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56 Newcastle (England) to Europe - British Isles & Western Cruise Reviews

A TA told us about overnight cruises where the ship is repositioned and you can stay and received food and entertainment at a reasonable price. We went from Newcastle to Rosyth(Edinburgh). We had an outside cabin that was small and dated. ... Read More
A TA told us about overnight cruises where the ship is repositioned and you can stay and received food and entertainment at a reasonable price. We went from Newcastle to Rosyth(Edinburgh). We had an outside cabin that was small and dated. We were told check-in was 550pm, when we got to our room we had a message to say we had to be on the 6pm dinner sitting.(If we'd been on the later sitting we could have used the health facilites and they'd have made some money!) We got there as quick as we could and then had trouble getting served (ship was full). Late on during our meal we were told 3 times to hurry up as they wanted to prepare for the next sitting! Food apart from the tenderloin was very average. Bars and staff were lovely, drink/cocktails very reasonable. Went to the cabaret which had a delayed start but we didn't know how long the delay would be and the band were sat around texting. Show was OK but short. DJ and dancing was very good. Sadly they added £7 per person to our drinks bill and if you had a drink after midnight you got charged again. You have to vacate your room by 730am and we were told we would not disembark until 930am. Ship was chaotic as people left bags everywhere and the staff didn't manage//organise the process. Breakfast was plentiful but chaotic. Disembarkation was delayed as they had no ramp and had to submit some rickety stairs! Staff did not magage expectations and were due to passengers asking for advice as how long the delay would be at what the process would be, in the end the passengers took over and just all lined up and forced embarkation. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Iceland and Norway were on our bucket list so this cruise seemed the perfect way to tick them off. As destinations they didn’t disappoint and are both amazing places. We had sailed with Marella at Xmas in the Caribbean and selecting ... Read More
Iceland and Norway were on our bucket list so this cruise seemed the perfect way to tick them off. As destinations they didn’t disappoint and are both amazing places. We had sailed with Marella at Xmas in the Caribbean and selecting Marella again was an easy choice. This time departure was from Newcastle so no flights and extra luggage allowance. Departure was fine. It took a little while and there was some queues but overall not a problem and thankfully the rain kept off. We had inside cabins on Deck 9. Excellent fit out with a good bathroom and shower. Cabin stewards attentive and helpful as were all the staff onboard. Cabins serviced twice daily too. The ship itself is good. There is a good selection of restaurants. Some you have to pay extra for but there is enough choice and variety if you don’t want that. Food quality good throughout. One shortfall is a general shortage of indoor seating which can create challenges when the weather is not so good. Bars excellent as is the range of all inclusive drinks.. there’s enough variety and choice.. if you do fancy an up market brand for a change then you can pay as you go for those adding it to your cabin bill. This works well and saves you going for the drinks upgrade package. The prices are reasonable too. Entertainment was a mixed bag. The shows and tribute act in the Broadway lounge were generally excellent and to a good standard. They certainly had the family looking forward to the next nights show. Otherwise it was a hit and miss affair with bands quizzes etc mainly catering for an older audience. This did get wearing after a while and we did crave something more up to date and modern after a few days. This was a particular issue for my teenagers who continually joked about this being a cruise for “old duffers”. This wasn’t the case although this perception can only have been exacerbated by the frequent and somewhat petty gripes of some of the more senior patrons on the boat. Movies were good with some up to date titles. Outdoor cinema was chilly at night so good that blankets were provided. It was the destinations that made this trip special however. Orkney - We took the tour to Skara Brae - A must for history buffs with a knowledgeable guide. Really excellent. Kirkwall was also fun to explore and there’s enough to do and see here. Aukeyreri was jaw dropping and the cascading waterfalls either side as we entered the fjord were amazing. We took the tour to Mvaytyn baths. This was a long ride on a coach .. over an hour but we got so see some of this fantastic landscape. The bath itself is quite an experience and highly recommended. The town is also fun to explore with some good shops. Isafjordur was a gem. There is so little there at first glance . I can imagine some people only spent an hour ashore. A helpful guide in tourist information provided an excellent walking map and a few hours later we were up amongst the ski slopes with a vista that rivals anything I’ve ever seen. Reykjavík is a funky place with lots going on. We self booked onto a whale watching tour which was excellent and we saw plenty of minke whales feeding. 2 days at sea then into Norway - Flam is so pretty. Everyone heads for the railway and it gets very busy . We didn’t pre-book so couldn’t ride. Instead we hiked and climbed up to see Brekfossen waterfalls which was spectacular. The old town of Flam is also worth an explore .Good walking here and plenty to see. Bergen is excellent and all the key sights are worth your time . Funicular provides great views and fish market is amazing. Eidfjord is also pretty and there is an excellent circular walk which takes a couple of hours if you take it slowly. But not much else other than that at the port. It seems this is a place to look at excursions or car hire. Haugesund was surprisingly fun. Great walks up the coast provided stunning views. Great town and shops too. Kristiansand was a wet day . There is a good nature park to explore at the back of the town and this town had some excellent shops also. Overall - The destinations provided an amazing holiday. The Marella Explorer is a good ship with an excellent crew. There’s little to complain about really and it’s good value for money. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We were a group of six friends on the Scottish Isles 8 night cruise from Newcastle finishing somewhat bizarrely in Liverpool. Embarkation was extremely fast and painless. We are gold members and have priority boarding but everyone was ... Read More
We were a group of six friends on the Scottish Isles 8 night cruise from Newcastle finishing somewhat bizarrely in Liverpool. Embarkation was extremely fast and painless. We are gold members and have priority boarding but everyone was boarded quickly. As soon as the car pulled up our luggage was taken and we never saw it again until it was in our cabin. We have been on 4or 5 CMV cruises and enjoyed them all but predominantly on some of the fleets older ships. Whilst the Magellan is not new it is in good condition very quiet and stable. We were upgraded to a superior inner room so didn’t have to row on this trip(we always choose the voyager guarantee and have never failed to get a decent cabin. The food was very good even if the portions weren’t huge but after 5courses I had had enough. We all had a drinks and tip package which I thought was exceptional value. The house wines were ok and all the usual branded spirits available though it seemed odd to me that some coffees were chargeable. We tended to use the main dining room for dinner/ lunch and the bistro for breakfast. We tried the main restaurant for breakfast but the service was too slow for us. The entertainment does seem a bit like a lot of singing and dancing but in different costumes each night but it was light and reasonably proficient We had a comedian for two nights who was OK. He clearly had been doing cruise ships for some time and his material showed this. We weren’t onboard much during the day so didn’t take advantage of the other activities onboard. We won the quiz on the first night but quit while we were ahead. First port was Dundee where we saw a quite a large exchange of passengers. Weather was good so we strolled ashore visited the Discovery and the new V&A (great outside but much wasted space inside) but an enjoyable hour and a half. We also visited Broughty Ferry Castle which was worth a visit. Next stop was Shetland where the weather was a bit wet but we still managed a significant Lerwick town trail walk which now includes Jimmy Peres’s House from the Shetland TV series. Next stop was the Faroes where we had a 35 minute shuttle bus ride to Torshaven which was interesting in itself. We enjoyed another walk around the town looking at some of the older properties with their distinctive grass roofs. An enjoyable day out. Orkney was our next stop in cloudy weather. We have been to Orkney a couple of times so dint see the need to visit scara brae which we would have if it had been our first visit. We were fortunate to witness what seemed the wedding of the year at the cathedral. We also witnessed the “ blackening” of another engaged couple which seemed to involve sitting in the back of an open truck which friends covered in molasses, gunge etc roaring around the town making a lot of noise. The poor groom to be was cling filmed to a stone cross in the churchyard but was freed before the wedding party arrived. A beautiful day and we arrived in sunny Skye to be tendered ashore to meet up with our prearranged tour bus. This was a private tour (sky mini bus tours)for the six of us (£42 each ) and it was really excellent. The beautiful weather helped as did the two knowledgeable locals who did the driving and guiding. We stopped at all the usual sights some of which were quite busy it being a Sunday and having excellent weather. We had a lovely lunch in an old hunting lodge called Flodigarry House which also had Flora McDonald's house in the grounds. The bus dropped off at the docks for our tender. - an excellent all day trip. Next stop Belfast in mixed weather. Here we enjoyed the hop on hop off bus (we negotiated £50 for six old fogies!). We did the full tour then got off at the Titanic exhibition which was excellent. That took a couple of hours but I really enjoyed it as it was a lot to do with the history of Belfast rather than just the sinking and subsequent recovery of the ship. It even included a mini Disney like shipyard ride. On the bus watch out for low hanging branches as my pal had his glasses and heating aid knocked off!!! Then on to Liverpool. Disembarkation was not so smooth due to not using the Ships tannoy to tell you what was happening ( it could be that as we were docked the ship was not allowed to so not to disturb the locals) it meant passengers were constantly querying why they couldn't leave the ship, pa better presence with better communication would have sorted it. There were some anxious passengers needing to catch a train/coach who were left in the dark. A very enjoyable cruise with excellent food and service - pity about the weather!!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
Actually chose this cruise due to an engine failure on one we booked. Interesting ports around the Uk where few other ships go. Though this is an old ship from Carnival, it was well maintained and clean. Had an inside cabin on deck seven, ... Read More
Actually chose this cruise due to an engine failure on one we booked. Interesting ports around the Uk where few other ships go. Though this is an old ship from Carnival, it was well maintained and clean. Had an inside cabin on deck seven, and was larger than those on Crystal! Food was surprisingly good, especially the dinners in the restaurants. Restaurants were also open for breakfast and lunch and were expertly staffed. Great place to go if one wants to beat the crowds at the main buffet. Drinks were well priced, and did not include a tip. One could actually get a pint of larger (German) for 3 pounds 60 pence! Tours were also top notch. Payment for these were from 40-70 pounds. Only problem I had was with the crew members that were not involved with the passengers (stewards-wait staff, etc) Many could not understand English-tough to communicate with. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
This was our first, but hopefully not our only, cruise so we have nothing to compare against. As first-timers I will say one thing firstly: the instructions given each day were a great help and all the things I worry about (not knowing ... Read More
This was our first, but hopefully not our only, cruise so we have nothing to compare against. As first-timers I will say one thing firstly: the instructions given each day were a great help and all the things I worry about (not knowing where to go or what to do) turned out to be nothing to worry about at all. Your hands are well and truly held to ensure you know where you need to be and when. Embarkation was very quick (20 minutes from drop-off outside Newcastle Passenger Terminal to being in our cabin). The cabin was 4119 and was more than adequate for our needs. The ship has a slightly dated feel to it but is clean and bright. Large bars and public areas meant even at the busiest times it didn't feel cramped. We stuck to the Bistro (buffet) and the "Speciality Restaurants" as we're not formal-wear people. The food was flawlessly good. The "Speciality Restaurants" are really "pop-up restaurants" requiring reservations within part of the Bistro's area. The service and food there was absolutely wonderful. The arrival into ports was handled well and it was far easier to walk on/off than I'd expected. We had one anchor port on the itinerary (Lerwick) but they managed to dock in the end so can't speak to how good/bad the tender process is. The main issue was due to our fellow passengers (of a certain age and thus of a certain speed!) which did mean we took to walking out rather than wait for shuttle buses which would take forever to board or get off. We went on two excursions (Jewels of the North in Akureyi and Loch Ness in Invergordon) both of which were well-organised though suffered from similar "speed" issues as the getting on and off the ship did! We went to a few shows, activities and lectures. The shows were extremely well done and the show area is spacious with comfortable seating (lots of leg room which is very important to me!). The activities (quizzes, "gameshows") were amusing enough though we avoided the Knit and Natter due to concerns we might get too over-excited ;) (In all seriousness there was plenty to do for all personalities!). The lectures... weren't so good. One of the speaker's lectures were so full of errors I was able to spot them and I wasn't an expert on their subjects. The other had blurry photos and film which seemed pointless given the lack of quality. Service was great in parts (the restaurants), okay in others (we had a few mix-ups happen around our welcome package which were eventually sorted and refunds arranged without us asking so all was well) and bad, for the most part, in bars. Even if just 6 tables were in use out of the 40 or so available in a bar, you'd be lucky to get successfully served once every 60 minutes. Needless to say this meant we never woke up with a hangover! I'd hold special praise for our room steward and her colleagues on our deck. They were not just always polite when we passed them in the corridor but remembered us and engaged us in personal greetings. Our room was kept immaculately throughout our trip. Overall the positives far outweighed the negatives and we had a really enjoyable two weeks. We'll certainly be cruising again and CMV will at least get consideration when we come to planning our next trip. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
We have recently returned from a 13 night Icelandic cruise from Newcastle on the Magellan and all I can say is wow. This was our 10th cruise and definitely one of the best. I’ve sailed with CMV before, together with Celebrity and Royal ... Read More
We have recently returned from a 13 night Icelandic cruise from Newcastle on the Magellan and all I can say is wow. This was our 10th cruise and definitely one of the best. I’ve sailed with CMV before, together with Celebrity and Royal Caribbean. The CMV ships can’t complete with the others when it comes to high tech modern features, but neither does they try to. What you get instead is great service, good quality food and drinks and the ability to travel from local ports, which is a major plus point for those of us who don’t live close to Southampton. The itinerary for this cruise was first rate and we enjoyed all of the ports of call, and Iceland itself is magnificent. We were blessed with great weather for the entire duration. I’ve heard the seas around Iceland can get a bit rough, even in summer, but we didn’t have any issues. There was one night when travelling around the north that the seas got up a bit, but the Magellan handled it perfectly and we barely felt a thing. The ship is a little old fashioned in its décor but that’s a minor issue. It’s kept spotlessly clean by a hard-working team. The ship was full for this cruise but there was rarely a problem getting served or finding a seat. I think the most we waited was five or six minutes and this was at peak time. The staff are very attentive and we would usually have our order taken in a couple of minutes. We chose the VIP drinks package which was great value compared to other cruise lines. This included all premium drinks, gratuities, bottled water for the cabin and an invitation to a private cocktail party. It also gave a 50% discount on speciality dining. We ate in Fusion, the Indian themed restaurant twice (stunning food), and also did Chef’s Table, a sumptuous 10 course dinner with wine pairings. Highly recommended. There is also a speciality steak night but I’m not a steak lover so we didn’t try this one. We ate each night in the Waldorf restaurant and the food was excellent. Always hot and good quality with plenty to choose from. I’ve heard complaints that the food could be luke warm but this was never the case in my experience, perhaps these complaints relate to buffet. We only used the buffet a couple of times for lunch as I’m not a fan of self service, but it seemed pretty good to me. As good as any buffet ever gets. The entertainment team were also very good. Some of the shows weren’t my cup of tea so I gave them a miss, but the ones I did see (Broadway, Queen) were very enjoyable. The late night cabaret in the Captains Club was always worth a look too. We’re a couple in our mid-forties and were definitely among the youngest people on the cruise, but I quite enjoyed this. We met some lovely people and had a great time. Things tended to wind down quickly after midnight, but because of the heavy itinerary we weren’t looking for late nights anyway. We did one excursion through CMV – Loch Ness, which was excellent, and booked another independently. In Iceland we took the 8 hour Golden Circle trip with a local tour company for a third of the price of the one on the ship, so I’d recommend doing a bit of research before you go. As it was our first time in Iceland we just went ashore at the other ports and explored on our own. Everything was within walking distance of the ship. Having done a few Royal Caribbean cruises in the last three years, I’d got a bit jaded with their massive ships which are increasingly marketed to families and young kids. They tend to be very noisy and poorly behaved. CMV with it’s adult only policy was exactly what I was looking for this time. I loved this cruise on Magellan and can’t wait to experience her sister ship Columbus in September. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Very dated ship. Mainly elderly passengers. Nothing on during the day except bridge bingo and handicrafts. More like a floating care home. Tour operator extremely unhelpful.. Don't book flam railway through olsen it's a lot ... Read More
Very dated ship. Mainly elderly passengers. Nothing on during the day except bridge bingo and handicrafts. More like a floating care home. Tour operator extremely unhelpful.. Don't book flam railway through olsen it's a lot cheaper to do yourself and there were plenty of seats. Guest service manager very helpful as had to move cabins as extremely noisy. Noticed a lot of cutbacks. Eg no conditioner or body lotion in cabins. However food was outstanding served by Sam and Joe who were brilliant. Entertainment on a night was good. Cocktails seemed mainly fruit juice having been teatotal for 30yrs I thought a few alcoholic drinks would be a change. Strangely there was no effect. Service was fairly quick. The gym in a great position but vastly overheated to dehydration level with one small water fountain pretty hopeless when you have to leave the equipment to get a drink. We are used to having all our baggage taken off us at check in not done in Newcastle they will only take suitcase no suit bags or small cases.which were heavy. Class them as hand luggage. On leaving ship to come home Newcastle is very disjointed. This was my 4 time with olsen and very much my last. Wasn't keen before but Newcastle is near home. Southampton is worth the journey to board a better cruise line cunard is unbeatable and cheaper Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
The ship is lovely and our cabin 4060 was spacious, comfortable and quiet. We had 3 wardrobes - full hanging, half hanging and shelves with safe. Bathroom compact but shower larger than the one on the Marco Polo. The restaurant ... Read More
The ship is lovely and our cabin 4060 was spacious, comfortable and quiet. We had 3 wardrobes - full hanging, half hanging and shelves with safe. Bathroom compact but shower larger than the one on the Marco Polo. The restaurant (Waldorf) was a bit strange to reach from our cabin. You had to go up to deck 9 walk past Captain's Bar, Sinatra's Bar and Tavener's Bar then down to deck 8. The 5 course evening meal had a good choice each night and there was always something I liked to eat. We had a Chocoholic Night one night and Magnifique buffet near the end of the cruise. Both brilliant. We did ship's tours in every port except St.Petersburg (Alla Tour detailed below) and Helsinki - rest day. Dundee and St.Andrews was a wet day. Aarhus and Edeltoft was good and a lovely village to walk round. Warnemunde and Schwerin Castle was good.Tallin was in a small mini bus so saw Upper and Lower Tallin as well as a tour of the area. Stockholm has a lot of road and building work going on so cranes everywhere. This was the only guide who was a bit hard to hear and understand as we think she was Spanish. Our final tour of Copenhagen and Dragar was very good. And Dragar was a lovely old village on the coast. Our visit to St. Petersburg was with Alla Tours and we did the Must See tour. There was 8 in our party and lunch both days was included. First day was 3 courses and second day was 4. Both delicious. Our guide was Katya - a local who was also an English teacher so understanding her was no problem. We were in all the places straight away and in Catherine's Palace the small groups go in through the servant's entrance and tour each room from the right hand side whereas the public and large groups tour on the left and were very crowded. Would highly recommend an independent tour company. When we left the queue apparently was over 40 mins wait in the rain. We visited Church of Spilled Blood, St. Isaac's, The Hermitage (wow), Catherine's Palace, Peterhof Gardens. Also went to the subway and a boat trip. Everything so enjoyable and lovely being in such a small group. Highly recommend anyone to do rather than the large ship tours.St.Petersburg is definitely a MUST SEE and would to have done and seen more. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Having read previous reviews we were worried about going on our first cruise. Please make your own mind up. We live 20 minutes away so embarkation was efficient and quick. No waiting around in airports for hours. Our room was bigger than ... Read More
Having read previous reviews we were worried about going on our first cruise. Please make your own mind up. We live 20 minutes away so embarkation was efficient and quick. No waiting around in airports for hours. Our room was bigger than we expected with plenty wardrobe space, tea and coffee making facilities and as part of our VIP package complimentary wine and several bottles of water. Sepnash our cabin steward was always friendly and cheerful even though he worked extremely hard cleaning our room at least twice a day. We tended to have breakfast in the waldorf restaurant which was always fresh with plenty choice. You didn't even have to make your own toast as there was always someone to do it for you. Lunchtime we tended to eat from the grill bar which was basically chips, burgers and salad. However there were plenty of others places to eat with plenty of variety. Evenings we ate in Kensington restaurant with themed nights including Greek and italian. Daytime entertainment was basic but a quiz at least once a day but for what we paid we couldn't grumble. We went to A few shows which we enjoyed and there was always entertainment on in the other bars including a pianist and duo. We loved Norway with bergen being our favourite destination especially the funicular railway. The views from the top were spectacular. We did the hop on hop off bus but this was a waste of money as we could walk everywhere as bergen is so compact. We booked 2 trips to Glamis castle and Flam railway which were both good. While we were in Flam we visited the micro brewery which we really enjoyed and if you like beer tasting this is well worth a try. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
This is our 5th cruise, the 3rd on the Magellan. We were sent tickets and purple luggage labels, booked for parking at Newcastle. Boarding turned out to be horrendous, something went seriously wrong which CMV blamed on the Port Authority. ... Read More
This is our 5th cruise, the 3rd on the Magellan. We were sent tickets and purple luggage labels, booked for parking at Newcastle. Boarding turned out to be horrendous, something went seriously wrong which CMV blamed on the Port Authority. Eventually on board cabin 5193, right on the stern, deck 5, Baltic. All went well until 2-am, woke up by horrendous noise, props and bearings, followed by every imaginable noise a ship could make at one hour intervals. Phoned reception followed by visit to reception. Asked for change of cabin, refused at that time, was offered a temporary inside 4 berth cabin for the night, we refused that on the grounds we might have to stay there, so no sleep that night. Docking was even worse, continuous noise early morning docked at Dundee, we packed our bags. Visited reception for change of cabin, no can do until boarding has completed. Phoned local Dundee Taxi company for price back to Newcastle, they text me back £350. Waited and waited for info. Eventually told reception that unless we receive a like for like cabin before departure we will leave the ship and CMV can pay for taxi back to Newcastle. This seemed to do the trick and we were offered suitable like for like cabin on the same deck. Sorted and we thanked the staff involved. Day 2 was the start of our cruise, we can put all that happened behind us. New Cabin good, very clean, coffee and tea making facilities in all cabins which is a great bonus, lovely male Steward who was attentive throughout. As a rule we always try and give the Cabin Stewards a break, so making up room does not have to be every day, they are always there if you need them. Food as always very good, we never use the restaurants, that is our choice, we prefer to use the Bistro on deck 10, purely for choice and