15 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
Having sailed with Fred before we decided to do the Norway ,Arrived Dover parked the old bus up, Check in seemed to take for ever with those above our deck taking preference on boarding, lots of old people over 60 if you catch my drift . ... Read More
Having sailed with Fred before we decided to do the Norway ,Arrived Dover parked the old bus up, Check in seemed to take for ever with those above our deck taking preference on boarding, lots of old people over 60 if you catch my drift . One thing about Fred Olsen if it sank there are enough sticks on board you could build a raft and it is like a mortuary after 23.59 . Well her who is to be obeyed and myself found our cabin, Deck 4 not bad but this ship is beginning to look dated could do with replacement. Surprise our 3 cases were awaiting us in our cabin , Well done Dover baggage handlers !.. Don't think that we are tight wades, but we believe in the old Victorian way of showing gratuities. But first thing off to the pursers office to cancel all tips that would be taken and added to our on board account . You see T I P means to insure proficiency if some person of the crew goes way beyond there call of duty he or she will be given a brown envelope at journeys end THATS WHAT ITS ALL ABOUT .Not the American way to subsidise the rest of the crew with a large bill at journeys end. I will not go waffling on but this was a well thought out cruise plenty to see and do, But Norway is a very clean and courteous country Expensive but if you want a beer or coffee prepare for a heart attack £ 11 or there about, A gift take for instance one tea towel £11 there are plenty of bicker back gift stores at very high prices complete toot ! rubbish!. The on-board Duty free shop had a sale that was a joke, A book on Norway marked £15. 00 ,we peeled a sticker back to reveal R R P £15.00 WHAT A CON !!! pointed it out to the assistant she did not want to know. Only thing good two bottles of booze 2 litres of scotch and Brandy £ 20. TO sum up Food A1 ,Fully inclusive AAA1 recommended at all cost, Trips very expensive do your home work DK guides recommended before booking. Work your trips out so you can get back to you ship for meals and tiffin ! its cheaper .We must say that the Entertainment was first class this year well done guys and gals Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
Most pleasant cruise to date. My husband and I have just returned from a cruise to the Norwegian Fjords with Fred Olsen. In a nutshell, it was a joy from start to finish. The organisation getting everyone on the Balmoral was fantastic, ... Read More
Most pleasant cruise to date. My husband and I have just returned from a cruise to the Norwegian Fjords with Fred Olsen. In a nutshell, it was a joy from start to finish. The organisation getting everyone on the Balmoral was fantastic, and getting off was so simple. Many people have a fear of larger ships. The Balmoral accommodates 1400 passengers. But at no time did we feel crowded. There was always somewhere to sit and enjoy the spectacular views. We had a simple inside cabin on Deck five and were most impressed with the L shaped layout.On other ships there isn't room to move. This cabin was spacious, with plenty of cupboards and draws to unpack all our clothes. We are travelling for more than seven weeks so had a full case. They fitted under the beds so we're out of the way. We had to lift the bed slightly and then slid them under. The ports of call were very different to our previous cruises as we visited stunning Norwegian towns rather than huge cities. When we got off the boat in Stavanger we were treated to spectacular parades throughout the day as it was Norway's National day on 15 May. The parades started at ten with thousands of children dressed in national costume and feeling so very proud. Later there was a youth parade, and at the end of the day, a people's parade with dancers and acrobats along with marching bands parading through the streets. Walking through the streets after each parade, the locals happily posed for photographs. Such a pleasant city filled with happiness on their special day. Ulvrok was a picturesque spot where we needed to catch a tender to the port. But once again, the process was so much better than we had experienced with other cruise lines. It was a quiet very small village but we enjoyed it after the busy day before. The day was wet, but we simply went for a long walk around part of the lake. Flam turned on fabulous sunshine once more and once again we pulled right alongside this very picturesque village. We bought a ticket for the Flam railway - make sure you sit on the right side if you go as the views on that side are beautiful. However, it really is just a two hour up and down trip. The highlight was stopping half way at a magnificent waterfall. Make sure you have your cameras ready when the music starts and Ulder, the lady of the Mountain appears in a flowing red dress. Very impressive. The cruise out of Flam down the Fjords made the view from the train pale to insignificance. We felt we had wasted our money so would do something else if we travel on this cruise again. Absolutely spectacular views for hours. Olden was another chocolate box town. We walked to both churches, around the river and back in