54 Newcastle (England) Senior Cruise Reviews

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
After many cruises with Thomson on Emerald,Celebration and number one Spirit, we decided to see what a “new “ ship was like. One out of 5 is good. Newcastle was waiting for 2 hours after 4 hours of driving. (We were lucky- others much ... Read More
After many cruises with Thomson on Emerald,Celebration and number one Spirit, we decided to see what a “new “ ship was like. One out of 5 is good. Newcastle was waiting for 2 hours after 4 hours of driving. (We were lucky- others much longer. This is not the first time - see reviews. Access to ship far too steep - why not a lower deck? Outside cabin ok but continual noise all night as ceiling panels vibrating so noisy - new ship? Seatings a problem everywhere - lounge, market place, indigo and theatre. Food fair in market place and 53. Found vista for last 2 days - much better. Staff in restaurants don’t seem to be allowed to be part of your holiday - Spirit was fun- Explorer dead pan waiters. Shows poor quality- team worked hard but material terrible - what was cogs all about? Far too loud-too much visual effects and flashing lights. Oh, Spirit was 10 out of 10. Did not participate in any of the daily activities other than walking ourselves around the deck! Days at sea were dead - why no speaker - why no play by show team? Met some of our old Spirit team - Spirit is still their ship- no further comment required. Out of control is the “show your appreciation to the magnificent crew” - how many times were we asked to applaud? Leaving the ship was just as bad. Group 8 had 1000 leaving at same time to queue, get transfer bus and finally find luggage. WHY not make groups of 300 max. So view of Marella is that they have totally lost the Thomson “spirit” that made cruising so enjoyable. Sorry Marella but it’s goodbye from us 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
Liked the look of the cruise itinerary, and departing from Newcastle is more convenient and an easier port to get to than other ports. Booked an executive suite which are supposedly the best cabins on board and are on deck 10. Bad ... Read More
Liked the look of the cruise itinerary, and departing from Newcastle is more convenient and an easier port to get to than other ports. Booked an executive suite which are supposedly the best cabins on board and are on deck 10. Bad decision. Must say the cabin is spacious and well furnished BUT the inescapable element is constant noise from the deck above. We noticed it initially during the first day, noise of furniture being moved and scraped along the deck. The first night we were woke at 5am, then at 1.30am second night. It appears the deck was being cleaned which needed furniture to be moved. Formally complained in writing, no one responded and had a third night of disturbed sleep. Altogether had to complain 3 times to the “hotel manager”, not impressed at all with the response. The cruise was spoiled by the noise as it is a constant irritant when in the cabin, even during the day. A number of other issues occurred such as on embarkation we were told there was an IT problem which meant long queues while dropping off luggage in the car park and within the terminal building. Luggage was not unloaded on time from the ship after disembarkation, again huge queues in the car park whilst fork lift trucks were coming and going delivering suitcases. The food generally in the restaurants is adequate, not of a high quality. Got the feeling that some of the crew were very inexperienced, and required further training. Overall, it is downmarket, it was a bad experience and will not be going anywhere near a Marella ship again. 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
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
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
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
Sail Date October 2018
We enjoyed our cruise and found the cruise itinerary to be very good, & found the ship to be spotless. The cleaning crew work very hard to keep every part of the ship gleaming. We always ate in the buffet restaurant and found ... Read More
We enjoyed our cruise and found the cruise itinerary to be very good, & found the ship to be spotless. The cleaning crew work very hard to keep every part of the ship gleaming. We always ate in the buffet restaurant and found the food selections to be generally good. We found the Buffet Restaurant staff very courteous, polite & efficient, always smiling. The Buffet Restaurant could be a bit chaotic at times due to a shortage of tables when the ship was full, but this is mainly due to some guests hogging tables after they had finished their meals. I saw some guests using tables to read their Ships Newspaper, or hugging a cup of tea for an endless amount of time, which is most unfair to other guests when the restaurant is busy. It would also be nice if some guests tried to dress a bit smarter. I know we are all on holiday to relax, but surely an effort could be made to dress at least smart casual, instead of ragged shorts & tee shirts or jogging bottoms, there’s a happy medium. We had a Deluxe Balcony Cabin, 6628 & was happy with the cabin, it was very spacious with lots of storage space & all cabins have complimentary coffee & tea making facilities. Also provided in all of the cabins is a glass carafe to enable guests to fill up from water dispensers dotted around the ship, a good idea for those who don’t want to buy bottled water from their cabin Minibar. Our cabin also had a fridge. One bar of soap & 1 dispenser with body wash is provided in the shower room, but if you require a shower cap, you will need to take your own. Large