we can pick our time to eat. Always something there for everyone. Plenty to do and see on the ship on sail days or just relax and socialise. Noticed sick bags out at Dundee and at various other times although the sea was never rough, slight bobbing but gentle all the same. Unusual for us we decided to book shore excursions, we normally do our own thing, but as we had to book Russian excursions we thought what the hell. Actual excursions well organised and a good variety, (very good description of actual excursions so you know what you are letting yourself in for). Excursions are good value for money. All excursions start with a coach journey, this is where we noticed an abnormal amount of coughing. A lot of passengers were complaining of a sore throat. Further into the cruise the problem seemed to get worse, more people coughing, the general consensus was the air conditioning. Up to now we were not affected. We arrived at St Petersburg and disembarked for our excursion, half day at the Hermitage. This is a busy excursion and nonstop once you are in the venue. Two of our party went missing and were found outside, they did not seem well and said they needed air. Back on the ship by afternoon my Wife complained of a sore throat. As seasoned cruiser's we take every kind of medication just in case, so after taking this my Wife settled a bit and it was "carry on cruising". The second day in St Petersburg we were at the Yusipov palace and Waterways. This was a fabulous excursion for anyone going to St Petersburg. However it was marred by increased coughing, by the time we were back on ship it was noticeably worse among the passengers. Also we noticed passengers walking around with cannulas attached. My Wife's condition worsened throughout the day and evening, our own meds were not working. My Wife does suffer from COPD following Lung Cancer three years before. We always visit our G.P. before cruising for "Fit to travel purposes". By late evening things were that bad we had to visit the dreaded Medical Centre (no one wants to end up here). Upon initial assessment my Wife was immediately put on an I.V. Drip with Anti-Biotics (one hour) followed the next morning by another one hour I.V. drip with anti-biotics and face mask nebuliser. This was followed by two further treatments lasting one hour each. Various tests were carried out via a blood test. All tests proved negative. Diagnosis Pneumonia / Chest infection. Whilst these treatments were taking place a lot of other passengers were receiving the same treatment for the same problem, one elderly lady was very bad. This was a very busy Medical Centre. I have to say the care and treatment was first class. Eventually my Wife was discharged, however we were confined to Ship at Stockholm and no arranged Excursion at Alborg (we had a gentle walk here although limited). Elsewhere on the ship this was becoming an epidemic with coughing from every quarter so much so we spent a lot of time in our cabin to avoid the problem. The worse part was in the theatre where you could hardly hear the guest speaker for coughing all around. As far as I know and saw, one chap was airlifted off by Helicopter, he was being treated while my Wife had her last treatment, one person left at Stockholm for emergency operation. We heard of one being left at Russia and one at Alborg. Talking to a passenger (coughing became a talking point) a maintenance team turned up at her cabin to fix the bathroom door, (no problem known to her) however miraculously the door repair yielded a new shower head??? Make of that what you will. By the time we left Alborg my Wife was feeling better, albeit she still had a very sore throat which we treated with hot honey drinks. I have to ask the question. What was lurking aboard the Magellan? I have never known a problem like this on all our other cruises and it was quite worrying. Disembarkation, we were sent two light blue luggage labels the evening before. We came on with purple and guessed this was because of cabin change, light blue also denoted SAGA cruisers. Back to reception and after explanation we were given purple luggage labels (remember the car park), so on the day we disembarked with all the other purples, only to find we were an hour late and that service had ended. We were told we should have had lime green labels (yep I am still working on that one). However CMV were very good and we had a coach and escort back to the car park. Now I said earlier the "dreaded Medical Centre". The final bill for this was £4600.00. Now we have insurance but as with all insurances there ARE RESTRICTIONS AND RIDERS, one of our restrictions is COPD. As the diagnosis was Chest Infection Primary and COPD as secondary we are hoping the insurance passed the treatment as we were allowed to disembark. DO NOT CRUISE WITHOUT FULL INSURANCE. My Wife has visited our G.P. and further blood tests have been taken. She is still unwell and is being monitored. I would like to say that this was a good cruise, but the health issue has left us with no memorable thoughts. Of course the staff were brilliant as always, they all work very hard to please you. Will we cruise again? We have a cruise booked next year on the Marco Polo, but seriously after experiencing what we have just gone through........................... Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
I consider the price we paid for the itinerary, distance travelled, entertainment, drinks package and cabin comfort (superior interior) was far too much. The A/C in the cabin was rubbish we had the setting off the scale and still found it ... Read More
I consider the price we paid for the itinerary, distance travelled, entertainment, drinks package and cabin comfort (superior interior) was far too much. The A/C in the cabin was rubbish we had the setting off the scale and still found it stuffy and through the night it seemed to go off altogether, maybe to save money- so very poor sleep quality. Obviously we reported this and it was supposedly checked out twice and found to meet the required temperatures. It did not meet ours. We were offered another similar cabin which we examined and found to be no different as it was in same vacinity. We spoke to other people on the ship some found theirs too warm and others found theirs too cold. Never had this problem before and have cruised many times. For the price we paid I would have expected a decent pillow to rest my head on but they were obviously job lot and I I awoke every morning with a creek in my neck - there was no bounce back whatsoever. I ended up having to put towels underneath to get some sort of support. Please note you no longer get branded spirit in the basic drinks package so another cut back making FO even less value for money cruise line. Food in general was good and much better than it had been on our last Balmoral cruise, so you can't judge them all by one. Staff were excellent except for one group serving in Ballindalloch at lunch time to whom everything was a bother. Entertainment disappointing - was a bit on the scarce side and very mediocre. The places we visited were so so, except for Kiel canal which unfortunately we could not go through on the way there due to windy conditions. We found there were a lot more very elderly and infirm, disabled passengers on this occasion. Definitely the best part was meeting some very nice people and making friends. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
My wife and I recently took our first cruise. We travelled on Deck 5 in an outer, windowed cabin, on Fred Olsen's Balmoral to the North German ports of Bremen, Hamburg and Kiel dep Newcastle 19 November. To say it was grossly ... Read More
My wife and I recently took our first cruise. We travelled on Deck 5 in an outer, windowed cabin, on Fred Olsen's Balmoral to the North German ports of Bremen, Hamburg and Kiel dep Newcastle 19 November. To say it was grossly disappointing would be to ignore the few highlights, but even they are too few to persuade us to repeat the experience. The worst aspect was the selfish and uncouth behaviour of most of the passengers. Billed as 'adults-only' this should have been subtitled, 'ideal for greedy, self-centred and rude elderly people'. The experience began as soon as we got on board where we discovered what the 'Olsen Regulars' already knew - that the light afternoon tea of finger sandwiches and cakes were laid out self-service style. Because the staff made no attempt to serve the passengers, the Olsen Regulars who charged on board at the first opportunity had emptied the single tray of roast beef sandwiches leaving just the egg mayonnaise and other lesser fillings for the others. Mind, that didn't stop the Olsen Regulars pushing, (actually 'forcing' would be more accurate), their ways past those who boarded later to wreck and largely waste the cake display. So greedy were these people they misused the serving tools and instead of serving themselves a single portion of cake they destroyed one or two others which they left for the lesser mortals behind them and helped themselves to a third or even fourth undamaged cake. I'm told by more experienced travellers that this is normal behaviour on cruise ships, especially Olsen. If so the solution is within the cruise lines' control, ie serve these teas so all passengers get a fair share. Hardly rocket science. It was a coincidence