glorious sunshine. Once again, a quiet location with magnificent scenery all round. Geiranger greeted us with rain, but it didn't dampen our spirits at all. We chose to walk up the road to the church, then follow this round to the top of the waterfall. There are 100s of steps, but it was worth it. For those unable to walk uphill, a simple flat walk round the water was lovely too. Bergen was the last stop and busiest port by far but no where near as busy as the ports on the Med we have visited. Some interesting architecture on the left as you leave the ship. We walked 20000 steps around the town that day. Be careful not to get lost! So all in all, this was a fantastic cruise. The accommodation and food were excellent. The nightly shows were terrific. I have never witnessed a more energetic and passionate cruise company as these fine young dancers and singers. Brilliant! We came on this cruise to spend time with friends. We were apprehensive, thinking it might be boring. How wrong we were. We'd go again and will now always look at Fred Olsen as our preferred cruise line. Thanks so much for an amazing trip Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2017
Once upon a time I was working at a shipping agency in a South American port, when a brand-new ship come into port. It was the Crown Odyssey, which belonged to the Royal Cruise Line and we were appointed agents for four calls during ... Read More
Once upon a time I was working at a shipping agency in a South American port, when a brand-new ship come into port. It was the Crown Odyssey, which belonged to the Royal Cruise Line and we were appointed agents for four calls during February and March 1989. The ship impressed even the experienced pilots by its easy manoeuvrability. Visitors and passengers were also impressed by the then ultra-modern décor, which was a bit dark and made extensive use of mirrors and brass surfaces. I recall that the authorities were received on what was called Theo’s Bar (Theo been a well-known barman for that line) and the entrance to it had a curved space, full of mirrors and in the middle a peacock on a golden cage. The whole peacock was covered by fibre optics which made it change its colours every minute or so. Nothing new nowadays but then it was a wow factor. Fast forward 28 years and I find myself, from the Western Heights in Dover, looking at the now Balmoral. The ship has been stretched and the colours have changed as well as a spa added to what was an open deck before (and spoilt her lovely lines besides making her top heavy… Thanks NCL…). And soon I was on my way to board the ship for a cruise to Northern Spain, calling at four ports which would be new to me. Unfortunately, Dover was not giving its best impression. I arrived the day before, stayed in a lovely guesthouse, but the town looked sad, with the High-Street empty on a Saturday and many shop spaces closed for good and for some time. Quite different from the town I used to visit 15 years ago. The cruise terminal is, in a way, walkable from the main train station (Dover Priory – about 30 minutes away), but Dover has a shuttle bus which operates on days when cruise ships are in town with transit passengers, and, at 2 GBP, it made sense to take on their offer. It departs from near the Museum (which is worth visiting) and drops passengers on Terminal 2, which is close to Terminal 1. So, after checking in my luggage, went in and sat in the lounge which was not crowded. The cruise terminal is a modern building and they do offer some catering. I was soon called to check in and not long after to embark. It was a bit of an emotional moment to approach the main hall on deck 6 once again. The Balmoral was to be one of two ships built at Meyer in Papenburg (then at the beginning of their stellar success in building passenger ships) but the sister was cancelled. At that time, it was on a fleet with the Golden Odyssey which was a charming yacht-like ship. Nowadays Balmoral is in a fleet with another three ships, in which it is the ‘youngest’ and the largest. It is a nicely built and comfortable ship carrying not too many passengers, and taking to the seas well. The ship has 8 passenger decks, with classical names like Lido, Bridge, Lounge, etc. My cabin, on deck 3, described as an Ocean View, had two single beds on a L configuration, and it was mostly original (new carpets and curtains). There was a glass table and chair and the wardrobe (mirrored doors) was large enough and there were a lot of storage space and options. The beds, however, are practically fixed on their settings and there was not enough space for my larger suitcase under them but not a major problem. Bathroom was large and original with the shower behind a glass and plastic curtain mix. The stewardess was attentive, efficient and friendly but rarely to be seen, which was not a problem. On the same deck, there was also the medical center (large) and an Arts & Crafts Room (which was used mostly for games but had almost a daily programme for it). Decks 3, 4,5, 6, 8,9 and 10 are almost exclusively dedicated to cabins. On deck 6 there is an Main Lobby/Atrium, where there are also the reception, excursions desk, photo shop and a small shop selling toiletries, and also branded items. It also has access to the MDR Ballindalloch (aft), which operates two sittings for dinner