a good programme of lectures, plus bridge games, quizzes and even bingo if that is your fancy. There was a good choice of shore excursions, and we enjoyed all three that we chose. We went whale-watching in Akureyri, and were not disappointed. The only quibble I have about that excursion is that it was quite a long walk from the ship to the trip boat. My husband has a heart problem and had difficulty keeping up with the rest of the group, as did another man similarly affected. It would have been better to have a minibus available. The blue lagoon trip we did from Reykjavík was wonderful. We saw a lot of the countryside and had a wonderful soak in a beautiful hot thermal lagoon. In Orkney we visited Skara Brae and the Ring of Brodgar, passing by Maes Howe and the stones of Stenness, and getting an excellent trip through the surrounding countryside. This was well organised, and a pleasure to experience. We enjoyed this, our first cruise, so much that we have already booked to go to the Baltic with Fred Olsen next year. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We live in Edinburgh, the sailing was from Rosyth, and the itinerary was very interesting. The check in went slowly but smoothly, parking procedure very good. The gangway was very steep, very narrow and entirely stepped, with wide flat ... Read More
We live in Edinburgh, the sailing was from Rosyth, and the itinerary was very interesting. The check in went slowly but smoothly, parking procedure very good. The gangway was very steep, very narrow and entirely stepped, with wide flat areas on either side. Many passengers were elderly, using sticks for support, and found it very difficult. These people make up a large part of Fred Olsen Cruises customer base, and I found this astonishing. We scanned our cards ourselves, with a crew member checking it- not a word, no eye contact from any member of the gangway crew, then, or at any time during the cruise. The ship is beautifully maintained, inside and out, with comfortable lounges and plenty of artwork and photographs. Dining in the Balindalloch restaurant was good, food excellent and waiters very smart in grey suits. The Palm cafe was lovely, with seating overlooking the pool. The food was fine, but coffee generally cold, with staff morale not too good. The cabin (3072) had been refurbished and was well equipped, with a proper full sized shower area. There was, however, no sound insulation at all. There was almost nothing in the way of engine rumble or other mechanical noises, but it was as though the occupants of the cabins on either side were in beside us! They were selfish idiots with no regard for anyone- we were also idiots for creeping about like church mice! Entertainment was pretty good- a singer/guitarist in the Morning Light lounge was very good, with a most pleasant manner. The Neptune show lounge was very smart, with a resident 6 piece band. The British song and dance group were good, as were comedy and speciality music acts. There were also 2 afternoon classical piano recitals which were wonderful. The dancing classed in the Neptune were very good, organised by a Scottish Husband and Wife team. Reception and shore excursion staff were very polite and helpful. The promenade deck had seating in several areas, but there was not enough depth to accommodate loungers. There were plenty of these round the pool, though, as well as on deck 11. Fred Olsen claim a 60% return rate, and I believe it. Many guests were treated like old friends by some crew members. We only did 1 shore trip- the Monet House and Gardens, which was excellent, but there were plenty choose from. Some people were disappointed to find the trip they wanted fully booked, so it's best to book in advance. The clientele was almost entirely Scottish, and we met some lovely people, but if you are looking for a more mixed crowd, Rosyth is probably not the best staring point. We enjoyed the cruise- the ship was very smooth and quiet, there are quiet areas to hide away in. There does seem to be a problem with staff morale- a lady at our table was actually shouted at by a waiter for not being able to understand his broken English! There were plenty of "suits" in evidence, so the problem has to be in management quality rather than quantity. We asked someone with a cabin on deck 6 about the noise from adjacent cabins, and it appeared to be no better than ours. That would probably prevent us from taking another cruise with Fred Olsen, which is a pity, as there is so much to like. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We booked to go to the Fjords leaving Dover 09 June 2019. We made a little mistake when booking as we went via a Travel Agent. Firstly, the agent was poor but, more importantly, it placed an barrier between us and FO. Any queries we had we ... Read More
We booked to go to the Fjords leaving Dover 09 June 2019. We made a little mistake when booking as we went via a Travel Agent. Firstly, the agent was poor but, more importantly, it placed an barrier between us and FO. Any queries we had we were referred back to the agent. My advice - book direct. The boarding in Dover was seamless. We live near Dover so booked a taxi. Straight into the port up to terminal, bags taken from boot by porters, we were on-board within 15mins and our luggage arrived in our cabin 20mins after we did. Well done FO. A minus point for FO. As first time cruisers we booked the ship tour on our first day at sea. FO told us that all would be in our cabin when we got on-board... nothing. Never mind, we did our own tour... the lay out of the ship is quite easy and it was fun bumping into things ! Our cabin (7039 balcony with clear view. A must in the Fjords) was exactly as advertised. No issues with the cabin at all or our cabin steward (Moo) who worked her socks off to keep us happy (I did take a tip off YouTube and gave Moo a little bag of bits {no more than £6} on the first day which may have made a difference but maybe not !!!). The ship was a little tired in places altho' it was always well presented, clean and shining. Staff were excellent throughout the ship. Food was lovely (every day). We tried things we have never had before which is good for our betterment ! You must keep an eye out for the Gala Lunch (ours was on the last day at see) and take your camera ! The Formal nights were good with lots of bling altho' I did change after the meal into more casual wear. We paid for the drinks package @ £15 per day. I think this has gone up now to £19pd. You need to give this some thought. Me - I drink a lot of beer and a can Spitfire was £3.80 so I was happy with my lot. My wife tried their house wine and found it 'undrinkable'. The cocktails were very sweet. She then moved onto spirits and mixer. This she was happy with but sometimes the bar staff forgot to put the spirit in (pressure of work maybe !). To combat this we ordered the spirit and mixer as separate items. The drink came to about £6. Add these drinks to your wine at lunch and dinner and it may appeal to you. Beware that it is only for drinks from the bar. No cans of pop, no tea or coffee (posh type) and no bottled water. There is a filtered water machine and tea & coffee machine in a small drinks station. Normally this is quite clear but avoid end of meeting, talks or presentations as there is a queue before and after these sessions. Entertainment is on every night. The on-board crew do put a lot of effort into their shows and one of their shows was outstanding. There are guest entertainers: a duo who played many instruments (first time - good. Second time - not so good), a comedian - spent most of his time picking on members of the audience to the level of embarrassment - not good. In the main bar is a guitar duo who were very good and they went in turns with a pianist who is not very happy with his lot !!! There were talks given by an ex Bank Manager - Prison Guv'nor. His first talk was very good, cannot remember his second talk and his third talk was about Porridge and real prison life. I got the impression that this was pushed onto him and he knocked it together at short notice. There is quite a big gym on the top deck with a great view. I did not get there but it looked very good. There is a set 1 mile walk around the ship ( 5 x 1 mile). Did this prior to breakfast. There is an organised walk at about 0800 but the guy who runs it may have been trained to get 20 something's to walk fast rather than members of U3A ! We only did this walk once. We went solo after that. We did our own shore excursions. FO is very expensive. Most of our trips we booked from UK before we boarded and the others were taken from shore-side when we went alongside. For us, the best we did was the funicular railway in Bergen and a 5km walk around the top (huge queues at bottom but they do go down quite quickly) and we booked a Twizo electric car in Flam. Expensive but BRILL. We booked 2 hrs (11-1300). We got into Flam just before 1000. We went over to the car hire ( you will see it as you get off the tender) to show him our paper work prior to 1100. After a bit of a chat I asked if we could take it early (with a big smile). He agreed so we had 3 hrs for the price of 2 ! You have a choice where to go and we wanted the viewing platform at the top of the mountain. The SatNav looked after us and it was great fun. Top Tip, after the platform, go a little further were the SatNav will tell of a great viewing point. In short, book your own, its a lot cheaper. A fine example - there was a fishing trip that FO was charging £45. When we docked it was next door to the ship and was advertised at £30 (that's your £15 drinks package paid for on that day!!!). Disembarkation was as easy as getting on. We were called by deck and the bags were waiting for us in the departure lounge with many porters waiting to take you outside. Overall, we loved it. We would go again and yes, with FO. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We wanted to see the Norwegian Fjords and only a small (ish) ship can get to all the best ones. We loved the size of this ship as you were no overwhelmed by the size and if you met someone you liked to talk to you would be sure to see them ... Read More
