1. Home
  2. Cruise Lines
  3. Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
  4. Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines Cruise Reviews

748 Fred. Olsen Cruise Reviews

Mystery cruise was great fun ,no idea where we were going until we entered port .very well organised and the crew kept the secrets well .Fellow passengers were annoying in their determination to tell you they knew where we were going . I ... Read More
Mystery cruise was great fun ,no idea where we were going until we entered port .very well organised and the crew kept the secrets well .Fellow passengers were annoying in their determination to tell you they knew where we were going . I did not want to know and told them so .Way to many passengers were doing cruise price paid comparisons which I never understand , if you booked you must have been happy with the price you paid otherwise you would not book surely ?I think the price of extras in the ships general shop are excessive as in £5 for a standard size bar of Cadbury’s milk chocolate ,silly .service in the pub lounge was poor but the observatory bar was brilliant . The single travellers get together at the start of the cruise was a shambles and served no purpose . Balmoral is a great small ship well maintained and nicely appointed. Shame about some of the passengers !The food is 4 star country house hotel food nicely presented and good choices daily with good main course portions .The shows were very mixed but that is subjective I suspect . The classic piano recitals were superb . Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
The background for choosing this cruise, was a family bereavement. The purpose was to have a relaxing cruise to somewhere new. The Braemar cruise of "cruising the Seine" to Rouen then down to Honfluer, prior to return to ... Read More
The background for choosing this cruise, was a family bereavement. The purpose was to have a relaxing cruise to somewhere new. The Braemar cruise of "cruising the Seine" to Rouen then down to Honfluer, prior to return to Southampton, we thought would fit the bill. How wrong can you be. We booked via a travel agent, a suite on a guarantee bases at what we thought was a good price, then came the extras, 1st sitting and a drinks package. The requirement of a table for 2 we were told would have to arranged with the Maitre d' once on board. It was only after the booking was made I was informed we were on Anchor grade by Olsen. The luggage labels arrived 2 weeks prior to embarkation day, allocated 7008, port side near the bridge. Then 2 days before the cruise Olsen sent blank luggage labels, with no covering letter to explain why. On the booking in at Southampton we were told our cabin was one of several that were being refurbished in that area. Suite 7002 was our new suite allocation, which turned out to be a large sitting area with a small windowless bedroom. We were moved next door to a cabin with twin beds. But adjacent to the suites [including 7008] being refurbished. Dinner was the 1st sitting in the Grampian restaurant, and this started the nightmare. On entering the Grampian no Maitre d' to show us to a table, so we sat down at a table for 2 , only to be told you can't sit there. After handing my cabin card to the staff four times, I was told we were not on "the manifest". We were then put on a table for 6.The staff were not properly trained. When asked what was the fish of the day, he did not know and came back later to say it was Catfish. The house Pinot wine was corked, and declined and were informed it could not be, as it was a new bottle. After a plain uneaten main dish, we went to the rather nice bar for a nightcap, before we went back to the suite. The suite had a large bedroom come lounge area and what looked like a large balcony. I say looked because possibly of the adjacent refurbishing it was locked. The bathroom was tiny and for me, a 6 footer too small a toilet and shower. The shower was useless no pressure. The mattresses were hard and the pillows too soft, I like it the other was round. Sleep was not forthcoming the hardness of the mattress and poor air quality prevented a relaxed sleep. Next day we asked why we were treated so badly in the Grampian at diner. To be told that as we were on on Anchor fares we were not entitled to have pre-allocated table and that our table number would be in the cabin, but was not. No did we know beforehand this was the procedure. I explained that the reason we declined a large table was my partner did not want to have to go through the questioning of " how many children etc." The main dinning room had a table which we could have for diner for 2. This turned out to be by the entrance with the only outlook onto the table for disabled. Too depressing and declined. Diner for the next 4 nights was in the Palm canteen. At least we had a table for 2. The "Palm" had the worst food of the cruise. The only good point for me was the cheese. We also had to pay extra for a decent wine. The best meals were breakfast, good if you like bacon eggs and potatoes. Not good if you want anything but melon as a healthy start to the day, where was the Strawberries, Raspberries and blueberries etc? We never saw the usual cruise dishes of Lobster, Steak or fresh fish such as Salmon. To provide some interest we would dine in the ports for lunch, the L'Alcyone in Honfluer is worth a visit. To finish the cruise, the sea on way back to Southampton was a little rocky, but what kept us awake was the continual banging of the wardrobe doors swinging open and closing. I have gone into great detail on why it was a very disappointing.. Perhaps I was expecting more and was comparing to the 4,5 and 6* cruises we have enjoyed over the years., but I would grade the ship 2* max. Poor accommodation, uncomfortable bed, poor shower. Poor dinning, cheap and limited menus, making in my judgement a not successful cruise experience, and certainly not worth the over £360 per day for the suite. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We have just returned from a trip with Fred Olsen, I hesitate to call it a cruise because as far as we were concerned (and other passengers) this was not a cruise, we booked this quite late as we had some A/L to use up and this fitted the ... Read More
We have just returned from a trip with Fred Olsen, I hesitate to call it a cruise because as far as we were concerned (and other passengers) this was not a cruise, we booked this quite late as we had some A/L to use up and this fitted the dates, when I booked I was told that we would be getting the 'Anchor fare' and therefore we were getting it cheap, they went on to explain that because of that we could not choose our cabin, dinner sitting and we would be excluded from certain 'perks' to be honest it was only for 5 days so we said fine, I was once again told I was 'getting it cheap', after the 3rd time of being told this I finally managed to book it, all the info was emailed through telling us again that as this was an 'Anchor fare' and we were getting it cheaper we would be excluded from any offers, at this point I was getting a bit sick of hearing this!! Embarkation was smooth and efficient, we had a cabin on the 3rd deck, it was small but served its purpose, we were given first sitting at dinner, bit early for us but we were after all getting it cheap, we had to pay for the shuttle service, which was really required for both ports, a total of £30, we were not invited to meet the Captain, but again we were not to worried, it was rather strange when we were talking to some people about the price of the shuttle service we were told ( by a couple who were passengers) it was our own fault we should have paid full price like they had, anyway back to the 'Cruise' it was titled 'Cruising the Seine' or words to that effect, we left Southampton at 8pm so it was overnight crossing the channel, we arrived at Rouen at mid morning, so we saw very little of the Seine, that was on the Sunday, we left Rouen at 8pm on the Tuesday, and arrived at Honfluer early Wednesday morning, so the actual cruise was mainly in the dark at night, Fred Olsen's cruise Itineraries are very basic, they do not give you times of departure or arrivals it is just early/late am or early/late pm, we felt this trip was just to keep the ship moving and fill an empty time slot, there were no meet the crew or formal night, not port lectures no port maps, no guest speakers, no art/crafts, infact not a lot was going on, we have sailed with Fred Olsen on a few occasions in the past and had a great time, but this for us was our last trip with Fred Olsen, ourselves and other 'Anchor fare' passengers were made to feel like second class passengers, what is even worse we were not looking for a bargain, just a nice break from work. On a scale of 1 to 10 we would say a 4, this would be for the nice staff, nice food and very good couple of shows. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
