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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
My husband and I are in our late 50's and early 60's and had reservations about going on a Cruise that we had been informed consisted mainly of older clientele, however we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and have booked again for 2018. ... Read More
My husband and I are in our late 50's and early 60's and had reservations about going on a Cruise that we had been informed consisted mainly of older clientele, however we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and have booked again for 2018. Embarkation and luggage handling was speedy and faultless and our luggage arrived at our Cabin only minutes after we embarked. The Cabin was as described, spacious, spotless and with air conditioning and Tea and coffee facilities provided. We were pre booked onto the early Dining sitting at 6pm but could chose to go to the open Buffet restaurant if we preferred. The food was always plentiful, excellent choice and served hot, nothing was too much trouble. The evening entertainment was outstanding. We have been to many London West End Shows but the quality of the Singing and dancing whilst on board the Balmoral far surpassed some of the West End Shows we have seen. The variety of the Shows was excellent and we managed to see 3 full shows whilst on board for the 8 nights. The Shows were performed twice nightly and we enjoyed the shows so much that we watched both performances. The Show Team consisted of 10 performers, 3 main female dancers, 3 main male dancers, 2 female singers and 2 male singers. Their performances and professionalism at all times were faultless and they were all outstanding and worked so hard and well together as a team, they were a pleasure to watch. I don't think people realise how much time and energy is spent rehearsing in order produce such amazing quality shows.My only criticism would be that the 2nd Show was very late in the evening which I think restricted people coming to watch, however this did not put us off watching both shows. We thought that the entertainment during the sea days could have been a little more varied and was geared towards the older generation with Bingo and "Dolphin "racing, however the Quiz sessions were very good, but further variety would have been more interesting. The Service by everyone on board was excellent. We did not book any Tours but due to the close proximity of the places we visited, it was easy to make our own itinerary. In summary we thoroughly enjoyed our Cruise and if we had to chose one outstanding thing it would have been the excellent quality of the dancing and singing from the Balmoral team, with such amazing choreography and costume design. Finally disembarkation was also very quick and well organised. We have booked again in 2018 for another Cruise on board the Balmoral. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We did this cruise for our honeymoon - it was our first cruise and our first time in Europe, so we thought the interesting itinerary would be a good taster. We also got it for a last-minute great price. Embarkation: Southampton ... Read More
We did this cruise for our honeymoon - it was our first cruise and our first time in Europe, so we thought the interesting itinerary would be a good taster. We also got it for a last-minute great price. Embarkation: Southampton embarkation was brilliant: luggage arrived before we even got on the ship. Our cabin, as written below, was excellent, and as it was on the main deck was close to all the facilities. The ship: The ship itself is small and fairly old: some parts were a little dated but overall the condition of the ship was excellent. We liked how small the ship was as it meant that there was always plenty of room in the common areas and bars, and you never felt crowded. You could also mostly get from one end of the ship to other in about ten minutes, so none of the venues were very far away. The on-board staff were always so personable and friendly: always smiling and greeting you by name. Something to note is that the ship probably caters mainly to older clients - we were probably some of the youngest there (at ages 26 and 25). It meant the on-board activities didn't really relate to us very well, and especially the one day at sea got very boring (wifi was extortionate and I refused to pay the price!). We ended up hanging out in the Lido Lounge drinking, which was okay especially as it was never very crowded and had excellent service from the bar staff. Food and drinks: We had the 8:30pm dinner sitting in the Ballindalloch restaurant, which suited us as it meant we didn't have to rush back from the ports. The few days we did arrive back earlier we could however go to the Palms Café which had unlimited buffet-style service from 6:30pm (and breakfast, lunch, and supper club). The food overall was excellent: in the restaurant we were treated to varied five-course meals which were always interesting and presented nicely. In the Café you could choose basically whatever was on offer, which was always tasty and high quality - and unlimited too! Something to note about the restaurant: we thought we'd be fine going to the two Formal Nights with just a shirt and black trousers - not so! Dinner jackets are mandatory. So we ate in the Café on those two nights. Something to keep in mind for newbies to cruises... Room service was mostly free which was a great surprise - sandwiches, cakes, some drinks all complimentary. One thing we didn't quite understand was that large bottles of water (presented in the cabin each morning after the turn-down service, or via room service) cost £1.50 a day. Bit odd considering that fruit drinks and such could just be ordered for free. We also opted for the All Inclusive Drinks package at £240 total cost. We didn't feel this was really that worth it, as the All Inclusive Drinks menu was fairly limited. You do get half price on most other menu items though. In the end we tried to drink as much of the free cheap alcohol as possible in order to break even! Ports and shore