255 Fred. Olsen Balmoral Cruise Reviews

rewards for oceans members appalling compared to previously: no fred olsen pens [surely this is a free advert when cruisers leave them around or lend them , miserable selection snacks as only reward for diamond oceans members [one between ... Read More
rewards for oceans members appalling compared to previously: no fred olsen pens [surely this is a free advert when cruisers leave them around or lend them , miserable selection snacks as only reward for diamond oceans members [one between two!!]. guest entertainers very poor. tap dancers may be talented but who want to have to endure two shows of them. comedian OK but other musicians no one wants to see more than once. opportunity for swapping guest entertainers when in same port as black watch was an opportunity that shouldn't have been missed. what else do you want me to waffle about? nothing wrong with the ship. pity to miss morocco and the opportunity to visit funchal on NYE but captain knows best. a few noisy children on board - belonging to crew. crew very helpful dealing with wheelchair . not sure why there were so many 'free' cocktail parties for oceans members when the presents given as rewards for loyalty were so poor Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
Very first cruise so chose a very short 2 night trip Southampton – Honfleur just to get a taste. We were told in advance that boarding would be from 13.00 (or 13.30) and we would board at 16.30 (different times for different ... Read More
Very first cruise so chose a very short 2 night trip Southampton – Honfleur just to get a taste. We were told in advance that boarding would be from 13.00 (or 13.30) and we would board at 16.30 (different times for different cabins/decks so not all together in one big mad rush) and must be at the dock in time but not earlier. We arrived at 15.30 (just in case of traffic, parking etc) and sat & waited. And sat & waited. Quite some time after the staff started checking people in by class & deck. No problem. Then we checked in and walked to where we were told to go over towards security. And stood and waited. And waited. There were no announcements and no-one had a clue what was going on. And no ship was there either. Eventually the ship arrived – very late (it had been in German docks for maintenance and then to Southampton via Dover. Considering it takes some time to do that trip then Fred Olsen would have known how long it would take and it would be late and should have told everyone. But there were NO announcements) – and security (several lanes) could start. Then it was totally disorganised and a ‘free-for-all’. So this whole process start to finish was a farce. Boarded deck 6 and our cabin was on the opposite side on same deck. Easy to find. 2 cabins along from some big curtains (turned out it was doors) and just along from the customer services desk. Reasonable size, large windows, two single beds, enough wardrobe space, reasonable bathroom. Clean & tidy. No problem. However, on such a cruise the windows are no use as it will be dark and you will not see anything. Rooms with no view might be on lower decks with more noise though so you should check. However, as the ship was so late we had to go almost immediately to the theatre at one end of the ship for the safety briefing. Of course, no problem as it is extremely important. But not actually as informative as it should be and NOT clear as to what you actually need to do and where you should go. With just one brief experience I could write and arrange the briefing better !!! I knew I would be in life boat No 4 but had no idea – and was not ever told – where it was or how to get there. In an emergency, no matter where you are on the ship, you MUST go to the theatre to be met by an assigned staff member, checked in and then follow them. Farce. You might not be able to get to the theatre which is at one far end of the ship. You might need to rush to your lifeboat. But where the hell is it and how do you get to it ????? Because of the very late boarding that night’s dinner was not as pre-arranged and not with 2 seatings and not what you had paid for. Usually there are 2 seatings and if you want the later seating at 20.30 – so as not to be from 18.30 to 20.30 and rushed out before the next diners – you pay a supplement in advance. Which we did. However, now it was another free-for-all and take ‘pot luck’. Therefore to make sure we actually had a table together (there were 4 of us, 2 couples each in their own cabin next to each other) we reserved, at considerable cost of £20 per head, a table in a smaller restaurant – The Grill. Food and service was good and wine reasonably priced. Nothing special – but very nice. However, after the 2 day trip the pre-paid supplement was NOT automatically refunded to guests as it should have been. You had to queue at customer services to get it taken off your bill !!!!! That is, being polite, very, very cheeky. Imagine the cost for 500 or 600 guests. In the Lido lounge just along from The Grill and the Lido bar it had a band/singer playing which was perfectly nice. And then a 30 minute music quiz after (which was fun) and then music & dancing (funny with a slowly rolling ship !!). However, just like the smaller Lido bar service in the Lido lounge was very SLOW. It wasn’t very busy – busy but not full - and definitely not rushed off their feet. It took a good 15 minutes to get a couple of beers. Each time. I even went up to the bar to order, spoke with a waiter who could easily take my order there & then but was told that they could only take drinks orders at my table. So I had to go back to the lounge, with waiter in tow, to give the exact same waiter the order I could have given at the bar !!!! Madness. What a waste of everyone’s time. There were plenty of staff but, honestly, 2 good waiters from a typical American bar would do this job faster in their sleep !!! We wanted a bottle of NZ SB white wine and chose it from the generic winelist. But we were told it was out of stock. Funny that as it was what we had had in The Grill restaurant. So I took the waitress over to the glass fridge of The Grill (seen from both sides so on show to Lido Bar/Lounge guests) and pointed at it. But the waitress said it could not be served – even though it was actually in stock. But I could order it from The Grill and take it over to my table !!!! But the waitress could not do the same. Another strange but annoying thing happened over nibbles. On the first night we asked if there were any nuts or crisps (which we would pay for) available so we could nibble with our drinks. We were told sorry, no, we arrived late so had not had time to unpack them. Really ? What were they doing when the ship sailed Germany – Dover – Southampton ? Anyway no problem. On the 2nd night we also asked so we could nibble when having a drink and were told the exact same thing again !!! Weird ? Lazy ? Badly organised ? Who knows but there were bowls of nuts at