This was the first time on this ship having sailed previously many time on Breamar and Black Watch. My wife has limited mobility and we did not find the ship user friendly.b The steps onto the external deck are steep and the ramp ... Read More
This was the first time on this ship having sailed previously many time on Breamar and Black Watch. My wife has limited mobility and we did not find the ship user friendly.b The steps onto the external deck are steep and the ramp placed over part of them is too steep. The disabled toilet being placed with the door on one side of a ‘porch’ like access does NOT have an electric door opener and hand button to actuate. Result is that access is not easy. Debarking is complicated by the fact that the waiting lounges are on deck 7 whilst gangway access is on deck 6 resulting for disabled people having to use only two local lifts resulting in congestion and delays. Overall the ship is good certainly brought up to a high level by the crew who are, as with other Fred ships, excelptional. Every member contacted was polite and very helpful indeed. The food was the usual Fred high standard but could have been presented on hotter plates. Overall and enjoyable holiday. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
we have travelled on the fred olsen ship Balmoral over 10 times and we joined her again in October 2018 in Southampton for our yearly cruise to the Canaries. As soon as you step on the Balmoral 's carpet you feel as if someone has ... Read More
we have travelled on the fred olsen ship Balmoral over 10 times and we joined her again in October 2018 in Southampton for our yearly cruise to the Canaries. As soon as you step on the Balmoral 's carpet you feel as if someone has put their arm around you and says come on in we will give you a really good time. The weather on this cruise was not good but the crew always did their best to entertain us. The crew are so friendly and the entertainment is of a very high standard, particularly the show company . The daily activities are fun and varied and Alex and Duncan were great and organised the games and quizzes really well. The food is excellent and the service extremely efficient . Our waiters were so kind and attentive and accommodated any request which deviated from the menu. Our fellow diners were charming which is important as you are allocated set tables for the evening meal. You are of course at liberty to visit the self service palms cafe if you wish to dine more informally. The embarkation ran very smoothly and we can't wait to see her again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Local port , easy transport, weather very rough on sea days, food & staff excellent, apart from the restaurant Maitre D , who was most unhelpful, we asked to change our dining time as my husband is diabetic, we were told we would have ... Read More
Local port , easy transport, weather very rough on sea days, food & staff excellent, apart from the restaurant Maitre D , who was most unhelpful, we asked to change our dining time as my husband is diabetic, we were told we would have to pay extra. Fred Olsen want extra money all the time, 10 pounds each for shuttle bus in Lanzarote, 16 pounds for 5 cappuccinos. My husband had a fall & was helped by a member of the bar staff, an officer walked by & ignored us. Same happened to a very frail lady, the Hotel manager just walked past her. We had been to all the ports before so didn't take any trips, which like all cruises are hugely overpriced. cabin was very comfy, we paid extra for a window, & we were well looked after by our lovely stewardess. The sea water swimming pool was lovely, nice & warm, a bit deep at 7 ft 1 end & nearly 6 at shallow end. Arriving back in Liverpool, was great, we were home within 45 minutes, a big bonus. Overall a good cruise, the weather could have been better. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
My wife and I recently took our first cruise. We travelled on Deck 5 in an outer, windowed cabin, on Fred Olsen's Balmoral to the North German ports of Bremen, Hamburg and Kiel dep Newcastle 19 November. To say it was grossly ... Read More
My wife and I recently took our first cruise. We travelled on Deck 5 in an outer, windowed cabin, on Fred Olsen's Balmoral to the North German ports of Bremen, Hamburg and Kiel dep Newcastle 19 November. To say it was grossly disappointing would be to ignore the few highlights, but even they are too few to persuade us to repeat the experience. The worst aspect was the selfish and uncouth behaviour of most of the passengers. Billed as 'adults-only' this should have been subtitled, 'ideal for greedy, self-centred and rude elderly people'. The experience began as soon as we got on board where we discovered what the 'Olsen Regulars' already knew - that the light afternoon tea of finger sandwiches and cakes were laid out self-service style. Because the staff made no attempt to serve the passengers, the Olsen Regulars who charged on board at the first opportunity had emptied the single tray of roast beef sandwiches leaving just the egg mayonnaise and other lesser fillings for the others. Mind, that didn't stop the Olsen Regulars pushing, (actually 'forcing' would be more accurate), their ways past those who boarded later to wreck and largely waste the cake display. So greedy were these people they misused the serving tools and instead of serving themselves a single portion of cake they destroyed one or two others which they left for the lesser mortals behind them and helped themselves to a third or even fourth undamaged cake. I'm told by more experienced travellers that this is normal behaviour on cruise ships, especially Olsen. If so the solution is within the cruise lines' control, ie serve these teas so all passengers get a fair share. Hardly rocket science. It was a coincidence that one of the films showing in the cabins was The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - not only an excellent film but also very apposite. In the open sequences the character played by Dame Maggie Smith explains to an American hotel employee who's just served her a mug with a tea bag and a flask of warm water that 'tea is a dried herb that's brought back to life by infusion in boiling water, not the lukewarm piss you've served'. That's exactly what every cup of tea served on Balmoral tasted like, grey, tepid urine. And the coffee's not much better unless you pay extra for it when they actually use real coffee. Again the solution is within Olsen's control, either teach your staff how to make tea and coffee or subcontract to Costa or Café Nero. Like un-monitored pre-school children, guests were allowed to behave as they wished regardless of the inconvenience they caused other passengers. For instance couples spread themselves and their knitting and newspapers right across a four-seat settee and refused to make space for other passengers wanting to sit down and buy a coffee. Far