excursions: Be aware that Rouen was quite far away from the port - a fifteen minute coach trip in traffic or an hour's walk. We were told there would be taxis so we opted for that and didn't bother buying the coach tickets; but when we got ashore there were no taxis, and we ended up waiting over an hour and a half in the cold for one! Eventually we just bought a £5 couch ticket from the ship... Rouen was lovely though overall. Amsterdam and especially Antwerp were much closer to the port, which was brilliant. We did shore excursions in both these cities: Edam and a cheese factory in Amsterdam, and Ghent and a chocolatiers in Antwerp. Both times the tour guides were funny and knowledgeable, but we felt the Edam tour was very rushed; only allowing about 45 minutes in the town (not including ten minutes walking back to the coach park each way) which didn't really give us any time to relax or explore the place. We ended up having to leave Antwerp about six hours early due to approaching storms, which was a massive shame as it meant we only got to see it in the evening (due to the excursion) and couldn't see it at all the next day as originally advertised. I know you can't help the weather, but... Overall though the experience was very positive. I'd definitely recommend The Balmoral for the fact its a cosier ship, and Fred Olsen staff were so friendly and caring throughout. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
Cabin , spacious, newly refurbed and very pleasant except for when at sea . Very loud intermittent banging, rattling noise. I have cruised several times and accept that when at sea there is always a certain degree of noise from engines, ... Read More
Cabin , spacious, newly refurbed and very pleasant except for when at sea . Very loud intermittent banging, rattling noise. I have cruised several times and accept that when at sea there is always a certain degree of noise from engines, machinery, air con but this was exceptional and unacceptable. Some service especially in the dining rooms was spa radio and at times chaotic. In the Observatory on Sunday Lunchtime, there were three waiters, one setting out tables for Afternoon tea yet some people waited for service and then walked out after being ignored. You have to ask for tea and coffee instead of waiters approaching tables . A value for money cruise but it shows on the quality of food . Avoid cabin 3106 very noisy Would I use FreD Olsen again ? Only if no one else was offering the same itinerary and I would upgrade cabins , but that would negate the advantage of being value for money. A more expensive cabin still means you would still have the Medicare food and sporadic service Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2017
It was a cruise for my wife's senior birthday. After forgetting our passports and having to return home after a stay at the Premier Inn the boarding was over in 45 minutes and all cases were unpacked with half an hour of entering the ... Read More
It was a cruise for my wife's senior birthday. After forgetting our passports and having to return home after a stay at the Premier Inn the boarding was over in 45 minutes and all cases were unpacked with half an hour of entering the cabin. We have been on the ship a few time so we knew the layout of it. On our first night dining, I was uncertain of one of the other guest on the table. The second night after he stated that the staff of the ship had an easy life we decided that was a good reason to leave the table. This was the first time we have done it in over 20 cruises. The ship was clean and the ports visited all very nice some we have been to before but this was a chill out cruise. No tours booked. The food was of its normal high standard with plenty of choices. We did not go to any of the lectures so can't comment. What I will prise very highly is the entertainment team. The night shows in both the club and theatre were of a very high standard. The best we have ever had. All in all a great 5-star cruise well done Fred. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2017
Chose this cruise as it sailed from Rosyth and expected to see Paris. First, £95 to park on wasteland, extortionate. No complaints about the ship. Dining and service in restaurant excellent. However, refused entry to restaurant on 2 ... Read More
Chose this cruise as it sailed from Rosyth and expected to see Paris. First, £95 to park on wasteland, extortionate. No complaints about the ship. Dining and service in restaurant excellent. However, refused entry to restaurant on 2 formal evenings as not wearing jacket and tie and had to queue for 15 minutes to get a seat in the buffet. Our cruise was ruined due to the continuous loud noises of welding, grinding and hammering coming from below our cabin. Had to complain twice before we were offered a SINGLE cabin where we could go to escape the noise and read, watch tv or have a nap. Unfortunately it was next to a staff only door, with staff constantly in and out banging door. Also offered £400 compensation and asked not to tell anyone. Docked in Guernsey on a Sunday, everything closed, no chance of "stocking up on duty free or low tax goods". Bus to La Rochele, Fred Olsen £20, local bus from dock gates e1.30. Lorient, booked excursion "scenic tour of Brittainy", £48 each, 4 hour "rip off" trip, spent 2h 10ms on the bus, first stop for 20 mins to see an island which most of the elderly passengers hadn't even the time to cross the small bridge, next stop was to stand for 20 mins looking at standing stones. Last stop to quaint village with streets too steep, which meant bus late in leaving. Only chance of seeing Paris if went on £220 a head excursion. Even after we got home money taken out of bank account for Premium drinks that we did not have. Still await refund and apology. A cruise that catered more for the elderly, included Saga passengers. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Excellent check in for self and car parking arrangements. Cabin a little tired. Well kept by stewardess great professional attitude and smile everyday. Food good services chaotic at times never offered wine with the meal restaurant packed ... Read More