We wanted to see the Norwegian Fjords and only a small (ish) ship can get to all the best ones. We loved the size of this ship as you were no overwhelmed by the size and if you met someone you liked to talk to you would be sure to see them again, a real plus point. The only moan we had was the size of the cabin, we did have a balcony but the room was very narrow to what we are used to, but if you pick a small ship then you should expect that unless you upgrade. The service was brilliant, no faults there but we do wish the Fred would do away with service charges as we always tip well for good service, we removed the SC at the start of the trip. I hope that Fred follows P&O and pay their staff better and remove the SC. The pool was warm and underused which was great. The entertainment was first class, as good as any ship we have been on. Also and its only our view you cannot 'graze' all the time, which is a good thing. No eating between meals. Lats of all the drinks are very reasonable. Well done Fred Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Saturday, embarkation Upon arrival in Southampton by car ABP parking met us right by the ship. The porters who unloaded us were very slick and in no time we were at arrivals then straight on board. Very efficient. We had no idea ... Read More
Saturday, embarkation Upon arrival in Southampton by car ABP parking met us right by the ship. The porters who unloaded us were very slick and in no time we were at arrivals then straight on board. Very efficient. We had no idea where to go for muster so when we heard the call asked a member of staff who pointed us in the right direction. Until then we didn’t even know what time muster would be. Whilst at muster in the Grampian dining room we saw quite a bit of food on the carpet by the wall where we were sitting. Not a good first impression. Our cabin was fine. We sailed on Black Watch a couple of years back so knew what to expect. People often moan about the plastic shower curtains on Olsen but at least you get flexible hose shower-heads, essential if you have a stoma. Only negative being our air-conditioning was extremely loud and for some reason our double bed was made up with two separate sets of sheets and duvets. Bizarre. This was rectified after the first night so no problem. Tip: If cases won’t fit under the bed ask your cabin steward to put in storage. We went to the theatre where the house performers were excellent. The house coke is not great and there was no prosecco on the all-inclusive list of drinks but the waiters / waitresses were excellent, especially considering the obstacle course of tables and chairs they have to negotiate. The stage is to the side of the ship with too slight a gradient for the seating. To a man everyone was commenting on the incredibly poor layout and two blatantly obvious problems. The revolving seats were higher than the fixed ‘sofa’ seating behind them on each level and at the very back of the theatre Olsen have crammed in extra chairs making it virtually impossible for people to walk behind trying to get further round in the theatre, and if they do they nudge people all the way around totally distracting you from the show. Tip: on Braemar you have to get in theatre earlier than you think to get a decent seat. (There are even seats behind the pillars). Sunday, at sea Lunchtime in the Grampian the ‘daily special station’ had roast sirloin and Yorkshires. The sirloin was to die for, absolutely superb, but many people were asking where were the roast potatoes? 95% of passengers British and no roast spuds. Spent the afternoon on sunbeds which would have been fantastic but for the constant grinding and smell of paint. We had all this previously on Black Watch, Olsen do their maintenance throughout the voyage. It was this night we returned to our room to be met with a note saying our Tuesday tour (through Olsen) was cancelled. Absolutely gutted. The ‘Oyster Route’ in Vigo was the tour I was seriously looking forward to. Upon enquiry it was cancelled because the tour is operated by an outside contractor so if they are a couple of people short – tough. Not impressed. Monday, Aviles ‘Daily Times’ informs us docking times have changed and we leave 1pm NOT 4pm. This turned out to be a recurring theme. So if you had booked your own tours outside Olsen that ended after 12:30pm you were stuffed. We had chosen a trip (with Olsen) to Luanco then a free walking tour of Aviles. Leaving on a coach to Luanco led us through an industrial area but Luanco was a pleasant harbour town. It was brought up many times the fact that there just wasn’t anybody around in the mornings. Literally one woman and her dog. Apparently there is a small flurry of activity in the mornings when what children there are catch their school buses but that’s about it. The young have moved away to the big towns and cities. Sad really but this ghost town has a beautiful church by the coast. We all felt a bit rushed on this trip, no fault of the tour guide, but was enjoyable. No time to shop as promised in the brochure but most places were shut in the mornings anyway. Tip: One member of our party had specific needs for toilet facilities. The only toilet was back at the bus station. There are no public toilets and most bars etc. are closed in the mornings. The local Free Walking Tour that we took on our return to Aviles was very good indeed. Tour guide being excellent. Bit of a tip for the evening. Each day in the Daily Times there is a ‘cocktail of the day’ available within the all-inclusive deal. Directly underneath that there is the days ‘after dinner drink’. Don’t get sucked in, the day’s after dinner drink is NOT included in the all included package. Misleading. Andy and Alit in the Morning Light bar were absolutely superb. The lunch ‘special’ in the Thistle was Indian themed. The food was absolutely excellent. At dinner in the evening we finally had roast potatoes. The food is generally superb but it’s a mainly British passenger ship and they cannot cook roast potatoes. Soft / soggy with a bit of brown on the outside. Really is my and many others only gripe. The food overall is first class. The ‘International Memory Man’ with his Rubik’s cubes was highly entertaining. I didn’t hear anybody that did not enjoy his shows. Tuesday, Vigo As already written our tour was cancelled so we free-styled. Explored the old quarter including the church then onto Oyster Street which I’d been looking forward to so much. Oyster Street still has the old world charm about it but unfortunately now completely commercialised. I ordered my half dozen oysters and was ushered to a table opposite belonging to a restaurant. They obviously wanted you to order drinks for the privilege of sitting there whilst the old woman who sold the oysters came over holding a stretched out 10 euro note asking for her money. The oysters are advertised as 9 euro so watch out for this ploy. Having sat down you are plagued by peddlers and gypsies. Has to be said I was sadly disappointed with taste of said oysters. They were very fresh but nowhere near as tasty compared to what is available in the UK. I since learnt from a couple of sources that these oysters do have a completely different taste, are a bit smaller and not regarded as anywhere near the best worldwide. Shame but at least I tried them and they were super fresh. We climbed the big mound which was steep but well worth it for the view and exercise. Reasonable café and toilets at the top. My wife bought quite a few items on the way back to the ship. A nice place but quite a lot of graffiti. On our return to the ship, to rub salt into the wounds there was a ‘Shore Tour Survey’ left on our bed to review our cancelled shore tour. Not a good