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104 Canary Islands Romantic Cruise Reviews

Various friends keen on cruising had suggested that we try it and so, after years of travelling abroad by plane and car, we chose Fred Olsen's Christmas and New Year trip on the Balmoral to Madeira and the Canaries to dip our toes in ... Read More
Various friends keen on cruising had suggested that we try it and so, after years of travelling abroad by plane and car, we chose Fred Olsen's Christmas and New Year trip on the Balmoral to Madeira and the Canaries to dip our toes in the water, as it were. In short, I have to say we both found it simply excellent. We stayed at the De Vere New Place hotel, 10 miles outside Southampton, the night before our embarkation and found their cruise package very good. It included dinner, bed and breakfast, 16 nights car parking and taxi transfers to and from the terminal before and after the cruise and we would certainly stay there again. At the terminal the check-in and embarkation process was trouble-free and we were delighted with our Superior Suite on deck 9. Our cabin stewardess, Ellen, was a delight, as were our two evening waiters. The food and entertainment was suitably varied and of high quality throughout our time onboard and what struck us most was just how friendly all staff were, from the Master down. It really was a happy ship. Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's Day were simply superb thanks to the staff's efforts. We, in our mid 50s, were probably some of the youngest passengers aboard, but the age mix was not a problem for us as we made some good friends along the way. We tended to do our own thing whan ashore, but found the mix of land and sae days fine. Disembarkation was just as impressive, particularly compared to passing through airports. We enjoyed this trip so much that, whilst we will still look forward to other forms of overseas holidays, we will definitely look to cruise again and more than likely with Fred Olsen. In short, Fred and his team on the Balmoral made this the best Christmas and New Year we have ever had, and we are already eyeing up a trip for the same time this year. Read Less
Sail Date December 2011
We had been on quite a few cruises before this, but this was our first formal cruise, and we've been on many others since and it hasn't come anywhere near as close in any way. The staff are amazing, so accommodating, helpful ... Read More
We had been on quite a few cruises before this, but this was our first formal cruise, and we've been on many others since and it hasn't come anywhere near as close in any way. The staff are amazing, so accommodating, helpful and friendly, the food is incredible, wow, from breakfast through lunch dinner and the other diners and pizzerias fabulous, you certainly wouldn't go hungry at any time and the food was amazing, it really has made us see how it should be done. We really enjoyed the fact that if you didn't want to dress up and wear Black Tie/Evening dress/Cocktail dress you could dine elsewhere, and those who really wanted to dress up could do so with like minded people, this does make a big difference as on other ships they allow you in even if you're still in t shirt and shorts, it really can make you feel " what's the point". The entertainment was fantastic, we found something different to do every night and really had a good time. Everything on this cruise was brilliant, we had one little hiccup with lunch one day and nothing was too much trouble trying to get it fixed, it was brilliant, the food, service, attitude, cabin, destinations, everything was perfect and to top it off, we met our best friends on this ship. Thanks Royal Caribbean for doing things the way all cruise ships should. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Well, after reading many damning reviews about MSC Fantasia, my husband & I approached this cruise with a little trepidation. No need though - the whole experience was great! On arrival at the cruise terminal in Barcelona, & having ... Read More
Well, after reading many damning reviews about MSC Fantasia, my husband & I approached this cruise with a little trepidation. No need though - the whole experience was great! On arrival at the cruise terminal in Barcelona, & having registered online, we were ushered to the desks, where we waited for maybe ten minutes before being attended to. All passengers who had not registered online were given a coloured ticket & told to wait to be called to the desks. Within half an hour of arrival at the terminal we were in our cabin (a delight), where our bags were already waiting for us. After reading reviews regarding hefty drinks prices on board, we had pre-booked a drinks package, which gave us unlimited beer, wine, water & soft drinks at lunch & dinner. These various packages are not widely broadcast by MSC, & you also need to book your package ideally when you book your cruise, as they are not available to purchase on board. We also purchased a bottle of duty free tipple in the terminal, having already had our hand baggage go through the scanners, & they were not scanned again, nor were we asked if we were carrying alcohol as we boarded the ship. Result! Any duty free alcohol purchased on board is held & delivered to your cabin the night before disembarkation. First