Excellent check in for self and car parking arrangements. Cabin a little tired. Well kept by stewardess great professional attitude and smile everyday. Food good services chaotic at times never offered wine with the meal restaurant packed to the full little room to move.bar staff not that well motivated waited one hour for service in lido bar other passengers just left .theatre bar staff just as disinterested can't but feel staff morale not so good with Fred as it used to be sadly .unfortunately Fred closes at mid night not venues or eateries open entertainment finishes at 12 sharp..passengers on drinks package at 35 per day not happy be aware you may not get any value out of this deal.unfortunately staff were not that attentive to elderly guests which is a real shame as Fred would like to this is there target market .this cruise was fair value for money only not a great e experience due to the above Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Plenty to do on the Black Watch, throughout the day and plenty excursions to enjoy when in port whether you choose to do it yourself or through one of the organised activities. The ship was very clean considering her age and constant ... Read More
Plenty to do on the Black Watch, throughout the day and plenty excursions to enjoy when in port whether you choose to do it yourself or through one of the organised activities. The ship was very clean considering her age and constant maintenance takes place to ensure this. Our cabin 8005 with balcony was adequate for our week's holiday and it was cleaned and maintained daily by our wonderful young lady who looked after us for that week. Dining was excellent, we requested first sitting and had a table for two, although we were in close proximity of 4 other people whom we struck up good conversation with. The waiters could not do enough to please you, along with bar staff in all the bars. Evening show was well presented and varied with some talented artists. Although there were a high percentage of elderly people on board that did not make the experience less enjoyable, in fact it was nice to see older people enjoying themselves. Trip was so good, we booked for another one next year to the fjords and the port being 5 minutes from our door. Couldn't ask for more. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
We chose to cruise with Fred Olsen primarily because of the close proximity of Edinburgh to their Rosyth embarkation port. Also, we had cruised with Fred Olsen twice previously and knew them to be a solid, reliable operation giving ... Read More
We chose to cruise with Fred Olsen primarily because of the close proximity of Edinburgh to their Rosyth embarkation port. Also, we had cruised with Fred Olsen twice previously and knew them to be a solid, reliable operation giving value for money with the staff impeccable in every sense. Seven days was an ideal duration for us, too. in current circumstances. Another stop (we went to Heligoland, Hamburg and Bremen) would have been welcome but there was more than enough to occupy us on board. A typical day comprised sightseeing or Scrabble, cinema, gym., drinks, dinner and a show. Perfect. Worth mentioning in addition was the fact the Black Watch is small enough to ensure clients are more than "ships that pass in the night" and over the week we enjoyed re-engaging with various fellow travellers something that would not have been as likely on a vastly bigger vessel. Nothing is ever 100 per cent, however, and the coffee/tea served in the dining room was lacking although in the specialised coffee areas normal high standards prevailed at reasonable prices. Roll on our next Fred Olsen cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2017
Never had visited areas before. History of all locations fascinated us and we wanted to see modern developments in the areas which had been rejuvenated post war. Although the ship was forced to anchor some distance from Helgoland ... Read More
Never had visited areas before. History of all locations fascinated us and we wanted to see modern developments in the areas which had been rejuvenated post war. Although the ship was forced to anchor some distance from Helgoland port the weather was kind and we managed to land by tender, in excellent conditions (which were a rarity for the island ). Walked around a fascinating laid back almost Scandanavian retreat . No cars or buses, delivery vehicles were all electric! Hamburg has a modern Hafen -City port, with centre easily reached by Ubahn.Architecture and area around Alster lake outstanding. The night time trip on the lake on a vintage steamer called the St Georg was memorable. Sailing, rowing and canoeing was still going on in the dusk.The new , very modern Philharmonie building near the cruise terminal offered free entry to viewing platform over the Elbe. The trip up the Weser from Bremerhaven showed Germany’s industrial redevelopment , container terminals, factories, ship building etc all featured. Although we berthed 7 km from the old town , buses took us into the centre in 30 minutes . The Town Square with the gabled builings, the Rathaus, St Peters Church wre very photogenic. However for us the main attraction was Stutting and the Art Deco buildings lesding down to the river. The Schnoor area had many pretty old alleys with typical Olde Worlde shops and houses.Although it was rather “touristy” with many souvenir shops. The Black Watch crise ship had been recently refurbished and our cabin was a compltete delight , decorated in turquoise and cream .Toilet and shower room had been tadtefully refitted too. Lifts and stairways were easily acessible and rarely crowded. Entertainment from the resident troupers was good. The guest violinist was outstanding too. Compliments were given personally to the head chef- his menus were varied and of high quality. To cap it all the North Sea was flat calm in both diirections and the sun shone when we were at sea. We would recommend this cruise whole heartedly. Read Less
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