too many passengers using their own powered wheelchairs used the public areas like raceways to the detriment of everyone else. As we were disembarking at Newcastle the queue refused to budge for one elderly man trying to back out of a lift pulling his wife in a wheelchair, while at the same time another, obese man using a walking stick was trying to force his way into the same lift and complaining volubly because the wheelchair was in his way. God knows how many would have died due the selfish attitudes of passengers towards others if the ship had sunk. Now for some due praise. The cabin service was excellent, flawless. The girls deserve a raise for if anyone comes back it will be in large part due to them. True, the corners of the bathroom could do with steam cleaning with an industrial machine but that's a small point. The serving staff in the Ballindalloch restaurant were also generally excellent and are due similar praise though a little more attention to the cleanliness of glassware wouldn't go amiss. Sadly the quality of the staff didn't extend to the so-called premier restaurants, Spey and Avon. On two days my wife and I took lunch in these restaurants. On the first day we chose self-service, on the second we selected from the menu. That day we shared our table with a courteous and polite solo passenger. After our meal we were offered coffee and all of us accepted. The waiter brought two coffee cups, one saucer and a pot containing half a cup of lukewarm coffee. When we pointed out his omissions the waiter shrugged his shoulders and walked away. Other deficiencies we noticed in these restaurants were that waiters removed plates before diners had fully digested their last mouthful and plates were removed from one diner in a party who had finished eating before the others had completed their meal. There is little point in having an industrial toaster if the waiter operating it pre-toasts the bread and places this hot toast on a plate (albeit inside a napkin) so it's ready cooled for the next customer. This is idiocy. In general the food was adequate though occasionally tastes and flavours were rather too subtle and indiscernible. This comment applies especially to desserts, for instance lime and lemon cream item that's bright coloured but almost flavourless. My wife and I took the speciality Indian meal. We assumed that the kitchen does not include a tandoor oven but that really was no excuse for naan bread tasting more like cake. The spice in the curries was very muted and completely unrepresentative of Indian food that most passengers would know. A very poor extra. We purchased the All-in bar supplement but frankly this was not a good idea. Bar staff served erratic measures and didn't always get the right drink e.g. gin and vodka were often confused. Furthermore they constantly urged passengers to order doubles which obviously saved them work but was in contrast to the rigidly-enforced rule that passengers mustn't be served a second drink was the first is on the table. The maitre d' and the charming couple running the bridge sessions need to get some balls. In the case of the maitre d' it is not acceptable when the majority of passengers have observed the dress code for the two formal nights to have to suffer passengers seated on the same or nearby tables who have refused to conform for their own personal reasons. The code is well published and if any diner doesn't wish to observe it they should be obliged to eat elsewhere. Frankly the dress code is unimportant to the men but a courtesy to the ladies who can choose to dress up a bit if they wish. The same criticism must be levelled at the couple who run the bridge sessions. My wife and I were looking forward to learning to play bridge but our experience was completely spoiled by another couple who turned up at the beginners session despite being very experienced players. Their objective was simply to impress us with their expertise (and conversely our mediocrity) and furthermore to criticise the explanation and teaching being given by the experts. In contrast, although my wife and I were only observers, the dance tutors and hosts performed in an absolutely exemplary manner. They were not only skilled but courteous and polite and frankly a credit to whoever employs them. There is an air of parsimony in many cases throughout the ship. For example, doctors regularly recommend the elderly to drink a litre of water per day. For Olsen to charge £1.50 for a bottle in the cabin shows the company in a very poor light The entertainment offered on-board varied from first-class to puerile. The three headline acts, Geoff Taylor, Andy Eastwood and Paul Broadwood were excellent. The second level entertainers were adequate and Howard Johnson deserves special mention. Adam Reece on the other hand needed to practice. Having said that, playing music for others to talk through is a thankless task. However there is no excuse for the frankly paltry concert party. It was amateur, the singers were often out of tune and frankly Bolton amateur operatic society (with which I have no connection) would have done a better job. A number of guests who had sailed on Balmoral earlier in the season told us they had already seen the concert party performances and they were no better even after practice. If shows are contracted over a season and customers are likely to find themselves seeing the same shows twice or more they should at least be warned. For readers with young children around them the leader was reminiscent of the very talented Mr Tumble - though completely devoid of talent, charm, stagecraft or ability. He couldn't sing either. Although only six piece, the house band in the Neptune lounge was terrific. The same cannot be said of the Lido quartet who needed a considerably wider repertoire. Despite the description printed regularly in the ship's newspaper, Amy Winehouse is not representative of music of the 60s 70s or 80s. The music that was performed was too often music to slit your throat to. Even worse was the indulgence by the Olsen company of the leader of the concert party with a solo performance one evening the purpose of which he was quite open about was to provide him with a video for his CV. Again his comments revealed that his parents and possibly his grandmother were also on board and a number of people sitting near us wondered aloud how much discount they'd received. Of course staff discounts may be extended to their family but I suggest Olsen reviews the publicity staff are allowed to give this perk and treat them in the same way as British Airways staff are required to do, ie don't draw attention to your family. Of course cruise passengers realise that itineraries may have to be varied according to the vagaries of the weather. In our case it required us to remain a second day in Hamburg and all passengers were impressed by the announcement that tickets on the shuttle buses on the second day would be free in contrast to the £5 round-trip ticket charge the day before. The gesture was, of course, completely hollow since the queue to get on a bus into the city involved a 90 minute wait in line on the dockside and a 60 minute wait in the Hamburg street for the return journey. Bearing in mind how many passengers needed walking sticks and other aids the parsimony was a disgrace. You urgently need a competent cruise director who knows that his job is organising things like adequate numbers of buses and not replacing the compere at the Palladium. He needs also to be taught to speak clearly not gabble. Clearly Olsen is terrified of Norovirus. I have no experience of it but I do know that the way you handle the refusal of the captain and his crew to touch passengers even at a formal reception needs a serious review. By all means replace the receiving line with a pleasant, personal welcome and presentation but to word it in the way it was unnecessarily proscriptive. Additionally, on that subject, all the chairs in the dining rooms need a serious cleaning – the wooden arms and lower frames of most chairs were sticky. Again, most of the Dyson hand dryers in the men's toilets need urgent servicing. They only dry the backs of the hands - almost no air comes out of the palm elements. A final note of praise: the selection of films available on the televisions in the cabins was varied and should have appealed to most tastes. Overall, I would define our experience with Fred Olsen lines and Balmoral as a better-than-average holiday camp afloat. It had all the disadvantages of an all-inclusive hotel holiday without the single benefit that you can always walk out the door and into town. On the evidence of this cruise, once you've seen one German port you've seen the lot. We took advantage of the two days in Bremen to take a train to Lübeck and spend a delightful and informative – if a little wet – day in a fascinating city, but this was an exception. Our experience with Fred Olsen has ensured that we shall not be cruising again nor going to the pantomime in Billingham on Teesside where the majority of the concert party have apparently been hired to perform. