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5 Newcastle (England) to Arctic Cruise Reviews

We always choose our cruises by itinerary, not cruise line and this one did not disappoint. Combination of fjords and the Arctic with the 24 hour daylight was perfect for us, Marella only do this route once a year and not many other cruise ... Read More
We always choose our cruises by itinerary, not cruise line and this one did not disappoint. Combination of fjords and the Arctic with the 24 hour daylight was perfect for us, Marella only do this route once a year and not many other cruise lines do trips into the Arctic Circle. First the good points - some people are a bit sniffy about Marella (Butlins at sea etc) but loads of positives for us. First the size of ship, we prefer the smaller ones and the Explorer we found to be light and airy, especially the Mediterranean lounge which houses the fab tapas restaurant and the pizza/pasta in the evenings at no extra cost with spectacular views. All in all, the food we ate was certainly on a par with any other ship we have been on. The extra cost Surf and Turf and Kora Lai were top notch, as were all the staff (and we include the fabulous quiet bar 'Aperitif staff' just outside these venues as well - our bar of choice - mainly because you could get Fever tree tonics and Bottega processo on the premium upgraded all inclusive which for us at just over £7 a day we considered good value). The regular staff (bar staff, cleaners, cabin staff ) all great. Now the Marella entertainment and customer facing staff could take a few lessons from the regular staff. Even spoke to Calvin James (head of staff?) ref some points but even he didn't give us much eye contact and generally didn't give the impression that he was being very attentive to our conversation. The entertainment from our point was very ' samey' - silent disco brilliant but mix it up abit and theme it eg have a soul theme v the 80'st,lost is novelty after a few times but with a few changes it could be so much better, you have the staff. Again some of the staff seemed to turn their smiles on and off. And only so many times you can watch Bohemian Rhapsody........And a bit more variety on the at sea days would be good, as we were in the Arctic Circle it is hardly sunbathing weather. But we did have a concern with the comedian that was flown in and thanks to head of entertainment that met us to talk about our issues. Thank you for that. If you do this cruise next year just be aware that as it a one off cruise , go with an open mind. Weather etc can affect it - we were blessed with the most fab weather. But some of the ports required us to tender when originally we were due to be harbourside, so if you have mobility issues, be warned. Also when we did use the destinations staff, on a few of the trips it was very poorly arranged. Alot of waiting around in the cold, and we were one of the youngest on board (we are 58!) . No wonder we choose to do our own thing in port if we can, not good value at all. Cabin was great, proper shower door and huge balcony, had a hammock, sunbed and 2 chairs and a table (extra large balcony cabin!). Maybe a few funky toiletries would be nice and the towels could have been a lot fluffier! But all in all, no issues. So would be cruise Marella again? If the itinerary was right, yes we would. As an ex - Tui member of staff, I know you can do much better, it won't take alot to sharpen up staff attitudes and better organised excursions, lets give the big boys a run for the money! And please keep the middle sized ships, they can get into all the smaller ports that those monsters can't! Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Just arrived back from Midnight Sun Cruise with Discovery. This was the worst cruise we have ever been on and I have been on many all over the world. Hurricane Hectar changed our plans and we headed for a safe port. I totally understand ... Read More
Just arrived back from Midnight Sun Cruise with Discovery. This was the worst cruise we have ever been on and I have been on many all over the world. Hurricane Hectar changed our plans and we headed for a safe port. I totally understand this. What I don't understand that when the hurricane passed, we headed south instead of north. I was not alone in thinking this. Many people I spoke to would have gladly given up a port to enable the ship to go to the northern cape. I did not book an expensive holiday to cruise the fjords for nearly 13 days. I booked to go to the northern cape. 5 trips were cancelled and one of those was a rearranged trip by Marella. It seems to me they took an easy option visiting ports that they were familiar with. We were gutted we did not reach the northern cape etc. We were fed up of seeing virtually indistinguishable port after port. Our mantra became...repeat, repeat...Mountains, repeat, waterfalls, repeat, god forsaken town, repeat, tacky souvenir shops, repeat. We were totally bored even though we went on trips every day. They misrepresented how difficult some of the trips were. What they classed as moderate walking to the foot of a glacier was supposed to take 45 minutes of moderate walking. Haha, We are both fit and it took well over an hour of steep uphill walking. Many of the passengers struggled with this and did not make it to see the glacier. Some passengers were struggling to breathe.There were other trips like this. The weather was also not good. A very disappointing cruise and we felt did not justify the cost of it. A complete waste of time and money. So glad to be back home. The food and waiting staff were very good. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Chose this cruise because the Newcastle port is near home. Awkward embarkation because you go through check-in in the terminal and, after security check, are then back outside catching a bus to the quayside. Getting off the bus, ... Read More