the Customer Services desk !! Maybe they have a secret supply. Slept well that night – until 06.15. Then was abruptly woken by what seemed staff talking loudly or radio announcements outside. It was really VERY loud. It felt as if the people were in our room. It went on. And on. So I grabbed a towel, wrapped it around me and went outside. There were 4 members of crew and one male member had a radio strapped to his belt, switched on, listening to all of the announcements being made for crew who were arranging a walkway off the ship (we had docked in Honfleur – these doors were what was behind the curtains). Good grief man. I can hear it in my cabin 2 cabins away. If you cannot hear it when it’s strapped to your belt 50cm from your ears ……….!!!!! I told him ‘politely’ to turn it down and he did. Some staff have no consideration to paying guests. They are just focused on their job/task and others are irrelevant. Idiots ! Breakfast this day was buffet style in the main rear Ballindalloch restaurant. Tables are a bit close together (those by side windows) and not quite enough elbow room or space to get in & out. Food choice & quality good and service good. Honfleur was really lovely. Nice old town – a bit like a French Stratford-upon-avon and by the sea. We walked in first as it is not far at all. However, we did pay the £5 per person for the shuttle buses so we could get back if needed and out again. These buses are regular so there is not much waiting at either end. Good service. We lunched on the ship and that was also buffet style but you could also choose from a menu and have it served as well. Choice & quality was again good (I can see now how people put on weight when on cruises !). Evening dinner was in the main Ballindalloch restaurant and was waiter served etc. Our tables were as pre-booked this time and we were correctly on the 2nd seating. Everything was nice but, again tables are very close together. Not much room to get in and out. You will have waiter’s elbows and arms around you when serving others. So duck !!! Slept well that night and was not woken up by inconsiderate and selfish staff. We were told we had to leave the ship by 09.00 (actually from 08.00) so just had time for breakfast. Again good. But if you had any query with anything and had to use customer services then …. Good luck. Cabin bills/invoices are in your door the night before. We had already queried our costs twice the day/evening before and told they would be correct and yet the bill was still wrong. They also add on £5 per guest as a tip per type of staff – so x 2 types. So each traveller gets automatically billed £10 in tips. Why ? Just make sure the staff are paid this amount already and it is already included in the cost. You operate a service industry. It’s what you do. Then if anyone wants to make a cash tip to anyone by their own choice they can. After the cruise we were posted a letter of apology for the problems & hassle boarding (we had not written in at this stage). But the offer of 25% of the value paid on this trip to be deducted from another trip was not really useful as the new trip had to be booked quickly. So not really much of an offer. It should have been valid for at least a year so you had time to see what you wanted & when. Especially as cruises get booked up in advance. Despite all of the above I think I would go on another cruise. Nothing too long, maybe fractionally longer – 4 or 5 days – just to see if this is typical or a one-off. It was an experience. Read Less
Sail Date December 2019
There were lots of good things about this cruise. Embarkation and disembarkation were wonderfully swift and painless. there was no pressured up-selling, such as we'd experienced on other, more high-profile cruise lines. The food was ... Read More
There were lots of good things about this cruise. Embarkation and disembarkation were wonderfully swift and painless. there was no pressured up-selling, such as we'd experienced on other, more high-profile cruise lines. The food was good, even for a vegetarian like me; the drink prices on the Balmoral are far cheaper than on other cruise lines; the coffee bar is superb, with prices much cheaper and quality and service immeasurably better than on Celebrity, with whom we'd cruised three months before. Special offers on the chocolates, too, if you bought a coffee package! The staff were, for the most part, friendly and efficient; the entertainments were above average, with the comedian, the memory man and the classical pianist all superb; the ship was comfortable without being showy; and the range of destinations on this Christmas market cruise was ambitious, if not wholly successful. The only real problem we had - but it was a biggie - was noise in our cabin, 4135. I think we must have been over an engine or something related that was noisy when the ship was at sea. We complained but got nowhere for some while (paradoxically, the few unhelpful staff seem to be allocated to guest relations!) and I learnt an important lesson. Go to the top! When I got access to her, Laura, the Guest relations manager, was brilliant. As soon as she could, she allocated us to a quiet cabin. Having never had this problem on a cruise before, we had never appreciated how a noisy cabin can, by stopping you sleeping, wreck an otherwise excellent cruise. Laura turned our cruise around and it's because of her that we've booked another cruise on this ship - but NOT in cabin 4135! Looks like this review will not give me option to comment on destinations, so Ii will do so here. Copenhagen, Oslo and Hamburg were tremendous destinations with brilliant stuff to see and wonderful Christmas atmosphere at the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen and at Hamurg. We did good ship-organised trips at Copenhagen and Oslo. My only moan would be the perennial one of not enough time. I would have traded the other two destinations for more time at these three. Of those other two, Warnemunde/Rostock was OK though not special but Bruges was a total disaster - churning with crowds, a very ordinary Christmas market and, I felt, a major health and safety risk, especially with the horse and carts cutting corners and forcing pedestrian parties ever more tightly onto the pavements. I did not feel safe there. The two less good ship ships that we did were at these less impressive destinations. The Kiel canal transit was beautiful. Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
Chose cruise to visit cities not yet visited in Spain. Because three destinations were cancelled we still have not seen some of them. We were told of bad weather but did not experience much. Seemed premature to cancel two stops. Otherwise ... Read More