move. Wednesday, at sea The lunch special today was pasta. Now I am not big into pasta but the whole thing was absolutely superb. Chilled out on the loungers in the afternoon but grab a towel from the changing room to lay on your lounger because of all the sweat and suntan lotion that has gone before you. Loungers are very comfortable though. Cocktail of the day much the same as yesterday’s pina colada – chi chi. Coconut and pineapple (always wedged on the glass rim) were prevalent throughout the cruises cocktails of the day. Thursday, Seville day 1 Needed an early start so went for breakfast in cabin. Need a bit more choice i.e. boiled eggs, porridge or even toast. There was nothing cooked available. We walked a couple of miles to a huge flea market. If you enjoy flea markets you’ll love this one. Thursdays only though. Followed up with a bit of shopping therapy then lunch back on board. This was a Spanish buffet on the swimming pool deck. Later that day we had booked a walking tour of Santa Cruz. What an amazing area – a must see. Friday, Seville day 2 Got up early to meet for early pre-booked tour however the ship had moved docks during the night due to forecast high winds and the narrow bridge we had to go back through. So we were first off the ship and had to wait 30 minutes for a police escort to take us to the gates which, having found someone with keys were then unlocked. We had chosen Amigo Tours for this joint early entrance Alcazar tour followed by the Gothic cathedral. Bucket list stuff. Tour guide was excellent and WELL worth the early start. Alcazar was a fabulous building full of history (a game of thrones venue as well). Having done a lot of research I knew that by doing the cathedral tour straight after there would not be a lot of time to spend in the Alcazar gardens. This proved to be the case but the tours were excellent, worth the trade-off for getting in before the crowds. Alcazar – a must do. Louisa Park opposite docking area is a nice place to chill. Leaving Seville you go back through a lock. On deck you can get right to the front of the Braemar, the perfect viewing platform but . . . going through the lock there was no visible difference between the water levels when opening the gates which caused much mirth amongst fellow shipmates. I’m guessing the tides must have something to do with this. Tried the cheeseboard again at lunchtime but exactly the same boring cheeses. Come on Olsen let’s have some variety. A big disappointment was the lack of local entertainment on board i.e. Flamenco dancers. Big problem with Olsen is if you are doing an activity and are late back missing dinner you have to wait until the Supper Club begins at 11pm. No food available between times. Saturday Cadiz We had booked a free walking tour with Cadizfornia. An excellent tour and the host Pedro couldn’t have been better. An entertaining local who knew all the history and gave great shopping / restaurant advice. Thoroughly recommended. Really liked Cadiz. The fish market has to be seen to be believed and there is a good general market. We found a very good cheap supermarket in a backstreet behind the market square. Eg. Bottles of water .15 cents each. Coming out of the port nobody initially knew which way to go, it would have been useful for a member of staff to be positioned at the exit to help people. Tip: There are colour coded lines on the roads / paths which take you different routes. We bought our duty free tobacco to take home from the duty free here. About 50 euro’s for 10 x 50gm pouches of Golden Virginia but when we were here it was cash only. A criticism from several passengers was that leaving at 3pm was too early because if you were on a tour there was not enough time for shopping or trying out the local tapas (Cadiz being the home of tapas). It also meant missing lunch. The Thistle closed at 2pm which meant a rush to the buffet which closed at 3pm. Particularly annoying because a lot of people would have liked to try the ‘Asian special’ at lunchtime. Come on Olsen, if you leave at 3pm keep the Thistle open the extra hour to feed all the people that have been rushing around trying to max the short time available in Cadiz before leaving so early. Sunday at sea Lunchtime saw roast at the ‘station’ in the restaurant. Perfect roast, Yorkshires . . . but no roast spuds. Just Cajun something or other and new potatoes. Need more veg. options was the general criticism. Lovely afternoon spent lounging on deck 8. Wind kept most away from sunbeds but there is nearly always a sheltered spot, and there was today. Tip: Good idea to put towels on the very comfy sunbeds as some were showing signs of days of sun cream and sweat. There are plenty of spares in the changing rooms near the pool. Then leave in ‘bins’ in same area when finished with. Saves carrying up and down from cabin. And drink plenty of water with your cocktails on the sunbeds. Dinnertime saw more frantic activity on the curtain front in the Thistle. Apparently since day one waiting staff have wrestled with pegs and all sorts to stop diners by the windows being blinded by the sun. It took several attempts to hold the non-drawing curtains across most of the window. Our waiters confirmed this is an ongoing and very annoying problem that could easily be resolved. Monday at sea Very unusually second day of slow service. Something amiss in kitchen apparently. The Moonlight bar is an excellent chill out / meeting area with 2 outstanding characters, Andy and Alit. AKA Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Entertainment wise ‘Memory Man’ was most excellent. A £12 laundry offer appeared tonight. Actually a very good deal. Tuesday Bordeaux A very nice vibrant city with Braemar in the perfect parking spot. Again, NOT ENOUGH TIME here. Overnight should give you 2 full days, you really need them here. Leaving early morning the second day before the shops even opened was just a waste. Very hot! Again, no local French entertainment on board. Not even an accordion player. No food available on board, even the buffet was shut when we came back to drop shopping off and grab something to eat before heading out again. We had to hang around an extra hour and a half before we could eat. Wife’s note: why have only grapes with seeds and where are the strawberries and raspberries? We were treated to a spectacular natural light show from the deck early evening. Continual forked lightning flickering all around Bordeaux for a good half hour scattering all the students who meet up on the riverbanks. There was an incredibly bad reverberating noise in our cabin which continued down the corridor at night. We were forced to ring reception who obviously knew of the problem as they immediately offered an inside cabin but on the same deck so no use at all. Turns out according to bar tender the noise is caused when the (tidal) river level in Bordeaux lowers, the engine noise bounces back off the riverbank walls we are moored against. Big gripe. We had no time to do anything in morning as ship left at 9am NOT 10.30am as advised. The man at reception tried to tell me we supposed to have left at midnight! The young lady there however blamed the early departure on the tide. Tides are known years in advance. I had all the port arrival and departure times direct from Olsen HQ before we left specifically to double check private tour timings. Time in port was cut a few times. Call me sceptical but would reduced time in port equate to less expense? I only have experience of Celebrity and their advised port times were spot on every time. With Olsen if you have booked a tour using their arrival / departure times issued from HQ you could lose your tour fee if time was cut short or miss the ship. Wednesday at sea Really pleasant cruise back up river to the sea passing through a fascinating vertical lift bridge. The crew show was excellent. Barkeeper Andy’s number 2 in the Moonlight bar had an incredibly good voice but the poor guy had to sing twice, returning straight to the bar after each performance. Thursday at sea Found a lovely sheltered sunbed spot again. The Grand Gala lunch and seafood buffet was excellent as was the Cockleshell Heroes talk. Retrieved our suitcases from storage and sadly began packing. I do wonder what will happen when the current crop of septuagenarians and octogenarians who choose Fred Olsen fade away. Will the younger cruisers currently used to ‘modern luxury’ lines such as Celebrity choose Fred Olsen’s ‘traditional’ cruising on older ships as they get on in years or the more modern ‘boutique’ cruisers such as Saga? (Whose smaller ships can reach the same destinations as Olsen). Don’t get me wrong we enjoy Olsen but it is tiresome getting the smell of paint up your nose every day on the sundeck along with continuous drilling, grinding and sanding somewhere on the ship most of the time. Exactly the same experience as we had on Blackwatch. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Chose this cruise because of the itinerary . The fact that it sailed from Liverpool was an added bonus as we have always wanted to visit the city. We were not disappointed with our three night stay before boarding. Embarkation at the ... Read More