that one of the films showing in the cabins was The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - not only an excellent film but also very apposite. In the open sequences the character played by Dame Maggie Smith explains to an American hotel employee who's just served her a mug with a tea bag and a flask of warm water that 'tea is a dried herb that's brought back to life by infusion in boiling water, not the lukewarm piss you've served'. That's exactly what every cup of tea served on Balmoral tasted like, grey, tepid urine. And the coffee's not much better unless you pay extra for it when they actually use real coffee. Again the solution is within Olsen's control, either teach your staff how to make tea and coffee or subcontract to Costa or Café Nero. Like un-monitored pre-school children, guests were allowed to behave as they wished regardless of the inconvenience they caused other passengers. For instance couples spread themselves and their knitting and newspapers right across a four-seat settee and refused to make space for other passengers wanting to sit down and buy a coffee. Far too many passengers using their own powered wheelchairs used the public areas like raceways to the detriment of everyone else. As we were disembarking at Newcastle the queue refused to budge for one elderly man trying to back out of a lift pulling his wife in a wheelchair, while at the same time another, obese man using a walking stick was trying to force his way into the same lift and complaining volubly because the wheelchair was in his way. God knows how many would have died due the selfish attitudes of passengers towards others if the ship had sunk. Now for some due praise. The cabin service was excellent, flawless. The girls deserve a raise for if anyone comes back it will be in large part due to them. True, the corners of the bathroom could do with steam cleaning with an industrial machine but that's a small point. The serving staff in the Ballindalloch restaurant were also generally excellent and are due similar praise though a little more attention to the cleanliness of glassware wouldn't go amiss. Sadly the quality of the staff didn't extend to the so-called premier restaurants, Spey and Avon. On two days my wife and I took lunch in these restaurants. On the first day we chose self-service, on the second we selected from the menu. That day we shared our table with a courteous and polite solo passenger. After our meal we were offered coffee and all of us accepted. The waiter brought two coffee cups, one saucer and a pot containing half a cup of lukewarm coffee. When we pointed out his omissions the waiter shrugged his shoulders and walked away. Other deficiencies we noticed in these restaurants were that waiters removed plates before diners had fully digested their last mouthful and plates were removed from one diner in a party who had finished eating before the others had completed their meal. There is little point in having an industrial toaster if the waiter operating it pre-toasts the bread and places this hot toast on a plate (albeit inside a napkin) so it's ready cooled for the next customer. This is idiocy. In general the food was adequate though occasionally tastes and flavours were rather too subtle and indiscernible. This comment applies especially to desserts, for instance lime and lemon cream item that's bright coloured but almost flavourless. My wife and I took the speciality Indian meal. We assumed that the kitchen does not include a tandoor oven but that really was no excuse for naan bread tasting more like cake. The spice in the curries was very muted and completely unrepresentative of Indian food that most passengers would know. A very poor extra. We purchased the All-in bar supplement but frankly this was not a good idea. Bar staff served erratic measures and didn't always get the right drink e.g. gin and vodka were often confused. Furthermore they constantly urged passengers to order doubles which obviously saved them work but was in contrast to the rigidly-enforced rule that passengers mustn't be served a second drink was the first is on the table. The maitre d' and the charming couple running the bridge sessions need to get some balls. In the case of the maitre d' it is not acceptable when the majority of passengers have observed the dress code for the two formal nights to have to suffer passengers seated on the same or nearby tables who have refused to conform for their own personal reasons. The code is well published and if any diner doesn't wish to observe it they should be obliged to eat elsewhere. Frankly the dress code is unimportant to the men but a courtesy to the ladies who can choose to dress up a bit if they wish. The same criticism must be levelled at the couple who run the bridge sessions. My wife and I were looking forward to learning to play bridge but our experience was completely spoiled by another couple who turned up at the beginners session despite being very experienced players. Their objective was simply to impress us with their expertise (and conversely our mediocrity) and furthermore to criticise the explanation and teaching being given by the experts. In contrast, although my wife and I were only observers, the dance tutors and hosts performed in an absolutely exemplary manner. They were not only skilled but courteous and polite and frankly a credit to whoever employs them. There is an air of parsimony in many cases throughout the ship. For example, doctors regularly recommend the elderly to drink a litre of water per day. For Olsen to charge £1.50 for a bottle in the cabin shows the company in a very poor light The entertainment offered on-board varied from first-class to puerile. The three headline acts, Geoff Taylor, Andy Eastwood and Paul Broadwood were excellent. The second level entertainers were adequate and Howard Johnson deserves special mention. Adam Reece on the other hand needed to practice. Having said that, playing music for others to talk through is a thankless task. However there is no excuse for the frankly paltry concert party. It was amateur, the singers were often out of tune and frankly Bolton amateur operatic society (with which I have no connection) would have done a better job. A number of guests who had sailed on Balmoral earlier in the season told us they had already seen the concert party performances and they were no better even after practice. If shows are contracted over a season and customers are likely to find themselves seeing the same shows twice or more they should at least be warned. For readers with young children around them the leader was reminiscent of the very talented Mr Tumble - though completely devoid of talent, charm, stagecraft or ability. He couldn't sing either. Although only six piece, the house band in the Neptune lounge was terrific. The same cannot be said of the Lido quartet who needed a considerably wider repertoire. Despite the description printed regularly in the ship's newspaper, Amy Winehouse is not representative of music of the 60s 70s or 80s. The music that was performed was too often music to slit your throat to. Even worse was the indulgence by the Olsen company of the leader of the concert party with a solo performance one evening the purpose of which he was quite open about was to provide him with a video for his CV. Again his comments revealed that his parents and possibly his grandmother were also on board and a number of people sitting near us wondered aloud how much discount they'd received. Of course staff discounts may be extended to their family but I suggest Olsen reviews the publicity staff are allowed to give this perk and treat them in the same way as British Airways staff are required to do, ie don't draw attention to your family. Of course cruise passengers realise that itineraries may have to be varied according to the vagaries of the weather. In our case it required us to remain a second day in Hamburg and all passengers were impressed by the announcement that tickets on the shuttle buses on the second day would be free in contrast to the £5 round-trip ticket charge the day before. The gesture was, of course, completely hollow since the queue to get on a bus into the city involved a 90 minute wait in line on the dockside and a 60 minute wait in the Hamburg street for the return journey. Bearing in mind how many passengers needed walking sticks and other aids the parsimony was a disgrace. You urgently need a competent cruise director who knows that his job is organising things like adequate numbers of buses and not replacing the compere at the Palladium. He needs also to be taught to speak clearly not gabble. Clearly Olsen is terrified of Norovirus. I have no experience of it but I do know that the way you handle the refusal of the captain and his crew to touch passengers even at a formal reception needs a serious review. By all means replace the receiving line with a pleasant, personal welcome and presentation but to word it in the way it was unnecessarily proscriptive. Additionally, on that subject, all the chairs in the dining rooms need a serious cleaning – the wooden arms and lower frames of most chairs were sticky. Again, most of the Dyson hand dryers in the men's toilets need urgent servicing. They only dry the backs of the hands - almost no air comes out of the palm elements. A final note of praise: the selection of films available on the televisions in the cabins was varied and should have appealed to most tastes. Overall, I would define our experience with Fred Olsen lines and Balmoral as a better-than-average holiday camp afloat. It had all the disadvantages of an all-inclusive hotel holiday without the single benefit that you can always walk out the door and into town. On the evidence of this cruise, once you've seen one German port you've seen the lot. We took advantage of the two days in Bremen to take a train to Lübeck and spend a delightful and informative – if a little wet – day in a fascinating city, but this was an exception. Our experience with Fred Olsen has ensured that we shall not be cruising again nor going to the pantomime in Billingham on Teesside where the majority of the concert party have apparently been hired to perform. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