impressions on boarding: - fantastic ship, fabulous cabin, and very helpful staff. We had only been in our cabin (with a bathtub!) for about ten minutes when our cabin girl knocked to introduce herself. My husband asked her if it was possible to have some ice for our ice bucket, & she fetched it, saying that anything was possible. It was then supplied automatically every evening thereafter. We had also requested a table for two at dinner when we booked, but on checking at the registration desk, we were told that we were on a table for six in the Cerchio D Oro, & we were advised to go to the Red Velvet restaurant & speak to the Maitre d'Hotel to see if we could swap. This we did without delay, & the very helpful & accommodating manager had no problem changing our table to a double.Another nice touch was being able to order your usual newspaper from reception to be delivered to your cabin for a very reasonable price of 2 Euros. The food was very good, with a wide variety of dishes, none of which were on the menu twice in our eleven days. Breakfast has all you could imagine on offer, & more! Again, better in the restaurants, but if you fancy a less formal affair, the buffet is still good, & you can walk it off finding a table! You could also order a continental breakfast to be delivered to your cabin (no charge), which we did many times, sometimes just ordering coffee & juice, & it was always delivered bang on time! Lunch & dinner - yes obviously there was an Italian influence to the menus (very delicious too!!), but dishes from all over the world appear as well, such as curry, chinese, terayaki, mousaka & even roast lamb & fish & chips! If you still don't fancy anything on the menu you can always order burgers, hot dogs & pasta at lunchtime, & chicken, steak, salmon & pasta in the evening. We ate all our lunches & dinners in the restaurants, as the buffet can be a bit of a nightmare - full of people piling up huge plates & then leaving them. If you prefer to eat a peaceful lunch on a table for two, you have more of a chance in the Cerchio D Oro, as they just lump you all together in the Red Velvet, rather like on a production line. It also seems more laid back & relaxed (in the Cerchio D Oro), & all the staff are great. Our waiter had our drinks order waiting for us on our table every evening, & bent over backwards to make sure we had everything we could possibly need. There were several other restaurants around the ship, but there was an extra charge for these. Also, no menus were displayed there to give an idea of cost etc. There were always menus on display outside the main restaurants.The ship had many bars to choose from, & yes there was smoking in several, but it was not really intrusive. My only real criticism was that although there were loads of places to sit, the chairs & sofas whilst very stylish, weren't what I would call 'cosy'. The best seating was in the library, or unfortunately in the cigar lounge... Also you very rarely saw people sat with drinks, no doubt due to the high prices - around 16-17 Euros for two gin & tonics, once you add on the 15% service charge.We only went to one show in the theatre, as we don't need to be entertained constantly, & although we were battling force 9 gales, it was very professional & watchable. Also the language used in the show was English.There were three formal evenings during our eleven nights, & my husband felt comfortable in his dark suit, rather than trussed up in his DJ. There were some tuxedos about, but most men wore a step down from this.There was a comprehensive selection of shore excursions available, but we always prefer to do our own thing - which was just as well because the weather at several of the ports was evil, so we stayed on & enjoyed the ship.Being a Mediterranean cruise, & with passengers embarking & disembarking at every port, I was surprised to hear most announcements were made in English first, or second at the very least, so there was no need to listen through the other 4 or 5 languages. Disembarkation was smooth, if a little delayed, due to a violent storm before we arrived in Barcelona. On the whole, we had a really great, relaxing holiday with Fantasia, & would have no hesitation booking with MSC again. Read Less
Sail Date March 2011
Left Southampton on the Friday knowing bad weather on way . PO cruises Azure decided not to sail and I believe Fred Olsen ship left but turned back.Got worse during Sat and night into Sunday Hurricane level winds with 30 ft waves. Ship ... Read More
Left Southampton on the Friday knowing bad weather on way . PO cruises Azure decided not to sail and I believe Fred Olsen ship left but turned back.Got worse during Sat and night into Sunday Hurricane level winds with 30 ft waves. Ship certainly thrown about and many first time cruisers [seemed to be a lot] were not too happy. Due to weather Captain had to slow ship down and go towards coast of Portugal. Stopping at Madeira was cancelled My wife and I have not sailed with RCI for about 3 years as recent cruises have been with Celebrity. We are Diamond Level in Crown and Anchor Loyalty Programme [saved this cruise]. Went on this cruise due to dates. We were renewing our wedding vows [ Ruby] . Will not repeat all about ship as really lovely clean ship. LOWS: Ship too big with too many passengers for us. I