and open sitting for breakfast and lunch. This restaurant, apart from chairs and carpet, is mostly original with mirrors on walls and stained glass on ceiling. Deck 7 has a lovely wraparound promenade deck with real wood flooring. It can get a bit narrow at certain points but it was a pleasant (and popular) spot for sun bathing or watch the manoeuvres, etc. This is also the Lounge Deck, with the Neptune Lounge forward (the show lounge, which also incorporates what was Theo’s Bar), the boutiques and the future cruises desk (surrounding the staircase that leads to the reception lobby, mostly original with lots of brass and glass), the card room (a popular place where bridge classes took place), a kind of gallery with some comfortable sitting which, at times, reminded me of a similar space on QE2, the Bookmark Café (another popular venue, which included the nice library where summary of the news were copied and distributed at midday), the Morning Light Pub (a nice venue but more like a lounge than a pub) and the Palms Café which is the buffet venue, operating where the Yacht Club was in the times of Crown Odyssey (the pictures of the yachts are still there). The Café had a kind of veranda lido at the back, in which the glass doors were fully opened on warm days and leading to the swimming pool and Jacuzzis aft, with plenty of open deck space around it. One deck above is where the Lido Lounge is, a venue for quizzes, music and dancing which looked a bit dark but worked well in the evenings. It occupies what used to be three venues when the ship was new: the card room, a cinema and a small lounge also called Lido. A conservatory style area, at the back of the Lido Lounge was a very popular area on sunny days, with comfortable seating and a bar nearby. On deck 10 one can find the Spa and gym forward, with some nice views but unfortunately no sauna, and two other restaurants, Speyer and Avon, with modern décor, good space, and nice looking seats (although some were a bit stained, which is a normal part of wear and tear). These restaurants occupy what was before an open deck space for the then only set of balcony cabins which were also the top suites. Nowadays the ship has a variety of balcony cabins to offer, although most of the external cabins are window only. Deck 11 houses the Observatory Lounge (a popular venue day and night, which used to be like a night club on the times of Royal Cruise Line and still retain some original features), with excellent views, forward. Aft there is a charming bar called Marquee Bar which feels just like swimming pool bars used to feel once upon a time. Here one finds another swimming pool as well and another set of Jacuzzis as well as lots of open deck space. Aft there is space for deck games. The other passengers were 95% British with some small numbers of other nationalities with very few children. The passenger profile was almost entirely elderly, experienced cruisers which enjoy some of the old-fashioned traditions that Fred Olsen still offers. They also come for the service, which is attentive, not pushy, friendly and adaptable to some pax restrictions. The food was good, some British traditional dishes as well as the occasional modern creation. It all worked well and the Gala menus were not too extensive but well done. There was an extra tariff offer (The Grill, occupying a space on the aft part of the Palms Café) but have not spoken to anyone who tried it. I had an excellent table for dinner, all solo cruisers, but varied a bit the venue for breakfast and lunch. Entertainment was good, given the limitations of the lounge which is more than 20 years old, and Fred Olsen is good in bringing varieties (lectures, comedians, musicians, dance troupe) and has an excellent orchestra. There were also daily quizzes, trivia, bridge classes, deck games, etc. The cruise itinerary was: Dover – La Coruna – Gijon – Santader – Bilbao and back to Dover From La Coruna, I took a ship excursion to visit the famous Santiago de Compostela and its cathedral, etc. A journey worth doing. Unfortunately, by the time we came back to the ship there was no time to visit La Coruna, which is a pity as it looked like a nice town. Gijon is an important port in Asturias, with a small, but interesting historical city centre, the rest of a fortress up in the hill (with great views of town and sea) as well as a nice city centre beach. It has also the remains of a Roman Bath underneath the historical centre which is one of its main attractions. Santander is the main port for Cantabria and a dynamic city, which suffered a horrendous fire in 1941 which destroyed a good deal of its historical centre. Nevertheless, it still has an impressive cathedral (with a lower church as well), some modern and nice museums (the maritime museum is definitely worth a visit and has a nice terrace overlooking the sea), as well as the Magdalena Peninsula where a palace was built for the King and Queen of Spain in 1908 (at that time Queen Victoria Eugenia, a British born princess of the Battenberg line). It is a large construction now occupied by the local university (the royal family gave the property back to the city in 1977). Near the palace one can see some amazing mansions, mostly around a century old. Getxo, a lovely and upmarket suburb of Bilbao was our last port of call in Spain. From