Chose cruise to visit cities not yet visited in Spain. Because three destinations were cancelled we still have not seen some of them. We were told of bad weather but did not experience much. Seemed premature to cancel two stops. Otherwise cruise was just as good as previously especially the food! Entertainment with a singer and comedian very good but ships company only average I would say. The breakfasts were good apart from the very well done streaky bacon which wouldn't stay on your fork. The waiters were very attentive. Lunch on the last day was very special with loads of seafood including lobsters and jumbo prawns.As last two stops were cancelled we had five continuous days at sea which got rather boring as the weather got colder as we got nearer home. I did have a good book thank goodness. Got fed up watching tv in cabin and saw some truly weird films! Only seven out of ten for this one Read Less
Sail Date November 2019
First time with Fred Olsen and got a great saver deal. Sailing from Dover was so easy with excellent parking arrangements at the port and easy embarkation. This smaller ship is has a very friendly crew and staff. Excellent shows and ... Read More
First time with Fred Olsen and got a great saver deal. Sailing from Dover was so easy with excellent parking arrangements at the port and easy embarkation. This smaller ship is has a very friendly crew and staff. Excellent shows and entertainers in the bars and loung areas. Drinks and spa treatments are a reasonable price - much better than any other cruise line I have been with. Five course evening meals were excellent and although the size of buffet seemed small at lunch and in the cafe - actually the range of food on offer was good and quality good. Shore excursions were reasonable and shuttle bus service cheaper than other cruises. Disappointed that only got one full day in each port in spite staying overnight but it was very pleasant gliding down the Seine and watching the world go by. As it was half term, there was a kids club on board. Really, really enjoyed the trip and would go with Fred Olsen again. Overall it was an excellent break. Read Less
Sail Date October 2019
Cruise was 5 nights from Rosyth to Orkney and Shetland then back again. Went with friends so a party of 4. First cruise for our friends who wanted a short one to see how they liked it and asked us to accompany them and "show them the ... Read More
Cruise was 5 nights from Rosyth to Orkney and Shetland then back again. Went with friends so a party of 4. First cruise for our friends who wanted a short one to see how they liked it and asked us to accompany them and "show them the ropes" (this was our 4th cruise with Fred. As usual the cabin, staff, service and facilities were excellent and our friends were very happy - the food in particular impressed them. Overall we all enjoyed the cruise, the food especially, well up to standards and [our] previous experience. Only niggles were at embarking at Rosyth - no facilities for disabled or people with special needs e.g. wheelchairs as at an airport. However Fred staff were great and fast-tracked my party (with 2 disabled) through when asked about this. Disembarking from ship was unusually slow and tedious allegedly due to high tide creating a steep gangway. However once again when we enquired Fred staff were apologetic and we were fast-tracked off the ship as were other disadvantaged folk. I suspect these niggles are mainly to do with the port and not Fred as Rosyth is not used much by cruise ships (maybe Fred only?) and perhaps the port considers it not worth upgrading - although legally it may be on shaky ground. I am not certain as to whether our friends would take another cruise with Fred or anyone else. If this review was on behalf of my wife and I alone the niggles would not be an issue and it would get 5 stars - we are booked again with Fred for next year... Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Cruise L1917 Isles of Scotland 1.8.2019 This was our first ever cruise and we had expected much better considering the cost. The M.S. Balmoral had its last refit some 10/11 years ago and it is looking very tired. Our cabin was showing ... Read More
Cruise L1917 Isles of Scotland 1.8.2019 This was our first ever cruise and we had expected much better considering the cost. The M.S. Balmoral had its last refit some 10/11 years ago and it is looking very tired. Our cabin was showing the signs of wear and tear with the bathroom being particularly poor - cracked tiles in the shower and not very clean. Soundproofing between cabins was below acceptable levels. The food was of a good standard but nothing exceptional. Waiting staff were very efficient albeit there was a sense of being rushed. Entertainment was mediocre. I overheard two different people refer to the cruise as "Butlins at Sea". Considering the cost of the cruise it was disappointing to learn that one would have to pay an additional £26 per hour for internet access! We waited until we went ashore to catch up on emails etc! The last straw for us was the disembarkation which took 1.75 hours (and we weren't the last off!). Had we not been asked to vacate our cabins then we could have had some comfort before leaving. As it was the aisles and stairways were filled with people (many elderly) sitting on the floor. An appalling way to end the holiday. However to finish on a positive note, we were able to visit The Orkneys and Shetland which was a delight. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
We chose to sail from Rosyth which was completely hassle free, on a glorious summer's day. We were happy with our outside cabin and didn't miss having a balcony. Room of a good standard. Always plenty of hot water for showers. ... Read More
We chose to sail from Rosyth which was completely hassle free, on a glorious summer's day. We were happy with our outside cabin and didn't miss having a balcony. Room of a good standard. Always plenty of hot water for showers. All staff were very courteous and friendly. Food was good and I think we were very fortunate dining in the Spey restaurant as the picture windows gave us wonderful views as we travelled the fjords. Nothing anyone can do about the weather but we were so, so lucky.....clear blue skies and glorious sunshine! Evening entertainment was very enjoyable. We chose the drinks package which worked very well for us. Only used one official excursion to a glacier plus lake trip which we thoroughly enjoyed. Would we go again on this same trip? We wouldn't...as this one was so good it couldn't be bettered. What more can I say....we loved it!☺ Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Fred Olsen were recommended by family members. The fact that Balmoral sailed from Rosyth (near Edinburgh) was so handy for us and saved us a flight to Southampton. Our cruise to Norway far exceeded our expectations and the glorious ... Read More
