Work on Fred. Olsen's Balmoral Overruns

January 21, 2008
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has promised Balmoral, the ship it bought from Star Cruises and that formerly sailed as Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Crown, will depart on its inaugural cruise to the Canary Islands on time on January 30 despite being delayed at the shipyard while refurbishment work is completed.

However, a three-day schedule of inaugural events to welcome the ship to its U.K. home in Dover, including a lunch for past passengers on January 27, has had to be cancelled.

Fred. Olsen sales and marketing director Nigel Lingard said overrun on technical jobs such as the installation of balconies has had a knock-on effect on interior work.

He said: "It's not anyone's fault. We had all agreed on the project time, but this was a huge job and it was only when work started that other work became apparent."

The ship will leave the Blohm and Voss shipyard in Hamburg, Germany, on January 22, arriving in Dover on January 24. It will be put through its sea trials on the way, and work on the interior will continue en route and once it arrives in Dover, which is why all events were called off.

Also in Dover, U.S. Coast Guard officers must have time to inspect the ship and give it clearance for a season of cruises from Miami starting in March.

Fred. Olsen, which has a big following among British cruisers aged 60-plus, took delivery of Balmoral in November. Since then it has been in the shipyard in Hamburg, where it has been stretched.

Indeed, a 30-metre mid-section has been inserted, increasing passenger capacity from 1,011 to 1,340. Another 186 cabins have been added and 79 twins have been converted into singles.

The newly-stretched ship has two new fixed-dining restaurants to cater for the additional numbers, a pub (a first for Fred. Olsen), a second swimming pool and two more jacuzzis.

--by Jane Archer, Cruise Critic contributor