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
The reason for choosing this cruise were many One the embarkation and disembarkation port was only half hour from home so we did not have any extra travel to join the ship.TwoThe ship Balmoral, we have sailed on this ship in the past and ... Read More
The reason for choosing this cruise were many One the embarkation and disembarkation port was only half hour from home so we did not have any extra travel to join the ship.TwoThe ship Balmoral, we have sailed on this ship in the past and have had a wonderful time . The food,entertainment and ports of call had always been good. The size off the ship was also to our liking, friendly yet spacious but there was always things to keep you occupied whether it be energetic or a quiet spot to do a jigsaw or sit with coffee and loose your self in one of the many books in the very good library. The talks during the day also give a change of interest or where some of the guests took advantage and had a sleep. If you needed help there was always one of crew around willing to give you a hand. We did have a problem with the cabin on this cruise in the shower and the toilet, later we had debris blowing from the ventilation we where offered a change of accommodation but told no guarantee that the same thing would not happen, so we declined. All of the problems were attended to soon after they were reported. We now look forward to our next cruise with Fred Olsen Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
This was our first cruise with Fred Olsen and we chose it because of the itinerary. Both embarkation and disembarkation were efficient and we were pleased with our cabin`s position and size. There were only 600 on board so the ship felt ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Fred Olsen and we chose it because of the itinerary. Both embarkation and disembarkation were efficient and we were pleased with our cabin`s position and size. There were only 600 on board so the ship felt very comfortable but might have felt cramped with another 200 guests. Our cabin was fine, with a large window and our stewardess was efficient and unobtrusive .It was very useful to have a laundry room with ironing boards, washers and dryers and a bag of washing could be laundered at a very reasonable £12. We started by having dinner at second sitting but, finishing our meal at about 10.30 made it late getting to the show and impossible to get to the quiz so we changed to first sitting on a table for two. Dinner at 6.15 is too early so we realise that, in future, we would find a cruise offering one or open sitting. The food was consistently good with an excellent breakfast and lunch buffet and a good choice at dinner although the food was sometimes of variable quality at dinner. Entertainment was good with a very hard-working team. The captain, Mikael Degerlund,is the star of the ship - very hands-on with excellent management skills and clearly appreciated by all staff. He hosted two cocktail parties and the crossing of the equator with considerable flair and humour. The staff worked hard to make everyone feel happy and, as there is quite an elderly clientele on board, they go out of their way to make everyone feel comfortable and looked after. On the minus side, certain areas of the ship looked very shabby - the pool area on deck 6 is in urgent need of re-grouting of tiles and varnishing of paintwork. Soot continually fell from the funnel and onto clothes, decks and seating - I had some clothing washed free of charge but this shouldn`t happen. There was also a continuous smell of fuel which made sitting on deck unpleasant at times. The drinks package did not include bottled water for trips nor even the cocktail of the day. The wine by the glass was of variable quality - I was told that there was no Sauvignon Blanc at all, despite it being listed, so changed to Chenin Blanc only to be told there was no more of that. When I complained at the information desk I received an apology and a box of chocolates and the wine reappeared. The cava was appalling and must have been the cheapest possible - many people were drinking it but it felt as though it was burning on my tongue! The choice of beer was also poor - in future, I would not buy the package and would choose my own drinks. The tours were VERY expensive. The ports in the Maldives were poor and gave little indication of how beautiful these islands really are. The trip to Moyenne Island in the Seychelles was overcrowded and, with only one zodiac to transfer 60 people to the island, some people were left waiting for almost an hour. Unfortunately, due to heavy seas, we couldn`t dock at Praslin where we had planned two days of snorkelling. We were also surprised that some exercise classes were charged for as these are usually included on other ships There was no zumba class and only two line dancing classes so, with several days at sea, there was not much in the way of exercise classes although there were plenty of craft and dancing classes. Would we go again with Fred Olsen? - there were people on board who had cruised with "Fred" multiple times but we would probably only go if we got a good deal as we were not happy to see our cruise advertised at a 40% reduction only 2 weeks before we embarked. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Mainly itinerary and the time of year, less crowded places. Embarkation swift and efficient at the Port of Tyne. Very lucky with the weather for the time of year apart from Gothenburg and Helsinki. The food was of good quality and ... Read More
Mainly itinerary and the time of year, less crowded places. Embarkation swift and efficient at the Port of Tyne. Very lucky with the weather for the time of year apart from Gothenburg and Helsinki. The food was of good quality and varied, breakfast lunch and dinner. Service in the bars and restaurants was excellent although a little slow in the self service cafe. The crew and staff always seemed happy and smiling, friendly and efficient. Cabin although on deck 3 was adequate with plenty of wardrobe and drawer space, comfortable beds and a good shower. The two shore excursions we took in St. Petersburg were excellent with very knowledgeable guides. All other ports we explored by ourselves and found that easy using the maps provided. We only experienced two shows , one of which was the crew show, very enjoyable. We really loved the whole experience and booked while on board for next year. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Its been 14 years since we did a Fred Olsen Cruise as we have mainly sailed with 5 Star Cruise Lines, but this cruise was from the Tyne and a short 15 minute taxi ride from our home and visiting some ports we had not visited before. So we ... Read More