The reason for choosing this cruise were many One the embarkation and disembarkation port was only half hour from home so we did not have any extra travel to join the ship.TwoThe ship Balmoral, we have sailed on this ship in the past and ... Read More
The reason for choosing this cruise were many One the embarkation and disembarkation port was only half hour from home so we did not have any extra travel to join the ship.TwoThe ship Balmoral, we have sailed on this ship in the past and have had a wonderful time . The food,entertainment and ports of call had always been good. The size off the ship was also to our liking, friendly yet spacious but there was always things to keep you occupied whether it be energetic or a quiet spot to do a jigsaw or sit with coffee and loose your self in one of the many books in the very good library. The talks during the day also give a change of interest or where some of the guests took advantage and had a sleep. If you needed help there was always one of crew around willing to give you a hand. We did have a problem with the cabin on this cruise in the shower and the toilet, later we had debris blowing from the ventilation we where offered a change of accommodation but told no guarantee that the same thing would not happen, so we declined. All of the problems were attended to soon after they were reported. We now look forward to our next cruise with Fred Olsen Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
Embarking in Newcastle wasn’t good we were treated like hearded animals, once on board the staff were so friendly they actually made eye contact which is unusual. The ship was very clean, the seats in the communal areas very comfortable ... Read More
Embarking in Newcastle wasn’t good we were treated like hearded animals, once on board the staff were so friendly they actually made eye contact which is unusual. The ship was very clean, the seats in the communal areas very comfortable and clean. The cabin very clean the shower was compact but practical, the bed a single was comfy sheets very clean. The cabin attendant was absolutely brilliant called shwadi top class.The entertainment being an 80’s cruise was very 80’s pink leg warmers beads big hair amazing music the onboard acts were extremely good. Restaurant food amazing well cooked well plated well served. Restaurant staff very attentive extremely knowledgeable about the food, Damnjan Pelivanovic our head waiter was extremely kind and friendly he took time to speak to us all, we deliberately asked for Damnjan each time, this young man will go far within the company. Amsterdam was our first excursion the place was beautiful the architecture first class Brugge was our second excursion again beautiful buildings beautiful shopping but having to get on busses trains and taxis to get into both city centres were expensive. Disembarking in Southampton was smooth. This cruise was over 18’s. Internet was the only disappointment it was expensive. Out of 10 if give it 9.9. Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and were just viewing it as a means of getting to Orkney and Shetland and really were not expecting much. However how wrong we were. We found our inside cabin clean and spacious with a good ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the itinerary and were just viewing it as a means of getting to Orkney and Shetland and really were not expecting much. However how wrong we were. We found our inside cabin clean and spacious with a good sized shower room. The food was excellent and we found the entertainment some of the best we have come across. We have cruised many many times with Cunard, Holland America, Princess, Carnival, Celebrity and Costa always having had either a suite or balcony so feel I am in a position to give an honest review of the Balmoral. We found the size of the Balmoral easy to walk around especially when in heels of an evening. The crew and staff were very friendly and there was none of the hard sell for good reviews from the restaurant staff or the maitre d. The only thing I would change is the disembarkation/embarkation at ports of call. This is the first ship where both have taken place on the same gang plank but I guess this may be due to size. The ports of call - Invergordon, Kirkwall and Lerwick were good and we were blessed with excellent weather. We toured independently and hired a car for the day in Lerwick through Bolts car hire who had car waiting on quay upon ships arrival at a reasonable price. The age range on board was varied and yes there were some people who had mobility issues and how nice it was that they too could enjoy a lovely holiday. I would definitely consider cruising on the Balmoral again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We chose this cruise for its itinerary and the Orkneys and Shetland were great and well worth visiting. We took a shore excursion at Inverness which was informative and well organised by our guide. Check in at Newcastle was fast and ... Read More
We chose this cruise for its itinerary and the Orkneys and Shetland were great and well worth visiting. We took a shore excursion at Inverness which was informative and well organised by our guide. Check in at Newcastle was fast and efficient. We booked an inside superior cabin on Bridge deck and it was OK with a larger than average bathroom. However, there were none of the touches such as hand cream, bath robes or flannels that we've had elsewhere. Just soap in a dispenser! The entertainment was adequate and varied for a short cruise. However, we found the food to be of a very basic standard and without a great deal of variety. Also the waiter service in the bars was very disappointing and more often that not, we had to go to the bar to order. The ship, overall, looks pretty tired and deck furniture definitely needs replacing with loungers showing rust and other signs of wear. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
I’ve always wanted to try a cruise so picked this one as I’ve always wanted to go to the Shetland Islands and it was short so gave us a chance to experience cruising. Arrived on the boat to our very expensive upgraded cabin. Very ... Read More
I’ve always wanted to try a cruise so picked this one as I’ve always wanted to go to the Shetland Islands and it was short so gave us a chance to experience cruising. Arrived on the boat to our very expensive upgraded cabin. Very disappointed. Only soap in a bottle supplied in the bathroom - just like a 3 star hotel. Very small towels. Thick rust round the taps and some black mould round bath. On the plus side, the beds were comfortable and we heard no noise at night. Food was excellent and nothing to complain about there. We didn’t go with the drinks package but the price of drinks was very reasonable and again nothing to complain about there either. Entertainment was aimed at an older generation, dance classes, tea dances and bingo etc. and nothing that I would participate in. In fact I question the amount of disabled people on board if there was an emergency. It would be interesting to see how quickly you were able to get to the lifeboats. There was nothing in terms of entertainment for children and yet there were quite a few on board. We participated in one very expensive shore excursion (£52 each) which was described as a walk through a forest to waterfalls and the description urged walking shoes and suitable clothing. In fact the walk was no more that 30 minutes in total and we spent a lot of that waiting for unfit people to catch up. I suppose the footwear of the guide gave it away really - fashion boots. We then visited a small town which was interesting but all of it could be seen in an hour or less. In Kirkwall we hired bikes for £20 and had a great day. In Lerwick we hired a car for £32 and saw all the area below Lerwick, which was fascinating. The day we were at sea all day was awful and we were bored stiff. We used the gym, which needs updating, for a couple of hours and then read for most of the day. The restaurant boasted a sea food lunch and certainly the display was wonderful but because the ship was busy there were queues for tables and we were shown to a table for 6. I really don’t want to eat with strangers, despite them being very pleasant. Overall I feel that this was very expensive for what you got, especially accommodation. Hopefully I have been fair in this review and maybe when I’m 80 and disabled I might choose to go on another one! Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
