This was our first cruise with Fred Olsen and we chose it because of the itinerary. Both embarkation and disembarkation were efficient and we were pleased with our cabin`s position and size. There were only 600 on board so the ship felt very comfortable but might have felt cramped with another 200 guests.
Our cabin was fine, with a large window and our stewardess was efficient and unobtrusive .It was very useful to have a laundry room with ironing boards, washers and dryers and a bag of washing could be laundered at a very reasonable £12.
We started by having dinner at second sitting but, finishing our meal at about 10.30 made it late getting to the show and impossible to get to the quiz so we changed to first sitting on a table for two. Dinner at 6.15 is too early so we realise that, in future, we would find a cruise offering one or open sitting. The food was consistently good with an excellent breakfast and lunch buffet and a good choice at dinner although the food was sometimes of variable quality at dinner.
Entertainment was good with a very hard-working team.
The captain, Mikael Degerlund,is the star of the ship - very hands-on with excellent management skills and clearly appreciated by all staff. He hosted two cocktail parties and the crossing of the equator with considerable flair and humour.
The staff worked hard to make everyone feel happy and, as there is quite an elderly clientele on board, they go out of their way to make everyone feel comfortable and looked after.
On the minus side, certain areas of the ship looked very shabby - the pool area on deck 6 is in urgent need of re-grouting of tiles and varnishing of paintwork. Soot continually fell from the funnel and onto clothes, decks and seating - I had some clothing washed free of charge but this shouldn`t happen. There was also a continuous smell of fuel which made sitting on deck unpleasant at times.
The drinks package did not include bottled water for trips nor even the cocktail of the day. The wine by the glass was of variable quality - I was told that there was no Sauvignon Blanc at all, despite it being listed, so changed to Chenin Blanc only to be told there was no more of that. When I complained at the information desk I received an apology and a box of chocolates and the wine reappeared. The cava was appalling and must have been the cheapest possible - many people were drinking it but it felt as though it was burning on my tongue! The choice of beer was also poor - in future, I would not buy the package and would choose my own drinks.
The tours were VERY expensive. The ports in the Maldives were poor and gave little indication of how beautiful these islands really are. The trip to Moyenne Island in the Seychelles was overcrowded and, with only one zodiac to transfer 60 people to the island, some people were left waiting for almost an hour. Unfortunately, due to heavy seas, we couldn`t dock at Praslin where we had planned two days of snorkelling.
We were also surprised that some exercise classes were charged for as these are usually included on other ships There was no zumba class and only two line dancing classes so, with several days at sea, there was not much in the way of exercise classes although there were plenty of craft and dancing classes.
Would we go again with Fred Olsen? - there were people on board who had cruised with "Fred" multiple times but we would probably only go if we got a good deal as we were not happy to see our cruise advertised at a 40% reduction only 2 weeks before we embarked.
Cabin was fine - we asked for a double but cut kept it as two singles as one of us would have been against the wall. Very clean and well looked-after, Would have liked more and better toiletries..