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Balmoral Review

Good on the whole

Review for the Western Caribbean Cruise on Balmoral
First Time Cruiser • Age 60s

Rating by category

Value for Money
Public Rooms

Additional details

Sail Date: Mar 2008

We had a good Thomson flight from Gatwick to Miami but after 10 hrs the hard seats were uncomfortable. Immigration at Miami was an experience to say the least and we will never fly there again. Our cabin smelt of rancid fried fish oil. Great! Also there was a huge black crack across the wash basin. We had written confirmation of queen set up for beds when in fact they were unmovable singles. When I asked to move cabins I was told ALL cabins on the ship were taken and it would be impossible. We had our dinner, fish on the menu. I went to reception again because the smell in the cabin was horrible. I also asked again about the bed configuration. A different receptionist suggested I look at 2 other cabins. I was told all beds were single in the old part of the ship and couldn't be put any other way. She said this had caused a lot of problems and FO knew about this so shouldn't promise queen beds. We moved from 8076 to 8075. 8073 was also empty. The shower room was wheelchair adapted, probably designed by a non user because once inside in his wheelchair my husband had great difficulty reaching the door to close it. Our choice of cabin was limited as we needed a wheelchair adapted one. Our partial sea view was in fact ALL lifeboat. Our waiters on table 16, in the main restaurant, were excellent and we shared the table with 4 lovely people. The food was superb and we were spoilt for choice. We ate dinner there and went to the Spey or Avon for lunch. Palms was very busy and noisy a bit like a canteen. It also had less choice and was cramped around the buffet area. The pool area on 7 was very crowded. We tried it once but wheelchair access was actually dangerous so didn't go again. The ramp was too steep. It had to go over 2 steps and it is impossible for a wheelchair user to maneuver the chair up and open a heavy door at the same time. Even with me pushing it was near impossible as you go up a ramp to a door that opens out sending you back down again. The pool area on deck 11 was also packed on sea days. It was very noisy near the funnel and there were notices around saying watch out for soot. If you didn't have a towel on a lounger by 8am you didn't get one! Some shade would have been welcome.

Some of the entertainment was good while some wasn't. We enjoyed the jazz in the Lido but can't say the same about the guy and his organ in the 'pub'. If you sat at the back of the theatre you could hear the music from the pub at the same time. The ship's theatre company were average though we enjoyed the 'songs from the shows' 2 of the girls and one guy had very good voices the others were average. We also enjoyed the staff concert. The 'Latin/Carnival' show was awful with lots of screeching. We only saw one comedian who was very funny, his quiche joke still makes me laugh! The disco was lovely in the Observatory lounge but there were only about half a dozen people using it. We enjoyed all of the ports of call but missed a stop at Key West because of a 12 hr delay at Roatan, Honduras due to failure of an auxiliary engine. This was the stop I was most looking forward to. Also that evening we were told fresh water was running low! The ship has increased its size to 1300 passengers but has the same engines, water tank and only 4 lifts. Braemar has 4 lifts for 800 passengers. Also you can tell when you are going from the old to the new part of the ship. The same decor throughout would help. The new part is lovely. Our flight home was 9.30pm so were taken to Bayside shopping Mall for 5 hrs! That was even too much for me and we got very bored. The male 'disabled' toilets at the Mall weren't big enough to accommodate a wheelchair and my husband had to take the wheels off his to get in, unbelievable! I wonder if FO have checked this out?

We had a good time on our 2nd FO cruise but will look for another operator next time or go on one of their unstretched ships.

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