Its been 14 years since we did a Fred Olsen Cruise as we have mainly sailed with 5 Star Cruise Lines, but this cruise was from the Tyne and a short 15 minute taxi ride from our home and visiting some ports we had not visited before. So we thought we would give them a try. So glad we did! Balmoral although an older ship is remarkably well maintained, far better than some lot newer ship we have travelled on. Staff service and friendliness leaves most other lines trailing in thier wake, Good food particulary in the Avon Restaurant and Made and Mark our waiters made this cruise. Weather was very good with only lght rain in Gothenburg and low lying mist in Helsinki all other ports fine a sunny and autuum colours in trees especially in St. Petersburg a real treat. We did our own thing in most ports but in Copenhagen and on the Evening in St.Petersburg we did Fred Olsen Tours, during the 2 days in St.Peterburg we did a independent small group tour with Cruising Excursions all tours were very good. Will we sail with Fred Olsen again ? YES and we will not be waiting another 14 years. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
I believe FO first time on this itinerary to India and initial visa problems should iron out as its definitely a wonderful country to visit. The ship IS getting old and the first two nights it was like sleeping on a Power plate the ... Read More
I believe FO first time on this itinerary to India and initial visa problems should iron out as its definitely a wonderful country to visit. The ship IS getting old and the first two nights it was like sleeping on a Power plate the vibration was so bad (although after the safety officer dined with us and we complained - it stopped!). Problems with toilet drainage (my cabin in particular wasn’t totally solved) was evident. LOTS of black soot from funnel made me towns and cossies dirty - be warned. The show company were absolutely superb - top class entertainment, well choreographed and super singers (who also ran the singing for fun which was great!) - the little blonde Niamh disappeared the last few nights but hope she’s okay. Guest entertainers, Simon the comedian, Jo the saxophonist and singer along with Aiden the magician were very good also and the last show they did where they worked together was hilarious - nice to see how well they got on Big shout out to the destination desk, the lovely ladies Alex and Jen were SO helpful in altering plans and changing shore tours without flapping at all. Customer services - its probably a cultural thing but the young ladies there were coolly professional but totally without empathy; so when you’re cabin card didn’t work 3 times in succession a bland ‘I’ll print you another’ truly isn’t sufficient when you’d actually like an “Oh I’m so sorry about that” - this aspect was commented on by several guests and I believe needs addressing by FO on the staff training side Cabin, you get what you pay for and my balcony suite was good (apart from loo problems!) and kept spotless by Miac. The food was lovely throughout and despite the rather unfriendly waiting staff in the poolside restaurant, I often used it for breakfast as the eggs benedict and fruit plate were superb. The ship was only half full so our table at dinner only had 4 out of 6 people but we all got on well and the waiting staff were very nice and efficient. (We ate in four seasons) The excursions with one exception (Zeebop by the sea) were excellent and I’d recommend them esp the Tuk tuk rides!! I did enjoy the cruise, loved the ports we called at (will def visit Sri Lanka for a full visit) and this boat comes 3rd out of 4 of the Freds for me. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Very interesting cruise -AUTHENTIC India - so good variety of destinations. Some passengers were not as happy visiting Porbandor, the birthplace of Gandhi, which was very poor, but was made interesting by excellent shore tour guide. ... Read More
Very interesting cruise -AUTHENTIC India - so good variety of destinations. Some passengers were not as happy visiting Porbandor, the birthplace of Gandhi, which was very poor, but was made interesting by excellent shore tour guide. Authentic India means visiting real India - in a safe manner. Shore excursions were all excellent - brilliant variety & choice. Excellent guides- very professional. Extra trip to Taj Mahal was highpoint of trip. well planned, excellent hotel in Delhi, and excellent guides & representatives at every point. Only niggle - definitive info not available until just before we went so missed out on trip to Goa, because didn't know exactly when we were leaving. Trip was expensive, but think everyone realised where money had been spent. Ship, as always, very comfortable. Staff absolutely excellent. Food always fantastic and variety of entertainment to suit all tastes. Good choice of daytime activities. Love Fred Olsen small ships & fact you can walk around the decks. Will definitely be cruising with them again. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We usually cruise on larger ships than Braemar, mainly P and O and Princess, but were attracted by the itinerary and timing of this cruise. We need not have been concerned about the ship being smaller as it turned out to have many ... Read More
We usually cruise on larger ships than Braemar, mainly P and O and Princess, but were attracted by the itinerary and timing of this cruise. We need not have been concerned about the ship being smaller as it turned out to have many advantages over the larger ships. Embarkation and disembarkation were swift and efficient, more so than on many larger ships. Our cabin was on a lower deck than we are used to and a little smaller, with portholes, but was spotless with pleasant furnishings and sufficient cupboard space. We had tea making facilities in the cabin which is something we like that some cruise lines do not have. We also had a flat screen smart television with pre- loaded films which made up for the lack of a cinema on board. The screen was placed so that you could sit comfortably and view. My husband has poor eyesight so it was a bonus to see the screen clearly. . You are also able to view your on board account and other information on this screen. Our room stewardess was very efficient and cheerful. The cabin was quiet and we were fortunate to have calm seas throughout the majority of the voyage. The Bay of Biscay was a little rough on the return journey so movement was noticeable but for a smaller ship we were pleasantly surprised by the stability! We were assigned second sitting dining but did not use the restaurant as we preferred to use the buffet for all meals and dine when we wanted too. On many ships we have had difficulty finding a free table in the buffet but not on Braemar. We were impressed with the amount of space available, and with the food. The waiting staff were very friendly and efficient bringing tea / coffee to your table at breakfast which meant no queues to get a drink. The whole ship was kept in a spotless condition by a hardworking crew. The weather was excellent for the majority of the voyage so this meant people were able to eat outside. At lunch time there was an outside menu from which you could order fish and chips, burgers etc. We never had any problem with finding somewhere pleasant to sit outside and really enjoyed a prom deck that you could walk right the way around. Braemar has an excellent gym. For a smaller ship it is large, spacious and has all the equipment you could want. It was never crowded. The sauna and steam room were small but adequate for the number of people using them. There was a variety of entertainment on board to suit different tastes. We didn’t go to many shows but the couple we did were enjoyable. We attended a few lectures. These were interesting. The ship included a dedicated games room which was popular with many and a pleasant, comfortable library / reading room. There is a show lounge with