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1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2019
We choose this cruise to celebrate our 40th wedding Anniversary and the special offer price was too attractive to turn down. We were let down by Guest Services in Suffolk regarding this but the staff on board more than made up it. Stephen ... Read More
We choose this cruise to celebrate our 40th wedding Anniversary and the special offer price was too attractive to turn down. We were let down by Guest Services in Suffolk regarding this but the staff on board more than made up it. Stephen and Gustie in the Thistle were great. The food was better than expected with lots of choice. Our Cabin stewardess Patti offered service above expected and James in the Observation Lounge remembered our cabin number after the second visit to the bar. Jeffery in guest services sorted out head offices issues! In my opinion the art works left a lot to be desired. The one in our cabin was awful. It would have been useful to know that all the museums but one were closed In Lisbon on a Monday and Cadiz was closed on Sunday (the days we visited). The drinks package was good for adults but for anyone aged between 12-17 years it was a waste of money unless you were prepared to rot your child's teeth with at least 9 fizzy drinks a day. Yet you had to pay adult prices for the children if you had anyone of this age in your cabin. Very unfair Fred Olsen. Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
Previous wonderful experience with Fred Olsen over the past fifteen years. Sadly, will go with them no more unless they get back to their previous excellence. It appears that the ' Bean Counters ' have taken charge. Cruise prices ... Read More
Previous wonderful experience with Fred Olsen over the past fifteen years. Sadly, will go with them no more unless they get back to their previous excellence. It appears that the ' Bean Counters ' have taken charge. Cruise prices have rocketed by up to 70% ( beware ' Anchor Fares ' you will be second class guests even having to pay a large sum for a couple of clicks on a computer to change your unfavourable dining time ). Quality of food has fallen dramatically, they used to have the very best food, now the meat is tough ( pork steaks, veal etc. ) Food in the self service buffets is always no more than very lukewarm, cold bacon, uncooked vegetables, far less than al dente, just dipped in warm water. The breakfast marmalade and jams are cheap, bulk bought and tasteless in open dishes rather than the tasty individual sealed packs and immediately adjacent to wheat bearing bagels so the crumbs can contaminate the jams with gluten. Scrambled eggs very cool and so runny they could be poured; horrid. Never once was steak or prawn cocktails on offer, unlike other cruise lines where they are staple every dinner. A New Maitre D' needed, bring back Mr Angel. Same guest artists twice each in 7 nights. Good theatre company, though. No interesting guest speakers Captain waiter in Palms never once spoke to us, not even a greeting. We ate there over 30 times. Dirty looking, food ingrained table mats in Palms restaurant, no doubt bacteria bearing. Mentioned this but they were only ever wiped over with a damp cloth, and, to think, cruise lines worry about Norovirus !! Only place where good food available is The Grill, at £20,00 per person extra, but even that is over priced, no soup on menu. Only good coffee on the ship in there. We have recommended Olsen to many friends and obtained many customers for them but we can no longer do so as there is far better value on other cruise lines. We have three further cruises booked, none of them with Fred Olsen. Only consolation of this cruise was the wonderful staff (mostly ) Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
We chose this cruise as it covered the destinations we wished to see. Unfortunately a Pilot strike at the Portugase ports prevented us from docking at Porto.so we only docked at 3 instead of 4 destinations. Not the fault of Fred Olson. ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it covered the destinations we wished to see. Unfortunately a Pilot strike at the Portugase ports prevented us from docking at Porto.so we only docked at 3 instead of 4 destinations. Not the fault of Fred Olson. Fred Olson passengers must be some of the most loyal and supportive of any customers in any business in the world. I never heard any compaints at all. My compaints cover penny pinching:- 1. I am diabetic so upon boarding the ship i needed a sandwich at around 4 pm to last me to 8-30 dinning. I was sent to Palm cafe and was given the most disgusting cheese and ham sandwiches. both the cheese and ham were cut so thi that you could not tast them. 2. Both my wife and I paid £150 each for the drinks package. I am diabetic so drink diabetic drinks such as Diat pepsi or diet lemonadw. the first time I asked for a pint of diet Pepsi. Answer came back you can have pints of beer or larger but only halves of diet drinks. Ok I said I will have 2 halve. No was the answer you must drink one then ask for another. . It is in the small print rules. I would have been happy to drink just the diet drinks on the full cruise but to get my own back ordered enough wine each evening to use a full bottle each night. 