Balmoral Cruise Review by sekrapdjp
- Sail Date: January 2017
- Destination: Canary Islands
- Cabin Type: Superior Suite
On all three ships we were located in a Superior Suite, but Cabin 9059 on the ‘Balmoral’ was the most ‘superior’ of the trio. The Starboard-side suite was spacious, well-appointed, and had plenty of storage space. The bathroom had a bath with an excellent shower which consistently provided plenty of hot water. The toilet, however, did not always flush thoroughly, but overall this was an excellent bathroom facility.
Despite having the two ‘Scandinavian’ duvets, the double bed provided a very good night’s sleep, aided by the fact that there was little extraneous noise. The lounge area had a large table with a settee and two comfortable chairs. The adjacent balcony was of an adequate size and was equipped with a small table and two chairs. There was often a smell from the ship’s engines on the balcony and, if frequent use of the balcony is important, it would probably be better having a similar grade of cabin farther forward.
The servicing standard of the cabin was very disappointing. In contrast to our other cruises with Fred. Olsen, we saw little of the stewardess, servicing levels were minimalistic and not very efficient. It may have been that the cabin staff had too much to do, as this was also the impression in the dining room where the waiting staff seemed to have too many tables to attend to – although our waiters were very courteous, attentive, and pleasant. The maitre d’ was charming and always helpful.
We had requested a table for two, but found on the first evening that Table 326 was laid for four. This was a very small table, but fortunately, no other diners ever appeared and the table was subsequently only laid for two. Except for one incident when the roast beef was inedible, the food was excellent with the huge choice that we have previously experienced with Fred. Olsen. All our evening meals, and most breakfasts and lunches were taken in the Avon/Spey pair of restaurants on the Tenth Deck. These restaurants were spacious and civilised places to eat, with large windows providing an excellent ambience. In contrast, our limited use of the Ballindalloch restaurant and Palms Café proved to be crowded and noisy experiences.
The standard of entertainment in the Neptune Lounge was very high, both from the Balmoral Show Company and the individual artists. The appreciation of the shows was enhanced by the fact that the stage of the Neptune Lounge was raised for these presentations – thus dealing with the poor viewing standards of the ‘Balmoral’s’ sister ships where this facility does not exist. The final night’s show (‘The Best of the Entertainment’s Team’) was excellent but it would have been better to see this at the commencement of the cruise so as to be able to appreciate what entertainment was available throughout the ship. There were also some excellent lectures and guitar concerts.
Embarkation and disembarkation at Southampton were handled efficiently and swiftly, the latter a benefit of booking a suite. All ports of call were reached, in contrast to our previous cruise with Captain Victor Stoica who failed to get us to two ports on the schedule. We had pre-booked four excursions, one on each of the four islands in the Canaries. The first of these, at La Palma, was cancelled at the last minute due to lack of support. This was an eight hour tour when the ‘Balmoral’ did not get into port until about 1pm – so much of this ‘sightseeing’ excursion would have been in the dark. The other three excursions were good, and it was easy to explore independently in Madeira and Lisbon.
Overall, an enjoyable cruise that would have been better if some of the staff had been able to devote more attention to providing a personal service.
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