there it is easy to reach Bilbao on the underground line and the journey is worth it. Bilbao is another dynamic city, with a lovely historical center (which suffered a disastrous flood in 1983), some imposing buildings, as well as the famous Guggenheim Museum (great building but the collection failed to impress me). It Is mostly walkable but there is a good service of trams and buses. I had pintxos (the local version of tapas) at the restored market, by the river, which is also an impressive building. The weather was sunny for most of the cruise and the ship sailed smoothly for almost all the cruise (a bit more rolling when crossing the Bay of Biscay on the way to Coruna but that was mild compared to other Biscay crossings) Service was excellent in the cabin, which was kept spotless, restaurants, a bit slow on the bars but still ok, and the usual hit and miss at the buffet and open deck areas but almost not noticeable. Staff was mostly friendly and came from a variety of countries, majority from the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand. Disembarkation was ok, on time and smooth apart from the fact that the taxi queue took a bit too long as some pax had pre-ordered taxis (and there are not that many in Dover). One could walk to the station but it was windy, relatively cold and with some drops of rain. The way to Heathrow was by train to central London and the underground. Odd to think that there is no direct link between Dover, the main channel port and Heathrow, one of the largest airports in the world but then again it was never my favourite London airport and with good reason. It has a chapel near Terminal 2, which has some touching plaques recalling past employees but also the crew of the Pan Am flight which was brought down over Lockerbie. Some nice restaurants airside on this terminal too. Fred Olsen, at times, charges well more than the mass tourism cruise companies but it also delivers more. The ships are of a good size, so the restaurant is hardly a long walk from a cabin, the entertainment is good and suitable for its passenger profile. Food is superior than the one found on the mass tourism ones and service is generally better. It makes it easier for its pax by naming the lounges with the same name on different ships (Neptune, Lido, Morning Light) and keeping the décor on similar lines. Comfortable seats everywhere and some items from the family art collection (mostly modern) gives it almost a homely feeling and I would say it works given the high number of repeat passengers. All in all a company which is going against the trend of the industry (bigger newer ships which one day risk over capacity) and succeeding by serving the market it has chosen well. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
My partner saw the cruise advertised as a last minute deal via Iglu so it was booked on the Monday and we sailed the following Sunday. I have to say that both Iglu and Fred Olsen were brilliant. My other half had a 'significant' birthday ... Read More
My partner saw the cruise advertised as a last minute deal via Iglu so it was booked on the Monday and we sailed the following Sunday. I have to say that both Iglu and Fred Olsen were brilliant. My other half had a 'significant' birthday on the Wednesday of the cruise and I told Fred. I thought I could maybe sort out a cake but I discussed it with the company and a very helpful young lady called me back about 10 minutes later to say that we would have breakfast in our cabin with a bottle of cava and then in the evening, at dinner, there would be a cake and the crew singing 'Happy Birthday'. How much? With the compliments of Fred Olsen - I was super impressed!! I bought a bottle of champagne to go with dinner but my other half was very, very impressed with what Fred Olsen had done. We sailed from Dover so that was a 4 hour drive and I arranged parking at the terminal so, with an excellent run down, we arrived in good time on the day of departure. The parking and booking in could not have been easier and my other half is now a confirmed sailer out of a UK port - she hates the fuss of airports. I had checked the deck plan so I knew where our cabin was - 4011 - starboard side, two single beds, one with bunk over for a stow-away and two portholes. Very adequate and loads of wardrobe space as it was no doubt designed to cater for the third body. The entertainment on board was fine. I've known better but it was basically okay. Very funny comedian - Barnaby - who tapped me and my other half - why does she insist on sitting on the front row? Food was very adequate and the waiters - Ekchai (Chai) and Albert - were superb - say no more. We had the all inclusive package. At the time we booked it was only £10 per person per night so we were laughing - literally! The 2 of the 3 shore excursions were excellent - to Bergen and Olden - but the Flam Railway experience was poor. Why? Well it cost £60 each. We were led to believe that we could get off for a short time at the destination before returning to Flam to stretch our legs and to take photos. Not so, the conductor said we had to stay on the train, in fact one lady tried to get off for some fresh air and the conductor told her to open the window!! They put a rope barrier along the carriage to basically corale us into our area for the duration. The train stopped at the waterfall half way along and we were all allowed out for that. Bear in mind that, if we had bought tickets at Flam station (around £40), as others on the cruise did, then there were no restrictions. I advised the excursions staff when we got back on board that we were less than impressed but the suggestion was that this was down to the railway operators - but they would feed the matter back up the line. So, if you feel inclined to take excursion TRNX then check on the ship if you are allowed of the train at the end of the line before you book! Overall though, the experience was excellent and I would have no hesitation about sailing with Fred Olsen again - they have a reputation which is richly deserved. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