Fred Olsen were recommended by family members. The fact that Balmoral sailed from Rosyth (near Edinburgh) was so handy for us and saved us a flight to Southampton. Our cruise to Norway far exceeded our expectations and the glorious weather was a huge added bonus! From the minute we arrived at the port terminal until the day of disembarkation, staff constantly went over and above to ensure everything was perfect. They were so friendly, attentive and generally interested in making sure everything was right and that you felt special. Our waiters in particular, Vilroy and Flacher, were simply excellent! The food was wonderful and the great choice of menu ensured there was always something for everyone. Afternoon tea is a lovely treat, especially if you have had a busy shore day. We also enjoyed the special Observatory Lounge Afternoon Tea on one occasion and would certainly do this again. The service, food and ambience was wonderful. Entertainment ranged from a very talented flautist and guitarist, to cabaret style shows. All shows were very entertaining and had full audiences. My only suggestion would be to make them slightly longer! Most were around 45 minutes - an hour. Our cruise itinerary was excellent. The port talks gave us a good insight of each place we were visiting and the captain kept us well informed. To see Norway with blue skies every day certainly allowed us to see it at its best. We didn't book any shore tours as we prefer to do our own thing, although did book the RIB trip from Hellesylt, which was very worth while. Bergen - We berthed very close to the town centre so walking around was easy. Loved the Bryggen area of old wooden houses and the fish market. The tourist information at the end of the harbour has a lot of great maps and information. We took the funicular up Mount Floyen and had great views over the city. There's a lovely walk from the top (about 20 minutes) to a small lake where they offer free canoe hire. Flam - We booked our own tickets for the Flam railway and were on the first train of the day. Tickets were sold out on the day so do book these in advance. What a beautiful journey through the mountains and past many waterfalls. There was only a 15 minute stop at the top and many people got off for tours. It meant we were able to have a carriage to ourselves on the way back down allowing us to take photos through an open window. The carriage had been reserved for a group of Japanese tourists so there was no English commentary in this carriage, but it's worth doing if you are keen to take photos. Would also recommend the Flam bakery for lunch or a snack. The aromas of freshly cooked cakes and breads are amazing! After lunch we walked to Flam village (about 1.5 hours round trip). This was a lovely way to see local life and to walk by the crystal clear river. Olden - we took the open top bus that was parked on the quayside. It was good to see the lakes and beautiful scenery, but I think if I were going back I'd take the Olden Adventures bus to the glacier as that had more options for walking. We did our own circular walk from the town centre to the beautiful red Olden Church, crossed the bridge and walked the far side of the water back to town (about an hour). This is a lovely peaceful low level walk with beautiful views. There's not much in Olden town centre so if you are not able to do local walks, then a shore tour would be worth doing. Hellesylt - beautiful place at the end of a stunning fjord. We walked up to the church, then crossed the bridge above it to come down the other side of the waterfall. You get great views here. Our RIB adventure was excellent. Our guide lived on a local farm and told us a lot about farming life and local folklore. Would thoroughly recommend doing this. It's a great way to see the Seven Sisters Waterfalls and the fjord from close proximity. We loved every minute of this cruise and would do it all again. Will maybe do the two week Norway cruise next time! Would certainly recommend Fred Olsen. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
I enjoyed my visit to Iceland first cruise with Fred Olsen Balmoral. The Balmoral is a nice country feel ship. I liked that it has just over 1000 passengers and not thousands and thousands of people. Saying this I may try the smaller ... Read More
I enjoyed my visit to Iceland first cruise with Fred Olsen Balmoral. The Balmoral is a nice country feel ship. I liked that it has just over 1000 passengers and not thousands and thousands of people. Saying this I may try the smaller Boudicca for my next cruise. Our cabin was 4041. I was quite happy with our twin cabin and liked having the picture window. I would not like a cabin with no window. The ship is kept clean and sanitised and hand sanitizer is used before going in the restaurants. This was my worry about cruising hygiene but I had no worries on board as everything was kept clean. I never once found the toilets dirty and staff were regularly checking and cleaning. Our cabin was cleaned daily too plenty clean towels. The food was very good we had alacarte each evening and the food was delicious. Our waiters were very attentive and friendly. Most of the staff on the ship are really hard working very good service from the staff. The tours were organised well no hassles. Everything was organised great on the ship. It was great on the deck too can always find a quiet spot. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Delighted to say that on this cruise the regular afternoon teas were a huge improvement on last years which were a disaster. Someone must have read my last report.Still an unacceptable waiting time for orders taken in bar sometimes, but ... Read More
Delighted to say that on this cruise the regular afternoon teas were a huge improvement on last years which were a disaster. Someone must have read my last report.Still an unacceptable waiting time for orders taken in bar sometimes, but staff worked off their feet. All crew members had very pleasant attitude and were keen to engage with passengers if encouraged to do so. Atlanrtic deck cabin was clean, roomy, bathroom/shower room was spacious with plenty of shelving and wardrobe and storage space in cabin was excellent, Plenty of public sitting areas, no need to seek a place to read or chat while at sea. We had ample time in the interesting ports to do visits and walk arounds. Wish we could have visited the Faroes on this or Norway cruise though. Wonderful destination.Wholeship was sparklingly clean and pleasant to live in for duration of trip, Only downside was the state of the public toilets on the ship, they could all do with a serious makeover.Surprising, as the cabin ones were excellent. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Restaurant and staff in outside bar are offish and service for drinks slow Restaurant staff. You catch their eye and they immediately walk away Yet rush you when eating to Move you on as quickly as they can Food School ... Read More
