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Chose this cruise because the Newcastle port is near home. Awkward embarkation because you go through check-in in the terminal and, after security check, are then back outside catching a bus to the quayside. Getting off the bus, there's a further walk to the ship. If it's raining, you'd get soaked just getting to the ship. The cruise itself was fine - nice ship - fairly small by today's standards, but that worked in its favour. Got to know lots of other passengers: mainly couples/singles over the age of 50. Reasonable entertainment (a couple of very good performers, especially singer/pianist Lisa Harman). The restaurants were excellent with very good choices on offer. The staff were very pleasant and helpful. Very pleasantly surprised by the premium outside cabin - bigger than expected with large-sized shower. The ports of call and excursions were good and not too expensive, except the whale watching trip costing £70 for seeing one small whale, which apparently is normal. The previous cruise on this ship had a norovirous outbreak but have to say everything was spotless and great emphasis was placed on personal hygiene with hand gel everywhere on this cruise. Would have cruised again on this ship and given it a 4-star rating had it not been for the following incident. The good feeling was spoilt by a ship's officer sneakily taking a photo, with a small digital camera, of me and another passenger having a treatment in the spa. We were never asked if we minded having our photo taken or anything like that - just stuck himself in the doorway of the spa and snapped the picture. On raising a complaint on board, the officer who took the photo dealt with the query! On returning home, I wrote to Fred Olsen and was surprised to receive the following response: "...it is company procedure for senior members of crew to photograph everyday activities taking place on board. This is then sent ashore to Head Office for senior management to review. It is a daily pictorial, controlled document that is only viewed by the most senior staff at Head Office. It is used to ascertain life on board, something which those of us shore side cannot experience day-to-day........Please be assured that the photographs are not made public in anyway [sic], they are stored securely at Head Office and deleted from the camera following the report being compiled." Surely those at Head Office can pay for a cruise if they wish to see what life on board is like. I find this behaviour/policy abhorrent/very unsavoury and don't know of any other cruise line that breaches passengers' right to privacy in such a cavalier manner. If Fred Olsen wishes to take photos of guests they should be completely open and honest about it and at least advertise the fact that they will do this in their brochures, so that passengers are fully aware of their policy prior to booking. If you don't mind having photos being taken of you without your knowledge or permission for faceless personnel to pore over [note FO didn't say what happens to the pictures after Head Office is finished with them - just that they are stored securely], then you could have a good cruise on this ship. If you do mind the sneaky picture-taking, try another cruise line.

Photos taken by Officers for uploading to Head Office spoilt cruise.

Balmoral Cruise Review by emur

13 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2016
  • Destination: Arctic
  • Cabin Type: Outside
Chose this cruise because the Newcastle port is near home. Awkward embarkation because you go through check-in in the terminal and, after security check, are then back outside catching a bus to the quayside. Getting off the bus, there's a further walk to the ship. If it's raining, you'd get soaked just getting to the ship.

The cruise itself was fine - nice ship - fairly small by today's standards, but that worked in its favour. Got to know lots of other passengers: mainly couples/singles over the age of 50. Reasonable entertainment (a couple of very good performers, especially singer/pianist Lisa Harman). The restaurants were excellent with very good choices on offer. The staff were very pleasant and helpful. Very pleasantly surprised by the premium outside cabin - bigger than expected with large-sized shower. The ports of call and excursions were good and not too expensive, except the whale watching trip costing £70 for seeing one small whale, which apparently is normal. The previous cruise on this ship had a norovirous outbreak but have to say everything was spotless and great emphasis was placed on personal hygiene with hand gel everywhere on this cruise. Would have cruised again on this ship and given it a 4-star rating had it not been for the following incident.

The good feeling was spoilt by a ship's officer sneakily taking a photo, with a small digital camera, of me and another passenger having a treatment in the spa. We were never asked if we minded having our photo taken or anything like that - just stuck himself in the doorway of the spa and snapped the picture. On raising a complaint on board, the officer who took the photo dealt with the query! On returning home, I wrote to Fred Olsen and was surprised to receive the following response:

"...it is company procedure for senior members of crew to photograph everyday activities taking place on board. This is then sent ashore to Head Office for senior management to review. It is a daily pictorial, controlled document that is only viewed by the most senior staff at Head Office. It is used to ascertain life on board, something which those of us shore side cannot experience day-to-day........Please be assured that the photographs are not made public in anyway [sic], they are stored securely at Head Office and deleted from the camera following the report being compiled."

Surely those at Head Office can pay for a cruise if they wish to see what life on board is like. I find this behaviour/policy abhorrent/very unsavoury and don't know of any other cruise line that breaches passengers' right to privacy in such a cavalier manner. If Fred Olsen wishes to take photos of guests they should be completely open and honest about it and at least advertise the fact that they will do this in their brochures, so that passengers are fully aware of their policy prior to booking.

If you don't mind having photos being taken of you without your knowledge or permission for faceless personnel to pore over [note FO didn't say what happens to the pictures after Head Office is finished with them - just that they are stored securely], then you could have a good cruise on this ship. If you do mind the sneaky picture-taking, try another cruise line.
emur’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Outside
Cabin D
Nothing to dislike about the cabin. Clean and well appointed. Biggest shower on any ship so far.
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