slightly tiered seating rather than a larger theatre. This was fine as long as you sat where pillars did not block your line of site. The Captain during our time on Braemar gave ship / port related information at 12 noon over the address system which was a nice touch. We did not do any ship excursions as we were able to do what we wanted independently. Courtesy shuttle buses were provided in the places where there was a longer walk to the main attractions. Port talks on board were helpful and interesting. Reception Staff were very pleasant and dealt with any queries we had efficiently and cheerfully. We were on an all- inclusive drinks package which included house spirits, wines and soft drinks. This worked out very well for us. There were also managers specials included in this and half price cocktails. Fred’s all- inclusive package is said to be one of the best value of any cruise line. The thing which stood out most for us on this ship was the cheerful and friendly attitude of the staff. It was exceptional. Being a smaller ship has the advantage of staff that remember your name and your preferences. Well done to all the Braemar Crew on such a welcoming, happy and fun attitude. This was a very enjoyable cruise with some superb ports of call on a comfortable and exceptionally friendly smaller ship that has managed to fit a lot of facilities into the space available. We would definitely go on this ship again. Ports of call. We would highly recommend this itinerary especially for people interested in history and historical buildings. Malaga We walked up to the castle. Hard work but worth it. There is a public bus, number 35, to the castle if you need it. On the way down we visited the Alcazaba. We bought a joint ticket for both attractions from the castle. Very good value. Valetta, Malta Only a short distance walking distance to the elevator up to the town. Lots to see and do. We visited the Lascaris War rooms and the Saluting battery. Cannon fired at noon. Venice (overnight) Bought a 24 hour Vaporetti pass on arrival and used this to ride on the Grand Canal and to two of the islands in the Lagoon, Burano and Murano. Also took a ride to the Lido. Good value and with a bit of research fairly easy to find the required stops. Chioggia We were here on a Sunday so many shops closed. Easy to find your way around. We walked through the town to the beach and also took a look at the fish market. Half a day was enough to explore. Kotor This is a beautiful walled city, perfect for an interesting stroll, lots of shops within the walls and lovely town squares. Split Another lovely town. 5 minute walk from ship to Diocletian Palace within the walls. Parts of the palace are free but ticket needed for the Bell tower, Jupiter’s temple and the Cathedral. Can buy a 3 in 1 ticket for these. We did not do this though as we decided to find the small but fascinating Froggy Museum which we found interesting and very unusual if strange. Dubrovnik Lovely day. The ship shuttle bus dropped us at one of the city gates (Pile Gate) and once there we got a ticket to walk the walls. We walked past the crowds near the gate and turned to the left where people show their tickets before entering. The member of the staff there directed us to a ticket office on the left which had no long queues. Initial steps hard work but once on the walls it was easier. Very crowded to start with but crowds thinned out away from the city gates. Hot day, with very little shade. Go prepared. We then walked through the main street in the city (Stradun). Found it quite easy to find our way back to this street when ventured into the narrow side streets. Cartagena Docked right near town. Easy walk turning right along the promenade to shopping streets. We then walked back past the ship towards the free Arquelogia museum. Spent an hour in the museum and then continued right and found the elevator to the castle. Bought a combo ticket for the Elevator, Civil War Shelters museum and Castle. The castle was very interesting with great views over the town. Trapani Shuttle bus took us to the town. Only place we had rain. In fact a thunderstorm so we didn’t spend much time exploring. A lot of the shops were closed for a long lunch. Mainly walked around the edge of the town, near the sea . The salt pans near where the ship was docked looked interesting although as it was so wet we didn’t venture there. Lisbon Not our first visit here so we decided to ride the metro and the trams. Bought a ticket which covered all buses, metro and most trams from the nearest metro station to the ship (Terreiro do Paco). Staff very helpful showing us how to purchase the ticket we wanted. Took metro to Parque. Lovely views from Parque Edwardo VII downhill to the harbour. Then we went to Rossio to catch number 12 tram through Castle Hill. This was certainly an interesting experience even though it was very hot and crowded. Riding through the narrow streets of the old town was slow but different. After this we took a larger, less crowded bendy bus to the Belem area. A fun day if frenetic. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We chose this cruise because the sailing date and the itinerary suited us. The cabin on deck 4 was very small but well designed and the large window was beneficial. The food was excellent and the service also very good. The drinks ... Read More
We chose this cruise because the sailing date and the itinerary suited us. The cabin on deck 4 was very small but well designed and the large window was beneficial. The food was excellent and the service also very good. The drinks package was ok but we were often charged on our account for drinks that we had not had. This did not matter materially as we were not paying but we did wonder what happened to all the drinks on our account which we had not consumed. 10 minutes with the Doctor on board resulted in a bill for £88 which was ridiculous, particularly as he then sold me a mouthwash for sore gums (which I did not have) which was marked at £3.20 yet charged at £5.80! It is good to have medical facilities on board but they should not be at exorbitant prices. Entertainment was generally very good. One superb comedian but he was replaced half way through with the most pathetic comic imaginable. The show company were excellent. However, the Neptune lounge was not fit for purpose. The seating was completely inadequate for the numbers attending. The port speaker's presentations were informative but also inhibited by the dreadful lounge and also by his tedious presentation and frequent errors. The Bridge room was too small, too deep within the ship and there were no adequate duplicate sessions due the room being used for other activities. We were never able to play more than 14 hands. This was our first cruise and we are currently undecided whether it should be our last. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
My wife and I have sailed many times with Fred Olsen but rarely since they ended their Flagship golf package. However, we chose to sail again with them due to the interesting ports of call on the way to Venice and back from Southampton. ... Read More