Restaurant and staff in outside bar are offish and service for drinks slow Restaurant staff. You catch their eye and they immediately walk away Yet rush you when eating to Move you on as quickly as they can Food School dinners from the 50’s only worse We are in Orkney and Shetlands the ultimate fishing area in U K yet a huge bowl of crab sticks on buffet Kipper for breakfast. Boil in the bag with raw onion on top Milk not fresh UHT Sunday lunch. Roast pork yet not a pig in sight. We are in the land of some of the best beef and lamb in the world We paid 3k for 5 days The cabin and cabin staff perfect. Such a shame that the food and service in restaurants did not match The restaurant staff and bar staff in the outside bar was slow if you ordered drinks Food in restaurants with additional costs was acceptable but same menu every night Balcony filthy. Old ash tray on balcony from last visitors Recliners dirty We have been on 9 cruises Queen Mary. Star Clippers. Windstar Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We chose this cruise as there was a good chance of seeing wildlife. We were not disappointed. They had a naturalist onboard who spent many hours on deck looking for whales etc and then got everyone interested in looking also. The ports ... Read More
We chose this cruise as there was a good chance of seeing wildlife. We were not disappointed. They had a naturalist onboard who spent many hours on deck looking for whales etc and then got everyone interested in looking also. The ports of call were just right especially as we stayed overnight on the ship in Reykjavik. The check in at Rosyth was so easy. Pulled up in our car and had the luggage taken away, all we then had to do was park the car and check in. Quick, easy and onboard in no time. The staff on The Balmoral were fantastic, very attentive but not intrusive. Superb food, especially in the Buffet restaurant. Nice size of ship, not too big. Our cabin was a picture window cabin on deck4, plenty of room and great storage. Good mix of entertainment and we particularly enjoyed the various talks. Very reasonable priced drinks and great to have access to tea and coffee 24/7. Thoroughly recommend Fred Olsen, this was our first time with them and we hope to use them again. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Having just returned from our 5th Fred Olsen cruise, this time 11 nights from Rosyth to Iceland on the Balmoral, I can say without reservation the experience was excellent in all respects, having given some "room for improvement ... Read More
Having just returned from our 5th Fred Olsen cruise, this time 11 nights from Rosyth to Iceland on the Balmoral, I can say without reservation the experience was excellent in all respects, having given some "room for improvement suggestions on our last cruise on the Black Watch", I feel it is appropriate to compliment Fred Olsen on the Balmoral, overall food was excellent, and well presented, the authentic Indian lunch buffet was extremely good, the dinner menu in the Ballindaloch restaurant was varied and provided food of consistently high quality, service was impeccable. The cabin was of a decent size, comfortable, with the TV system working well, although I would suggest some sound insulation behind the TV would have been beneficial as the TV in the next cabin was also mounted on the wall and was a bit intrusive. Stewardess was very efficient and particular in cleaning, we had a picture window on deck 6. Entertainment was fine if not exceptional. Embarkation and Disembarkation were trouble free and fast, although it was a bit of a jumble trying to extricate the suitcases from the marquee. One thing noted was there was no bar drinks menu, so one could not peruse the offerings having to ask the waiters what was available, also prices were not on show, meaning unless the waiters were asked the price was only given when the receipt was supplied. Would certainly book with Fred Olsen again, on another ship? only if the reviews were as good as the Balmoral. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Sailed from Rosyth, local for Edinburgh Short cruise, just right for a first cruise, staff all charming and nothing was too much trouble. Food was great, ship was very clean, entertainment excellent.. Shore excursions were informative. ... Read More
Sailed from Rosyth, local for Edinburgh Short cruise, just right for a first cruise, staff all charming and nothing was too much trouble. Food was great, ship was very clean, entertainment excellent.. Shore excursions were informative. Sadly weather not great, a bit cold and grey, but the sun appeared at times. Strongly recommend dining in the 'grill' at least once. 6* dining experience. If I went on another cruise I would have an outside cabin, at least one with a porthole. The interior cabins can be a little disorientating (telling night from day). The ship was very clean, the gangway staff were very helpful when the ship could not get into the port. They helped with my wheelchair and were always smiling. The library was a bonus, as I forgot a book and the chocolate and coffee shop was delicious.The shop staff were very helpful. We met some lovely people and being a small world, we met a couple who knew my daughter's in laws and were from the same village! Amazing. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We live in Edinburgh, the sailing was from Rosyth, and the itinerary was very interesting. The check in went slowly but smoothly, parking procedure very good. The gangway was very steep, very narrow and entirely stepped, with wide flat ... Read More
We live in Edinburgh, the sailing was from Rosyth, and the itinerary was very interesting. The check in went slowly but smoothly, parking procedure very good. The gangway was very steep, very narrow and entirely stepped, with wide flat areas on either side. Many passengers were elderly, using sticks for support, and found it very difficult. These people make up a large part of Fred Olsen Cruises customer base, and I found this astonishing. We scanned our cards ourselves, with a crew member checking it- not a word, no eye contact from any member of the gangway crew, then, or at any time during the cruise. The ship is beautifully maintained, inside and out, with comfortable lounges and plenty of artwork and photographs. Dining in the Balindalloch restaurant was good, food excellent and waiters very smart in grey suits. The Palm cafe was lovely, with seating overlooking the pool. The food was fine, but coffee generally cold, with staff morale not too good. The cabin (3072) had been refurbished and was well equipped, with a proper full sized shower area. There was, however, no sound insulation at all. There was almost nothing in the way of engine rumble or other mechanical noises, but it was as though the occupants of the cabins on either side were in beside us! They were selfish idiots with no regard for anyone- we were also idiots for creeping about like church mice! Entertainment was pretty good- a singer/guitarist in the Morning Light lounge was very good, with a most pleasant manner. The Neptune show lounge was very smart, with a resident 6 piece band. The British song and dance group were good, as were comedy and speciality music acts. There were also 2 afternoon classical piano recitals which were wonderful. The dancing classed in the