fluffy bath sheets, handtowels & face cloths are provided. However, one disadvantage we had was, our balcony was directly above the crews smoking area & we experienced quite a bit of cigarette smoke while using our balcony, as we are both non-smokers, this experience was not nice for us. We also very often experienced loud noise coming from the same crew area, late at night, however, if you stay out late watching the entertainment, that may not affect you. I don’t know how the ship could get around that problem, as I realise the crew needs somewhere to have a break. Our Cabin Stewart Imelda, provided an excellent service. On the day of our Wedding Anniversary, Imelda had spotted our Wedding Anniversary cards to each other in our cabin, & she then made 2 towel swans with the necks shaped into a heart & placed them on our bed with our cards placed in front. When we returned to our cabin & saw what she had done, we thought that was a lovely & very thoughtful gesture for her to make, we were extremely pleased. We found all the stewards on deck 6 to be very friendly. Every time we passed them, they were always smiling & passed the time of day with us & shared a little joke with us too, so much so, we almost felt like mini celebrities! In the Broadway Show Lounge, most evenings we were served by Tetyana & we found her to be an absolute delight. She was very efficient, friendly & helpful & always remembered what drinks we preferred. The entertainment was good & the Show team did very well. However, although the Show team performed very well, we found that some of the shows were not to our taste, for example, Best of Broadway, Medieval Madness & Legends Live. We also thought that some of the interactive screens in the background tended to be distracting, we were watching the screen instead of the Show team, especially through Medieval Madness. Our favourite shows were Mr Wonderful & Sebby Mercury, we thought them excellent. We also frequented Venue on deck 5 most evenings & found the game shows enjoyable & the surroundings very comfortable. The entertainment team did their very best to ensure guests had fun. The bar waiters very pleasant & efficient & did a good job serving drinks to everyone. We found excursion advisor, Lindsay to be very helpful & efficient. When we had a problem at the destination kiosk, due to the required tour not showing on the system, Lyndsey did not hesitate to come to our aid & assist us & booked our tour manually in the back office. Lynsey also demonstrated on how to use the Kiosks. The excursion Legendary Town, Legendary Beer in Tallinn, was a superb tour with 2 excellent guides, providing great value for money, it’s one of the best excursions we have ever done. By comparison, the Carlsberg tour in Copenhagen we thought was poor. Warnemunde & Oslo were also very picturesque & well worth a visit. The excursions information was not quite accurate for St Petersburg. Spilled Blood Tour listed as Moderate & we think should be listed as Active as it was a very tiring tour. Also, it was not described as a walking tour in the itinerary & we did lots of walking which may not be suitable for some guests. The Hermitage building is very beautiful and full of wonderful works of art; however, it was so crowded, it was difficult to see exhibits properly. On the Carlsberg tour in Copenhagen, at the Little Mermaid stop, we acquired 2 extra passengers on our coach as our guide did not do a head count. When we got to the Carlsberg Brewery, the 2 passengers told the guide they had got on our coach thinking it was their shuttle bus! I don’t think these 2 passengers actually paid anything when they carried on the tour with the rest of us. The guide Jane, also only told us her name at the end of the tour when we were near the ship. I think she needs a bit more training. On embarkation day, when we arrived early at the Port of Tyne, it was wet & windy & seemed a bit disorganised. We drove to the car park & were told to remove our luggage & wait for someone to instruct us next. We waited quite a while only to be told to cross to the other side of the large car park & wait in a queue at a shed. We then received our documents & got on a coach. 2 passengers were rushing behind also to board our coach when our driver drove off, even though there were still vacant seats on the coach. We got through the check in at the terminal very efficiently, but when we left the terminal, we were waiting in another queue as it was discovered the passenger gangplank was to small & had to be changed. It would have perhaps been better to leave the passengers in the terminal till everything was sorted properly. After we boarded the ship, on past experience, we have always been taken to our cabin by a member of the crew. However, on this cruise, we found our own way to our cabin. There was however, members of crew stationed on various decks pointing directions should any guests get lost. On our return to the Port of Tyne on disembarkation day, there was a delay of half an hour in leaving the ship due to the volume of traffic. When left the ship, we were required to board a bus to the car park. When we got to the car park, nobody actually advised us where to collect our luggage. We had to watch other passengers & hope we were going in the correct direction. It would have been better if the Port staff could perhaps have given a bit more direction to help stop confusion. We did a Baltic Cruise from the Tyne in May 2014 on the Thomson Spirit & the organisational system was better at the Port of Tyne at that time. Perhaps they could review how they can carry out the procedures. We found all the crew that we came in contact with to be very friendly, courteous & polite. They are a credit to Tui & Marella Cruises Read Less
