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80 Fred. Olsen Cruise Reviews

We boarded the good ship Boudicca on 20th August at Rosyth in Scotland. The cabin was at best adequate, much smaller than any other cruise ship we'd been on and wardrobe space was minimal to say the least but we only had to sleep ... Read More
We boarded the good ship Boudicca on 20th August at Rosyth in Scotland. The cabin was at best adequate, much smaller than any other cruise ship we'd been on and wardrobe space was minimal to say the least but we only had to sleep shower and dress there so no great problem. Food to start with was excellent but seem to deteriorate as the cruise went on, breakfast never seemed quite up to scratch from the start but on the whole we were quite happy with the food. Entertainment, now there's something I can truly cringe about even now, the show troop were ok but the brass section of the orchestra yes the orchestra could barely play in tune. The cabaret acts were aimed at an audience in their seventies and while I'm 60 years old myself I cringed virtually on a nightly basis at the offerings (the acts were mostly quite good ,just targeted at old people). This brings us to the lounge entertainers, one was ok to passable but the duo was horrific as in the female vocalist could not hold a tune at all, how she managed to get the job I'll never know. The crew were on the whole the saviours of the ship for the most part, the smiled a lot, worked very hard and seemed to do their best, they didn't seem quite as smiley the last morning of the cruise at breakfast, but we'd given them their tips the night before but maybe I'm just cynical. Ports of call all I can say is thank the Lord for Tallin in Estonia,StPetersburg and Travemunde as they were superb, StPetersburg should be on everyone's list of places to go, it was fabulous. I won't go on forever. We met lots of very very nice people on the cruise (D1117) but I'll never cruise again with Fred Olsen. The cruise was well overpriced for the experience and everything was designed for older people than I'll ever be. The cruise while it had some good stuff was overall a great disappointment. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Myself and my husband are brand new to cruising and thought we would try a mini cruise to 'test the water'. Fred Olsen was recommended by (an older) relative, as it is a smaller ship and not overun by kids.Perhaps our ... Read More
Myself and my husband are brand new to cruising and thought we would try a mini cruise to 'test the water'. Fred Olsen was recommended by (an older) relative, as it is a smaller ship and not overun by kids.Perhaps our expectations of a cruise were too high, but speaking with other new cruisers who were doing the same as us on this 'taster weekend', I don't think so. This was Fred Olsen's opportunity to capture a new market and they failed miserably.Firstly admin: I had to call Fred Olsen twice to tell them that we hadn't received our tickets and in the end were issued with an e-ticket. They managed to send the bill to the right address so why not the tickets?The ship was delayed getting into port so embarkation was delayed by 3 hours. Fortunately we were emailed by FO to alert us to this so didn't leave home until later in the day, but many passengers didn't or couldn't. Needless to say check in was horrendous - lengthy queues and disorganisation ruled the day. This set the tone for the rest of the weekend. Queues and lengthy waits for everything including breakfast seating and drinks just made what should have been a relaxing break into alot of frustrating hard work.We booked a superior outside cabin which was reminiscent of a ferry cabin, and though it was clean, was very shabby and in much need of decoration and a new bathroom.We were booked into the Spey restaurant for dinner and even though on second sitting, we felt rushed all the way through. Waiters were surly and it was very difficult to attract their attention particularly at breakfast time when it was hard to get coffee and toast served in time to go with the rest of the meal.On the third morning we went into the Ballindalloch restaurant for breakfast and have to say that service was marginally better in there.Food could hardly be called 'fine dining'. It was adequate 'function catering' if rather boring - alot of it was based on roast meat and veg, starters and desserts were OK if generally tasteless. It's a pity that 'hot' food arrived at the table tepid, and cold food really was very chilled. We ate once in the Palms cafe - afternoon tea on the day of embarkation - after that we avoided it like the plague. It was noisy, tables were dirty, glass seating dividers were smeared with grease and upholstered seating was badly stained... not nice.The Captains Welcome Cocktail party was a joke - more rugby scrum mentality and shockingly bad service. The party took place in the Neptune lounge. It took us 30 mins to get a drink and no canapes got as far as the area in which we and 40 others were sitting. To us, it just felt like a 'hard sell' for tours, future cruises and of course the obligatory photo with the captain.Outside sitting areas were generally tidy and there appeared to be enough loungers and chairs, but then it was a bit breezy so maybe not everyone wanted to be outside. It did became quite difficult to move around when everyone sprawled out on loungers and grouped them together. It was also worrying to see passengers sitting in jacuzzis holding drinks in glasses, despite their being notices displayed forbidding it. Staff didn't seem to care. We will probably try cruising in the future, but definitely not with Fred Olsen. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Although first impressions are good I was very disapointed overall in my experience as a first time cruiser on the Balmoral. My cabin, a superior single on the Lido deck, may be described as 'tired'. Surfaces worn, a drawer ... Read More