Neptune were very good, organised by a Scottish Husband and Wife team. Reception and shore excursion staff were very polite and helpful. The promenade deck had seating in several areas, but there was not enough depth to accommodate loungers. There were plenty of these round the pool, though, as well as on deck 11. Fred Olsen claim a 60% return rate, and I believe it. Many guests were treated like old friends by some crew members. We only did 1 shore trip- the Monet House and Gardens, which was excellent, but there were plenty choose from. Some people were disappointed to find the trip they wanted fully booked, so it's best to book in advance. The clientele was almost entirely Scottish, and we met some lovely people, but if you are looking for a more mixed crowd, Rosyth is probably not the best staring point. We enjoyed the cruise- the ship was very smooth and quiet, there are quiet areas to hide away in. There does seem to be a problem with staff morale- a lady at our table was actually shouted at by a waiter for not being able to understand his broken English! There were plenty of "suits" in evidence, so the problem has to be in management quality rather than quantity. We asked someone with a cabin on deck 6 about the noise from adjacent cabins, and it appeared to be no better than ours. That would probably prevent us from taking another cruise with Fred Olsen, which is a pity, as there is so much to like. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Very dated ship. Mainly elderly passengers. Nothing on during the day except bridge bingo and handicrafts. More like a floating care home. Tour operator extremely unhelpful.. Don't book flam railway through olsen it's a lot ... Read More
Very dated ship. Mainly elderly passengers. Nothing on during the day except bridge bingo and handicrafts. More like a floating care home. Tour operator extremely unhelpful.. Don't book flam railway through olsen it's a lot cheaper to do yourself and there were plenty of seats. Guest service manager very helpful as had to move cabins as extremely noisy. Noticed a lot of cutbacks. Eg no conditioner or body lotion in cabins. However food was outstanding served by Sam and Joe who were brilliant. Entertainment on a night was good. Cocktails seemed mainly fruit juice having been teatotal for 30yrs I thought a few alcoholic drinks would be a change. Strangely there was no effect. Service was fairly quick. The gym in a great position but vastly overheated to dehydration level with one small water fountain pretty hopeless when you have to leave the equipment to get a drink. We are used to having all our baggage taken off us at check in not done in Newcastle they will only take suitcase no suit bags or small cases.which were heavy. Class them as hand luggage. On leaving ship to come home Newcastle is very disjointed. This was my 4 time with olsen and very much my last. Wasn't keen before but Newcastle is near home. Southampton is worth the journey to board a better cruise line cunard is unbeatable and cheaper Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Always wanted to see the Fjords and this ship seemed like a good size to experience this .We has a good midship cabin near to lifts etc . the dining onboard we could not fault exceptional . The shows were all very good the service of bar ... Read More
Always wanted to see the Fjords and this ship seemed like a good size to experience this .We has a good midship cabin near to lifts etc . the dining onboard we could not fault exceptional . The shows were all very good the service of bar staff and restaurant staff again excellent . The only complaint we had that our drinks package which we paid for did not include Sherry yet its cheaper to buy than Whisky Gin etc which was included . Maybe this could be reviewed before we book another cruise with this line . We were very happy with our ports and shore excursions all picture postcard and beautiful and the courier information very educational . There were lectures given in the Theatre also about the ports which helped people decide which they wanted to do . We will travel again .Hope she can get her Sherry . Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Been with Fred before and loved the friendliness of the staff, the food, the service and the Balmoral is not too massive and plenty of room to sit and relax. The excursions were very disappointing. This is not a cruise for wheel chair ... Read More
Been with Fred before and loved the friendliness of the staff, the food, the service and the Balmoral is not too massive and plenty of room to sit and relax. The excursions were very disappointing. This is not a cruise for wheel chair users. Malmo had many cobbled streets which make it very hard for the pusher and very uncomfortable for the sitter. It was a bank holiday so 90% of the shops were closed and the town is dull and uninteresting. Visby was even worse and almost impossible for wheelchair users to get around. Stockholm was OK and visits to the Abba museum and the Varsa museum well worth it. \but yet again, the city is nothing to write home about. We went on the evening city tour and the guide really struggled to tell us anything of interest and the cost 04 £48 per person was ridiculous for a 2 hour coach ride. And so to Gothenberg where all museums and the fish market close on Mondays. We took a hop on hop off bus ride around the city and stayed on the whole tour as there were absolutely no places of interest. So the itiniery was very poorly arranged given the closure of shops, museums etc. The staff on the Balmoral are just brilliant. They are mainly from the Phillipines, Thailand and India. They remember your names and what you normally drink, how you like it etc within a few hours. They are always smiling and so helpful. The embarkation was quick and efficient but the disembarkation was a shambles. There were a few good evening shows and some good entertainment in and around the bars. All in all, a disappointing experience not helped by awful weather but we will sail with Fred again Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
I consider the price we paid for the itinerary, distance travelled, entertainment, drinks package and cabin comfort (superior interior) was far too much. The A/C in the cabin was rubbish we had the setting off the scale and still found it ... Read More