Chose this cruise because of the itinerary . The fact that it sailed from Liverpool was an added bonus as we have always wanted to visit the city. We were not disappointed with our three night stay before boarding. Embarkation at the cruise terminal was efficient and speedy. The car parking arrangements worked well. We had a balcony suite cabin and were very pleased with its size and the facilities. This cruise sailed within sight of land most of the time and the fact that we were in the land of the midnight sun meant we could enjoy many hours of sightseeing from the comfort of our balcony. The ship itself is small by today’s standards but we don’t need shopping malls or climbing walls. There were lots of shore days so there were plenty of opportunities to get off the ship and walk in the lovely Norwegian countryside. We were very impressed by the standard of food offered at all meals. The menus were varied and the food tasty and hot. The service was impeccable. The wines on offer were very well chosen and priced competitively. The entertainment was standard fare for cruise ships. The young entertainment team provided some jolly themed Beatles and Brit pop shows. My husband particularly enjoyed the ukulele lessons with Ivy on sea days. We have sailed with several of the leading cruise companies and we felt that our experience on Black Watch surpassed them in the quality of the food and fairness of price for wine and gratuities. We shared a table for 6 and our dining companions were great fun. All the staff we came in contact with spoke excellent English and indeed could share a joke with the passengers. We did not go on any of the ships tours preferring to use local buses and do our own thing for the most part. Very easy to do as Norwegians speak excellent English and were very helpful. We did use a local tour group called Blue Puffin to visit the North Cape and they were excellent. We enjoyed all the ports of call. Trondheim has an interesting folk museum just a short bus ride out of town. We enjoyed the cable car ride in Tromsø with spectacular views from the top. Leknes was pleasant but very small however the Viking museum at Borg was a taxi ride from the port and well worth a visit - with a lovely walk down to see the Viking long ship. The North Cape visitor centre was well done. The Alta museum with its World Heritage rock art centre has spectacular view from well laid out paths. Go early and catch the local bus which runs regularly and miss the crowds. Kristiansund was a bit disappointing . Very picturesque but not much of interest locally. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Chose this cruise because the itinery seemed to meet our rquirements. Unfortunately the captain took the decision not to go to Shetland due to bad weather. While we accept his decision we felt more could be done to make up for this. All ... Read More
Chose this cruise because the itinery seemed to meet our rquirements. Unfortunately the captain took the decision not to go to Shetland due to bad weather. While we accept his decision we felt more could be done to make up for this. All the people we spoke to said this was the port of call they were looking forward to the most. Instead we had 2 nights rather than one at Invergordon (NOT a holiday desination) Two buses were laid on at nearly £30 a time to go into Inverness (perhaps to offer this free would have been a nice gesture?) We took the local bus for about £11. Any other attraction was a long trip and expensive. Other things we were not happy with - Firstly , the car park in Liverpool was hard to find. Inadequate map and sat nav took you to a building site (not Fred Olson rsponsibility) - cabin noise (see below) Buffet area quite small, not always able to get a table at busy times - While the ship was well maintained there was no main staircase or reception area and the entertainment was mediocre . - many of the staff had a poor grasp of English which could be a problem, particularly at guest services - WiFi expensive - Timing given in port were misleading for example 'late p.m actually meant about 3.30 in the afternoon. - Tours were very expensive, there were 4 of us so it made more sense to book a private taxi to take us to the places we wanted to see, which worked out fine. - Passengers were mostly quite elderly and infirm so activities were geared up for this. I did sometimes feel I was sitting in the common room of an old peoples home rather than a cruise ship! - Finally the disembarkation process was not a happy experience, but mostly this was due to the facilites at Liverpool cruise terminal Good points, main dining room was nice and our waiters were freindly and helpful and there was a very good wine list at reasonable prices plus the food was excellent. Would not go with Fred Olson again Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Very dated ship. Mainly elderly passengers. Nothing on during the day except bridge bingo and handicrafts. More like a floating care home. Tour operator extremely unhelpful.. Don't book flam railway through olsen it's a lot ... Read More
Very dated ship. Mainly elderly passengers. Nothing on during the day except bridge bingo and handicrafts. More like a floating care home. Tour operator extremely unhelpful.. Don't book flam railway through olsen it's a lot cheaper to do yourself and there were plenty of seats. Guest service manager very helpful as had to move cabins as extremely noisy. Noticed a lot of cutbacks. Eg no conditioner or body lotion in cabins. However food was outstanding served by Sam and Joe who were brilliant. Entertainment on a night was good. Cocktails seemed mainly fruit juice having been teatotal for 30yrs I thought a few alcoholic drinks would be a change. Strangely there was no effect. Service was fairly quick. The gym in a great position but vastly overheated to dehydration level with one small water fountain pretty hopeless when you have to leave the equipment to get a drink. We are used to having all our baggage taken off us at check in not done in Newcastle they will only take suitcase no suit bags or small cases.which were heavy. Class them as hand luggage. On leaving ship to come home Newcastle is very disjointed. This was my 4 time with olsen and very much my last. Wasn't keen before but Newcastle is near home. Southampton is worth the journey to board a better cruise line cunard is unbeatable and cheaper Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Always wanted to see the Fjords and this ship seemed like a good size to experience this .We has a good midship cabin near to lifts etc . the dining onboard we could not fault exceptional . The shows were all very good the service of bar ... Read More
Always wanted to see the Fjords and this ship seemed like a good size to experience this .We has a good midship cabin near to lifts etc . the dining onboard we could not fault exceptional . The shows were all very good the service of bar staff and restaurant staff again excellent . The only complaint we had that our drinks package which we paid for did not include Sherry yet its cheaper to buy than Whisky Gin etc which was included . Maybe this could be reviewed before we book another cruise with this line . We were very happy with our ports and shore excursions all picture postcard and beautiful and the courier information very educational . There were lectures given in the Theatre also about the ports which helped people decide which they wanted to do . We will travel again .Hope she can get her Sherry . Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
I chose this cruise because it went from the port of Southampton, I could get a cabin for single use and it went to the countries I wanted to see, which were all wonderful and very clean. Some difficulty getting off the ship if you could ... Read More