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
Sail Date August 2018
We booked this cruise very late and were not sure what to expect after reading some of these reviews. Well we can honestly say that you shouldn't pay any attention to the negative reviews. This ship is excellent value for money, kept ... Read More
We booked this cruise very late and were not sure what to expect after reading some of these reviews. Well we can honestly say that you shouldn't pay any attention to the negative reviews. This ship is excellent value for money, kept spotlessly clean, all the staff we had contact with were good, decent food and the all important decent drinks included on the all-inclusive package. No need to upgrade to the premium unless you only drink a certain brand. All the most popular spirits are included and the cocktail list was the most comprehensive we have come across in our many years of all-inclusive holidays ( particularly the rum based ones- it was nice to have a few more than Pina colada ). As we had booked late the only rooms available were inside cabins, we have never stayed in an inside cabin before so were a bit apprehensive but we were pleasantly surprised in how spacious the room was. It wasn't a bit claustrophobic the only problem is that you can't see what the weather is doing or the temperature outside. The room was well serviced by the cabin staff and included a few towel animals. Shower was a bit on the small side but we coped and didn't flood the bathroom floor. Liked that there were water dispensers available on certain decks to fill up your kettle as we didn't want to drink the water from the tap. We tried all the restaurants except the Surf and Turf which was a bit expensive. The Kora ora ( Asian ) was lovely with a great view. Gallery 47 ( the Italian ) was the one we used mostly at dinner and used the buffet restaurant for breakfast and lunch. We never had a bad meal and in fact there was too much choice so had to be careful we didn't overeat. ( but we still put on 5 lbs on in a week !!!! ). At night we only ever used the bar on deck 11, this bar only opens at 5pm and it tended to be a bit quieter and no loud music till later when it became a disco ? not sure about this as we usually left around midnight. The bar staff here were excellent especially Sacha and Sachin - a credit to the company. The whole trip was very scenic and although we had rain for 3 days it didn't distract from the magnificent scenery. The guests on this trip were slightly older we thought than normal with hardly any children and we didn't see or hear any bad behaviour from anybody. I think this was because of where we went and as the weather was a bit cooler there was no hassles re sunbeds which you usually get. We had said that this would be our last ocean cruise as we do prefer a hotel based / decent swimming pool holiday but we would certainly reconsider travelling on the Discovery again if a decent deal came up. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
A previous cruise on Discovery and a previous Norwegian cruise on a different ship had both been so enjoyable we booked "Wonders of the Fjords" to celebrate my 70th Birthday. What a good choice. Parking and Embarkation went ... Read More
A previous cruise on Discovery and a previous Norwegian cruise on a different ship had both been so enjoyable we booked "Wonders of the Fjords" to celebrate my 70th Birthday. What a good choice. Parking and Embarkation went just as explained in the Port Parking Voucher (although expensive at £10 per day) and a quick and easy booking-in provided the necessary security checks and provision of the check-in card to be shown on boarding and leaving the ship and for ordering either all inclusive drinks or for any extras to be charged to your credit card. Having selected (for £45 extra) the same cabin we had chosen on our previous Tui Discovery holiday on Deck 7, front of midships starboard side we knew exactly where we were going and found our balcony cabin well prepared by Adios clean and with ample hanging and drawer space. This cabin has ample space for the bathroom, a three seater settee and the queen sized bed, and leads through the sliding door onto the balcony which has just enough room for two chairs and a table. Not enormous, but enough. Although we chose to eat our first meal in the Islands self-service buffet restaurant we chose to only eat here occasionally as we found the 47 degree restaurant provided superb service and choice. We chose to sit at a table for two and had two waiters who became the ICING ON THE CAKE!. Nothing was too much trouble for Bojan and Trajche! They very quickly remembered our choice of wine and filled and re-filled glasses without being asked. They remembered that I have a dislike of nuts and pointed out the desserts which I wouldn't like. They always had a smile (even at breakfast). To say they made a good cruise better would be quite true. The entertainment team were superb with quality theatre shows every night. The standard of both song and dance was a credit to the performers and to the back-room too. The Stars of the extra entertainment must be Braximusic who performed in different venues around the ship continually. Having heard a very early performance of theirs on leaving Venice on Thompson Majesty in 2013 it was wonderful to see how their joint career has progressed and what a polished, goose-bumps performance they give. Thank you Max and Brandie. The ports were just as expected and the excursions (although expensive) informative and very enjoyable. The weather helped too. With the exception of Bergen ("it always rains in Bergen" we were told) and low cloud as we took a small boat cruise from Flam, we were lucky with relatively calm seas and mid August sunshine. All in all would we do it again? We we did. We had arranged to stay aboard the ship to go from Newcastle to the Baltic and enjoy our longest ever holiday. But that's another story. Read Less
