3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We booked this very short cruise at exceptionally short notice (book Monday sail Saturday.) We were accommodated in a suite on Deck 9. During the booking procedure I made it clear that we wished to dine at 8-30 pm but were later told that ... Read More
We booked this very short cruise at exceptionally short notice (book Monday sail Saturday.) We were accommodated in a suite on Deck 9. During the booking procedure I made it clear that we wished to dine at 8-30 pm but were later told that we must eat at 6-30 pm. It took very many telephone calls to unravel that situation but having paid an extra £12 we were granted our wish. We have sailed in Balmoral on a previous occasion and felt confident that we would enjoy ourselves. The parking arrangements by ABP and the boarding procedure were excellent. Our suite (9028) was large and well decorated if a tiny bit tired. Our cabin stewardess was charming and efficient and worked exceptionally hard. We had asked for a double bed but were provided with 2 singles I expect that this was because I booked so late. The Champagne (Cava,) the fruit and the fresh flowers were a nice touch as were the canapes in the evening. We were assigned a table in the Ballindalloch Restaurant which is large and very noisy. We breakfasted in the Spey Restaurant. Breakfast was a very generous buffet arrangement. Dinner was a five course affair with good variation. Generally we felt that the standard of the food was good to very good without being exceptional, the one exception was the roast beef that was exceptional. The wine was perfectly acceptable if one chose carefully. There was no draught bitter beer apart from Newcastle Brown Ale which is not to everyone's taste. A disappointment! We attended the entertainment in the Neptune Lounge on all three evenings. The dance troop worked tirelessly and with professionalism, the music was not to our taste but it suited most people. The comedian was very sharp and his act in the top flight. We visited Rouen and Honfleur, in both places it rained but we enjoyed wandering about. We chose not to use the organised tours as they seemed to be very expensive. We felt that the service on board was not quite as good as we have experienced on other cruises. It may be that the staff are being worked too hard. All in all this was quite a fun break in a monotonous winter. Will we choose to sail with Fred Olsen again? I am not sure. There are many cruises on offer and the competition is fierce.. We will decide soon. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2018
It's always nice to do something in the rather dismal month of January. We secured an excellent deal (just £199 each) on this 3-night short-cruise to Rouen and Honfleur and were not disappointed. We had previusly spent a week on ... Read More
It's always nice to do something in the rather dismal month of January. We secured an excellent deal (just £199 each) on this 3-night short-cruise to Rouen and Honfleur and were not disappointed. We had previusly spent a week on Balmoral in 2016, but after her recent refit she was noticeably fresher in her decor. We normally go 'inside' and were pleased with our cabin (5150) with its very comfortable beds and (well done Fred Olsen!) extremely well-lit bathroom. It was also nice to see that Fred still offers Twinings teabags! We prefer second-sitting dinner and elected to pay the £2 per head per night to switch from our assigned first-sitting in the excellent Bendarroch. The food was very good throughout - as had been expected. Lunch in the smaller Spey and Avon on Deck 10 is our preference and is recommended. We enjoyed two excellent shows staged by the hard-working resident company of ten. If both are still running for a while to come, make sure that you go and see the nautically-themed 'Bon Voyage' and the raunchier 'Ministry Of Rock' (I might have got the show names slightly wrong). Whilst many fellow-passengers chose to stay on board - it was extremely wet unfortunately - we walked to and from Rouen on the Sunday afternoon and it was good to see the famous clock and the magnificent cathedral with its lovely tinkly carillons in the afternoon. The weather was better on Monday in Honfleur, which is always a delight ot visit. We will be looking out for more short cruises like this and can heartily recommend Balmoral for a pleasurable 'sensible-sized ship' experience. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
On the first night a burst pipe on the tenth floor flooded our cabin on the ninth floor and the hallway carpets were soaked. Noisy machines to dry out carpets. Took 5 days. At breakfast we were served cold tea and breakfast. Dirty ... Read More