I chose this cruise because it went from the port of Southampton, I could get a cabin for single use and it went to the countries I wanted to see, which were all wonderful and very clean. Some difficulty getting off the ship if you could not walk too far, quite a walk to get out of the docks and onto coaches if you have booked trips. The drinks package I purchased worked out at £19 per day bought online at point of booking. One of my dining companions purchased a drinks package onboard and said she paid £29 per day. I have cruised before on other ships and the drinks package covered everywhere on the ship but not on the Braemar. I am sorry to say I found it to be a rip-off. Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly and all staff and crew at Fred Olsen were very helpful and professional. I had to use the outdated computer in the outdated library to send an urgent email, which costs £26 per hour. I was unable to get any reception on my mobile at the time. The computer was so slow and I had to send two emails that ending up costing me £52. Dining was okay, but the portions were really so small. Similar to the size of meal you would receive if you were in a care home. The crew were fantastic but everything else on board was poor. The entertainment was average and the activities were like those found in care and retirement homes. A kind of lets make do and mend mentality. I personally felt it was old fashioned and outdated. Every time the sea was a bit rough you were tossed around. I felt the ship was not that stable, specially if you were elderly and most people were using walkers, mobility scooters, sticks and wheelchairs. A few people suffered from sea sickness because of the movement of the ship. The Braemar was not the ship for me but I might enjoy it better if it is still sailing when I am in my eighties. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
A first experience: both of Fred Olsen and departing from Liverpool. Overall a good experience. Everything very efficiently dealt with and we were put at ease by the professionalism of the staff. The food was very good and plentiful. Our ... Read More
A first experience: both of Fred Olsen and departing from Liverpool. Overall a good experience. Everything very efficiently dealt with and we were put at ease by the professionalism of the staff. The food was very good and plentiful. Our selected dining option was much appreciated. The bar staff were helpful and efficient. The entertainment was different each evening and very professional. The excursions we went on (Tobermory and Kirkwall) were very good - with knowledgeable guides. A comfortable cabin: not large but sufficient for our needs. We had a problem with a very noisy ventilation in our bathroom, which took two complaints (to the cabin staff and then the guest office) to get an engineer tp sort it out. The ship is also quite old and creaks a lot. Our cabin had a perpetual squeak from the door hinges when we were at sea. We also had an initial difficulty with the bar staff at sail-away time. They failed to deliver a drinks order, which necessitated three visits to the bar to chase it up: then when it arrived it was the wrong drinks. Then at our first breakfast, we made an order off the menu (rather than choosing the buffet) and it failed to materialise. After 30 minutes, one order arrived, then after I had finished, the other order appeared. We did complain and after that, we had no further problems. They blamed a "busy kitchen" - but others around us received their orders and had left before our food arrived. But overall the food and the service we received in all the eateries was first class. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Isn't It Good? Day One, 18 May 2019. This cruise is to Norway, hence the cryptic title. Brilliant arrangements for boarding the Braemar. We arrived at noon, were met and greeted by the car parkers and porters, strolled straight ... Read More
Isn't It Good? Day One, 18 May 2019. This cruise is to Norway, hence the cryptic title. Brilliant arrangements for boarding the Braemar. We arrived at noon, were met and greeted by the car parkers and porters, strolled straight through check in and security, and were eating lunch by 12.15. Cabins were ready for 1 pm, luggage waiting outside. Don't you just hate airports? We spent a leisurely 20 minutes peering over the balcony watching ship's provisions coming off the back of vast lorry and being shuttled about by forklift. Also observing the arrival of passengers who had followed instructions not to get to port before 1.30. The Heavy Brigade were engaged in a valiant charge up the gangplank. Stormed at with shot and shell, boldly they strode and well. They boarded, but not, not the six hundred (Alfred Lord Thomason). One poor soul was borne away in an ambulance, accompanied by concerned companions. Better than cruising around the fjords in the ship's morgue. On Fred Olsen, dinner seating is fixed for the trip. We are on a table for six and if the company is dire, you have the option of taking another roll of the dice by changing restaurants. Fortunately, we deem this to be unnecessary. However, we will not know until tomorrow whether the other four decided that we are dire! Day Two Anthea does not get the cryptic title of this travelogue. Her soul must be made of rubber. Made it to the gym by seven this morning, despite the clocks going forward and a smidgeon of over indulgence on day one. They seem to have added more equipment or maybe my equipment has diminished. We do not arrive in port until tomorrow, so we could go line dancing, listen to a classical concert, or win a quiz. Instead, we opt for a general acclimatisation day, i.e. boozing, snoozing and shmoozing Tonight the dress code is formal in the main restaurant and the overwhelming majority of cruisers are happy to go along with that, leaving the tracksuit two club to order another ten rounds of Newcastle Brown. The Romanian captain quips his way merrily through his welcome cocktail party and introduces his executive team. In matters maritime, Croatia and Bulgaria rule the waves, leaving the Welsh and Scots to boss the galley slaves. I am happy to report that all our dining companions showed up, so we can't be that bad. Day Three Our first stop in Norway is the city of Kristiansand, on the Skagerrak Sea. Its most attractive feature is a 17th Century quarter called Kvadraturen. White clapperboard houses line the grid planned streets, the last survivors of city wide fires which eventually prompted the city authorities to require all new builds to be in brick. The clapperboard houses are roofed with orange tiles from the Netherlands, the trade exchange being one lobster for one tile. We then move on to the Vest Adger County Museum. Here they have re-assembled a 16th century farmstead, complete with turfed roofs. One of the grain stores has a removable section in the wall to enable the storage of bodies of those who died in winter when the ground was too hard to dig. The smoky dark interiors of the houses accommodated up to fifteen people in two rooms, but if you were young and healthy you slept with the pigs and cows. A woman's most attractive feature was considered to be weight lifter calves for lifting buckets. At first sight modern Norwegian living appears to be very functional and politically correct. The Greens call the shots, beer is £12 a pint, 58% of all new cars bought are electric, and income tax is over 50%. Suddenly, those smokey dark interiors with a wood fire and a bucket of mead don't seem so bad, especially with a flash of bulging calf! Day Four We rise early to watch our progress along the 100 kilometre Oslo Fjord, a route which takes us past the house of the Olsen family. Our boat is followed in by the larger Balmoral, the new rigid inflatable boats (RIBS) make up the rest of the flotilla and a special flag is run up in salute of the company founders when we pass the small village they came from in the 1840's. The scenery is very attractive on a sunny morning and crew bustle around with early morning tea, coffee, hot chocolate, Buck's Fizz, pastries and bacon, sausage and mushroom butties. Breakfast comes later. There are just 5.2 million Norwegians but civic pride looms large in the architecture and layout of Oslo. The decision to have a royal family was made by referendum in the early 20th century. A splendid avenue leads up to the palace, bordered by elegant anti terrorist devices consisting of large metal saucers full of flowers. Norway has the largest public reserves in the world derived from its oil revenues, and this is reflected in grand scale building projects such as the 'glacier styled' opera house. But the highlight of the trip so far is a visit to Vigiland Sculpture Park. Gustav Vigiland was commissioned by the city authorities in the late 19th century to produce statues for public spots. He somewhat over-delivered and there are now over 200 groups of these in a beautiful landscape. Made in iron, bronze and granite they are a exhilarating expression of the human form and experience from cradle to grave. Some are in simple repose, contrasting with others which are engaged in extreme contortions. High above the city is the Holmenkollen Ski Centre. A new ski jump and biathlon arena are under construction and testify to the obsession this country has with the sport. What an excellent obsession! The word 'ski' is Norwegian for flat plank. Ancient carvings depict folk on skis, presumably Nords winning the Bedrock Downhill. Day Five The approach to Arendal is reputed to be one of the most scenic in the world, and very pretty it is. We berth close to the town centre adjacent to a steep cliff with houses on top. A footpath zig zags to the top. Along this and in the garden of the house about three dozen school children perform a dance to a piece from 'Frozen'. This has not been