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21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
This was a really disappointing cruise. From a 7 hour delay in departure, 4 missed ports, 3 Captains and an ignominious homecoming with one of the lifeboats strapped to the bow deck like a bathtime duck, this was definitely not Fred ... Read More
This was a really disappointing cruise. From a 7 hour delay in departure, 4 missed ports, 3 Captains and an ignominious homecoming with one of the lifeboats strapped to the bow deck like a bathtime duck, this was definitely not Fred Olsen’s finest hour. Storms in the North Sea resulted in the ship docking very late at Southampton with many passengers having several hours wait in the terminal. Storms in the Atlantic then caused us to make an unscheduled stop in northern Spain and we were told that we couldn’t possibly make up the time and would have to miss 2 out of our 5 scheduled Caribbean ports. We started to wonder if there was something wrong with the ship (remembering that it totally broke down last year and all the passengers had to be flown home) as, in all our years of cruising and crossing the Atlantic at this time of the year, we have never been on a ship that simply couldn’t cope with storms. We missed our stop in Hondurus due to strong currents making it impossible for the tenders to get ashore and the fourth missed port was Key West where the winds were too strong to allow us to dock. The Captain told us we’d get to Miami early and have an evening and overnight as well as the scheduled day in port. Wrong! Miami was not able to provide the personnel on a Sunday evening to allow us to disembark. That Captain left at Bermuda, on planned leave we were told, (I bet he was very grateful to get off) and another joined the ship only to leave in the Azores due to a crisis at home so the First Officer ended up sailing the ship back to Southampton but not until after our departure had been delayed by 3 hrs due to a winching gear error which meant that a lifeboat had to be craned back on board. You couldn’t make it up! We also had issues on this ship with the food at dinner in the main downstairs restaurant arriving at the table lukewarm and our waiters being far from efficient – items missing from the table, the wrong dishes being given to the wrong people, plates being cleared whilst others at the table were still eating – it was pretty awful. We also found some waiters in the self-service restaurants to be surly, unco-operative and unhelpful. We got the distinct impression that several of them weren’t at all happy and wondered if there had been some cutbacks or reorganization that had affected them. Supervisory staff also seemed to be thinner on the ground than usual. Likewise, we wondered if economy measures had something to do with the fact that we had to miss 2 ports in the Caribbean. We puttered along for the whole cruise at speeds between 14 and 15 knots in a ship that is capable of 18.5. This was, presumably, to keep fuel consumption down. The only time the engines were up to 17.5 knots was when we were coming home from the Azores so we didn’t have to have another late arrival at Southampton. Unforeseen circumstances can always arise on any holiday. It’s how they’re dealt with that’s important. This cruise of 46 nights was a big investment in both time and money and just didn’t deliver Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2017
We choose this cruise for the Mardi Gras, which was both the highpoint and low point. We made the mistake of booking via Fred for the masquerade ball, very expensive and very poor, probably the worst value for money I have ever spent. ... Read More
We choose this cruise for the Mardi Gras, which was both the highpoint and low point. We made the mistake of booking via Fred for the masquerade ball, very expensive and very poor, probably the worst value for money I have ever spent. The following day, fat Tuesday was free and probably one of the best day we have had abroad. We did have poor weather and we missed 4 stops, there was also some bad planning ie we sailed from Cozumel just as their Mardi Gras floats started past the end of the pier. The service and food in the main restaurant's appears to have deteriorated (one of my waiter's was actually rude) consequently we ate half the time in the palms which was much better. Ships activities we good and overall the entertainment was passable Room and room services were very good, Overall we had a good time but not a brilliant one. The happy wanderers Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: September 2014
I have cruised many times with Fred. Olsen and several times on the "Balmoral". It was the itinerary that attracted me to this cruise. It was primarily the Canadian part of the cruise is which I was particularly interested in. ... Read More
I have cruised many times with Fred. Olsen and several times on the "Balmoral". It was the itinerary that attracted me to this cruise. It was primarily the Canadian part of the cruise is which I was particularly interested in. The ship sailed from Southampton on 1st September and we had an Atlantic crossing of 5 days ahead of us. We were blessed with calm seas and pleasant weather all the way. It was warm enough to use the swimming pool every day which isn't always possible on such a voyage. Although I understand that the ship is going into dry-dock for a regular overhaul in December it was in good shape and is well maintained. I had a single cabin on deck 4 which was spacious, well serviced and there is plenty of storage space. There is a large picture window and the cabin had very efficient air conditioning. The stewardess kept it clean, tidy and replenished the tea/coffee maker etc twice daily. I dined in the Avon Restaurant on deck 10 which was excellent. The food was as good as ever and the service efficient and friendly. The views from the dining table were great. Daytime entertainment followed the normal cruise pattern with lectures, games, crafts etc. The ports lecturer was very good and a speaker on taxation was most informative and was a great humorist. The classical recitals were excellent. Evening entertainment as usual took the form of cabaret type shows. They varied in quality some good and some pretty poor. The "Balmoral" show company were enthusiastic and very entertaining. One os the biggest selling points of Fred. Olsen cruises is the quality of the staff. This was very much the case on this cruise. Throughout the ship they were fall riendly and courteous. After the long crossing we were glad to reach out first port of call, St. John's, Newfoudland. We then had calls in quick succession in Gaspe, Baie-Comeau, Quebec City and Saguenay all in Quebec, Halifax in Nova Scotia, Bar Harbor, Maine (USA), Boston and New York City. On the return voyage we called in Sydney, Nova Scotia. Our call in Shelburne, Canada was cancelled due to the illness of the sole port pilot! Although all the ports of call had good things I thought Quebec City took the first prize. It is attractive, interesting and delightfully French.I had a hectic two days in New York revisiting places i had visited over the years and visiting new places. The visit to the 9/11 memorial was very moving and the view of the city from the Empire State Building at close to midnight was memorable. The weather during our port calls was, with a couple of exceptions very good. Sadly, the weather has been so mild this year that we didn't see the wonderful colours of New England in the Fall. The voyage home was again very smooth although the weather tended to be rather wet. We arrived in Southampton on a pleasant Autumn day after a most enjoyable cruise. Read Less
Balmoral Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.5 3.9
Dining 4.0 4.1
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.6
Family 2.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.5
Enrichment 5.0 3.4
Service 5.0 4.3
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 3.8

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