3. I am an International Director of Operations and use a vodafone IPAD whenever I am overseas. I paid £50 for 5 nights up front. For 2 nights I could not send emails and on the third Fred Olson lady linked me to Google to send messages. My advce to people would be purchase 1 days WIFI and check first. My advice to Fred Olsen would be to do the same as most hotels these days and give free access to WIFI on board your ships. I started my working life as an Accountant with Glaxo, British Oxygen working my way to Finance director. I then became MD and CEO of an Anglo/American company. The reason I mention this is that I started off looking for pennies to turn into pounds of saving but as an MD I learnt to make judgements on how to make savings that were not petty and would harm the company reputation. Read Less
24 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
My elderly mother cannot fly because of health issues and wanted to visit her home country.This was the only cruise that called at ports we wanted to call at. Our experience of the cruise started poorly when initial arrangements were ... Read More
My elderly mother cannot fly because of health issues and wanted to visit her home country.This was the only cruise that called at ports we wanted to call at. Our experience of the cruise started poorly when initial arrangements were badly handled and information had to be submitted several times.I let that go as one of those things. Once on board , every time I bought anything whether in the restaurants , shops ,bars etc the bill presented left a line for adding a tip. This despite having prepaid gratuities as recommended by the cruise line. That is appalling. The cabin service by the stewardess was efficient. The room service orders arrived prompt ,served efficiently and by nice staff. The waiters allocated to our table were excellent ( so I tipped generously). Otherwise, things are not good. The food was indifferent, sometimes the portions were meagre . Classic dishes were often spoiled , being accompanied by a bit of boiled vegetables. Appetisers were particularly bad, better to have none at all. The buffets were of inferior cafeteria standard. The breakfast buffets were basic and tired , the bread available dreadful. As for the coffee throughout the ship (in the restaurants, the buffets, breakfast ,etc it was dire, dreadful, weak, thin . Similarly with tea , the water for which was never hot enough. So weak tea was served throughout. The only way to have decent tea or coffee was to buy and pay for it in a specialist coffee shop. The wine lists were absurd. At the beginning of the wine list 5 recommended fine wines were listed. When ordering one of these , after waiting 10 minutes, I was told they didn’t have it. So I chose an alternative, that was also not available and so on with 4 of their own recommended wines! The wine waiters didn’t know much about wine. So nothing on this ship for wine lovers. The entertainment on board was basic holiday camp fare, except for two excellent guitarists often playing some of the lounges. The activities available were standard fare. The gangways at most ports were badly arranged - given that they knew most passengers were elderly - steep stairs were in use. Bad enough for many to struggle descending , much worse when ascending on returning to the ship. Claims that they were restricted by the tides did not check out, as they could ramp or extend the steps to make them easier. Overall, the ship has a downmarket feel and the cruise line seem unmoved by making life better for its customers. I shall not be using it again. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
On board the Black Watch is like stepping back in time. The decor and fittings are very 1970s although clean, there is no WOW factor anywhere on the ship. This was our first cruise and based our poor experience it could be our last. ... Read More