I consider the price we paid for the itinerary, distance travelled, entertainment, drinks package and cabin comfort (superior interior) was far too much. The A/C in the cabin was rubbish we had the setting off the scale and still found it stuffy and through the night it seemed to go off altogether, maybe to save money- so very poor sleep quality. Obviously we reported this and it was supposedly checked out twice and found to meet the required temperatures. It did not meet ours. We were offered another similar cabin which we examined and found to be no different as it was in same vacinity. We spoke to other people on the ship some found theirs too warm and others found theirs too cold. Never had this problem before and have cruised many times. For the price we paid I would have expected a decent pillow to rest my head on but they were obviously job lot and I I awoke every morning with a creek in my neck - there was no bounce back whatsoever. I ended up having to put towels underneath to get some sort of support. Please note you no longer get branded spirit in the basic drinks package so another cut back making FO even less value for money cruise line. Food in general was good and much better than it had been on our last Balmoral cruise, so you can't judge them all by one. Staff were excellent except for one group serving in Ballindalloch at lunch time to whom everything was a bother. Entertainment disappointing - was a bit on the scarce side and very mediocre. The places we visited were so so, except for Kiel canal which unfortunately we could not go through on the way there due to windy conditions. We found there were a lot more very elderly and infirm, disabled passengers on this occasion. Definitely the best part was meeting some very nice people and making friends. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
Previous wonderful experience with Fred Olsen over the past fifteen years. Sadly, will go with them no more unless they get back to their previous excellence. It appears that the ' Bean Counters ' have taken charge. Cruise prices ... Read More
Previous wonderful experience with Fred Olsen over the past fifteen years. Sadly, will go with them no more unless they get back to their previous excellence. It appears that the ' Bean Counters ' have taken charge. Cruise prices have rocketed by up to 70% ( beware ' Anchor Fares ' you will be second class guests even having to pay a large sum for a couple of clicks on a computer to change your unfavourable dining time ). Quality of food has fallen dramatically, they used to have the very best food, now the meat is tough ( pork steaks, veal etc. ) Food in the self service buffets is always no more than very lukewarm, cold bacon, uncooked vegetables, far less than al dente, just dipped in warm water. The breakfast marmalade and jams are cheap, bulk bought and tasteless in open dishes rather than the tasty individual sealed packs and immediately adjacent to wheat bearing bagels so the crumbs can contaminate the jams with gluten. Scrambled eggs very cool and so runny they could be poured; horrid. Never once was steak or prawn cocktails on offer, unlike other cruise lines where they are staple every dinner. A New Maitre D' needed, bring back Mr Angel. Same guest artists twice each in 7 nights. Good theatre company, though. No interesting guest speakers Captain waiter in Palms never once spoke to us, not even a greeting. We ate there over 30 times. Dirty looking, food ingrained table mats in Palms restaurant, no doubt bacteria bearing. Mentioned this but they were only ever wiped over with a damp cloth, and, to think, cruise lines worry about Norovirus !! Only place where good food available is The Grill, at £20,00 per person extra, but even that is over priced, no soup on menu. Only good coffee on the ship in there. We have recommended Olsen to many friends and obtained many customers for them but we can no longer do so as there is far better value on other cruise lines. We have three further cruises booked, none of them with Fred Olsen. Only consolation of this cruise was the wonderful staff (mostly ) Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise, our first with 'Fred', entirely on price as ridiculously cheap at £45 per night.pp. We have visited all the destinations before which made it quite relaxing. For the price you really can't complain ... Read More
We chose this cruise, our first with 'Fred', entirely on price as ridiculously cheap at £45 per night.pp. We have visited all the destinations before which made it quite relaxing. For the price you really can't complain about anything. The staff are fantastic to a tee. Ever single one we met was polite,courteous, smiley and friendly. The food is superb, as good as any we have been on including Cunard and P and O. Exception being afternoon tea which we felt a little lacking. It irks a bit being asked to pay to change dinner sitting. Most other cruise lines are helpful and try to do this for free. Not a good first impression. We particularly liked the way the buffet restaurant opens out onto the open back decks allowing al fresco dining with great views. Many modern ships lack this with rear decks reserved for cabins. Entertainment in the theatre is absolutely superb, great acts all the way through, very polished and a great live orchestra for every show. The theatre seating though is awful. The mix of sofas and swivel chairs just doesn't work. The levels are all wrong and getting past is difficult. Many drinks spilt from silly table design. Replacing the swivel chairs with another row of sofas would be far better. And why oh why must they serve drinks during performances? It is bad enough with inconsiderate guests and unfortunately some staff members, (good to see the comedian laying into one of the repeat staff offenders!) getting up and moving around or talking during performances, with waiters taking orders too it is so disruptive. Surely people can survive for 45 minutes without ordering a drink and if one is that incontinent surely it is polite to sit at the back? Some polite reminders needed at the start of the show perhaps? Other bars were of mixed quality entertainment. The string quartet were superb, we felt they needed a 'quiet zone' so that they could be fully appreciated.. The ship itself is mixed. Inside areas: Some areas have been revamped and look great such as the observation and lido bars and the library/card room. We didn't use the spa/gym but this looked superb with the best views on the ship. Much of the ship though is dated and has a bit of a motorway service station come care home vibe. There is no 'wow factor', However it is all comfortable with plenty of lounge areas and does the job. Outside decks: We love the 'stacked' rear decks. Plenty of space and often sheltered on sea days. However, excepting the revamped lido lounge, it is all rather tired looking with rust stains around the pool etc. The sunbeds are ancient and well past their sell by date. There are plenty of them though. What really disgusted us was the way too many people lay with sweaty bare skin direct on the fabric with no towels. Yuk! There really need to be pool towels handed out on deck, not just in the cabin and some signage encouraging their use. Our man gripe would be cleanliness. We were pleased that there was enforcement of hand gel use at the entry to restaurants. There were however, too many sticky and smeary surfaces throughout the ship. It didn't gleam like other cruise lines we have been with. Chairs in the lounges with sticky wooden arms. When you pick up a chair in the restaurant your hand would stick to the back. Tables not wiped down when resetting in the buffet etc. This really needs attention. Getting on and off the ship was flawless and we liked the way that independent travel is not discouraged as with some other lines. Bus pick up points etc are advertised. All in all though fantastic value and a very frienldly down to earth ship. With the October refit hopefully addressing some of the issues and some attention to cleaning standards we would certainly use Fred Olsen again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We usually travel with P&O during the January - March period to escape the British winter but they had nothing new this year so we thought a return to Fred Olsen with a different itinerary would be different. We travelled on ... Read More