Although first impressions are good I was very disapointed overall in my experience as a first time cruiser on the Balmoral. My cabin, a superior single on the Lido deck, may be described as 'tired'. Surfaces worn, a drawer chipped and the bathroom poorly patched up (when I entered the cabin there was a rust hole at the bottom of the metal bath panel which was dealt with at some time during the voyage). I was particularly concerned about the position of the television and its tangle of wiring in relation to the only possible place to use the electric kettle.I may also say that the position of the bedside light in relation to the way the bed was laid out (pillows at the far end of the bed adjacent to the outside door) meant that the bed was fine during the day for lounging or watching television but in order to read in bed I had to set the bedding out the other way round at night.The door to the balcony wouldn't remain completely closed since, even though locked, the catch would slip and there was considerable wind noise, which was rather disturbing.I had expected excellent food in the Spey restarant, this surely is one of the high spots of any cruise. I have to say that in some cases it was hardly better than superior school dinners! Neither pork nor the chicken tasted of anything. I did have some acceptable meals there but the quality was very uneven. The Palms Cafe was better, at least one could see in advance what was on offer and choose accordingly. In addition the service at times was rushed. On the penultimate night plates were being removed from our table and the next course brought while some of us were still eating. The waiters also clearly forgot to ask for our orders for pudding. The restaurant was also very noisy. I have good hearing but at times it was difficult to have a conversation because of the noise from other tables. My elderly father who is rather deaf (I was travelling with my parents) found it impossible.I also have to say that the whole dressing up in DJs for men on four evenings was completely unnecessary and pretentious. I just looked in on the entertainment since nothing appealed. The ports' lecturer was terrible. I could have done better with a quick look at Wikipedia and other internet sites. He was really just advertising the excursions. The guest lecturer, a retired MEP was a bit better. Excursions were generally ok but highly priced and most satisfactory were the trips out I made on my own in Tallin and elsewhere. It was a waste of money to do both the coach panorama trip around St Petersburg and the Waterways tour but the trip to the Palaces of the Romanovs with the opportunity to see the suburbs and countryside around St Petersburg was good and the restoration work after the destruction by the Germans, extremely impressive.I was surprised by just how elderly and infirm many passengers were and at 65 I was one of the younger ones. It is clear that this ship or this cruise line appeals to the Daily Mail reader. That was the daily internet produced newspaper paper available and the paper that headed the list in the survey of passengers. I left the comedian's performance when he started telling jokes about immigrant benefit scroungers.This trip was my first experience of cruising. There were many things that I enjoyed about the experience but most of those are not related to the ship or its facilities. In all this cruise cost me getting on for £4,500 including the fuel surcharge. I don't regard that as good value for money and I will certainly not be recommending Fred Olsen cruise lines to friends.-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Took the train to Southampton to spend a week finishing my Christmas shopping with Fred Olsen. Not my first time on Fred Olsen having sailed on Black Watch and Black Prince over 7 years ago. The reviews here on Cruise Critic read quite ... Read More
Took the train to Southampton to spend a week finishing my Christmas shopping with Fred Olsen. Not my first time on Fred Olsen having sailed on Black Watch and Black Prince over 7 years ago. The reviews here on Cruise Critic read quite positive about Balmoral and eased away the reasons why I had not booked with Fred Olsen since 2003. It did not take long to bring those memories flooding back, and how I wished I had remembered before I had booked and parted with some of my hard earned savings. Arriving at Southampton at 11.30am I searched for the shuttle bus arranged by Fred Olsen. At 12 midday a coach arrived with a Fred Olsen sticker in the window. Coach driver got off, opened the luggage compartments, took my suitcase, put it in the hold and then stood back leaning against a wall. No smile, no response and no interaction. This repeated its self until there were 20 or so passengers on board and we drove to the Mayflower Terminal. Oh, the driver did say one sentence before we drove off 'If you haven't got luggage labels on your bags you wont get them in your cabin'. Mayflower Terminal was cold as we waited until the ship was ready. No boarding as you arrive here unlike P&O, Royal Caribbean, Princess..... The Balmoral looked a fine ship as we stood and waited in the cold in the terminal. On embarkation Balmoral continued to look a fine sea going ship full of comfy seats, excellent artwork, very pleasing public rooms, super library and card room, real ship 'feel' with proper wood decks, lifeboats with davits, and real wood handrails everywhere (not metal poles covered with veneer). Going into my cabin was again a pleasing surprise. My cabin on deck four being one of the new cabins fitted during the 'stretch'. 