1. Home
  2. Cruise Reviews
  3. Balmoral
I was brought up to say nothing, if I couldn't say something good about someone or something. So I will not have much to say about this ship. Built 28 years ago by the German builders Meyer Werft as one of the most luxurious ships of its day. It certainly is not that now.. It was very early in the year to travel north. Too early. The daylight hours are very limited. The weather is often very poor. As indeed it was. That does make a difference. We had chosen a Junior Suite. A rather too grand description for a standard balcony cabin. Pleasant enough. Except the bathroom. No soap. Just two bottles with plungers which sent out a thin stream of coloured fluid. The bath would have disgraced the average budget hotel. The bathtaps were bent so that water sprayed onto the floor. The mirrored cabinets doors showed rust and opened when the ship rolled. Which it did. The most irritating: a notice on the swimming pool towels, that they were to be returned, used, to the cabin. If not, a £10 charge added to your account. The room was looked after adequately by the stewardess whom, after the first day, I never saw again. She may have been overworked. The ship's public rooms are quite without any character. On one deck, they stretch between the buffet restaurant and the showlounge, itself plain, with shallowly tiered seating, with higher buckets seats placed in front of the bench seats. The entertainment in this undistinguished room was unremarkable. A comedian. A singer. A dance duo. In between these, the ship's singer/dancer group. They certainly worted hard. But nothing new. Nothing innovative. There were three speakers, who gave talks. One of them, splattered with little jokes. Not good. Certainly not enlightening. The dining. We asked through our agents, for a table for six or eight. We were assigned a table for four. Our fellow diners, committed Fred Olsen cruisers. They explained at length how pleased they were that a steward had recognised them and was to show them his personal pictures. We were pleased for them. The assigned restaurant, set on one side of the ship, was very noisy. One of the two redeeming features of this otherwise less than run of the mill voyage: the buffet. On the whole good food and good service. In the restaurants service we found patchy sometimes downright bad. But the buffet seemed to have an entity nof its own. Pleasant, never too crowded, cheerful staff. The best of this ship. Outside was a good teak deck. But it was cluttered with stored chairs, so walking was often single file. Perhaps there was nowhere else to put them. Perhaps that was why the unbendable lounger on our balcony could not be removed - it blocked half of it. It was a nuisance. Shore excursions were expensive. But we found them well organised by the tour operators. Fred Olsen prides itself on having a very high repeat booking level. I cannot understand why. This is a tired old ship with less than good service. I was told by a guest relations manager that it is due for a £50 million refit later this year. Not much of a compensation for those of us travelling on it until then. The other good thing: the captain. The weather was bad sometimes very bad. We had Force 11 winds. On the way back from Bergen he reduced speed to 5 knots which made us eight hours late into Southampton. That takes courage I think. Would we travel on a Fred Olsen ship again? No. The worst thing for me: my wife feels that it was a waste of money. I feel very bad about that.

Were we really on the same ship?

Balmoral Cruise Review by David Wheeler

41 people found this helpful
Trip Details
I was brought up to say nothing, if I couldn't say something good about someone or something. So I will not have much to say about this ship. Built 28 years ago by the German builders Meyer Werft as one of the most luxurious ships of its day. It certainly is not that now..

It was very early in the year to travel north. Too early. The daylight hours are very limited. The weather is often very poor. As indeed it was. That does make a difference.

We had chosen a Junior Suite. A rather too grand description for a standard balcony cabin. Pleasant enough. Except the bathroom. No soap. Just two bottles with plungers which sent out a thin stream of coloured fluid. The bath would have disgraced the average budget hotel. The bathtaps were bent so that water sprayed onto the floor. The mirrored cabinets doors showed rust and opened when the ship rolled. Which it did. The most irritating: a notice on the swimming pool towels, that they were to be returned, used, to the cabin. If not, a £10 charge added to your account.

The room was looked after adequately by the stewardess whom, after the first day, I never saw again. She may have been overworked.

The ship's public rooms are quite without any character. On one deck, they stretch between the buffet restaurant and the showlounge, itself plain, with shallowly tiered seating, with higher buckets seats placed in front of the bench seats.

The entertainment in this undistinguished room was unremarkable. A comedian. A singer. A dance duo. In between these, the ship's singer/dancer group. They certainly worted hard. But nothing new. Nothing innovative. There were three speakers, who gave talks. One of them, splattered with little jokes. Not good. Certainly not enlightening.

The dining. We asked through our agents, for a table for six or eight. We were assigned a table for four. Our fellow diners, committed Fred Olsen cruisers. They explained at length how pleased they were that a steward had recognised them and was to show them his personal pictures. We were pleased for them. The assigned restaurant, set on one side of the ship, was very noisy. One of the two redeeming features of this otherwise less than run of the mill voyage: the buffet. On the whole good food and good service. In the restaurants service we found patchy sometimes downright bad. But the buffet seemed to have an entity nof its own. Pleasant, never too crowded, cheerful staff. The best of this ship.

Outside was a good teak deck. But it was cluttered with stored chairs, so walking was often single file. Perhaps there was nowhere else to put them. Perhaps that was why the unbendable lounger on our balcony could not be removed - it blocked half of it. It was a nuisance.

Shore excursions were expensive. But we found them well organised by the tour operators.

Fred Olsen prides itself on having a very high repeat booking level. I cannot understand why. This is a tired old ship with less than good service. I was told by a guest relations manager that it is due for a £50 million refit later this year. Not much of a compensation for those of us travelling on it until then.

The other good thing: the captain. The weather was bad sometimes very bad. We had Force 11 winds. On the way back from Bergen he reduced speed to 5 knots which made us eight hours late into Southampton. That takes courage I think.

Would we travel on a Fred Olsen ship again? No. The worst thing for me: my wife feels that it was a waste of money. I feel very bad about that.
David Wheeler’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Entertainment
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Service
Onboard Experience
Free Price Drop Alerts
Get Balmoral price drops
250,000+ people have entered their email
By proceeding, you agree to Cruise Critic’s Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Alesund
    Alesund has a fine musuem, but if you have seen that enough, then a trip to these islands is interesting. Not too much driving, and a visit to the much evolved 1150 church, and to the lighthouse at Alnes. This and the adjoining visitor centre has a fine exhibition of paintings and weavings by Ornulf Opdahl - one of the staff assured us that a purchase now would appreciate over the years...
    View All 13,935 Alesund Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Alesund Cruise Port Review
  • Bergen
    There is much to see and do in Bergen. If the weather is fine, then the funicular is cheap and easy to find. But when they says that it rains on 80% of the days, have that in mind. A bit of homework and really no need for an expensive excursion unless you have seen enough of Bergen and want something else....
    View All 672 Bergen Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Bergen Cruise Port Review
  • Molde
    Molde is served by a variety of ferries, and it is fun to take them - even if when you arrive, there is little to do but to come back. The scenery alone makes it worthwhile. But if you have in mind a trip on the Rauma Railway, then take it, if you can, from this port. The travel to Bjorli will take through deep tunnels and fine suspension bridges and across two fjords by ferry. This adds enormously to the enjoyment of the day. At least it did for me.
    View All 42 Molde Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Molde Cruise Port Review