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Balmoral Cruise Review
4.5 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating
252 Reviews

First timers with Fred

Balmoral Cruise Review by SimonCornes

8 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: Apr 2017
  • Destination: Norwegian Fjords
  • Cabin Type: Outside with Porthole

My partner saw the cruise advertised as a last minute deal via Iglu so it was booked on the Monday and we sailed the following Sunday. I have to say that both Iglu and Fred Olsen were brilliant. My other half had a 'significant' birthday on the Wednesday of the cruise and I told Fred. I thought I could maybe sort out a cake but I discussed it with the company and a very helpful young lady called me back about 10 minutes later to say that we would have breakfast in our cabin with a bottle of cava and then in the evening, at dinner, there would be a cake and the crew singing 'Happy Birthday'. How much? With the compliments of Fred Olsen - I was super impressed!! I bought a bottle of champagne to go with dinner but my other half was very, very impressed with what Fred Olsen had done.

We sailed from Dover so that was a 4 hour drive and I arranged parking at the terminal so, with an excellent run down, we arrived in good time on the day of departure. The parking and booking in could not have been easier and my other half is now a confirmed sailer out of a UK port - she hates the fuss of airports.

I had checked the deck plan so I knew where our cabin was - 4011 - starboard side, two single beds, one with bunk over for a stow-away and two portholes. Very adequate and loads of wardrobe space as it was no doubt designed to cater for the third body.

The entertainment on board was fine. I've known better but it was basically okay. Very funny comedian - Barnaby - who tapped me and my other half - why does she insist on sitting on the front row?

Food was very adequate and the waiters - Ekchai (Chai) and Albert - were superb - say no more. We had the all inclusive package. At the time we booked it was only £10 per person per night so we were laughing - literally!

The 2 of the 3 shore excursions were excellent - to Bergen and Olden - but the Flam Railway experience was poor. Why? Well it cost £60 each. We were led to believe that we could get off for a short time at the destination before returning to Flam to stretch our legs and to take photos. Not so, the conductor said we had to stay on the train, in fact one lady tried to get off for some fresh air and the conductor told her to open the window!! They put a rope barrier along the carriage to basically corale us into our area for the duration. The train stopped at the waterfall half way along and we were all allowed out for that.

Bear in mind that, if we had bought tickets at Flam station (around £40), as others on the cruise did, then there were no restrictions. I advised the excursions staff when we got back on board that we were less than impressed but the suggestion was that this was down to the railway operators - but they would feed the matter back up the line. So, if you feel inclined to take excursion TRNX then check on the ship if you are allowed of the train at the end of the line before you book!

Overall though, the experience was excellent and I would have no hesitation about sailing with Fred Olsen again - they have a reputation which is richly deserved.

SimonCornes's Full Rating Summary
Onboard Experience
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
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Cabin Review

Outside with Porthole
Cabin F 4011

Very adequate. Super maid service, she really looked after us. Comfortable bunks, plenty big enough for me at over 6 foot tall. Standard variety of modular bathroom, no water leaks and the ventilation in the bathroom was so good that the mirror cleared of condensation very rapidly. Two portholes, really nice!

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

Flam Railway

This could have been really good but was spoilt because the railway staff would not let us get off the train to stretch our legs or take photographs at the top. We were allowed off half way up to take photos of the waterfall. We have mentioned our displeasure to the staff on board the ship when we got back and also to Iglu - through whom we booked the cruise. This was the only black mark during the entire holiday and it was very unfair as, if we had booked the trip at the railway station in Flam - and saved £20 each - there would have ben no restriction. Not very good at all!!

View All 212 Flam Railway Reviews

We booked the Kjenndalen Glacier and Lovatnet Lake boat trips on board. Our guide was excellent and also knew his stuff. The scenery was breathtaking! The visit too the lake started with tea/coffee and waffles in a little restaurant before boarding the boat to cruise down the lake before meeting up with the coach again. Lovely way to see the place. Back at the ship we decided to have a wander around Olden. Not a large place by any means but some interesting places, especially the white church, to look at.

City Tour

Worked like clockwork. Comfortable coach. We had a very entertaining guide who had Norwegian parents but had been born in the USA and lived there until she was 13. She knew her stuff and was great. The trip took us all around the city and ended up at the funicular railway for Mount Floyen. That was very good and the views were excellent but we didn't say that long, preferring to go back down and explore the fish market and Bryggen. Spent no money!!

View All 136 City Tour Reviews

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