Although this ship was recently refurbished (newer furniture and carpeting) it lacks the excitement and character of other cruise lines we've been on (P&O, NCL, RCCL). The entertainment was so-so (think community college theater ... Read More
Although this ship was recently refurbished (newer furniture and carpeting) it lacks the excitement and character of other cruise lines we've been on (P&O, NCL, RCCL). The entertainment was so-so (think community college theater not Vegas-style), the comedian unfunny, and the average passenger age was over 60. We traveled with a well-behaved toddler. Even so most people were friendly (only had one "shushing" in the observatory lounge) and the crew was fantastic. We were bored on our day at sea. Even the older cruisers appeared bored as most just sat in the lounges reading books or iPads. The ports were excellent (Invergordon (Inverness), Kirkwall, and Lerwick) in Scotland but I highly recommend renting your own car and self-touring to save money. We overpaid significantly for a private guided tour from Invergordon. Rent a car and do it yourself (with a guidebook if you want)! You can see the standing stones of Stenness near Kirkwall by taking the public bus for less than 7 quid round-trip! We would only consider going on a Fred Olsen cruise in the future if it improved its on-board activities for families. To leave on a positive note, the drink and spa prices were very reasonable. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We've long wanted to visit Iceland, so this was the perfect choice- sailing out of Newcastle is easier for us than Southampton, and we were on Balmoral the previous autumn, so knew that she was a sturdy little ship, with excellent ... Read More
We've long wanted to visit Iceland, so this was the perfect choice- sailing out of Newcastle is easier for us than Southampton, and we were on Balmoral the previous autumn, so knew that she was a sturdy little ship, with excellent food and service. The itinerary was all Iceland- some cruises add other islands, or Norway, but that's not what we wanted. The check in was simple, and everything is so well organised for you to reach your cabin with ease. The ship has had a refurbishment since our last cruise on her, which included full make over of cabins- ours was spacious and very attractve. In the main dining room, the food was as excellent as last time, when we were able to say that it was the best food we've had on any cruise line- good choices;well served; good ingredients. Because the dining rooms are much smaller than on many ships the noise was minimal; large dining rooms on big ships often are quite noisy. The buffet is small, although we ate there rarely,as there are other options for breakfast and lunch. We did like to go there for a cream scone at tea time! Small ships don't have all the activities of the big ones, but there were plenty of lectures, along with traditional ship board games, quizzes and entertainment.The evening shows were good, with the usual song and dance routines, plus comedians, magicians and musicians. The lat time we were on Balmoral,it was an adult only cruise- this time, being in the middle of the summer holidays, there were some children cruising- perhaps 30 or so, and they always seemed to be busy with their leaders. Iceland itself was absolutely wonderful, from the long sail past the glacier, volcano and Westman Islands on the evening before arrivng at Reykjavk, to the final sailing down the last fjord, whale watching. There was a commentary for all these times, explaining much of what we were seeing,or what had happened in the past (Eyjafjallajokull eruption; Heimaey life; whale spotting). We took the cruise for the itinerary, but the ship was also a pleasant part of that itinerary. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
This was for me, a rare opportunity to visit Orkney, Shetland and Lewis and I was not disappointed. The ship was as excellent as expected (I have grown to love Balmoral) and the itinerary wonderful. Wonderful restaurant and bar staff, ... Read More
This was for me, a rare opportunity to visit Orkney, Shetland and Lewis and I was not disappointed. The ship was as excellent as expected (I have grown to love Balmoral) and the itinerary wonderful. Wonderful restaurant and bar staff, good choice of vegetarian food and everyone very friendly, as always expected from Fred. I particularly enjoyed the visits to the ancient archaeological sites on each of the islands we visited, which gave a really good insight into how people lived thousands of years ago. In Kirkwall we took a DIY excursion by taxi and our Driver Kenny was wonderful, full of enthusiasm for his homeland and giving every bit as good an experience as a professional tour guide. In Shetland we had the very cheerful Melvyn, who has such a gleeful personality that our time there just flew by. I cannot wait for my next cruise with Fred. - next Spring! Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
A bit of a mixed bag. We had been on Balmoral before and it was not as good this time. Superficially the cabin appeared spotless but there was a large accumulation of dirt under the beds and it obviously had not been cleaned for a long ... Read More
A bit of a mixed bag. We had been on Balmoral before and it was not as good this time. Superficially the cabin appeared spotless but there was a large accumulation of dirt under the beds and it obviously had not been cleaned for a long time. The water in the bathroom was seldom more than lukewarm and ran very slowly. The shaver points were hanging off the wall. The toilet paper was thin and poor quality. The TV picture kept breaking up because of "incompatibilty with the onboard transmitting equipment". The beds and pillows were comfortable. We were booked on the 2030 dinner sitting by Fred, we didn't ask for it. This was far too late for us so we asked the maitre d' if we could change to 1830. He told us there were over 200 people wanting to change and he couldn't do anything for us. From an earlier review it seems that if money had changed hands a change would have been possible. As it was we had little choice but to eat in the self-service buffet every night, not exactly a prime dining experience. The food was generally quite good with a large choice. The coffee, however, was very poor indeed, almost totally lacking in flavour. Cups and glasses were often less than clean, with lipstick or stains on them. We found the waiters to be very offhand, bordering on surly, with a lack of manners in many cases. The waitresses, whom we encountered only in the Neptune Lounge, were better, with the odd exception. The Captain's cocktail party was a farce. It consisted of walking past the captain and officers at the entrance to the Neptune Lounge (a theatre), getting a free drink, the captain speaking for a couple of minutes, a few words from a sample of crew members, and that was it. Hardly a party. The entertainment was of mixed quality. The onboard company of singers and dancers worked hard and were very good across the piece. The "guest" classical pianist was excellent, the guitarists less so, often playing obscure material. The comedian was excellent. The pianist in the Observation Lounge seemed to simply tinkle away tunelessly in a totally disinterested manner on the occasions we went up there in the afternoons. The trio in the Bar were wasted; they were far far better than the inconsequential material they were required to play. The tours provide by Fred were, as always, grossly overpriced and exceptionally poor value for money. Doing-it-yourself, using local transport etc was far far cheaper and enabled close contact with local people, who were unfailingly helpful. The port call at Invergordon, a very small town, was clearly settled upon as a prime opportunity for Fred to sell his tours as there was very little to do there. On the way back to Newcastle (North Shields in reality) we left Lerwick in the Shetlands at 2300 on a Friday. We arrived at North Shields at 0600 on Sunday two days later, a journey of 31 hours doing approx 10 knots. It would surely have been possible to leave Lerwick earlier, call in at another port on the Saturday, perhaps Aberdeen, sailed a little faster than a crawl and still get into North Shields in time for a turnaround for the next departure. It felt very much like a wasted Saturday, and a missed opportunity. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Always wanted to visit the Scottish Islands and this cruise gave us a great taste of what was available should we want to go back for longer visits. We took one of the organised trips but for the rest of the time opted to do our own ... Read More
Always wanted to visit the Scottish Islands and this cruise gave us a great taste of what was available should we want to go back for longer visits. We took one of the organised trips but for the rest of the time opted to do our own thing. As always we were very well looked after by the staff. The staff in the restaurants were attentive and always willing to help. The food was excellent, we used the buffet for breakfast and lunch, when on board and the Ballindalloch Restaurant for fixed dining in the evenings. Staff in the bars were also very good and always on hand. The evening entertainment was most enjoyable and of a high standard and there was always something to do during the days at sea. Interesting talks and recitals. We were more than happy with our room which was very comfortable and larger than we had expected. Overall, an excellent experience which we look forward to repeating hopefully soon!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Absolutely no disrespect meant to elderly people but this cruioplpse had a lot of partially disabled elderly people on board bless them I admire the fact that they can still get out and about Getting on and off the ship was not easy not ... Read More