My wife and I have sailed many times with Fred Olsen but rarely since they ended their Flagship golf package. However, we chose to sail again with them due to the interesting ports of call on the way to Venice and back from Southampton. The Good Points: - Overall good food, excellent waiter service - Superb singing and dancing from the entertainment team - Excellent itinerary - Comfortable balcony cabin - A happy ship - Excellent bridge teacher - Well-informed port lecturer, good slides but marred somewhat by his needing to read his well-prepared script in a rather flat way. The Bad Points: - As keen bridge players we were appalled by the way this activity has been downgraded by Fred Olsen. We were forced to play in a totally inadequate, crowded inside room down in deck three, shared with table tennis players, ukulele players and with staff interrupting activities to collect or return trestle table in an alcove. Meanwhile the company has decided to create a large gymnasium area at the rear of the ship in a prime location on deck 7 which was largely unused. Given that the ship appears to cater for retirees, many of whom have mobility problems, this seems to be a very poor use of limited space resources. - We, and many passengers we spoke to, felt that the music played in both the Neptune and Coral lounges was unnecessarily loud. - The overall standard of visiting entertainers was variable. The comedian, introduced as "the Fred Olsen favourite", was appallingly bad. On the credit side, however, the history lecturer was excellent. - It was surprising that no handouts were given to passengers giving a map and various informative details covering each port of call. This was a serious omission. - The coffee served in the restaurants was pretty dire! - As ever, shore excursions were substantially over-priced. In particular I would mention the apparently unexciting toy-train ride around Cartagena for £50 a head, which was just outrageous profiteering. - Unacceptably high charging for Wifi In summary, a very enjoyable cruise, particularly due to its excellent itinerary. However, as bridge players, we would not return to Braemar unless its bridge room and table tennis facilities were greatly improved. Notwithstanding that, an additional incentive could be the reintroduction of their previous flagship golf packages. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We chose it to see if the small ship experience was to our taste with Fred Olsen having sailed on many other small ship cruises and also for the Ports that we wished to visit. Apart from from the first day there was no afternoon tea and ... Read More
We chose it to see if the small ship experience was to our taste with Fred Olsen having sailed on many other small ship cruises and also for the Ports that we wished to visit. Apart from from the first day there was no afternoon tea and cakes etc unless you were prepared to pay for them, and in fact it felt as if you had to pay for everything including the water. The ship itself was in good condition for an aged vessel and as we did not wish to use the shore excursion facilities, perfering to travel on foot, I cannot comment on these. I felt the trip was more expensive than other liners and no doubt if the cabin had been satisfactory I would have been writing a good report, but as mentioned below that cabin should have come with a health warning as the bow thrust is normally used whenever berthing or undocking. This is why I have given it the rating of 2 stars. I'm not sure if I will travel on Braemar again, but might think about another vessel. However the staff, food and entertainment were excellent Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We chose this cruise because it sailed from Liverpool. Fed up of travelling from the north to Southampton. Food was generally good and as a vegetarian I had a good choice. Cabins were fresh and clean. beds and bedding were very ... Read More
We chose this cruise because it sailed from Liverpool. Fed up of travelling from the north to Southampton. Food was generally good and as a vegetarian I had a good choice. Cabins were fresh and clean. beds and bedding were very good. Entertainment was mediocre and so we didn’t go to the Neptune each night. Some of the entertainers had been on previous cruises. Ports of call In Canada were interesting but tours expensive. One walking tour cost £80. We had to be in The Neptune st 11.15 so we missed lunch. We were told we would be given a snack. This turned out to be a cereal bar and a bottle of water. There was nowhere on the walk to buy a sandwich. We returned to the ship around 5.30. Most people on the 11km walk were not pleased. After so many complaints we were given a 50% refund. Well done Fred. Unfortunately half way round our trip (26 days) we had a serious outbreak of Noro virus. This lasted until our return to Liverpool. We couldn’t use the pools, jacuzzis. Launderette etc. Salt and pepper was taken off the tables and food in the buffet had to be served by staff. We were constantly having our hands sanitized. The black watch is an old ship and there is constant noise of chip chip, grind grind, bang bang, drill drill. This reverberates into the cabin and is very annoying. Major rewiring was taking place during our cruise so ceiling panels were removed. The cabins are very creaky and I would advise taking ear plugs if you want a good nights sleep. Staff were very pleasant and friendly but I wouldn’t go on this ship again due to its age and the need for constant serious maintenance. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We have travelled with Fred. Olsen several times before but never on this, their flagship. Chosen for the itinerary and because it was a special event with all 4 Fred.Olsen ships meeting in Cadiz, a good place to visit. That was a very ... Read More
We have travelled with Fred. Olsen several times before but never on this, their flagship. Chosen for the itinerary and because it was a special event with all 4 Fred.Olsen ships meeting in Cadiz, a good place to visit. That was a very good day if a bit overcrowded. Very nice ship which probably was not seen at the best time, as it was full and so you could not get into the various events and there was always a struggle to find a sunbed or even seat inside. The average service may also have been due to the fact that the ship was full and waiters particularly were very stretched. On late sitting we were often eating until 10.30pm -too late for most people. However even when it was quiet, the bar waiters were very slack and we often went to the bar ourselves after waiting 5-10 minutes to be served. However my main complaint was that as a gluten free passenger my food choices and places to eat were limited, and this appeared to be acceptable to the senior management to whom I complained. I was even told that it was just a fad introduced by the Americans. Would therefore not recommend it if you are gluten free, unless you want to lose weight! Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and were just viewing it as a means of getting to Orkney and Shetland and really were not expecting much. However how wrong we were. We found our inside cabin clean and spacious with a good ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and were just viewing it as a means of getting to Orkney and Shetland and really were not expecting much. However how wrong we were. We found our inside cabin clean and spacious with a good sized shower room. The food was excellent and we found the entertainment some of the best we have come across. We have cruised many many times with Cunard, Holland America, Princess, Carnival, Celebrity and Costa always having had either a suite or balcony so feel I am in a position to give an honest review of the Balmoral. We found the size of the Balmoral easy to walk around especially when in heels of an evening. The crew and staff were very friendly and there was none of the hard sell for good reviews from the restaurant staff or the maitre d. The only thing I would change is the disembarkation/embarkation at ports of call. This is the first ship where both have taken place on the same gang plank but I guess this may be due to size. The ports of call - Invergordon, Kirkwall and Lerwick were good and we were blessed with excellent weather. We toured independently and hired a car for the day in Lerwick through Bolts car hire who had car waiting on quay upon ships arrival at a reasonable price. The age range on board was varied and yes there were some people who had mobility issues and how nice it was that they too could enjoy a lovely holiday. I would definitely consider cruising on the Balmoral again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We chose this cruise for its itinerary and the Orkneys and Shetland were great and well worth visiting. We took a shore excursion at Inverness which was informative and well organised by our guide. Check in at Newcastle was fast and ... Read More