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
Sail Date August 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
Spent to whole days at sea before we arrived in Iceland. Always wanted to visit Iceland and more of Norway. Was not disappointed with any of it. Our cabin was really good and so clean. Thanks must go to our Cabin Boys, they were ... Read More
Spent to whole days at sea before we arrived in Iceland. Always wanted to visit Iceland and more of Norway. Was not disappointed with any of it. Our cabin was really good and so clean. Thanks must go to our Cabin Boys, they were superb and really friendly. Our cabin was checked twice every day and our bed turned down each night with 2 chocolates and our news letter for following day. Sometime they made an animal out of towels for us. 1st one was a Turtle, then a dog and an elephant. Last one was great, a money hanging on a coat hanger. Rally appreciated all they did for us. The corridors leading from the cabins to the bar areas was spotless. Even the decks were very clean and well kept. The bar waiters were great when you wanted a coffee/tea or any kind of drink and were always very curteous. Dining room 47 deg was excellent and thanks must go to Jade, Ann and Agnel who are excellent waiters and cannot do enough for you and they are such good fun even when we played a trick on them, they took it all in their stride. If you go on this cruise you must try to occupy tables 126 or thereabouts and you will meet them for yourselves. We would give them 12 out of 10 as expert waiters. The staff when booking in for a meal were also excellent if you wished to have a table for two you got one. If you were willing to share that was also okay with them and they couldn't be more helpful. From the Captain down all the staff were so friendly, helpful and pleasant to meet. The shows were excellent and the entertainers work so hard it is unbelievable and they are very energetic and have lovely singing voices. Would recommend that you take in a show or two. Last but not least from Captain Chris Dodds and his Officers and Reception and shop staff they were all excellent and Captain Chris I am glad to see did get up to dance on our last night at sea. Well done Chris and thank you and all of your staff for a wonderful holiday. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
We chose this ship because of the itinerary. Baltic on our bucket list! We were NOT disappointed. Loved the variety of ports of call. Tallinn, St Petersburg and Oslo our favourites. Copenhagen would probably have been on our favourite ... Read More
We chose this ship because of the itinerary. Baltic on our bucket list! We were NOT disappointed. Loved the variety of ports of call. Tallinn, St Petersburg and Oslo our favourites. Copenhagen would probably have been on our favourite list too if we hadn't taken the panoramic tour. Because due to the terrible traffic congestion we spent a long time in traffic jams. Suggest you walk in to centre, and get taxi back if you are tired! We were delighted at the free shuttle buses to the centre of town in ports where we were docked further out. We loved the ship. It is lovely. One of our favourites to date, after 5 other cruises with top cruise lines. Particularly loved the bright airy feel with the huge floor to ceiling windows in main dining room and atrium. Entertainment was wonderful in the theatre. A different show every night. The shows just kept getting better and better! Loved the Paris themed one. So original! the in house show team are amazing! Also enjoyed the performances in the atrium, particularly the vocalists Max and Brandi. Wonderful singers. Also the saxophonist Vernon and Morgan the singer from the show team were excellent. The food was very good. Ok, you don't have the option of sirloin steaks every night in the main dining room as in e.g Celebrity Solstice class ships but for the money the food was excellent and beautifully presented. A big step up from our previous cruise with the same company on Thomson Majesty a few years ago. Well done Marella. Half of the upper level of the dining room is Italian themed and we loved it too. also enjoyed the Spanish style tapas meal in Glass House. Spanish speaking Shennly from Dominican Republic enhanced the experience even further as she is so friendly and we love to practice our Spanish. The majority of the waiters in the main dining room were also extremely friendly, especially Yara, though one or two a little stiff. Sometimes service a little slow especially for desserts. There seemed to be an occasional bottleneck in the kitchen. Our only difficulty was finding a seat in the Atrium in the evening or finding a sunbed at the indoor pool area or in a sheltered place particularly on cooler or sea days. More seating could be added to the upper levels of the atrium as some of the levels had no seating and others very little. People had to stand to see the most popular performances in the atrium. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Even before the cruise Tui behaved poorly. Tui claimed the Kremlin was shut due to an extra national holiday when in fact it is always shut on a Thursday. We cancelled that excursion as a trip to a convent really wasn't worth almost ... Read More