do not do queues, As an example went for breakfast one morning in main dining room as I fancied Eggs Benedict [Only place they serve same]. Got told I would have to wait for 15 /20 minutes - went to Windjammer. Queues for getting off at the ports and getting back on. Queues for getting ice show tickets for most plus the actual events. Massive queue down the promenade the first day the cigarette price dropped by 15%, but price dropped again 3 days later and again on last sea day. Took the shuttle into Arrecife [ don't - take taxi] and when arrived back at pickup point the queue was massive, and in the usual British spirit all standing complaining!!! Took couple of pictures of queue, and then took taxi to ship for 7 euros. Went with unused shuttle tickets to Guest Relations, got price refunded and also my taxi fare. Totally accept that this ship is for families but should older children not be at school? I have no problems with children as we have 2 of our own. The problem was not with them but the parents who seemed not to care how their children were behaving. Some of the lounges for obvious reasons do not allow children after say 10/11pm . One night I was standing on Promenade just before midnight and I counted 14 children in buggies either sleeping or crying whilst 9 others were running about.In Ben and Jerrys ice cream they have high stools to sit on. Father sat watching his 2 sons about 7/8 continually pushing the stools over and the waiter having to place upright. Never said a word to them. Seemed to be everywhere including casino. I cannot stress enough that I am not a snob. I am a normal working guy, who has been lucky enough to go on a few cruises . There seemed to be a high number of people on board who I would describe as 'non cruisers'. At lunch time one day sitting at table when couple were boasting that they got cruise for under £400 comparing it to Benidorm. Seemed to be that loads of passengers got last minute deals to fill ship up. A lot of males in football tops. One night on way to dinner,outside Schooner bar 2 'football tops' could hardly stand as so drunk. In disco, smoking area, before we went to lunch on last sea day bar staff ejected male at 11.45am as so drunk! Food quality has dropped on this ship and has been altered for UK market , a point I do not agree with. Couple at our dining table were on identical sister ship Freedom of Seas end of last year sailing out of Miami and food was tremendous, with good choice of steaks, lobster etc as the US customers would insist on. We were offered roast beef and Yorkshire pudding 3 of first 5 nights, and on final night on menu was mixed grill with sausage and bacon. I chose NY strip steak one night as usually excellent .What arrived was very poor sirloin. [waiter agreed] HIGHS: Although our Renewal of Vows was expensive, it was excellent and well organised by RCI and on board. Impressive. Initially thought that the photograph package for the renewal was expensive at $199 but actually was cheapest. That price included 5 large 8x10 and approx 20 of 5x7 pics. Buying the pictures individually ranged from $15 - $30 PER PHOTOGRAPH- bit steep . We in D2 balcony cabin and size and cleanliness excellent , and room steward performed duties fine. Had room service brekkie in our room most mornings. Although as mentioned in my opinion the standard of food in main dining room has dropped , I believe in Windjammer it has in fact improved but problem with numbers and finding table. Went to specialty restaurants, Chops and Portofino and service and food is excellent - ate too much. The Diamond Level Loyalty Programme is really worthwhile and certainly would encourage cruisers to remain with RCI. Briefly, on Ind there is a Diamond Members Lounge on deck 14. The Diamond level seapass card opens the door to allow entry . It is open for cereal/ continental breakfast from 8-10 am, good quality speciality coffee 24 hours and from 5-8 pm on offer is hot and cold savoury and sweet canapes and free drinks including wine and spirits. Basically each night before dinner we had about 3 drinks either gin/ton or wine worth approx $500. Also is free photographs, welcome reception, disembark when you want at your leisure, special lunch with champagne etc. Other points: I took Gold drinks package that worked out at approx £19 per bottle and you can ask for some of your wine in any of the restaurants and they keep any unused till following night. Most of the Headliner shows were before our 2nd dinner seating and we were in Diam lounge, but seen some on tv. Comedian seemed fine . Heard better Abba Tribute and magician seemed poor. Entertainers in lounges were of good standard. If event like a quiz was in lounge, it was too small for numbers attending. Did not go but seemed to have bingo every day at least once. You now have the choice of carrying your own cases from ship. Seemed to be chaotic with people dragging cases and taking up most of space in lifts, holding up the process. Finally, this cruise will be remembered as we had a wonderful day renewing our vows, meeting many nice, decent people, especially at our dining table, and the Diamond Experience, but the overall impression is the numbers of people on the ship and the behaviour of a few. Read Less
Sail Date October 2010

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