announced on board but all the cruisers with starboard cabins or taking a deck stroll give an enthusiastic round of applause when the performance has finished. A great way of showing of the best side of ŷour culture. Norwegiansare still deeply wounded by the massacre of the children by the right wing nutcase in 2011. The guy responsible is never named and is referred to simply as 'the traitor'. We take a small boat ride around channels and skerries of the archipelago. The hills and coastline are covered with beautiful forests and white clapperboard houses. Apparently the place has won the European award for the best maintained properties. Almost every house has a boat and this is a very popular summer resort. Today, the misty waters are very calm and the gulls and cormorants have it to themselves - apart from us! We go along with the suggestion to dress up for British night. Escapist patriotism and mythical identities run riot in the sing song featuring national twaddle songs, and there is no hint of Xenophobia, even though folk are balling "Red, white and blue What does it mean to you Surely you're proud Shout it out loud." Harmless enough. Probably. Day Six Into the fjords proper this morning covering Maurangsfjord, Fureberg Waterfall and Hardangerfjord. Isn't it good, Norwegian Wood, hums Anthea, the Penny having dropped. All very epic. The minimisation of humans and the omnipresence of nature bring on a serious case of pseuds corner, an overload of awe and wonder, and a swelling of the numinous. It is rumoured that some passengers have had to retreat to their cabins and lie down until scenic sickness abates. Not this one. In the afternoon we get up close to the elements by boarding a RIB. We don bright yellow thermal floatation suits, goggles and gloves and wizz around Eijefjord at up to 40 knots. At one end of the water there is a hydro electric power station big enough to power the city of Bergen. Hardly any of it is visible, as the pipes and turbines have been inserted into the cliffs. On a plateau 400 meters high is an old farm, and in former times the children had to go up and down a footpath to school. "Late again Ibsen. What's the excuse this time?" Norway had universal literacy much earlier than the U.K. And it was one of the reasons why the small nation was economically successful even before the discovery of oil. Before we return to the ship our driver takes us close to the bottom of a tumbling waterfall, and we really feel we've earned a tumbler of Bailey's. Day Seven We go into the Lysefjord during the morning, regarded by those who are supposed to know these things to be the ultimate expression of fjord topography. Royal Caribbean would get wedged in the first bend! High vertical cliffs on port and starboard give way to stretches of open water with mountains receding in rows to a vanishing point. Don't try to paint the scene unless you have mastered perspective. We pass the famous Pulpit Rock and the world's longest wooden staircase (4,444 steps ) which has something to do with another hidden power station. It has become a tradition to bring over a Gang of Sherpas once a year to repair and maintain stone footpaths used by hikers. They have celebrity status, which probably means feature articles in 'Hikey Hikey Ho' magazine. The second and final formal night of the trip concludes with the ever popular crew show, which demonstrates that the workers have considerately more talent among them than we would ever guess over the breakfast table. As I have said in a previous report it is an ingenious way of stirring up the feel good factor all round. The status of the crew is elevated, while the guests feel they're making a small contribution to world social mobility. Indeed, during the final song, in the little bubble of suspended reality that is the Neptune Lounge , "We Are The World". Day Eight The day of the gala buffet. Being new to Olsen, our dining companions can't quite believe their taste buds as they range across sumptuous seafood, the finest cold meats and a giant cooked gammon in a shortcrust pastry, an overwhelming display of cakes and pastries, not to mention the chocolate fountain. "Oh the buzzing of the bees, in the cigarette trees...."etc. We have now left Norwegian waters and are churning our way through the North Sea back to Blighty, the land we love, but also the land of blubbing bungling ministers, broken promises, and Brexit Bollocks. That said, would you really want to live in a land of welfare economics, equality of opportunity way beyond the U.K. model, the highest Human Development Index in the world, the top spot in the World Happiness Report, the Better Life Index and the Index of Public Integrity and Democracy? Perhaps not. But we might like to take a closer look at it! Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Just back from 28 day cruise on Olsen’s Black Watch. We are in our early 60 s and very active, most on the cruise are in their eighties plus, low mobility and not active. Great for them to get a cruise holiday but frustrating if you want ... Read More
Just back from 28 day cruise on Olsen’s Black Watch. We are in our early 60 s and very active, most on the cruise are in their eighties plus, low mobility and not active. Great for them to get a cruise holiday but frustrating if you want plenty of activity. Golf putting, carpet bowls in the corridor, whist, bingo, British singalong dress nights did not appeal. Ship was being constantly worked on so noise all over including windows being replaced on upper decks, toilets not working, information about destinations not great or non existent. The entertainment ranges from amateurish to good, the crew provide a lot of input. It is an old creaky ship which during storms bounced around. Disembarkation was appalling with low mobility people having and causing problems. A double decker bus shuttled people to trains with lower deck for suitcases including zimmer framed etc. and upper deck for passengers. The late arrival and departure of these ‘coaches’ caused many of us to miss our connections. Food is okay, staff ok, gym a bit limited, all areas busy and yapping all the time. All in all a great cruise for those who have low mobility but a snooze fest for others Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Embarkation went very smoothly from 101 berth in Southampton, the cabin was ready when we boarded which was great, so we could leave our things there, explore the ship and have a bite to eat. The cabin was quite spacious and very clean, ... Read More
Embarkation went very smoothly from 101 berth in Southampton, the cabin was ready when we boarded which was great, so we could leave our things there, explore the ship and have a bite to eat. The cabin was quite spacious and very clean, comfy bed and a reasonable amount of wardrobe space. The one negative was the size of the bathroom, see cabin review. We were booked in for first sitting in the Thistle restaurant which was light and airy on a table for eight. Lovely company for the cruise and fairly good service though the standard of the food was very variable. Had to send back food that was either overcooked or dried up. The standard of presentation was also lacking at times. We usually cruise with Celebrity whose food and presentation is a whole lot better. They could produce nice meals, both formal nights the food was excellent as was the buffet lunch on the last sea day, which made the 'off' days all the more unexplainable. The entertainment was, on the whole, good. The Braemar troupe were excellent and the shows they put on in the Neptune Lounge were very enjoyable, a couple of the guest entertainers were not to our taste so we avoided them as well as the singer, guitarist in the pub area who made every song sound the same and just sang in a monotone drone, so depressing. Service was excellent on the whole especially in the Coral Club and the Observatory. We had occasion to report a non flushing loo, that was fixed within the hour, very impressed. Good ports of call though the order was different to the advertised cruise due to adverse weather conditions. We did visit them all though, the highlight being Seville. As the Braemar is a shallow draught ship we sailed up the river and docked in the heart of the city, a cruise in itself! Beautiful city and we were there for the last day of the annual fair and the fireworks, very memorable. Add to this Cadiz, lovely Lisbon, Porto and La Coruna, some very interesting destinations. We took two shore excursions, a tour round Seville and a visit to the Alcazar palace which was excellent with a very well informed and interesting guide, worth the money. The other was a coach to Porto from Lexios where we were docked. Total rip off £30 each for what in the end was a lot less than the three hours we were promised. Do not go on this trip, we found out, too late, you could get a local bus there for just a few euros. Check with the local tourist office for details, they are just outside the dock gate and you get a free bus from the ship to the gate! Braemar is a very comfortable small ship, we never had problems finding a seat in the bars or a Sun bed on the pool deck, and the lack of music blaring out there was bliss, so relaxing. Would certainly consider a future cruise on her. Back to Southampton and debarking at 102 which was a tent, not a nice end to a lovely cruise. Felt so sorry for people in wheel chairs and the way they had to get off the ship via a temporary gang way rather than a smooth air bridge. Considering all the money the port gets from cruise passengers this really is not good enough, time to spend some I think, come on Southampton. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We booked this cruise at the last minute, we paid a lot for the trip. I was in a single room which was located on deck 2 at the front, the room was very nice being an inside cabin, well equiped and the bed was very comfortable, good shower ... Read More
