The Fred Olsen product is dire! We will NEVER book another cruise with them. When we got home we complained, and ended up being told that we were clearly "not the type of passengers suitable for a cruise with Fred Olsen!" Such wonderful customer service!
We're experienced cruisers, but this short Valentine cruise, our first time on Fred, was truly awful. We paid £240 per person, per night, for what was described as a Superior Suite, with the All-Inclusive drinks package. What a complete rip-off!
Embarkation was painful. Although we turned up on time we had to sit and wait until called. Not the "priority boarding experience" we'd expected from their "Suite Dreams" package!. It was disorganised, with no-one to meet and greet, and the general first impression was that they just don't give a toss about their customers.
Our cabin was a 1/10. We've written a separate review of this. We did explain our cabin issues to a lady at Reception for whom English was still not quite yet a second language! Although we were assured that action would be taken, nothing happened, and we never saw our cabin steward even once!
The "Suite Dreams" package gives you a free bottle of fizz (worth about €1,00 at most), a bowl of hard and inedible unripe fruit (green bananas even!), and unlimited free bottled water in the cabin. Be warned though that getting the small water bottle replaced is a complete pain in the butt - you have to fill out the form on the neck label EACH TIME! Never had that one before!
Our dining experience was unacceptable. Think Butlins rather than Michelin! They serve the same limited choice of food in each of their restaurants. Service is of the "bored" variety, with the wait staff definitely wanting you to think that they're doing you a favour deigning to acknowledge your presence. Both the large restaurants are very noisy, and we had a couple of tables of drunken chavs close by, each of whom had already had enough booze to sink their ship, and who only seemed to talk at full shout. After two nights we gave up and ate in the buffet. Its quieter, and the food is just as awful as elsewhere. We'd describe the whole food choices as "done to a budget" - the lowest one possible! We also came home with gastroenteritis. Not fun!
The "All-Inclusive Drinks Package" is a massive con. The bar drinks menu has eight pages or so; the "All-Inclusive" list is the back half page. There's a limited choice of beer and wine, and some soft drinks. No cocktails. Nothing at all! You even have to pay for tea and coffee UNLESS you want to trek to the grotty Nescafe machine in the Iceni room.
To be fair to Fred, we can see that this short four day cruise possibly attracted the wrong crowd. There were a large number of noisy drunks on board shouting at each other every evening, and our escape was to the Observatory Bar near our cabin! It possible that there was a significant number of cruise first-timers onboard who perhaps weren't that careful about hand hygiene, so its easy to see how you can pick up a mild gastroenteritis bug.
The key issue we have with Fred is the poor value for money. They're charging a 5* price, and delivering at best a 3* product. The customer services lady who called us to follow up on our complaint was a complete time waster who aggressively rejected all our fair and reasonable points before telling us that we were "not the type of passengers suitable for Fred Olsen".
In summary, don't bother with Fred Olsen. For around the same price you can go on Azamara or Oceania, get a decent clean cabin where the bed sheets and towels actually get changed, reasonable food and a good all-inclusive drinks package. Both cruise lines offer lovely "R" class ships that have roughly the same size and passenger numbers as Fred.
The Deck 9 Superior Suite is of course just a larger than normal Balcony cabin. Its not a Suite, and describing it as such is yet another cruise industry con-job. It was showing the signs of wear and tear, and it wasn't that clean - there was debris under the bed and the sofa, and someone else's red hair on the carpet. There was a huge gap between the two single mattresses, with no mattress topper. Awful old foam-filled pillows, and threadbare single quilts with no stuffing in many of the squares!. Our bed sheets didn't get changed at all during the entire cruise. Towels left on the floor to be changed were simply refolded and hung up again. We returned home covered in bites which a nurse advised were from bed bugs! It has taken two weeks of treatment before they're finally starting to heal.
Another great place to visit.
On our itinerary, we were due to leave "late pm". We actually left at 1.30pm. Yet another fred con job.
A great place to visit. Boudicca had an afternoon transit of the Scheldt out to the North Sea.