On Saturday 30th April my partner and I travelled with Fred Olsen on Balmoral to Norway. My partner and I are in our early 20's, so much younger than most travellers. We found that the design of Balmoral was quite dated and feel that it ... Read More
On Saturday 30th April my partner and I travelled with Fred Olsen on Balmoral to Norway. My partner and I are in our early 20's, so much younger than most travellers. We found that the design of Balmoral was quite dated and feel that it could do with a make-over, new carpets, chairs etc. but no problems with the facilities so we couldn't complain. We arrived at Dover at 12pm (the times given were between 12pm and 2pm) and check in was smooth and fast. We did have to wait until 2pm before they started embarkation which was a bit of a pain as we expected to get straight on as I did in my previous cruise with Cruise and Maritime Voyages. Once we were invited to the ship we were directed straight to our room where our luggage was waiting for us outside - very fast service. We asked for a table of 2 in the restaurant as we were hoping for a romantic holiday together as it was our first, and we were given this! We were in the main (Ballindalloch) restaurant which was very spacious and waiters were great. With dinner you are given a choice of wine, beer or water, but no choice for soft drinks. As we had paid for the all inclusive package and expected to have soft drinks available to us with our dinner, as advertised, but when we asked we were informed that we would have to pay for our soft drinks. Aside from this there was a lot of variety of food available and waiters were very fast in taking orders, and serving food. Very nice people. The drinks... As mentioned above we had paid for all inclusive when we booked with Fred Olsen. With the all inclusive you are offered a variety of house wines and spirits, and selected beers and ciders. Cocktails are NOT included in the AI which I feel should have been. The cocktail selection was not great either. Having the AI package you receive a 50% discount on cocktails and branded drinks, which is better than nothing and understandable with branded alcohol. Tea and coffee are only available from the restaurants and if you wish to have them from the bar you are asked to pay which is not acceptable. There were no self service machines either so you couldn't go and help yourself when you want one. The waiters serve you tea and coffee after your meals but there is no selection of tea or coffee, you just get what you are given. The entertainment and Activities provided on board was phenomenal. Fantastic staff and incredible shows every night to end the day on a good note. The Balmoral Show Company, who were new to the cruise were amazing and had incredible voices, Barnaby (the ship comedian) was very funny and Matt Cairnes (another vocalist) was fab too. 4th Dimension, who played in the Lido Lounge every night, were great and always got the crowd up dancing of an evening. The waiter service in the bars was good, fast service and always quick to take orders. We waited a max of 20 minutes but was understandable as the Lounge was very busy during the show. The Excursions provided at the Port of Calls were great. In Bergen we went to the Fløibanen funicular which was a great day out, in Olden we visited the Briksdal Glacier on Nordfjord which was beautiful and in Flam we travelled on the Flam Railway which was a little bit disappointing at this time of year. Overall, we had a fantastic cruise with Fred Olsen and would recommend travelling on Balmoral. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
We chose this cruise because of the convenience of a Newcastle departure,we live in the north of England and wanted to avoid flying. Check in was easy and boarding was well organised. We had a cabin in the forward section on the 4th ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the convenience of a Newcastle departure,we live in the north of England and wanted to avoid flying. Check in was easy and boarding was well organised. We had a cabin in the forward section on the 4th deck,lots of storage and kept nice and clean by housekeeping. When we sailed away the sun was shining and temperatures made us feel as if in the med ,not Tyneside! The ship was a good size,and although full we always found little quiet spots. I made use of the pool and Jacuzzis as the sun shone throughout. We ate dinner in the Ballindalloc restaurant most evenings though enjoyed a delicious Asian buffet in the Palm cafe on last night. We loved the group 4th dimension in Lido lounge which got going after the show in the theatre. We had a drinks package that we took full advantage of! It was great to be able to explore Bergen independently,very easy as we docked in the centre. Likewise with Eidefjord,where we took a scenic walk along the river up to some Viking graves,with good views on the way back. The ship then sailed along the beautiful scenery. We felt sad to be leaving. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
