Balmoral Finally Begins Life

February 14, 2008
After an awfully rough start, which included the cancellation of a three-day inaugural celebration and the originally scheduled maiden voyage, Fred. Olsen's Balmoral finally embarked on its first cruise.

The newest ship in the Fred. fleet set sail from Dover yesterday evening (a few hours late we should add) on a 19-night trans-Atlantic and Caribbean sailing.

Both the inaugural festivities and the first scheduled sailing were cancelled when workers at the Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg were unable to complete the ship's extensive refurbishment in time for delivery. The overhaul included a very involved "stretching" procedure that added 30 meters to the ship's midsection, the addition of balconies to many cabins, and the removal of as many NCL vestiges -- especially decor -- as possible (the ship formerly sailed as Norwegian Crown).

During sea trials and systems tests en route to Dover, it was determined that there were problems related to "the integration of the new section with the original hull." With the problem fixed, the vessel is now on its way across the Atlantic.

Stay tuned for more news on Balmoral as the ship heads Stateside.

--by Dan Askin, Assistant Editor