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We did this cruise for our honeymoon - it was our first cruise and our first time in Europe, so we thought the interesting itinerary would be a good taster. We also got it for a last-minute great price. Embarkation: Southampton embarkation was brilliant: luggage arrived before we even got on the ship. Our cabin, as written below, was excellent, and as it was on the main deck was close to all the facilities. The ship: The ship itself is small and fairly old: some parts were a little dated but overall the condition of the ship was excellent. We liked how small the ship was as it meant that there was always plenty of room in the common areas and bars, and you never felt crowded. You could also mostly get from one end of the ship to other in about ten minutes, so none of the venues were very far away. The on-board staff were always so personable and friendly: always smiling and greeting you by name. Something to note is that the ship probably caters mainly to older clients - we were probably some of the youngest there (at ages 26 and 25). It meant the on-board activities didn't really relate to us very well, and especially the one day at sea got very boring (wifi was extortionate and I refused to pay the price!). We ended up hanging out in the Lido Lounge drinking, which was okay especially as it was never very crowded and had excellent service from the bar staff. Food and drinks: We had the 8:30pm dinner sitting in the Ballindalloch restaurant, which suited us as it meant we didn't have to rush back from the ports. The few days we did arrive back earlier we could however go to the Palms Café which had unlimited buffet-style service from 6:30pm (and breakfast, lunch, and supper club). The food overall was excellent: in the restaurant we were treated to varied five-course meals which were always interesting and presented nicely. In the Café you could choose basically whatever was on offer, which was always tasty and high quality - and unlimited too! Something to note about the restaurant: we thought we'd be fine going to the two Formal Nights with just a shirt and black trousers - not so! Dinner jackets are mandatory. So we ate in the Café on those two nights. Something to keep in mind for newbies to cruises... Room service was mostly free which was a great surprise - sandwiches, cakes, some drinks all complimentary. One thing we didn't quite understand was that large bottles of water (presented in the cabin each morning after the turn-down service, or via room service) cost £1.50 a day. Bit odd considering that fruit drinks and such could just be ordered for free. We also opted for the All Inclusive Drinks package at £240 total cost. We didn't feel this was really that worth it, as the All Inclusive Drinks menu was fairly limited. You do get half price on most other menu items though. In the end we tried to drink as much of the free cheap alcohol as possible in order to break even! Ports and shore excursions: Be aware that Rouen was quite far away from the port - a fifteen minute coach trip in traffic or an hour's walk. We were told there would be taxis so we opted for that and didn't bother buying the coach tickets; but when we got ashore there were no taxis, and we ended up waiting over an hour and a half in the cold for one! Eventually we just bought a £5 couch ticket from the ship... Rouen was lovely though overall. Amsterdam and especially Antwerp were much closer to the port, which was brilliant. We did shore excursions in both these cities: Edam and a cheese factory in Amsterdam, and Ghent and a chocolatiers in Antwerp. Both times the tour guides were funny and knowledgeable, but we felt the Edam tour was very rushed; only allowing about 45 minutes in the town (not including ten minutes walking back to the coach park each way) which didn't really give us any time to relax or explore the place. We ended up having to leave Antwerp about six hours early due to approaching storms, which was a massive shame as it meant we only got to see it in the evening (due to the excursion) and couldn't see it at all the next day as originally advertised. I know you can't help the weather, but... Overall though the experience was very positive. I'd definitely recommend The Balmoral for the fact its a cosier ship, and Fred Olsen staff were so friendly and caring throughout.

First ever cruise - overall excellent!

Balmoral Cruise Review by NervousEnergy

5 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: November 2017
  • Destination: Europe
  • Cabin Type: Superior Outside
We did this cruise for our honeymoon - it was our first cruise and our first time in Europe, so we thought the interesting itinerary would be a good taster. We also got it for a last-minute great price.

Embarkation:

Southampton embarkation was brilliant: luggage arrived before we even got on the ship. Our cabin, as written below, was excellent, and as it was on the main deck was close to all the facilities.