165 sq ft, big picture window and excellent bedding and furniture. Shower and toilet again of a very good standard. All clean and very tidy. However, the money spent on these had been taken from paying for the cabin sound insulation. During the cruise there was no privacy. I could here people in the next cabin coughing, sneezing, snoring and using the toilet. Yes, USING the toilet - not just dropping the toilet lid. If I was washing by the sink and someone next door was using the toilet I could hear them. And if I could hear them then they could hear me and that was not a nice thought. Entertainment on board was so-so and aimed squarely at the age range of Fred Olsen's passengers. There was no 'wow' effect, just secure and comfortable. All cabin TV movies were for a fee until 3 days into the cruise when we received a list of films that were no charge. Otherwise the cabin TV was Sky news/sports news and BBC World News. Hand hygeine enforcement resulted in you being faced with being squirted with hand gels at every occasion. Boarding you were gelled, entering dining rooms you were gelled, you were gelled everywhere and even then (it was pre-announced) that at all functions the captain would not be shaking hands with you. The itinerary was Gothenburg, Copenhagen, Kiel Canal, Hamburg and Amsterdam. So much of the cruise was disrupted by the severe winter cold that it would not be fair on Fred Olsen for me to make any negative comments. The Captain kept us informed of late arrivals and changes to timings, and in a comforting way the Norwegian captain certainly gave the impression that he was competent, sensible and able seaman. I cannot say the same about the majority of the crew. Again to be fair, please note that it is the male crew members that I mention here. Ship life revolved around and was for the benefit of the crew. I heard the word NO more times on this cruise than I have ever done on over 30 other cruises taken since 1995. For example, The Palms Cafe, a self-service alternative eating venue. Set open dining times for breakfast, lunch and dinner, turn up, help yourself and leave. BUT DONT YOU DARE TRY THAT BEFORE THE STATED OPENING TIME. Try to serve yourself one minute before and you were shouted at, had your plate taken away and/or asked to go and wait at a table. I witnessed one lady who went to serve herself soup out of the soup cauldron told (not asked) to sit down. The staff member would not put the soup ladel into the soup until the opening hour had chimed. No offer of 'Sit down Madam and I will bring a bowl over to you', it was 'No! No! No!, we are NOT open!' There were numerous other occasions when other passengers attempted to help themselves to juices out of jugs, collect bread rolls or foolishly began to walk towards the servery areas a minute of two before the opening time only to be greeted with No! No! No! Waiting staff reaching across you to pick up used plates and cups as they chatted amongst themselves was also a regular occurrence. This was witnessed in the Spey and Avon restaurants as well. There was no effort in meeting passengers needs and eventually we did rebel. The last morning as usual we were stopped from helping ourselves. Opening time was 6.30 am as it was disembarkation day. It was 6.27am. The staff were ready and they were standing around. I noticed a lady lift a jug of juice which was immediately followed by the start of the 'No' dawn chorus. I went up to this lady and said to the approaching waiter 'You are all here standing and waiting, the food and drink is all ready and waiting, and we are all here waiting and I am, after this lady has finished pouring her drink, going to do the same myself' The waiter retired muttering and looking at us as if we had just broken a cardinal rule. This attitude was noticed throughout the ship and we were left with the feeling that for most of the time we were no more than an inconvenient irritation to a large proportion of the staff that we encountered on the ship. I would be the first to admit that for other passengers on the ship they would state that they had no problems or issues with service and attention. I would be the first too also recognise that Balmoral is a very popular ship that they return to her over and over again. But for me? A great deal of work has to be done by Fred Olsen to train its staff in customer service and react to customers needs before I will book again with Fred Olsen. Read Less
Sail Date December 2010
From a cruise we expect good quality food,hate buffets, good entertainment, good value for money. Friendly and helpful staff Sailed 5th Sept 09, Meditarian Western. Ship sailed approx 4 hours late, due to bad weather. Embarkation no one ... Read More
From a cruise we expect good quality food,hate buffets, good entertainment, good value for money. Friendly and helpful staff Sailed 5th Sept 09, Meditarian Western. Ship sailed approx 4 hours late, due to bad weather. Embarkation no one told us what the procedure was. 1st morning at breakfast the waiters didn't make any indication if waiter service, kept on pointing to the buffet. Noticed a menu so asked the waiter if we could order, he seemed put out, the food that eventually came was not edible. Same attitude for lunch the turkey that was presented was totally raw on the inside, so in the end we tried the buffet which was great if you like salads but the cooked food was very dry and tasteless. The evening meals were only ok some good and bad days. If you are vegetarian I am sorry but the menu is very limited even for meat eaters. Lots of fish some good and bad! If you like buffets then this could be your sort of cruise. The entertainment of a day was very limited, if you like a quiz or bridge, bingo, The entertainment of an evening was good but sometimes you could not get in the Coral Club as the ist sitting people would not move! I was worried about the health & Safety for the Neptune Lounge if the Breamar had a fire it would be very difficult to get out. They have added extra chairs which means you have difficulty in accessing the exits. Not sure why H & S have not picked up on this as there are many elderly people on this ship who have difficulty in walking. Staff some were excellent and some didn't give a dam, the waiter service standards were very poor compared to PO cruises. I think the reason for this is no one is checking what they do, also there is not enough staff now they have increased passenger numbers. Food is not replaced as quick from the buffet service. Also note ordering food from you cabin can take over 30 minutes and is not always what you have ordered. Also if you missed breakfast after 10 am then the only food you can get is biscuits and cake but are limited, once they have gone you will not get anything until the buffet at 12.00. The tea machine from the palms cafe kept on breaking down and running out of spoons.     Read Less
Sail Date September 2009
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