We booked this cruise at the last minute, we paid a lot for the trip. I was in a single room which was located on deck 2 at the front, the room was very nice being an inside cabin, well equiped and the bed was very comfortable, good shower and plenty of space with loads of storage for clothes. The dowside to this room and I express this to any one looking to travel on any Fred Olsen ship, the room is located above the bow thrusters which means during docking the rooms vibrates and the noise is undiscibable, I you have a heart proplem this is not the room to have. Fred Olsen should warm guests that this room has problems and at 1.00 in the morning being jolted out of a sleep is not good. The rest of the ship is OK for its size, comfotable but limeted. food very good with the down side of only being available at certain times during the day, as on other ships food is on tap 6.00 - 2.00. The entertainmant is OK very well put together. I would thing twice about going with Fred Olsen, you can get better for the same money on other cruise companys. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We chose Fred's Braemar as a short break and the opportunity to try out a different cruise operator. Braemar is a well laid out ship in good overall condition for its age, they are currently doing an upgrade to install a RIB as have ... Read More
We chose Fred's Braemar as a short break and the opportunity to try out a different cruise operator. Braemar is a well laid out ship in good overall condition for its age, they are currently doing an upgrade to install a RIB as have the other ships in the fleet. This is being done during normal operation of the ship, so one area of deck and exit route from the services desk was out of bounds. The staff, food, lounges and dining areas were all good. Entertainment from the onboard team was good. At the start of the trip there were only 2 dancers but that did not detract from the spectacle. The last show has 4 dancers which for the last show made it a full stage. If staying on deck 2 starboard side window rooms mid ship, you may incur the sound of the steam heating pipes for the swimming pools banging from around 07:00 through to 17:00. The staff are aware of the noise, we were offered a change of room. I believe the steam hammering is caused by either an unsecured pipe or a defective condensate trap (yes I'm an engineer and know what steam hammer is !.) They have not fixed the hammering so if you stay in this area of the ship listen out for it. It will wake you and can become annoying. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Been with Fred before and loved the friendliness of the staff, the food, the service and the Balmoral is not too massive and plenty of room to sit and relax. The excursions were very disappointing. This is not a cruise for wheel chair ... Read More
Been with Fred before and loved the friendliness of the staff, the food, the service and the Balmoral is not too massive and plenty of room to sit and relax. The excursions were very disappointing. This is not a cruise for wheel chair users. Malmo had many cobbled streets which make it very hard for the pusher and very uncomfortable for the sitter. It was a bank holiday so 90% of the shops were closed and the town is dull and uninteresting. Visby was even worse and almost impossible for wheelchair users to get around. Stockholm was OK and visits to the Abba museum and the Varsa museum well worth it. \but yet again, the city is nothing to write home about. We went on the evening city tour and the guide really struggled to tell us anything of interest and the cost 04 £48 per person was ridiculous for a 2 hour coach ride. And so to Gothenberg where all museums and the fish market close on Mondays. We took a hop on hop off bus ride around the city and stayed on the whole tour as there were absolutely no places of interest. So the itiniery was very poorly arranged given the closure of shops, museums etc. The staff on the Balmoral are just brilliant. They are mainly from the Phillipines, Thailand and India. They remember your names and what you normally drink, how you like it etc within a few hours. They are always smiling and so helpful. The embarkation was quick and efficient but the disembarkation was a shambles. There were a few good evening shows and some good entertainment in and around the bars. All in all, a disappointing experience not helped by awful weather but we will sail with Fred again Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
I consider the price we paid for the itinerary, distance travelled, entertainment, drinks package and cabin comfort (superior interior) was far too much. The A/C in the cabin was rubbish we had the setting off the scale and still found it ... Read More
I consider the price we paid for the itinerary, distance travelled, entertainment, drinks package and cabin comfort (superior interior) was far too much. The A/C in the cabin was rubbish we had the setting off the scale and still found it stuffy and through the night it seemed to go off altogether, maybe to save money- so very poor sleep quality. Obviously we reported this and it was supposedly checked out twice and found to meet the required temperatures. It did not meet ours. We were offered another similar cabin which we examined and found to be no different as it was in same vacinity. We spoke to other people on the ship some found theirs too warm and others found theirs too cold. Never had this problem before and have cruised many times. For the price we paid I would have expected a decent pillow to rest my head on but they were obviously job lot and I I awoke every morning with a creek in my neck - there was no bounce back whatsoever. I ended up having to put towels underneath to get some sort of support. Please note you no longer get branded spirit in the basic drinks package so another cut back making FO even less value for money cruise line. Food in general was good and much better than it had been on our last Balmoral cruise, so you can't judge them all by one. Staff were excellent except for one group serving in Ballindalloch at lunch time to whom everything was a bother. Entertainment disappointing - was a bit on the scarce side and very mediocre. The places we visited were so so, except for Kiel canal which unfortunately we could not go through on the way there due to windy conditions. We found there were a lot more very elderly and infirm, disabled passengers on this occasion. Definitely the best part was meeting some very nice people and making friends. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
First the negatives. Passengers were very old with many needed walking aids. A bit like a floating care home. The ship is older and small and the cabins are small too. Entertainment and facilities are basic. But all these were in my mind ... Read More
First the negatives. Passengers were very old with many needed walking aids. A bit like a floating care home. The ship is older and small and the cabins are small too. Entertainment and facilities are basic. But all these were in my mind counteracted by the excellent staff, food and friendliness of all aboard. We ate in the Grampian on the top deck with first class views. Drinks prices throughout are good and our all inclusive deal worked very well. We loved the Observatory for pre dinner drinks. The Gala Buffet and special afternoon tea were fabulous! But overall if it is glitz that you want this is not for you. The Neptune Lounge seating is very poor so get there early! Our entertainment was average overall but the dance group were excellent. Power Supply band in the Coral Club were poor. Shore tours were good except for Fuertaventura which has little of interest. Would we go again? Yes we would! Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Local departure Liverpool Ships staff very friendly and well trained in serving guests. Some of the ship has been refurbished in a very modern and pleasing way other parts are rather lacking in style and colour and need bringing up to ... Read More