The ship:

The ship itself is small and fairly old: some parts were a little dated but overall the condition of the ship was excellent. We liked how small the ship was as it meant that there was always plenty of room in the common areas and bars, and you never felt crowded. You could also mostly get from one end of the ship to other in about ten minutes, so none of the venues were very far away. The on-board staff were always so personable and friendly: always smiling and greeting you by name.

Something to note is that the ship probably caters mainly to older clients - we were probably some of the youngest there (at ages 26 and 25). It meant the on-board activities didn't really relate to us very well, and especially the one day at sea got very boring (wifi was extortionate and I refused to pay the price!). We ended up hanging out in the Lido Lounge drinking, which was okay especially as it was never very crowded and had excellent service from the bar staff.

Food and drinks:

We had the 8:30pm dinner sitting in the Ballindalloch restaurant, which suited us as it meant we didn't have to rush back from the ports. The few days we did arrive back earlier we could however go to the Palms Café which had unlimited buffet-style service from 6:30pm (and breakfast, lunch, and supper club). The food overall was excellent: in the restaurant we were treated to varied five-course meals which were always interesting and presented nicely. In the Café you could choose basically whatever was on offer, which was always tasty and high quality - and unlimited too!

Something to note about the restaurant: we thought we'd be fine going to the two Formal Nights with just a shirt and black trousers - not so! Dinner jackets are mandatory. So we ate in the Café on those two nights. Something to keep in mind for newbies to cruises...

Room service was mostly free which was a great surprise - sandwiches, cakes, some drinks all complimentary.

One thing we didn't quite understand was that large bottles of water (presented in the cabin each morning after the turn-down service, or via room service) cost £1.50 a day. Bit odd considering that fruit drinks and such could just be ordered for free.

We also opted for the All Inclusive Drinks package at £240 total cost. We didn't feel this was really that worth it, as the All Inclusive Drinks menu was fairly limited. You do get half price on most other menu items though. In the end we tried to drink as much of the free cheap alcohol as possible in order to break even!

Ports and shore excursions:

Be aware that Rouen was quite far away from the port - a fifteen minute coach trip in traffic or an hour's walk. We were told there would be taxis so we opted for that and didn't bother buying the coach tickets; but when we got ashore there were no taxis, and we ended up waiting over an hour and a half in the cold for one! Eventually we just bought a £5 couch ticket from the ship... Rouen was lovely though overall.

Amsterdam and especially Antwerp were much closer to the port, which was brilliant. We did shore excursions in both these cities: Edam and a cheese factory in Amsterdam, and Ghent and a chocolatiers in Antwerp. Both times the tour guides were funny and knowledgeable, but we felt the Edam tour was very rushed; only allowing about 45 minutes in the town (not including ten minutes walking back to the coach park each way) which didn't really give us any time to relax or explore the place.

We ended up having to leave Antwerp about six hours early due to approaching storms, which was a massive shame as it meant we only got to see it in the evening (due to the excursion) and couldn't see it at all the next day as originally advertised. I know you can't help the weather, but...

Overall though the experience was very positive. I'd definitely recommend The Balmoral for the fact its a cosier ship, and Fred Olsen staff were so friendly and caring throughout.
NervousEnergy’s Full Rating Summary
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Cabin Review

Superior Outside
Cabin B 6044
As we were on the Anchor Fair we didn't get to choose our cabin - it was allocated for us a week or so before the cruise date. The cabin was advertised as having a 'restricted view', which is why the fair was cheap, so we were not expecting a great view at all.

When we got on board we found that our cabin was huge and had a massive picture window - with no restricted view at all! A lovely surprise. Overall the cabin was in excellent condition, though a little worn in some places like the wardrobe. Twin beds were comfy and the twice daily service by the accommodation staff was great. Loads of storage space with two big wardrobes with drawers.

Bathroom was good - we had a shower over the bath. Was pleasantly surprised how good the shower pressure was.

The room had aircon- we were able to get our room down to 16c which was lovely.

Overall an excellent cabin.
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