We usually travel with P&O during the January - March period to escape the British winter but they had nothing new this year so we thought a return to Fred Olsen with a different itinerary would be different. We travelled on Balmoral 10 years ago and she has been sympathetically updated since and is very well maintained. The problem we had last time still exists unfortunately - she is just not up to maintaining her itinerary in heavy weather. Whereas P&O ships maintain 18 - 20 knots, we were down to 11-15 most of the time. This adds to the length of any passage; 6 days on the Atlantic rather than five for example. We missed 2 ports owing to this and our time in many ports was often reduced to little more than a half day. As we actually visited 13 ports in 62 nights, it was lucky that we enjoyed sea days! Fortunately the Atlantic was kind to us both ways so we lost no time there. Unfortunately the ship picked up a fishing net in the Pacific (not anyone's fault despite popular opinion) and we were reduced to 10/11 knots maximum. Fortunately we were able to fix the problem in San Diego. All credit to the captain (and the excellent Cruise Director Elliot Taylor) who ran two forums for the passengers to explain the issue and its implications. He didn't have to do it and it was much appreciated. As a result, tours to Los Angeles had to run by coach from San Diego which was not viable for many. An unexpected side effect of the change to the itinerary was that in retrospect our days in the US ports co-incided with the few days of good weather during a cold wet period there. The original itinerary would have meant our visits would have quite bad weather. So it wasn't all bad luck! The crew, as always on Fred, were terrific. The Filipinos particularly appear to be a joyous and optimistic people and are so friendly and accommodating. On 'special' nights, the bar girls were often allowed to dress up in all their finery which made some of the passengers feel very old indeed! The crew shows are always a 'Must Do' on a Fred ship. The entertainment, particularly the Show Company was pretty good, as was the lecture programme (which included two submarine historians strangely). Violinist Michael Bacala was the star of the cruise for us - and it was good to see Captain Henrik Mattson keeping up the Fred tradition of getting involved by being thrown in the pool on one 'Pirate' event! One thing that did disappoint a little was the quality of the meals; the dinners in particular. They were often unimaginative and not very well done which was not usual in our Fred experience. On P&O the same meals are served up in different combinations to add a bit of variety but on Balmoral the menus were fixed - and appear to have been so for several years in some cases. The two Canal transits were well commentated, in good weather and full of interest. We actually did the transit four times - twice by ship, once by coach and once on the Panama Railway heritage train which is 'must do' tour. The ship had around 900 fellow passengers aboard - well below the ship's capacity. This was probably because we had many singles (who were well catered for) and nearly always good mixers. Inevitably the age profile was older but we found most people to be pretty friendly and they were nearly all frequent Fred travellers ; we were surprised by the loyalty everyone expressed. Fred really is a family concern. Whenever we encountered a big cruise ship in port, universal revulsion was expressed! Interesting since so few of our fellow passengers had ever sailed on a bigger ship! Fred does deservedly well to keep such a loyal following - hopefully they have a business strategy to cater for when we all die of old age! It was a good cruise that rolled happily along with lots to entertain us on the may sea days. Maybe people who are more interested in destinations would have been disappointed by our progress but we enjoyed it. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
We chose this cruise for the chance to see LA and San Francisco. what did we see . More sea than expected. All went well until we exited the Panama canal then an argument with a fishing net ( we lost) reduced our speed to 8 knots and ... Read More
We chose this cruise for the chance to see LA and San Francisco. what did we see . More sea than expected. All went well until we exited the Panama canal then an argument with a fishing net ( we lost) reduced our speed to 8 knots and our itinerary was lost as well , missed ports, reduced time in port and more tendering . LA no chance ,San Francisco 3 days down to 1and a half , We went to El Salvador a port I would have liked to have missed reminded me of Aden in the 60s only thing missing was the gunfire. Management seemed very reluctant to tell the paying customers what was going on. No news being good news I suppose. This would have been the time for the cruise director and onboard show company to shine but no they didn't rise to the occasion, The onboard activity was sparse ,the art class was in the hands of two lady ex teachers who thought they were still at kindergarten . I'm afraid I didn't stay the course due to the constant arguments , not the passengers the teachers. The craft class was good The food was good as was the restaurant service , cabin cleaning seems to have taken a down turn, balcony's not cleaned and windows dirty, we came back one day to a line of dirty footprints across our carpet ,not ours and housekeeping was very reluctant to clean it. We returned home to a letter apologising for all the problems and offering 10% off our next cruise provided we booked direct and within a year. Fat chance my money will now go elsewhere. I've had many cruise's with Fred in the past, most times things have gone wrong one way or another but this time they surpassed themselves and sadly they don't seem to care. Read Less
Sail Date January 2019
Balmoral Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 3.9
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.6
Family 2.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 5.0 3.4
Service 5.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 3.8

Find a Cruise

Easily compare prices from multiple sites with one click