Even before the cruise Tui behaved poorly. Tui claimed the Kremlin was shut due to an extra national holiday when in fact it is always shut on a Thursday. We cancelled that excursion as a trip to a convent really wasn't worth almost £700 per couple. I am still waiting for a response two months after submitting a written complaint about the misleading information. Not everyone was informed of the changes, there were some irate travellers after the excursion. The destination services team were fantastic, helpful, responsive, so apologetic when circumstances outside of their control caused issues but most of all they were willing to put themselves out for you. The cities we visited, the excursions and the guides were first class. Getting on was fine if you had priority boarding, for those that didn't I was told it took some 2.5 hours to check in. The ship is tired, dated and in many places needs refurbishing. The staff are amazing, they work so hard (particularly the cabin stewards) even though several told us they were severely understaffed, we were told over 100 short on board. Getting drinks sometimes took 45 minutes and the 47 degree restaurant struggled at busy times. We were new to cruising and when we asked the receptionist for a map of the ship so we could orient ourselves on the first couple of days I was told I should have brought a brochure if I wanted a map of the ship, the same receptionist was particularly useless when we had a plumbing issue. He was the only staff member who was poor. The food in the restaurants was excellent, the Glass House tapas was superb. Some of the bad points; I witnessed one man tasting the food off the spoons in the Islands self service and putting them back in the food (I did tell the staff they needed to change the dishes). During the first England game no security was present in the bar and there were pensioners pushing and shoving each other, arguing over the crowds blocking their view of the screen. The majority of people on board were lovely and as a couple sitting on tables with 2 or 3 other couples at lunch and dinner provided some brilliant conversations. Some of the clientele were incredibly selfish, reserved seating signs for disabled people moved on coaches so the front seats were taken. Seating in the show lounge was limited so when it was busy people would leave gaps so they had more room and tell others that the seats were taken. The constant noise around the pool during the day was more like Butlins or a resort in Ibiza - not relaxing. Fortunately we were able to relax on our balcony. The all inclusive drink meant so many people went on the beer early and all day with the expected consequences. You need to be careful for the extra costs, tea and coffee isn't free everywhere on the ship. Besides the coffee shop there's also a cost from the bar in the Glass House. Some areas were so busy that there was no where to sit during the day or evening - see earlier point about seating. The painting of the ship during port meant that our cabin was unusable due to the xylene fumes, although we were offered a move we really didn't want to pack everything up so if you experience this be prepared to stay clear of your cabin for several hours. Some of the great points; The staff Excursions Food Show team Destinations Most of the people on board The cruise was summed up by a young couple we spoke to from Birmingham, it would be interesting to go on a more upmarket cruise to see the difference. In summary, we chose this based on destinations and we have travelled with Tui before to Orlando. As a first time cruiser it is not what I had expected from the discussions with friends who are regular cruisers on other cruise lines. In hindsight from my perspective Tui are not good at cruising and Marella is a low end product in the market, it isn't for me but it obviously is for a lot of people as they go back time after time and the all inclusive booze is a big factor for many of the people we met. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
The Marella Discovery coming to Newcastle Port to sail the Baltic was a big promotion in April 2017 and a group of us booked straight away to choose the cabins we wanted. The embarkation was an absolute disaster. We were lucky we only ... Read More
The Marella Discovery coming to Newcastle Port to sail the Baltic was a big promotion in April 2017 and a group of us booked straight away to choose the cabins we wanted. The embarkation was an absolute disaster. We were lucky we only queued for one and half hours to hand our luggage over, some queued for three hours. ( if it rained ??? ). The Cruise itself was brilliant, visiting eight beautiful cites, using all of the ships facilities and enjoying the best weather in the Baltic Sea for 120 years. The cabin, dining, and service were above average with the entertainment superb. On shore, wherever possible, we used the Red Buses which provide great value and on the fourth trip in Stockholm it was Free. The ships excursions in St Petersburg were the identical ones that were available five years ago so there was not a great of choice for us but we had a brilliant time at Peterhof Grand Palace and Gardens, highly recommended. With the temperatures ranging from 22/27c for the cruise (until we got back to Newcastle) it was disappointing that the main swimming pool was out of action until the last day of the Cruise. The biggest disappointment of the whole cruises was the cost that we had paid a year in advance of the Cruise to those passages who booked only six/eight weeks before and paid half price for their cabins. So my main Advice to all would be never book a MARELLA CRUISE until SIX / EIGHT weeks before sailing as you will save a lot of money and enjoy the cruise even more. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Our intention - my wife and I - was to cruise leisurely on a ship which was neither very large (ocean going) nor very small (such as on a river cruise), to visit places we had never been to, and where we would otherwise never have ... Read More