I selected this cruise as an ideal Spring getaway to interesting parts of the Mediterranean, some of which I hadn't previously visited. The "Balmoral" is my favorite of the Fred. Olsen cruise ships. it is a fine looking ship, ... Read More
I selected this cruise as an ideal Spring getaway to interesting parts of the Mediterranean, some of which I hadn't previously visited. The "Balmoral" is my favorite of the Fred. Olsen cruise ships. it is a fine looking ship, in good condition, spacious but small enough to enter ports that the more modern, large simply couldn't visit. I had booked a twin cabin on a single occupancy basis on deck 6. It was well positioned for easy access to the main features of the ship. It was of reasonable size, had a large picture window and had excellent air conditioning. There was more than ample storage, had a safe, tea/coffee making facilites and interactive television. It was fully serviced twice daily to a high standard. I dined in the Avon restaurant on deck 10. This is one of the smaller restaurants on the ship. The meals were excellent with good, variable menus. The service was excellent. I took occasional breakfasts and lunches in the Ballindalloch (Main) restaurant. The Palms Cafe was a good place afternoon tea and occasional coffees. The Bookmark Cafe served an excellent choice coffees and other quality drinks too. The inclusion of a wide range of free drinks in the "all inclusive" package was an added plus. The on-board entertainment varied enormously. In the daytime I don't think that the guest lecturers were up to the normal standard. The afternoon classical recitals were first class but there were too few of them. There were, of course the usual cruising activities taking place across the ship. The evening entertainment was very mixed with some excellent cabaret acts. The Balmoral Show Company were enthusiastic, energetic a quite talented. The Crew Show was, as usual, vastly entertaining. The swimming pools proved to be good places to exercise and catch the pleasant Mediterranean sunshine. One of the best features of Fred. Olsen cruises is the quality of the staff. They were pretty efficient, keen to help and inevitably happy and friendly. The shore tours were well organised and, in most cases very enjoyable. We called at nine different ports in Spain, France, Italy and Portugal. this was, perhaps too many for we didn't spend enough time in some to fully appreciate the places of interest. I liked most of the ports of call but was especially impressed by El Ferrol (Spain), Ajaccio (France), Palermo (Italy) and Cartagena (Spain) mainly because it was my first visit to these towns. It was an enjoyable cruise. I would certainly go on a similar cruise again. Read Less
14 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2017
Having cruised on P & O and enjoyed the experience, we thought that Fred Olsen with its smaller ships stopping at ports unavailable to larger ships would be better. There are many positive things to say about this cruise including the ... Read More
Having cruised on P & O and enjoyed the experience, we thought that Fred Olsen with its smaller ships stopping at ports unavailable to larger ships would be better. There are many positive things to say about this cruise including the very friendly atmosphere. The accommodation was fine, the staff were fantastic, with nothing being too much trouble. The entertainment was exceptionally good throughout the cruise. The shore excursions were somewhat hit and miss, but overall fine. The great let down was the food. The restaurant food was passable, however the buffet options were the worst that I have ever experienced. The menus suggest that for health reasons, passengers should make sure that the food was thoroughly cooked so as not to risk individuals health. Unfortunately I was unable to find a single egg which you would consider safe to eat or even hot. For those who ate in the buffet areas when they opened, the majority of the food was cold. A breakfast of partially cooked fried egg, cold beans and cold sausage and bacon is not ideal. One fantastic plus for this cruise were the Phillapean staff who were amazing. Despite a very busy working schedule - they smile Day and night. Their attention to detail and warm personalities provide the kind of atmosphere that can only be admired. We did enjoy the cruise - shame about the food. Read Less
17 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
This was a really disappointing cruise. From a 7 hour delay in departure, 4 missed ports, 3 Captains and an ignominious homecoming with one of the lifeboats strapped to the bow deck like a bathtime duck, this was definitely not Fred ... Read More