Absolutely no disrespect meant to elderly people but this cruioplpse had a lot of partially disabled elderly people on board bless them I admire the fact that they can still get out and about Getting on and off the ship was not easy not enough wheelchairs, a stepped gangway, Dropping anchor in open water and getting on off a tender in ruff water again not easy. Mooring at a pier that could not handle sufficient transport for people to get off with only one gangway. In the unlikely event of an emergency I could see things going wrong. 3/4 hr late getting off ship to go on a shore tour which had to be cut short, disappointing Cabin not as described in all the literature They didn't send suitable transport to either pick the disabled person up from home or drop back home another 3/4 hr wait on pier with no facilities Time ashore was to short Having said that the crew, service,food and entertainment on board were with out doubt excellent. You could pick your own evening meal times Breakfast lunch and supper were available in other restaurants. Entertainment throughout the ship with a full stage and several acts. Many of the bars had singers and television. Internet throughout the ship but it was expensive. Two formal black tie evenings And one meet the Captain night Both very good. You must use the hand sanitizer on entering and leaving most areas of the ship to reduce risk of infection this is not because the ship is dirty it’s very clean and well decorated Cabin was made up every morning and beds turned down every evening I didn’t use the fitness areas Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We chose this cruise on Discovery partly because we wanted to sample one of TUI's newer ships as they're finally retiring Marella Spirit later this year and because we wanted to visit Iceland. We had read numerous reviews ... Read More
We chose this cruise on Discovery partly because we wanted to sample one of TUI's newer ships as they're finally retiring Marella Spirit later this year and because we wanted to visit Iceland. We had read numerous reviews about Discovery prior to the commencement of our trip and the seemingly general negativity of a fair number of those reviews concerned us. We are pleased to say that we needn't have been too concerned. It is almost always possible to find things that displease you anywhere and there were some things that didn't appeal to us but having some previous experience of the service trade we try to keep an open mind. We arrived at Newcastle as early as we could without staying nearer to Newcastle the previous night. Unfortunately England's World Cup quarter final appearance probably gave a goodly majority of our fellow passengers a similar idea so that they could see the match once on board. As a result we had an extended wait to finalise the documentation that would let us board. We're not football fans so the match was of no real import to us so we headed for the first eatery that we came to for something to eat. Unfortunately we either found the wrong place - not uncommon for us - or all the eateries had stopped serving lunch. We did manage to find something and afterwards took a whirlwind self propelled (and self guided) tour of the ship. At first glance it certainly seemed big. Our fear that the friendly nature of the on board staff that we enjoy so much on Spirit was non-existent soon proved unfounded as virtually every member of staff that we encountered from the moment we embarked until the moment that we dis-embarked went out of their way to be friendly. There are some things that we were overly fond of but that is down to our personal preferences and it is humanly impossible for something as big as Marella Discovery to be all things to all people at all times. We also recognise that there will be occasions when even the things that we like aren't as good as they could be. We're not ones to sample each activity that is provided and generally kept ourselves to ourselves. However, we did attend nearly all of guest lecturer Cliff Jones's presentations, we didn't miss a show in the Broadway Show lounge and we tried to partake of the after lunch trivia quiz when we could. we generally spent the rest of our time either ashore, where we didn't wander too far from the ship (or for too long) or were in our cabin reading. There were some of the shows that didn't appeal to us but the majority did. That is not to say that any show was below par, without virtually any exception they weren't. The show team take full advantage of the larger stage and the extra depth thereof with the opportunities for changes of scenery during shows taken full advantage of. This was our first experience with TUI/Thomson/Marella of an English Captain and many of the senior staff. The ongoing interaction between the Captain and Cruise Director appealed to our sense of humour although we believe that one guest voiced an exception to it - one out of eighteen hundred plus - isn't bad! There were times when we had to share (or seek to share) a table in Islands - the buffet area - but we never had a problem being seated quickly nor did we have to make use of the open deck seating areas instead. Our cabin was compact and clean. Alright it wasn't spotless or as new but it was OK for us. We had to report a rattling balcony deck door that was soon quietened (we presume with a large hammer on the metal work!) once we reported it. There were a few other "niggles" that we chose to accept rather than report so subsequent users of the cabin can blame us for not reporting them rather than blame the staff for not mending them. We'd actually prefer staff not to routine open each door and drawer on a daily basis to see if it still works but how else do they discover these problems if they're not reported by guests. there's only so many spare parts that a cruise liner can carry! We chose not to take advantage of most of the tours so can't comment on them and we had no complaints about the two tours that we did do. We weren't too happy about missing the (paid for) ship's tour but that was down to us not staking our claim to a position on the tour early enough. We could go on but whatever we might write would certainly be mostly positive. Would we cruise on Discovery again? Too right and once all our (crew) friends on Spirit isn't there to accommodate us any more we'll certainly be looking to try each of Marella's newer ships although we beginning to run out of ports that we haven't visited given that we won't venture too far from the mother land because we don't find long flights comfortable. We won't give the ship or the cruise 100% for everything as that is virtually impossible to achieve but we'll certainly give them 100% for trying their hardest to make the cruise a pleasant experience for all their guests. It is a pity that the scores on the doors aren't out of 10 or 20 as dropping one point is only a 5 or 10% reduction, whereas dropping one point out of 5 is 20% down and too harsh. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We decided on a cruise around Britain departing on the 7th April for my partners birthday on the 19th when we returned home .I have to say we were very- very disappointed with every aspect except the cabin as it was spacious for a small ... Read More
We decided on a cruise around Britain departing on the 7th April for my partners birthday on the 19th when we returned home .I have to say we were very- very disappointed with every aspect except the cabin as it was spacious for a small ship .The food was like a load of cardboard at breakfast in the upstairs bistro ( if you could obtain a seat ) often undercooked and only warm with no small yogurts only in dishes with no indication as to the content even in the restaurant it was a bit hit and miss as you sat any where as a lot of the fellow passengers seemed reluctant to talk as only the Americans & Canadians seemed chatty as the class structure is still alive . At night in the allocated restaurant the servers were very surly with very small helpings and often only warm as my partner sent hers back nearly every time compared to other ships it was very poor more like a cross channel ferry . As for the entertainment it did not last even an hour with passengers saving seats often rows of them so only the poorest seats available with no interaction with the crew as I did mention the seat situation but it was met with deaf ears .Talking of the crew we noticed that there was very poor communication skills as I did not meet one British person wearing a uniform it seemed the norm just to laugh at the passengers and they would go away. There are better cruise companies and ships so do your home work. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018

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