Our intention - my wife and I - was to cruise leisurely on a ship which was neither very large (ocean going) nor very small (such as on a river cruise), to visit places we had never been to, and where we would otherwise never have visited. We had excellent food, prepared to a very high standard served by (mostly foreign, but English speaking) waiting staff who were polite, and convivial at all times, with 5 course (plus tea or coffee) evening dinners. We were given a choice of dishes for all courses, and at the booking stage were given options for tables of 2,4,6 or 8, and 1st or 2nd sittings. AN ENORMOUS BENEFIT was the attention paid to my wife's dietary problems, as she has lactose intolerance and cannot eat onions. There was a meeting held soon after we sailed for all such passengers to discuss this, and the catering staff could not have been more accommodating. We had lifeboat drill early on the cruise, but fortunately this was not required to be put into practice! The ratio of crew to passengers was very satisfactory, and members of the crew spent much time cleaning handrails, etc., and there were many locations on board for hand-cleaning liquids to be used voluntarily. Staff also "stood by" at entrances to eating areas as a matter of course. We had a choice of excursions at all ports, but in all honesty the standard of local courier/guide did vary, but not sufficient to upset us. There were evening shows in the ship's theatre (which suffered greatly from "restricted view" columns), but we still enjoyed the presentations. Art and Craft demonstrations were available on most days, and lectures on relevant subjects - such as Peter the Great, Catherine the Great, the Romanovs and the Russian Revolutions - all added to our interest. The only drawback - sufficient to reduce a five star rating - was the sound from adjacent cabins. [Remember the joke about 4 houses in a terrace, and some one sneezes in No 1 and in No 4 some shouts "Bless You!" it was almost like that!] Again, fortunately, it didn't affect our sleeping (but it could have done!) THIS IS SOMETHING WHICH NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED in my opinion. We were not alone in this attitude. But overall a very enjoyable cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2018
Embarked at Newcastle without problem, good direction to drop off area, very friendly and welcoming staff at every point. Straight through the check in and onto the ship within about 20 minutes. Excellent starting point for us up north, ... Read More
Embarked at Newcastle without problem, good direction to drop off area, very friendly and welcoming staff at every point. Straight through the check in and onto the ship within about 20 minutes. Excellent starting point for us up north, the main reason we booked this cruise as we travelled with parents in their 80's who find airports a challenge. The rest of the cruise exceeded expectations, cabin 856 on deck 1 was mid ship and next to a crew passageway meaning we only had neighbours on 2 sides, 4 berth cabin with the ability to create a double. No complaints about the room at all, good control of heat/cool and water pressure excellent. Slightly smaller due to crew doorway outside but more than enough storage space. Firm but very comfortable mattress. Previous reviews have referred to the Celebration as being tired, we didn’t note this at all. Compared to the Spirit it’s much more modern and updated, but it’s lost some of the classic character that Spirit retained. All public areas, toilets and restaurants were clean and looked updated. That said we soon felt at home on a wonderful ship particularly the Horizons Bar for the ambiance, service and views. The bar staff there were exceptionally friendly and attentive on every occasion, appreciated when you know how hard they work. Changes to the upper decks removing the sports nets and providing additional sun beds has reduced the pressure on sea days, we always found a bed without problem on sea or sunny back on board afternoons. Celebration is just the right size, plenty of space to be entertained or quiet. The walk around deck 6 is great, both for exercising and enjoying arrival and departure times. We found the food in the Lido and Meridian restaurants very good at every meal, the best out of 4 Thomson cruises. Food hot and varied, mainly British focussed but plenty of variety, salad and vegetable choices. We had the inclusive drinks package of the first time and enjoyed the freedom to sample the drinks menu, a small additional charge for some branded drinks but without choosing them the choice was still very good. Thomson offer an upgrade for £100 a week to be fully all inclusive but we didn’t think this was necessary, only paying a supplement on a few occasions. If you weren’t all inclusive you could purchase it onboard for £370 for the 13 days :-o ! Fosters was the included draft lager, not my favourite, with Heineken having a supplement. The only problem with the bar service was that they ran out of a couple of bottled options within a few days, poor planning from Thomsons and very frustrating if you had paid for the top up all-inclusive based on those drinks. The entertainment team in the show lounge and liberties were exceptional, the shows were again the best we’ve seen supported by excellent costumes and electronic set. All the ports we visited were excellent, the only small gripe was Dublin, pay 10 euro for shuttle into the city or wait for the free shuttle to the port gate, you couldn’t walk across the port. 30 minute + wait as the free shuttle that only seated 18 passengers and took around 10 minutes+ to do the loop. No problem on return journey and the walk into the city from drop off point along the Liffey was very good. Overall an excellent cruise, sailing into Malaga. Thomson remain our favourite for the reasons quoted by others, friendly staff, you know what you’ll pay for and excellent food / entertainment. Keep it up – and don’t lose the Celebration, a well-loved and perfect sized ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We chose this cruise because we got an excellent deal and it was sailing from Newcastle. We weren't sure what to expect with it being an older ship but were pleasantly surprised by decor and cabin. I must congratulate the Port of ... Read More
