We had been on two cruises with Fred Olsen before, not on the Balmoral, and we had noticed a slight reduction in quality between the first and second cruise. However we felt the standard had plummeted this time as corners were visibly cut particularly with the food.
The ship hasn't been refitted for over 8 years and it showed. The smell of diesel was so strong at times you could smell it from the lounges when a great cloud of it was blown in from the door to the outside deck. The smell was constant in the pool area.
The biggest disappointment to us was the food. The standard had really dropped. For example we had "potted shrimps" which were just prawns in butter. We had tough inedible meat and disgusting fish. The desserts, with one exception, were disappointing and the cheese selection down to 3 cheeses only. Only the soups were good and we suspected that those came out of a tin. Salads were served without dressing and main courses without vegetables to speak of (although we could order extra).
The cabin was ridiculously cramped for what we believed was "superior". Hate to be in an inferior one. The cabin creaked crazily at night and kept us awake. It was often far too cold and the thin bedclothes were no help. We couldn't discover how to work the heating if it worked at all. There was no extractor in the bathroom. The TV didn't work, not that we wanted to use it, but still. The mains plugs were all different from what the website said and we'd experienced before, they were nearly all US-style. There was far too little drawer space.
We are sure that there is something seriously wrong with the plumbing; they had to shut down the water twice, albeit during the small hours. We noticed at times a severe smell from the toilet and from the soakaway drain adjacent to the toilet. We are sure that some of the "Norovirus" problems which they have had could well be attributable to this.
Walk through town centre, not as nice as Funchal
Enjoyable walk through town centre.
Friendly tuk-tuk driver took us for ride (probably in both senses) but it was fun.