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5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 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
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2019
Always wanted to see the Fjords and this ship seemed like a good size to experience this .We has a good midship cabin near to lifts etc . the dining onboard we could not fault exceptional . The shows were all very good the service of bar ... Read More
Always wanted to see the Fjords and this ship seemed like a good size to experience this .We has a good midship cabin near to lifts etc . the dining onboard we could not fault exceptional . The shows were all very good the service of bar staff and restaurant staff again excellent . The only complaint we had that our drinks package which we paid for did not include Sherry yet its cheaper to buy than Whisky Gin etc which was included . Maybe this could be reviewed before we book another cruise with this line . We were very happy with our ports and shore excursions all picture postcard and beautiful and the courier information very educational . There were lectures given in the Theatre also about the ports which helped people decide which they wanted to do . We will travel again .Hope she can get her Sherry . Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2019
Been with Fred before and loved the friendliness of the staff, the food, the service and the Balmoral is not too massive and plenty of room to sit and relax. The excursions were very disappointing. This is not a cruise for wheel chair ... Read More
Been with Fred before and loved the friendliness of the staff, the food, the service and the Balmoral is not too massive and plenty of room to sit and relax. The excursions were very disappointing. This is not a cruise for wheel chair users. Malmo had many cobbled streets which make it very hard for the pusher and very uncomfortable for the sitter. It was a bank holiday so 90% of the shops were closed and the town is dull and uninteresting. Visby was even worse and almost impossible for wheelchair users to get around. Stockholm was OK and visits to the Abba museum and the Varsa museum well worth it. \but yet again, the city is nothing to write home about. We went on the evening city tour and the guide really struggled to tell us anything of interest and the cost 04 £48 per person was ridiculous for a 2 hour coach ride. And so to Gothenberg where all museums and the fish market close on Mondays. We took a hop on hop off bus ride around the city and stayed on the whole tour as there were absolutely no places of interest. So the itiniery was very poorly arranged given the closure of shops, museums etc. The staff on the Balmoral are just brilliant. They are mainly from the Phillipines, Thailand and India. They remember your names and what you normally drink, how you like it etc within a few hours. They are always smiling and so helpful. The embarkation was quick and efficient but the disembarkation was a shambles. There were a few good evening shows and some good entertainment in and around the bars. All in all, a disappointing experience not helped by awful weather but we will sail with Fred again Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 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
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
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
5 Helpful Votes
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
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Mainly itinerary and the time of year, less crowded places. Embarkation swift and efficient at the Port of Tyne. Very lucky with the weather for the time of year apart from Gothenburg and Helsinki. The food was of good quality and ... Read More
Mainly itinerary and the time of year, less crowded places. Embarkation swift and efficient at the Port of Tyne. Very lucky with the weather for the time of year apart from Gothenburg and Helsinki. The food was of good quality and varied, breakfast lunch and dinner. Service in the bars and restaurants was excellent although a little slow in the self service cafe. The crew and staff always seemed happy and smiling, friendly and efficient. Cabin although on deck 3 was adequate with plenty of wardrobe and drawer space, comfortable beds and a good shower. The two shore excursions we took in St. Petersburg were excellent with very knowledgeable guides. All other ports we explored by ourselves and found that easy using the maps provided. We only experienced two shows , one of which was the crew show, very enjoyable. We really loved the whole experience and booked while on board for next year. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2018
Its been 14 years since we did a Fred Olsen Cruise as we have mainly sailed with 5 Star Cruise Lines, but this cruise was from the Tyne and a short 15 minute taxi ride from our home and visiting some ports we had not visited before. So we ... Read More
Its been 14 years since we did a Fred Olsen Cruise as we have mainly sailed with 5 Star Cruise Lines, but this cruise was from the Tyne and a short 15 minute taxi ride from our home and visiting some ports we had not visited before. So we thought we would give them a try. So glad we did! Balmoral although an older ship is remarkably well maintained, far better than some lot newer ship we have travelled on. Staff service and friendliness leaves most other lines trailing in thier wake, Good food particulary in the Avon Restaurant and Made and Mark our waiters made this cruise. Weather was very good with only lght rain in Gothenburg and low lying mist in Helsinki all other ports fine a sunny and autuum colours in trees especially in St. Petersburg a real treat. We did our own thing in most ports but in Copenhagen and on the Evening in St.Petersburg we did Fred Olsen Tours, during the 2 days in St.Peterburg we did a independent small group tour with Cruising Excursions all tours were very good. Will we sail with Fred Olsen again ? YES and we will not be waiting another 14 years. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2018