We chose this cruise because we got an excellent deal and it was sailing from Newcastle. We weren't sure what to expect with it being an older ship but were pleasantly surprised by decor and cabin. I must congratulate the Port of Tyne for their efficiency, having been guided to a parking space, our luggage was removed from the car for us and taken to our cabin. Check-in was very quick and we were bussed to the ship and were onboard within 30 minutes of arriving at the port. We were shown to our cabin and then advised lunch was available in the Bistro if we wanted it. We found the food excellent and being diabetic was invited to a talk with head chef Shone who advised those of us with dietary concerns what the process was so they could provide us with the type of food we needed. Our table stewards were made aware of our needs and I had no problems receiving sugar free options. There was also a special dietary needs counter in the bistro. The entertainment was very good and theatre was full every evening. When I boarded the ship I had a shoulder problem, so availed myself of two hot stone massages which helped. The second massage was done by a physiotherapist who when she finished gave me exercises to do. Since then my shoulder has been virtually pain free. We would certainly sail on Magellan again especially when she sails fron Newcastle. Disembarkation was as efficient as embarkation and we were home in just under an hour of leaving the ship. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
We are retired,we holiday at least 6 times a year and at the Glasgow cruise show in 2016 we were taken in by this cruise as it was somewhere we had wanted to go for years it sailed from a port only 90 miles from our home and we had a free ... Read More
We are retired,we holiday at least 6 times a year and at the Glasgow cruise show in 2016 we were taken in by this cruise as it was somewhere we had wanted to go for years it sailed from a port only 90 miles from our home and we had a free few week, so why not!. Departure was a farse. Massive 'Q's' o get into the car park and no toilets. No bus to take us to the ship [it was only 100mts away but we were not allowed to walk so had to stand in the rain for twenty minutes]. When we finally got on the ship our luggage was waiting for us and the cabin 203 deck 6] was quite spacious, plenty of wardrobe space and two windows facing the front [sorry 'Prow'] pity they didn't leek like sieve]. first night crossing the north sea was a bit rough, force 9 gale as we crossed the north sea, but we are experiences cruisers so woke up and had a hearty breakfast in the 'Lido' restaurant. . Had lunch in the meridian restaurant nice staff and food I would compare to 'Witherspoon's, Ok but nothing exceptional and dinner was the same as were all the meals we had there except the 'Escargot' which would put most french restaurants to shame as was the 'Red Snapper', so they do have some exceptional chefs. The 'excursions Sales Pitch' was a wonder to behold. It was done like a 'QVC' questions & Answer session with the cruise director and other members of his team telling us why it we would be so much better to go on the organized tour rather than doing it yourself. First stop would be Flam and we could go on the official Thomason Carriages for £98 English commentary and that if we went ourselves it would be 150, What they did not tell you was the 150 was Norwegian currency [10.6 to £1] which was under £15 and that all carriages were the same and all got the english commentary. It was the same for all other excursions, over priced and over hyped. on night two after the storm had subsided I noticed a very distinct vibration in the cabin to the point that you could not drink a cup of tea without spilling it. Morning three I woke up thinking I had 'Parkinsons' as I had the shakes [and it was not due to drink, if only it was] it was due to the shake in the ship and as we found out it was worse when the ship was docked and the main engines shut down. I gave Thomsons the benefit of doubt that something had come loose or got damaged during the storm and that is what was causing the terrible vibration that went right through the whole of the front of the ship. I have since found out that this has been reported for over twenty years on this ship. During the cruise I got more & more tired because of sleep deprivation because of sleep deprivation as did others. Reporting the vibration got lots of engineers looking about our cabin, but no improvement. Entertainment: the comedian who was on two nights was great. The entertainment team I believe this was their first cruise and it showed, bit like a secondary school concert,a bad secondary school concert. During the cruise when docked the ship was told to turn the music and sound down because we were causing sound pollution as the entertainment director thought it appropriate to make the ship sound like an 18-30 Benidorm Hotel ans all of these beautiful tranquil & peaceful Norwegian towns should suffer his choice of 'Garage Music'. We were in a church service in Stavanger Cathedral and all you could here was the music coming off Thomson Celebration and I felt ashamed to be one of the passengers. Overall the main crew are fantastic and hard working, but they have the most arrogant European officers I have ever encountered in 40 years of cruising. he ship and it's sister ship have been reported for the vibration problem for at least 20 years but Thomson [now renamed TUI] have ignored it. IMO the Celebration should have been scrapped long ago. Not only does it give you the 'Shakes' the so called 'Deluxe cabins' the windows leek. Over the next 12 months I have 4 other cruises booked already, Luckily none with Thomsons. And have they replied to my complaints? Not a word or acknowledgment in any form. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
