Balmoral Cruise Review by Parsman
- Sail Date: December 2014
- Destination: Canary Islands
- Cabin Type: Superior Outside
The ship looked in good condition as it had only come out of dry-dock two days earlier.
We has accommodation on Deck 6 (main deck) which was fine. There was sufficient storage space and the air-condioning was effective. The picture window added to the overall aspect of the cabin. Overall it was in good condition.
We were fortunate enough to have calm seas throughtout the whole cruise save on the final day when it was a little choppy. The weather was good which is not always the case in these climes in mid-Winter.
The ship was beautifully decorated for Christmas and the "gingerbread town" was a triumph.
We selected the Spey restaurant for dinner and the food and service was up to Fred. Olsen's usual standard. We took other meals in the various other restaurants and the standard of food was equally good. The Chinese and Asian speciality nights were particularly enjoyable.
The staff and crew on board Fred. Olsen's ships are a key selling point and on this cruise it was no exception.
We had port calls in Lisbon, Funchal, Santa Cruz (Tenerife), Las Palmas (Gran Canaria), Arricife (Lanzarote) and Gibraltar. All had their good points but the boat trip in Lisbon and afternoon tea at the gorgeous Reid's Hotel in Madeira were perhaps the best.
Christmas Eve was was celebrated with a cabaret show, carol singing and a Holy Communion service at midnight. Christmas Day was also well celebrated althought afternoon was a bit lacking in entertainment and a little flat. Dinner that night was traditional and excellent. New Year's Eve was most enjoyable with an excellent dinner (including haggis and a "wee dram") and a deck party. Although the fireworks in Gibraltar were ok they didn't compare with Madeira. Also it was rather chilly. I don't think this is the ideal port for a New Year call.
Although this was a pretty good cruise I do have a few gripes,
1. The ship was just out of dry-dock but there was a great deal of maintenance and painting going on which was, at time intrusive. When the reception was asked why this was necessary we were told that the ship had to be in good condition for the upcoming "long cruise". This is quite unacceptable.
2. The "Balmoral" orchestra plays at every possible occasion eg cocktail parties, receptions and "shows". The volume is so hight that normal conversation is virtually impossible. Thsi is an on-going problem which FOCL really should investigate.
3. As the weather was pretty good it was a pity that the swimming pool on deck 7 was so often closed.
4. The lecture weren't very good with the exception of those concerning millionaires. I would describe most as "minority interest talks. They was certainly not up to the normal standard.
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