We have travelled with Fred. Olsen several times before but never on this, their flagship. Chosen for the itinerary and because it was a special event with all 4 Fred.Olsen ships meeting in Cadiz, a good place to visit. That was a very ... Read More
We have travelled with Fred. Olsen several times before but never on this, their flagship. Chosen for the itinerary and because it was a special event with all 4 Fred.Olsen ships meeting in Cadiz, a good place to visit. That was a very good day if a bit overcrowded. Very nice ship which probably was not seen at the best time, as it was full and so you could not get into the various events and there was always a struggle to find a sunbed or even seat inside. The average service may also have been due to the fact that the ship was full and waiters particularly were very stretched. On late sitting we were often eating until 10.30pm -too late for most people. However even when it was quiet, the bar waiters were very slack and we often went to the bar ourselves after waiting 5-10 minutes to be served. However my main complaint was that as a gluten free passenger my food choices and places to eat were limited, and this appeared to be acceptable to the senior management to whom I complained. I was even told that it was just a fad introduced by the Americans. Would therefore not recommend it if you are gluten free, unless you want to lose weight! Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
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
3 Helpful Votes
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
4 Helpful Votes
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
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 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
2 Helpful Votes
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
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
Picked this cruise as it was our three special birthdays the staff on the embarkation car parking were fantastic.We were embarked quickly and smoothly,the staff in all departments were fantastic,food was always well presented and tasty.The ... Read More
Picked this cruise as it was our three special birthdays the staff on the embarkation car parking were fantastic.We were embarked quickly and smoothly,the staff in all departments were fantastic,food was always well presented and tasty.The ship was always clean,our room was spotless.Only downside was we had to get a triple room as the single supplement was not good,it was a pull down bed with a very bad ladder which my daughter had trouble getting up so decided to put the mattress on the floor.But as i have said the service in the restaurant was first class the staff were very attentive nothing was any trouble,some times the staff on the observation deck were hit and miss if you sat away from the bar area they would come round and ask if you wanted a drink and then after being served didn’t come round for a while,the other bars kept coming round. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We always go from Port of Tyne as it makes such an easy start to the holiday. I am slightly disabled and we have two autistic grandchildren and the crew and staff on Balmoral do everything the can to make the cruise perfect. We have been ... Read More
We always go from Port of Tyne as it makes such an easy start to the holiday. I am slightly disabled and we have two autistic grandchildren and the crew and staff on Balmoral do everything the can to make the cruise perfect. We have been on three cruises and each one has been wonderful. The food is great, the entertainment first class and our rooms are so comfortable. There is plenty to do for the children, who love the quizzes and shows in the evening. My only complaint is that although we have an allocated table in the evening breakfast and lunch is a bit of a free for all, and our allocated restaurant became a bit of a nightmare for the children, who find crowds and noise quite difficult to cope with. Apart from this, I cannot fault Fred Olsen and compliment him on a really well run organisation. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We have cruised for many years but not with this line. I have to say this cruise was amazing from check in to check out. The staff could not have been more helpful, pleasant and funny. Our cabin 5141 was a little outdated, but was kept ... Read More
We have cruised for many years but not with this line. I have to say this cruise was amazing from check in to check out. The staff could not have been more helpful, pleasant and funny. Our cabin 5141 was a little outdated, but was kept immaculate. We ate in the Palm Café (self service) the food was lovely and there was always a good selection. The entertainment team were amazing (Mike is a dark horse) and the comedian that came on board Brenda hilarious. I cannot say enough about the shore excursions as they were wonderful and the staff from the ship so helpful if required. We didn't do many of the activities but what we did was good fun. The crew were great and nothing was too much trouble. Would I travel with Fred again, Absolutely we've been with P and O and all the rest, but Fred Olsens is personal with very little technology and plenty of smoking areas , a ship line that doesn't make a smoker feel guilty at wanting a cigarette on holiday. Well done Fred Olsens. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We chose the Fred Olsen Cruise Line and especially the Balmoral because it could cruise right up into the fiords that we wanted to see. Some of the larger cruise lines cannot do this. Excellent food and service in the Ballindalloch ... Read More