On the first night a burst pipe on the tenth floor flooded our cabin on the ninth floor and the hallway carpets were soaked. Noisy machines to dry out carpets. Took 5 days. At breakfast we were served cold tea and breakfast. Dirty breakfast plates. Complained to manager. Not enough seats for entertainment in the Neptune Lounge. Probably due to wet carpets husbands pneumonia kicked in. 2 hour wait for doctor £61 for 8 tablets.Need two doctors!!! The swimming pools and jacuzzis not ready after a small refit. Were being worked on 24 hours a day.( Retiled etc) Some were ready five days after cruise started. Lift doors dangerous as closed too quickly.At least 2 people injured .Left Lisbon early to miss storm. Too many days at sea.Fireworks in Funchal were lovely though.Epidemic of coughing called apparently Balmoral cough as it happens a lot. A lot of time spent in bed due to illness probably caused by damp carpets. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: December 2017
to be away christmas and new year was the main reason to watch the fireworks in maderia was a memory i and my wife will remember for ever the great problems we had on the ship and on embarkation was in my opinion could and should have ... Read More
to be away christmas and new year was the main reason to watch the fireworks in maderia was a memory i and my wife will remember for ever the great problems we had on the ship and on embarkation was in my opinion could and should have been avoided 2 hours stuck in a taxi prior to embarkation is not acceptable get it right fred olsen the pool area was not completed prior to sailing we were only informed by the captain that this area would be out of bounds for the first three days it was in fact four days we were offered £75 per person i refused the offer after paying £16000 for this holiday i exspected to have all the ships facilities££ for my use and not be insulted by offering me£150 for two people the food in the main restaurant first four nights was superb but went down hill after that we had to send food back why the change i do not know the ship and crew and fellow passengers were the most friendly on any ship i have ever been on i do not exspect fred olsen to react to my review then again i might be wrong cheers brian lee Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
Chose cruise as had been on the two previous Christmas cruise. This year 2017 lacked any atmosphere. Everything had been cut back, no sailaways. No chefs parade. Felt cheated. Very poor. Awful. Seats in the Observatory lounge. Whoever ... Read More
Chose cruise as had been on the two previous Christmas cruise. This year 2017 lacked any atmosphere. Everything had been cut back, no sailaways. No chefs parade. Felt cheated. Very poor. Awful. Seats in the Observatory lounge. Whoever chose them obviously has not tried sitting in them to read. They are hard and uncomfortable. Look nice but that is all. Then the flu bug hit us it was like being in a sanitarium. Hygiene very poor from staff and passengers. Will not do this cruise again. Cabin beds uncomfotable and whole cabin needs refurbishing. Embarkation was terrible never known it so bad before. Food excellent but began to go downhill on the last week. Captain Victor Stoica was excellent and made the right choice to leave Lisbon a day early to avoid rough storms. Felt safe knowing he was at the helm. Shame didn’t feel we had had Christmae at all Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
My husband and I are in our late 50's and early 60's and had reservations about going on a Cruise that we had been informed consisted mainly of older clientele, however we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and have booked again for 2018. ... Read More
My husband and I are in our late 50's and early 60's and had reservations about going on a Cruise that we had been informed consisted mainly of older clientele, however we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and have booked again for 2018. Embarkation and luggage handling was speedy and faultless and our luggage arrived at our Cabin only minutes after we embarked. The Cabin was as described, spacious, spotless and with air conditioning and Tea and coffee facilities provided. We were pre booked onto the early Dining sitting at 6pm but could chose to go to the open Buffet restaurant if we preferred. The food was always plentiful, excellent choice and served hot, nothing was too much trouble. The evening entertainment was outstanding. We have been to many London West End Shows but the quality of the Singing and dancing whilst on board the Balmoral far surpassed some of the West End Shows we have seen. The variety of the Shows was excellent and we managed to see 3 full shows whilst on board for the 8 nights. The Shows were performed twice nightly and we enjoyed the shows so much that we watched both performances. The Show Team consisted of 10 performers, 3 main female dancers, 3 main male dancers, 2 female singers and 2 male singers. Their performances and professionalism at all times were faultless and they were all outstanding and worked so hard and well together as a team, they were a pleasure to watch. I don't think people realise how much time and energy is spent rehearsing in order produce such amazing quality shows.My only criticism would be that the 2nd Show was very late in the evening which I think restricted people coming to watch, however this did not put us off watching both shows. We thought that the entertainment during the sea days could have been a little more varied and was geared towards the older generation with Bingo and "Dolphin "racing, however the Quiz sessions were very good, but further variety would have been more interesting. The Service by everyone on board was excellent. We did not book any Tours but due to the close proximity of the places we visited, it was easy to make our own itinerary. In summary we thoroughly enjoyed our Cruise and if we had to chose one outstanding thing it would have been the excellent quality of the dancing and singing from the Balmoral team, with such amazing choreography and costume design. Finally disembarkation was also very quick and well organised. We have booked again in 2018 for another Cruise on board the Balmoral. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2017
