I selected this cruise as an ideal Spring getaway to interesting parts of the Mediterranean, some of which I hadn't previously visited.
The "Balmoral" is my favorite of the Fred. Olsen cruise ships. it is a fine looking ship, in good condition, spacious but small enough to enter ports that the more modern, large simply couldn't visit.
I had booked a twin cabin on a single occupancy basis on deck 6. It was well positioned for easy access to the main features of the ship. It was of reasonable size, had a large picture window and had excellent air conditioning. There was more than ample storage, had a safe, tea/coffee making facilites and interactive television. It was fully serviced twice daily to a high standard.
I dined in the Avon restaurant on deck 10. This is one of the smaller restaurants on the ship. The meals were excellent with good, variable menus. The service was excellent. I took occasional breakfasts and lunches in the Ballindalloch (Main) restaurant. The Palms Cafe was a good place afternoon tea and occasional coffees. The Bookmark Cafe served an excellent choice coffees and other quality drinks too. The inclusion of a wide range of free drinks in the "all inclusive" package was an added plus.
The on-board entertainment varied enormously. In the daytime I don't think that the guest lecturers were up to the normal standard. The afternoon classical recitals were first class but there were too few of them. There were, of course the usual cruising activities taking place across the ship. The evening entertainment was very mixed with some excellent cabaret acts. The Balmoral Show Company were enthusiastic, energetic a quite talented. The Crew Show was, as usual, vastly entertaining. The swimming pools proved to be good places to exercise and catch the pleasant Mediterranean sunshine.
One of the best features of Fred. Olsen cruises is the quality of the staff. They were pretty efficient, keen to help and inevitably happy and friendly.
The shore tours were well organised and, in most cases very enjoyable. We called at nine different ports in Spain, France, Italy and Portugal. this was, perhaps too many for we didn't spend enough time in some to fully appreciate the places of interest. I liked most of the ports of call but was especially impressed by El Ferrol (Spain), Ajaccio (France), Palermo (Italy) and Cartagena (Spain) mainly because it was my first visit to these towns.
It was an enjoyable cruise. I would certainly go on a similar cruise again.
Clean, neat and tidy and well serviced. More than ample storage. The air conditioning, safe,tea/coffee making facilities and the interactive television were useful. The picture window made the cabin bright and great for sight-seeing.