Chose this cruise because the Newcastle port is near home. Awkward embarkation because you go through check-in in the terminal and, after security check, are then back outside catching a bus to the quayside. Getting off the bus, there's a further walk to the ship. If it's raining, you'd get soaked just getting to the ship. The cruise itself was fine - nice ship - fairly small by today's standards, but that worked in its favour. Got to know lots of other passengers: mainly couples/singles over the age of 50. Reasonable entertainment (a couple of very good performers, especially singer/pianist Lisa Harman). The restaurants were excellent with very good choices on offer. The staff were very pleasant and helpful. Very pleasantly surprised by the premium outside cabin - bigger than expected with large-sized shower. The ports of call and excursions were good and not too expensive, except the whale watching trip costing £70 for seeing one small whale, which apparently is normal. The previous cruise on this ship had a norovirous outbreak but have to say everything was spotless and great emphasis was placed on personal hygiene with hand gel everywhere on this cruise. Would have cruised again on this ship and given it a 4-star rating had it not been for the following incident. The good feeling was spoilt by a ship's officer sneakily taking a photo, with a small digital camera, of me and another passenger having a treatment in the spa. We were never asked if we minded having our photo taken or anything like that - just stuck himself in the doorway of the spa and snapped the picture. On raising a complaint on board, the officer who took the photo dealt with the query! On returning home, I wrote to Fred Olsen and was surprised to receive the following response: "...it is company procedure for senior members of crew to photograph everyday activities taking place on board. This is then sent ashore to Head Office for senior management to review. It is a daily pictorial, controlled document that is only viewed by the most senior staff at Head Office. It is used to ascertain life on board, something which those of us shore side cannot experience day-to-day........Please be assured that the photographs are not made public in anyway [sic], they are stored securely at Head Office and deleted from the camera following the report being compiled." Surely those at Head Office can pay for a cruise if they wish to see what life on board is like. I find this behaviour/policy abhorrent/very unsavoury and don't know of any other cruise line that breaches passengers' right to privacy in such a cavalier manner. If Fred Olsen wishes to take photos of guests they should be completely open and honest about it and at least advertise the fact that they will do this in their brochures, so that passengers are fully aware of their policy prior to booking. If you don't mind having photos being taken of you without your knowledge or permission for faceless personnel to pore over [note FO didn't say what happens to the pictures after Head Office is finished with them - just that they are stored securely], then you could have a good cruise on this ship. If you do mind the sneaky picture-taking, try another cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
This is the 2nd Fred Olsen cruise for me 1st from Southampton and latest from Newcastle which is only a 2hr drive or less from my home town Doncaster. The ship Balmoral is fantastic, a Premier Suite cabin very very good, dining superb, ... Read More
This is the 2nd Fred Olsen cruise for me 1st from Southampton and latest from Newcastle which is only a 2hr drive or less from my home town Doncaster. The ship Balmoral is fantastic, a Premier Suite cabin very very good, dining superb, entertainment especially Lisa Harman who is an excellent pianist and superb singer/activities very good/ service with smiles from the waiters and excellent choice of food. Ports excellent,did 3 tours which were excellent. Yes I would and have booked a cruise for 2017 with Fred Olsen on the Balmoral. My husband & I cruised on the QE2 and I have cruised with Cunard alone twice and with my 98yr old Aunt (who was in a wheelchair) on the Balmoral in 2013, help was given at every stage. My last cruise from which I recently returned, I took my friend for whom it was the first time cruising and everything came up to expectations. I would highly recommend a cruise with Fred Olsen. Norma B. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We sailed from Newcastle on 2nd August on Boudicca on what was to be a wonderful experience exploring the Arctic. Having sailed on Boudicca twice before, we knew that we would be happy with the ship and apart from the cabin being in ... Read More
We sailed from Newcastle on 2nd August on Boudicca on what was to be a wonderful experience exploring the Arctic. Having sailed on Boudicca twice before, we knew that we would be happy with the ship and apart from the cabin being in much need of a refurb, we were not disappointed. The crew on Boudicca are the most friendly we have ever encountered on our 30+ cruises and the food was excellent as always. The itinerary was wonderful., the highlight for us being our 3 ports of call in Greenland- Nanortalik, Narsak and Qaqortoq. Never having been close up and personal with glaciers and icebergs, we both marvelled at the sights we saw. Fortunately for us, the weather was pretty good and the sun shone at the rights times. I would thoroughly recommend an Arctic cruise to anyone who cruises for the scenery and wildlife. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015

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