We did this cruise for our honeymoon - it was our first cruise and our first time in Europe, so we thought the interesting itinerary would be a good taster. We also got it for a last-minute great price. Embarkation: Southampton ... Read More
We did this cruise for our honeymoon - it was our first cruise and our first time in Europe, so we thought the interesting itinerary would be a good taster. We also got it for a last-minute great price. Embarkation: Southampton embarkation was brilliant: luggage arrived before we even got on the ship. Our cabin, as written below, was excellent, and as it was on the main deck was close to all the facilities. The ship: The ship itself is small and fairly old: some parts were a little dated but overall the condition of the ship was excellent. We liked how small the ship was as it meant that there was always plenty of room in the common areas and bars, and you never felt crowded. You could also mostly get from one end of the ship to other in about ten minutes, so none of the venues were very far away. The on-board staff were always so personable and friendly: always smiling and greeting you by name. Something to note is that the ship probably caters mainly to older clients - we were probably some of the youngest there (at ages 26 and 25). It meant the on-board activities didn't really relate to us very well, and especially the one day at sea got very boring (wifi was extortionate and I refused to pay the price!). We ended up hanging out in the Lido Lounge drinking, which was okay especially as it was never very crowded and had excellent service from the bar staff. Food and drinks: We had the 8:30pm dinner sitting in the Ballindalloch restaurant, which suited us as it meant we didn't have to rush back from the ports. The few days we did arrive back earlier we could however go to the Palms Café which had unlimited buffet-style service from 6:30pm (and breakfast, lunch, and supper club). The food overall was excellent: in the restaurant we were treated to varied five-course meals which were always interesting and presented nicely. In the Café you could choose basically whatever was on offer, which was always tasty and high quality - and unlimited too! Something to note about the restaurant: we thought we'd be fine going to the two Formal Nights with just a shirt and black trousers - not so! Dinner jackets are mandatory. So we ate in the Café on those two nights. Something to keep in mind for newbies to cruises... Room service was mostly free which was a great surprise - sandwiches, cakes, some drinks all complimentary. One thing we didn't quite understand was that large bottles of water (presented in the cabin each morning after the turn-down service, or via room service) cost £1.50 a day. Bit odd considering that fruit drinks and such could just be ordered for free. We also opted for the All Inclusive Drinks package at £240 total cost. We didn't feel this was really that worth it, as the All Inclusive Drinks menu was fairly limited. You do get half price on most other menu items though. In the end we tried to drink as much of the free cheap alcohol as possible in order to break even! Ports and shore excursions: Be aware that Rouen was quite far away from the port - a fifteen minute coach trip in traffic or an hour's walk. We were told there would be taxis so we opted for that and didn't bother buying the coach tickets; but when we got ashore there were no taxis, and we ended up waiting over an hour and a half in the cold for one! Eventually we just bought a £5 couch ticket from the ship... Rouen was lovely though overall. Amsterdam and especially Antwerp were much closer to the port, which was brilliant. We did shore excursions in both these cities: Edam and a cheese factory in Amsterdam, and Ghent and a chocolatiers in Antwerp. Both times the tour guides were funny and knowledgeable, but we felt the Edam tour was very rushed; only allowing about 45 minutes in the town (not including ten minutes walking back to the coach park each way) which didn't really give us any time to relax or explore the place. We ended up having to leave Antwerp about six hours early due to approaching storms, which was a massive shame as it meant we only got to see it in the evening (due to the excursion) and couldn't see it at all the next day as originally advertised. I know you can't help the weather, but... Overall though the experience was very positive. I'd definitely recommend The Balmoral for the fact its a cosier ship, and Fred Olsen staff were so friendly and caring throughout. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Excellent check in for self and car parking arrangements. Cabin a little tired. Well kept by stewardess great professional attitude and smile everyday. Food good services chaotic at times never offered wine with the meal restaurant packed ... Read More