We chose this cruise for its itinerary and the Orkneys and Shetland were great and well worth visiting. We took a shore excursion at Inverness which was informative and well organised by our guide. Check in at Newcastle was fast and efficient. We booked an inside superior cabin on Bridge deck and it was OK with a larger than average bathroom. However, there were none of the touches such as hand cream, bath robes or flannels that we've had elsewhere. Just soap in a dispenser! The entertainment was adequate and varied for a short cruise. However, we found the food to be of a very basic standard and without a great deal of variety. Also the waiter service in the bars was very disappointing and more often that not, we had to go to the bar to order. The ship, overall, looks pretty tired and deck furniture definitely needs replacing with loungers showing rust and other signs of wear. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
I’ve always wanted to try a cruise so picked this one as I’ve always wanted to go to the Shetland Islands and it was short so gave us a chance to experience cruising. Arrived on the boat to our very expensive upgraded cabin. Very ... Read More
I’ve always wanted to try a cruise so picked this one as I’ve always wanted to go to the Shetland Islands and it was short so gave us a chance to experience cruising. Arrived on the boat to our very expensive upgraded cabin. Very disappointed. Only soap in a bottle supplied in the bathroom - just like a 3 star hotel. Very small towels. Thick rust round the taps and some black mould round bath. On the plus side, the beds were comfortable and we heard no noise at night. Food was excellent and nothing to complain about there. We didn’t go with the drinks package but the price of drinks was very reasonable and again nothing to complain about there either. Entertainment was aimed at an older generation, dance classes, tea dances and bingo etc. and nothing that I would participate in. In fact I question the amount of disabled people on board if there was an emergency. It would be interesting to see how quickly you were able to get to the lifeboats. There was nothing in terms of entertainment for children and yet there were quite a few on board. We participated in one very expensive shore excursion (£52 each) which was described as a walk through a forest to waterfalls and the description urged walking shoes and suitable clothing. In fact the walk was no more that 30 minutes in total and we spent a lot of that waiting for unfit people to catch up. I suppose the footwear of the guide gave it away really - fashion boots. We then visited a small town which was interesting but all of it could be seen in an hour or less. In Kirkwall we hired bikes for £20 and had a great day. In Lerwick we hired a car for £32 and saw all the area below Lerwick, which was fascinating. The day we were at sea all day was awful and we were bored stiff. We used the gym, which needs updating, for a couple of hours and then read for most of the day. The restaurant boasted a sea food lunch and certainly the display was wonderful but because the ship was busy there were queues for tables and we were shown to a table for 6. I really don’t want to eat with strangers, despite them being very pleasant. Overall I feel that this was very expensive for what you got, especially accommodation. Hopefully I have been fair in this review and maybe when I’m 80 and disabled I might choose to go on another one! Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Although this ship was recently refurbished (newer furniture and carpeting) it lacks the excitement and character of other cruise lines we've been on (P&O, NCL, RCCL). The entertainment was so-so (think community college theater ... Read More
Although this ship was recently refurbished (newer furniture and carpeting) it lacks the excitement and character of other cruise lines we've been on (P&O, NCL, RCCL). The entertainment was so-so (think community college theater not Vegas-style), the comedian unfunny, and the average passenger age was over 60. We traveled with a well-behaved toddler. Even so most people were friendly (only had one "shushing" in the observatory lounge) and the crew was fantastic. We were bored on our day at sea. Even the older cruisers appeared bored as most just sat in the lounges reading books or iPads. The ports were excellent (Invergordon (Inverness), Kirkwall, and Lerwick) in Scotland but I highly recommend renting your own car and self-touring to save money. We overpaid significantly for a private guided tour from Invergordon. Rent a car and do it yourself (with a guidebook if you want)! You can see the standing stones of Stenness near Kirkwall by taking the public bus for less than 7 quid round-trip! We would only consider going on a Fred Olsen cruise in the future if it improved its on-board activities for families. To leave on a positive note, the drink and spa prices were very reasonable. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
I wanted a trip that my young nephews could go on and so could older members of the family through Saga. The average age of passengers was probably 70 but there were a few younger folk. The ship ran a 'Young Skippers Club' ... Read More
I wanted a trip that my young nephews could go on and so could older members of the family through Saga. The average age of passengers was probably 70 but there were a few younger folk. The ship ran a 'Young Skippers Club' which catered for children 5-11 and this worked very well even though there were only 10 in it the 2 staff worked very hard. The ship itself could do with a bit of an update some of the carpets were threadbare and sometimes there were the odd strange smells (possibly sewage and petrol or cleaning fluid). My cabin was a single inside one so no porthole. It was quite small but adequate. Air conditioning actually worked in fact I couldn't turn it down but that was ok for me and it was quite noisy. Food was very good and the small swimming pools and hot tubs were a hit with the kids. There were shuttle buses running to and from the ports every 15 mins which were a great help. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Location - we wanted to travel to Greenland and this cruise left from Liverpool which was reasonably convenient. The itinerary (Iceland and Greenland with a short stop at Belfast at the end) was the decider. Plus points - ... Read More
Location - we wanted to travel to Greenland and this cruise left from Liverpool which was reasonably convenient. The itinerary (Iceland and Greenland with a short stop at Belfast at the end) was the decider. Plus points - Pleasant cabin Very efficient cabin steward Good food suitable for older conservative eaters (eating their body weight in smoked salmon) Observatory lounge very comfortable Excursions were interesting although they were keen to make sure that their elderly and very frail passengers didn’t struggle with the trips. Chris Bielby’s talks on the natural history of our itinerary were an absolute highlight. He was available to help with whale and bird watching and never endingly patient. Minus points Entertainment was embarrassingly old fashioned. The “black & white minstrel show” version of the Jackson Five was toe curling. The cinema was freezing cold and they had the nerve to show Mrs Doubtfire (made in 1993). The entertainment was overall more like a trip back into a Sunday evening television programme from the early 1960s. I wouldn’t travel on Black Watch or any other Fred Olsen ship unless it was for the itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Already Booked?

Get to know who you’ll be sailing with

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click