Local departure Liverpool Ships staff very friendly and well trained in serving guests. Some of the ship has been refurbished in a very modern and pleasing way other parts are rather lacking in style and colour and need bringing up to date. I had cabin 7041 which was quite spacious with a terrace balcony, the bathroom was dated although well maintained and clean bed quite comfy and linen of good quality pillows not the my liking next time I will take my own. The ports of call were all very interesting many of attraction were within walking distance of the ship. The food on board was excellent the executive chief was very visible and asking her guest how they enjoyed the food. Enjoyed most of the entertainment by the show group. There is a cinema room onboard and as we had a number of rather rough days at sea it would have been nice to watch a film in the afternoon but they were only screen in the evening overall I like the ship and the staff are very pleasant and professional Fred just needs to up his game a bit by bring his ships up to date. Still I've booked another cruise for next year on the same ship from same departure point in the same cabin so I must like it. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We choose this cruise to celebrate our 40th wedding Anniversary and the special offer price was too attractive to turn down. We were let down by Guest Services in Suffolk regarding this but the staff on board more than made up it. Stephen ... Read More
We choose this cruise to celebrate our 40th wedding Anniversary and the special offer price was too attractive to turn down. We were let down by Guest Services in Suffolk regarding this but the staff on board more than made up it. Stephen and Gustie in the Thistle were great. The food was better than expected with lots of choice. Our Cabin stewardess Patti offered service above expected and James in the Observation Lounge remembered our cabin number after the second visit to the bar. Jeffery in guest services sorted out head offices issues! In my opinion the art works left a lot to be desired. The one in our cabin was awful. It would have been useful to know that all the museums but one were closed In Lisbon on a Monday and Cadiz was closed on Sunday (the days we visited). The drinks package was good for adults but for anyone aged between 12-17 years it was a waste of money unless you were prepared to rot your child's teeth with at least 9 fizzy drinks a day. Yet you had to pay adult prices for the children if you had anyone of this age in your cabin. Very unfair Fred Olsen. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
We took this cruise as we were already booked on the previous cruise and it was reduced to a good price for Black Friday. The ports of Lisbon, Portimao and Leixoes (for Porto) also appealed. We upgraded our cabin on the first full day ... Read More
We took this cruise as we were already booked on the previous cruise and it was reduced to a good price for Black Friday. The ports of Lisbon, Portimao and Leixoes (for Porto) also appealed. We upgraded our cabin on the first full day of the cruise to a terrace balcony cabin, which we liked a lot, though sadly due to poor weather we could not use the balcony as much as we would have liked on the sea days. It was a good sized cabin with enough storage facilities and a sit was on Prom deck was one of the few balcony cabins on which Fred does not allow smoking - so no smells of smoke. Cabin Stewardess was good. The food and restaurant staff were excellent as always, and as I mentioned in my previous cruise, the self service restaurant was open until midday for breakfast, so no need to rush to breakfast before 10am. The entertainments were extremely poor on this cruise, especially considering that there was such a long time at sea during the nine days. The entertainments in the Lido lounge were definitely not up to Fred's standard. We are in our 60's but do like to hit the dance floor at times for disco type dancing and the entertainers were just not up to that, though Fred is still offering Ballroom dancing between shows in the Neptune - even though they often only had 3 or 4 passengers dancing there. It would have been far better if they had just run a disco sometimes, but the only disco was in the small hours (1am usually), when Fred passengers tend to want to sleep. It is about time Fred realised that the passengers who are still able to hit the dance floor (those less than 70 or so) are of an age when ballroom dancing was way outdated during their teens, so they did not partake of such dancing and provided entertainments accordingly. No Rosario Trio nowadays and the pianist in the observatory spent more time talking to passengers than playing the piano. Fred are also running 'cheese and wine' sessions now, as well as the afternoon teas that had started doing a few years ago, when they cordon off the whole of the front section of the observation lounge, even parts which are obviously not booked out and this is done a couple of hours before the events. We usually sit in the observation lounge for a few drinks as we do not generally go to the shows etc. This meant that we were left with nothing to do and nowhere to go a fair bit of the time on board - especially on the sea days as the seats at the side of the lounge soon got occupied and are nothing like a well placed. This was obviously done to increase revenue, but I wonder how much they lost by refusing others somewhere to sit there. Even the speakers were not of interest as the subjects were just not of interest. The Captain's welcome party and the one at the end of the cruise were very enjoyable as Captain Degelund is extremely funny and treats all his staff really well. We were also well supplied with drinks and canapes, unlike our other cruises in recent years, when there seemed to be a lot of cutbacks with those. Disembarkation was earlier than it usually had been in the past (we were called to disembark about 7.37am, which is ridiculous given that we had a 300 mile drive journey ahead of us. We did not leave immediately, but the ship was cleared whilst breakfast was still being served. The disembarkation details did not give these times clearly. We have travelled with Fred a lot in recent years, due to some unusual destinations, but we may well not continue to travel with them given the lack of good entertainments and bar areas to sit, which is a shame as we had enjoyed many Fred cruises in the past. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
the time was right and some good places to visit and trip was good and food and service excellent good value for money. the cruise director had a snuffly cold and was announcing things over the tannoy and you could hear her sniffles ... Read More
the time was right and some good places to visit and trip was good and food and service excellent good value for money. the cruise director had a snuffly cold and was announcing things over the tannoy and you could hear her sniffles (not a good impression ) the toilets had no hot water in them and when we told the desk they said they would look into it. needless to say it was not fixed and as everywhere notices were posted about washing your hands to avoid the novo virus this should have been rectified. overall the ship was neat and catered for disabled guests the food excellent and the staff were very helpful and were quick to remember what you had ordered before so proving how attentive they were there was a change of ports due to the yellow jackets being in Bordeaux so we missed them but this did not affect us and it was done with safety in mind Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Boarding was very good, the ship is old and my upgrade to a basic suite was good, but the bathroom needed a complete refurbishment. There were drain smells emanating from the plug hole. Breakfast and lunch were mediocre, but the ... Read More
Boarding was very good, the ship is old and my upgrade to a basic suite was good, but the bathroom needed a complete refurbishment. There were drain smells emanating from the plug hole. Breakfast and lunch were mediocre, but the evening meal was good. The shore trips were very expensive, wi fi had to be paid for and the photographers were over the top. You had to fill in little forms for more water which hung from the existing water bottles. It does strike you that they are trying to make money from the most basic item. Staff were lovely. Captain we did not see at the introduction nights. They did push the boat out on Captain's night, Celebration nights with lots of snacks and free wine. The entertainment was enjoyable. There is a lot of competition for cruising and basically they need to upgrade to be more competitive and review their pricing policy. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
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