Excellent check in for self and car parking arrangements. Cabin a little tired. Well kept by stewardess great professional attitude and smile everyday. Food good services chaotic at times never offered wine with the meal restaurant packed to the full little room to move.bar staff not that well motivated waited one hour for service in lido bar other passengers just left .theatre bar staff just as disinterested can't but feel staff morale not so good with Fred as it used to be sadly .unfortunately Fred closes at mid night not venues or eateries open entertainment finishes at 12 sharp..passengers on drinks package at 35 per day not happy be aware you may not get any value out of this deal.unfortunately staff were not that attentive to elderly guests which is a real shame as Fred would like to this is there target market .this cruise was fair value for money only not a great e experience due to the above Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2017
Chose this as we had a special anniversary & wanted to try something new. At first we were a bit wary as there is an age demographic in Cruiseville! Actually a pretty good mix & what the hell we were on holiday. We loved ... Read More
Chose this as we had a special anniversary & wanted to try something new. At first we were a bit wary as there is an age demographic in Cruiseville! Actually a pretty good mix & what the hell we were on holiday. We loved everything about it, great food, entertainment was fun and very professional. OK no Adel but they gave us everything & made the trip! Norway spectacular. Service & staff really attentive & helpful. We went "steerage" after all we went for the sights not the room. Absolutely fine, clean & compact, everything we needed. Spent the savings on having fun! Paid our tips in advance & took full advantage of the "drinking package" a wonderful way to "empty ones head" Beats flying any day. Boarding & disembarking were the easiest things, relaxed Chilled. Looking forward to Cruising with Fred again in 2018 The only shame was our Fishing trip was cancelled. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2017
This was our first cruise with Fred Olsen and overall we were quite impressed with the value for money it provided. First of all the Norwegian Fjords were spectacular. The weather was a little unsettled at times, but this did not ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Fred Olsen and overall we were quite impressed with the value for money it provided. First of all the Norwegian Fjords were spectacular. The weather was a little unsettled at times, but this did not distract from the views of soaring mountains over the tranquil fjords. Service was very friendly although we did notice a couple of exceptions and Guest Services were excellent and always very helpful. Wi-fi bandwith is pretty abysmal even when in port, I would recommend saving your money and taking your phone or tablet ashore and finding a cafe or other place with good wi-fi. We found a number of the small Norwegian villages had their own hotspots. Although we did not attend all the shows, entertainment and activities were varied and of good quality. Food was however inconsistent ranging from very good to quite poor and often a little cold. We ate dinner each evening in the Avon restaurant which was very comfortable, although they could think about changing the art work on the walls which is quite weird. Breakfast was pretty poor quality and it always seemed rushed. Also, unlike most cruise lines they did not have a place where you could get a light meal such as a hamburger or pizza at lunchtime. We signed up for the all inclusive (AI) drinks package was very good value, although I believe it has been increased from £10 per day which we paid, to £15. AI wines were acceptable as was the gin, although I don’t know where the whiskey came from, perhaps not Scotland! The biggest negative for us was the constant chit signing to authorise payment for drinks and coffee. Quite a ridiculous system and technology options must be available to make this a more efficient and seamless process. The time wasted on the Olsen side must be significant. We only booked one excursion which was a 4 hour Great Ocean Road excursion in Kristiansund. This was because it would have been difficult to arrange ourselves. Other tours we did arrange ourselves and saved quite a bit against similar tours promoted by Olsen, all of which seemed very overpriced. We took a Seabourn cruise the previous year and although we did not expect (or get), the quality of food and service on Fred Olsen, it was much better value for money. Read Less
Balmoral Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.9
Dining 4.0 4.0
Entertainment 3.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 2.0 3.7
Family 2.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 4.0 3.4
Service 4.0 4.2
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 3.8

Find a Cruise