On board the Black Watch is like stepping back in time. The decor and fittings are very 1970s although clean, there is no WOW factor anywhere on the ship. This was our first cruise and based our poor experience it could be our last. The boarding process at the port was one of the worst travel experiences I have had. Hundreds of passengers crammed into a hangar waiting their numbers to be called and we waited for 1hr 50 minutes and were the last to board even though we arrived exactly at the time we were instructed to on our boarding instructions. There was no explanation given just occasional apologies. So we arrived at our cabin fighting disappointment at our introductory experience with Fred Olsen. The next blow was that we learned that we would not be stopping at our first port of call, la Coruna, due to some mechanical problem. This port and the onshore trip to Santiago was the reason I booked the trip. The food was good. The alcohol reasonably priced and the service of a high standard with one or two surly exceptions. The shows were unoriginal. There was a very good comedian. The onboard activities were ok. The highlight of the trip was the Observatory Lounge where we enjoyed lovely cocktails while listening to an excellent trio. We met people who we will keep in touch with. Overall we both feel we spent a lot of money on a poor holiday and that same sum could have got us a luxury hotel for longer. Read Less
43 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: October 2015
The worse cruising experience I have ever had. From beginning to end. My wife and I have cruised with Fred Olsen cruises on three occasions this was to be our fourth, we booked a cruise for my mother and father in law, my sister and ... Read More
The worse cruising experience I have ever had. From beginning to end. My wife and I have cruised with Fred Olsen cruises on three occasions this was to be our fourth, we booked a cruise for my mother and father in law, my sister and brother inlaw and my wife and I. The cruise was on the "Black Watch" an eight night cruise sailing from Belfast October 2015. The cruise started on the 16th October 2015 we were told to check in at their facility at Belfast docks at 2pm, my brother Inlaw was given a 2.30pm checkin, why? After registration all 700+ passengers were herded into what I can only describe as a small warehouse with very basic facilities, like myself most passengers would have been retired with a large number of disabled people. We waited almost 2.50 hours in crowded cold conditions to be bused to the ship which was located at another dock beside an animal feed warehouse, the stench was almost overwhelming. The checkin warehouse had a hole in the wall canteen offering hot and cold drinks which we had to pay for, yet we had checked in, and all of our party had an all inclusive card, Both my wife's parents are in their 80's and sat shivering like others waiting on the inadequate number of coaches to take us to the ship. When we eventually arrived onboard we went immediately to our Cabin (Superior Outside cabin) which I can only describe as tired and past its sell by date, both single beds mattresses had bowed in the middle and looked like something you would get in some third world hostel. The usual ships newsletter was placed on the table it listed various events, restaurant times etc, enclosed with it was a special notice informing us that due to repairs to the ship auxiliary engine we would be missing our first port of call "La Coruna." The ship would be going to the second port of call "Bilbao" for repairs so we would spend almost three days there. We were offered £50 each as compensation which had to be spent on the ship. At this stage the ship had not left the dockside in Belfast. If Fred Olsen cruises had notified us prior to getting on the ship I would have cancelled, as one of the main reasons for booking was the opportunity of going to La Coruna and taking my wife's parents to Santiago de Compostela an opportunity which because of their age and cost will sadly not be possible again. Having sailed on Fred Olsen cruises three other ships I had no hesitation booking the Black Watch as the previous cruising experience on these ships was faultless, unfortunately the Black Watch fell way below their sister ships standards, the main restaurant was one of the worst I have seen, was more like a ferry canteen than an elegant cruise ship restaurant, It was to bright and lacked any atmosphere. The staff lacked personality and just seemed totally bored, unenthusiastic, we listened to a couple of the waiters complain about the salary they got from The cruise company and how it was topped up with the gratuities which we had all prepaid. In comparison with its sister ships the menus were boring, breakfast and lunch was a buffet but you could order off the menu if you could get eye contact with a waiter I gave up trying and opted for buffet. Trying to get a glass of wine on our all inclusive card on occasions took ages getting eye contact with a waiter got worse as each day went by, on the final night my father in law finally got a glass after he had finished his main course, in any case the house wine was practically undrinkable. The reception staff, shop staff were totally unpleasant, getting a smile was a rarity, the one area that I enjoyed on the ship was the observatory bar the staff were pleasant and efficient, the trio who played there every evening were excellent. One of my pet hates on any cruise is the constant manufactured occasions that their photographers use to get a happy holiday shot, captains dinner, captains farewell dinner etc, the photographs cost a fortune to purchase, on the Black Watch I seen one of the worse photographs I have ever seen, a couple getting photographed with the captain, his wife stood beside the captain, her husband was in a wheel chair, the photographer took this shot and put the picture on the usual display. The head of the person in the wheelchair was all that you could see of him sticking up at the bottom of the photo. All my comments like this are just a snapshot of a very bad experience on the Black Watch never to be repeated. Read Less