This was a really disappointing cruise. From a 7 hour delay in departure, 4 missed ports, 3 Captains and an ignominious homecoming with one of the lifeboats strapped to the bow deck like a bathtime duck, this was definitely not Fred Olsen’s finest hour. Storms in the North Sea resulted in the ship docking very late at Southampton with many passengers having several hours wait in the terminal. Storms in the Atlantic then caused us to make an unscheduled stop in northern Spain and we were told that we couldn’t possibly make up the time and would have to miss 2 out of our 5 scheduled Caribbean ports. We started to wonder if there was something wrong with the ship (remembering that it totally broke down last year and all the passengers had to be flown home) as, in all our years of cruising and crossing the Atlantic at this time of the year, we have never been on a ship that simply couldn’t cope with storms. We missed our stop in Hondurus due to strong currents making it impossible for the tenders to get ashore and the fourth missed port was Key West where the winds were too strong to allow us to dock. The Captain told us we’d get to Miami early and have an evening and overnight as well as the scheduled day in port. Wrong! Miami was not able to provide the personnel on a Sunday evening to allow us to disembark. That Captain left at Bermuda, on planned leave we were told, (I bet he was very grateful to get off) and another joined the ship only to leave in the Azores due to a crisis at home so the First Officer ended up sailing the ship back to Southampton but not until after our departure had been delayed by 3 hrs due to a winching gear error which meant that a lifeboat had to be craned back on board. You couldn’t make it up! We also had issues on this ship with the food at dinner in the main downstairs restaurant arriving at the table lukewarm and our waiters being far from efficient – items missing from the table, the wrong dishes being given to the wrong people, plates being cleared whilst others at the table were still eating – it was pretty awful. We also found some waiters in the self-service restaurants to be surly, unco-operative and unhelpful. We got the distinct impression that several of them weren’t at all happy and wondered if there had been some cutbacks or reorganization that had affected them. Supervisory staff also seemed to be thinner on the ground than usual. Likewise, we wondered if economy measures had something to do with the fact that we had to miss 2 ports in the Caribbean. We puttered along for the whole cruise at speeds between 14 and 15 knots in a ship that is capable of 18.5. This was, presumably, to keep fuel consumption down. The only time the engines were up to 17.5 knots was when we were coming home from the Azores so we didn’t have to have another late arrival at Southampton. Unforeseen circumstances can always arise on any holiday. It’s how they’re dealt with that’s important. This cruise of 46 nights was a big investment in both time and money and just didn’t deliver Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
For the Mardi Gras Celebrations in New Orleans - which were tremendous. The voyage started 7-8 hours late, this did not really affect us. Many passengers travelled down by pre-arranged coach from Scotland, Wales & North of England ... Read More
For the Mardi Gras Celebrations in New Orleans - which were tremendous. The voyage started 7-8 hours late, this did not really affect us. Many passengers travelled down by pre-arranged coach from Scotland, Wales & North of England and these passengers were held for 7 hours or so at Southampton departures terminal as the coaches would not/could not change their schedules. Very few disabled facilities were provided at Southampton departures terminal. Some tours very over priced, eg New Orleans Steam Boat tours both day and evening, we have a complaint outstanding with Fred currently. Food on board quite repetitive, breakfast and lunch time salads were very repetitive. We are still trying to work out why on St. David's Day we had a Scottish menu and on St Patrick's very little except expensive Guinness & Irish Whiskey was pushed in the Morning Light Pub. The itinerary was not well thought out; as for safety reasons linked to weather meant that the Captain quite rightly had to miss 4 ports of call. 1 Missed port - OK, 2 seems too many, 3 shows a profile and 4 means to me that who ever set the itinerary that the Ship and Captain tried to follow doesn't understand the weather patterns for the cruise very well at all for the time of year. Only 1 out of the 3 comedians was worth listening to. Other two were embarrassing/crude. The hot whirlpool tubs up on deck 11 were far too hot sometimes, too hot to get into, more like a cannibal's cooking pot... Our evening dinning room Waiter was rubbish and left most of the work to our Assistant Waiter who was great. We have raised two complaints back to Fred Olsen HQ, one has been rejected saying that the 10% off another Fred cruise with a sailing date of 31st March 2018 or before is low and just too soon for many of Fred's passengers to save up to book before the 31st. Lifeboat hoist problems meant that one of the Ship's life boats (our assigned actually) returned to the UK strapped on the foredeck and re were re-assigned. It could be some time before Fred gets our money again.... 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

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