We chose the Fred Olsen Cruise Line and especially the Balmoral because it could cruise right up into the fiords that we wanted to see. Some of the larger cruise lines cannot do this. Excellent food and service in the Ballindalloch restaurant. Especially from our waiters Pat & Anthony. Excellent service in the Observation Lounge where we spent evenings drinking a cocktail before dinner especially our waiter Charpet. Captain Rommel Pineda always stopped for a friendly word & the same with Simon the entertainment officer. That also goes for any other staff that we met on our daily walk around the Balmoral. They always had a smile on their face & said hello or good morning or good evening. We will definitely be happy to cruise with Fred Olsen on the Balmoral again. And we would certainly recommend the Fred Olsen Cruise line to any of our friends who are thinking of booking a cruise. Read Less
9 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2018
We had always wanted to see the Norwegian Fjords and had never cruised before, so took the plunge and booked the 6 night cruise from Newcastle. We were lucky enough to get the all inclusive deal at the time we booked. The trip was ... Read More
We had always wanted to see the Norwegian Fjords and had never cruised before, so took the plunge and booked the 6 night cruise from Newcastle. We were lucky enough to get the all inclusive deal at the time we booked. The trip was amazing. The ship is lovely, not a glistening modern one but really classy - a wide variety of nice bars, lounges, snugs, library - plenty places to sit quietly. The food was truly amazing - buffet breakfasts and lunches were really good - and the five course meal at night in our restaurant (The Avon) was exceptional, very good quality food and variety. The service was really good - all waiter service for drinks. The crew are mainly Asian, and their standards of service are so professional, and, very friendly. Our cabin had everything we could have wanted in it - we had a superior inside cabin on the Lido Deck 8. The Fjords are a sight to be seen, and the commentary and opportunities to see things as we sailed was perfect. The ship is probably geared more towards the older client, although there were a range of ages on board. We didn't see much entertainment but the singer/guitarist in the Morning Light bar was very, very good and played a range of music to appeal to most age groups. I honestly cannot recommend this cruise highly enough - for the money that we paid, it was truly amazing value, far above what we had expected - a 5 star experience. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2018
This was our very first Cruise I have to say from start to finish it was excellent, We arrived at the port where our bags were taken from us and never saw them till we got to our cabin. we checked in and with in 10 mins we were through ... Read More
This was our very first Cruise I have to say from start to finish it was excellent, We arrived at the port where our bags were taken from us and never saw them till we got to our cabin. we checked in and with in 10 mins we were through security and on the ship.we were on deck 8 Superior inside cabin and we were very happy with it. The food at all meal times were excellent, we chose to have our evening meals in the Avon Restaurant and the staff were first class. There is plenty to do on board if you don't want to get off at any of the ports. We mainly had our drinks in the Marquee Bar on the top deck very friendly and customer focused. Entertainment was also good, a great holiday which I would recommend to anyone the scenery was amazing weather was mixed apart from one day when it never stopped raining. We did the Funicular ourselves it cost £5 each to go up as we walked back down which I would recommend if your able. We then went to find the Ice Bar which cost us £19 each it was good fun and worth going in. We bought the tickets for the Flam Railway off Fred Olsen and I would advise to do this as your seats are reserved for you and well worth doing. All of the Ports that we stopped at were expensive to buy anything but really worth looking round the shops, you can do your own thing plenty to see and do. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
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
1 Helpful Vote
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
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
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 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
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: July 2018
The ship was great the embarkation was good and the disembarkation was a very smooth operation and crew could not do enough for us. I could not fault the quality or quantity of food on board and the entertainment was really good. There was ... Read More
The ship was great the embarkation was good and the disembarkation was a very smooth operation and crew could not do enough for us. I could not fault the quality or quantity of food on board and the entertainment was really good. There was also a well equipped gym and many treatment rooms. There was plenty of information in the cabin and the Daily Times news letter was very helpful. The Cabin was clean and comfortable with more than enough storage for the two of us the. Great cruise only let down by what I would call the incompetence of the shore tour people, it seems the lack of communication between ship and shore made us nearly miss the transfer bus to the helicopter flight (it was driving off as we got to the gate) and at £250 each for my nephew and myself would have been very disappointing to say the least. Read Less
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