As this was our first cruise we did not know what to expect and had nothing to compare it with, Newcastle is our nearest port so that was a bonus. The embarkation went smoothly with no long waiting time, our cases arrived at our cabin ten ... Read More
As this was our first cruise we did not know what to expect and had nothing to compare it with, Newcastle is our nearest port so that was a bonus. The embarkation went smoothly with no long waiting time, our cases arrived at our cabin ten minutes after we did, our cabin, No. 874 had plenty of room lots of storage and all the facilities we needed. The overnight and next day sailing to Norway gave us chance to discover the ship and all its facilities including restaurants and entertainment. The food was served in the Lido restaurant 19 hours a day all of it delicious and the staff were excellent, polite and nothing was too much trouble. The shows each night were brilliantly presented, the resident singers were also very good. The entertainment team provided a varied range of activities day and night to suit most tastes ( we thought the fruit & veg carving by one of the chef's was fabulous ) To sum up the ship's crew, everyone of them could not do enough for you and were very polite and helpful.The scenery of the fjords was beautiful, Norway is so clean, the excursions that were on offer, were interesting and a little show was put on for us as we left the ship at Arendel by the local dance school of bits from the film Frozen. Every night the next days itinerary was slipped under your cabin door plus the weather forecast which was really helpful .may we also point out the ship was spotless throughout,especially the cabins. Our disembarkation was quick and without any problems. We enjoyed our first ever cruise with Thomson Celebration and will definitely go with them again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Chose to cruise the Fjords for 7 days. After reading reviews was not expecting the ship to be up to much, but to our surprise it was a lot better than reviews we had read, having been on P&O, Royal Caribbean cruises in the past we ... Read More
Chose to cruise the Fjords for 7 days. After reading reviews was not expecting the ship to be up to much, but to our surprise it was a lot better than reviews we had read, having been on P&O, Royal Caribbean cruises in the past we thought we would like to go to the Fjords on a cheaper cruise for 7 days. We arrived at Newcastle on the Friday night after a 250 mile trip from down south to make sure we would arrive on time at port on the Saturday. After parking our car at port terminal, all cases removed and not seen again till you reach your cabin. The terminal is well laid out not to big, but we did not have to wait long before being called up to book in, very efficient and not much hanging around, then hop on bus to cruise ship. When on board we were shown to our cabin on deck 5, cabin 5010, and to our surprise cases waiting outside our cabin, that the quickest they have ever been delivered. The cabin is big enough for two people with all the usual things, no tea maker though, cabin nice and clean and cabin steward was very efficient and nothing too much trouble for her. I must say the inside of ship is no way as bad as people make out, everywhere is clean and easy to find as ship is not to big. Lifeboat drill goes on a bit but very efficient. Breakfast was ok, with plenty of food to choose from, the usual breakfast fare. Lunch was also very nice with no complaints from us, plus we never had to cue for a seat, always lucky to find one. At night we were on 1st seating, 5.45, which was a little bit earlier than we were used to on a table of 6, all very nice people, and I must say the food was very good and waiters very nice and polite. We went to the theatre every night and thought the shows were good, singers were ok, but the the dancers were excellent and band was very good to, had a Scottish singer, comedian on for 2 nights, he was alright to. Other venues on ship for drinks and music were very good and well supported, had the drinks package, but found could not keep up with it, to get moneys worth, but if you drink a lot well worth the value. The only down side I will say against the ship was it was not very warm on the ship, plus when ship docked in ports in early hours of morning, you could here engine noise quite loud which woke you up for 45 mins. did not here any other noises, maybe higher up deck you are ok. Overall for the money you pay it was a good cruise, and the Fjords are beautiful and well worth the money, and the ports of call are lovely. I would not travel on Magellan again, because Newcastle is too far up for us to travel every time. But don't let that stop you if you live nearer, it is worth a try for your 1st cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017

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