Sail Date: July 2014
forget the negative reviews, you'll find the ship clean, the food impeccable and the service courteous. I was slightly nervous bearing in mind my previous experience on Black Watch and the reviews this year - but I loved everything ... Read More
forget the negative reviews, you'll find the ship clean, the food impeccable and the service courteous. I was slightly nervous bearing in mind my previous experience on Black Watch and the reviews this year - but I loved everything about this cruise. So much so we've booked on the same ship for next year. Whilst the 3 restaurants are fine - we were in Avon and the views were wonderful, we ate mostly though in the Palms cafe, initially because our table bookign time at 6.30pm was too early but consequently because we loved the relaxed pace and the choice of food was incredible (quality matching it!) Everyone we met commented on the high quality of the food. I had the pleasure of meeting the Chef de Cuisine, Alex Saxon and he told me that he was 3 months into his time on the ship and was still improving the food (blimey!) Our cabin (9091) was kept absolutely spotless by the efficient Emma and room service to the cabin was exceptionally quick and good quality. The bar staff were unerringly smiling and impeccably dressed, served quickly and the prices were exceptionally good (big thanks to Ruby in the Lido who was our fave!) Talon topped the entertainment bill and as always were a crowd pleaser. The ships entertainment group were slick and professional but I MUST mention the crew's entertainment evening and the display given by the engineering crew of "crazy frog" - I've never seen anything as inventive or funny, the whole of the Neptune lounge was in gales of laughter. So well done Fred Olsen and the staff of Balmoral - you've made me (and I suspect many others on the cruise) very happy holiday makers! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2014
We cruised from Avonmouth to Bilbao, La Rochelle and L'Orient. This cruise was highly successful, helped by good weather. The food, cleanliness and crew of Boudicca were first class. Attention to the prevention of norovirus verged on ... Read More
We cruised from Avonmouth to Bilbao, La Rochelle and L'Orient. This cruise was highly successful, helped by good weather. The food, cleanliness and crew of Boudicca were first class. Attention to the prevention of norovirus verged on the fanatical and no-one became ill so far as I am aware. Although the ship is old, the benefit of recent refits showed through with a high standard of fixtures and fittings throughout. We had an inside cabin on deck 4. This was a good sized cabin and we found it quite adequate for our needs. A visit to the lower deck, 3, showed that engine noise could be a problem at that level so if anyone is concerned about this, deck 3 maybe best avoided. Although not one of the great cities of Spain, Bilboa is still well worth visiting as is La Rochelle. L'Orient, however, is a bland modern city having been completely rebuilt after WW2. But it does provide delightful excursion possibilities to the Bretagne coast and countryside. Drinks were at pub prices and Spitfire and Bishop's Finger available in bottles. Also Boddingtons on draught. As well as lagers and stout. A bottle of Scotch cost £20 for a litre delivered to your cabin where you could drink it during the voyage. So don't bother trying to smuggle it on-board. The entertainment was plentiful and of a high standard. The only downside was that Avonmouth is not a good cruise port (they use the banana storage shed as a terminal). Boudicca was in fact berthed at Portbury for embarkation since high winds prevented entry to Avonmouth. We were bussed from Avonmouth to Portbury. She was able to dock at Avonmouth for disembarkation. Both embarkation and disembarkation took a long time. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2014
We arrived at Avonmouth port in good time for our 6 night cruise to Spain and France, calling at Getxo (for Bilbao), La Pallice (for La Rochelle), and L'Orient . We normally have to travel to Southampton for our cruises, so this was ... Read More
We arrived at Avonmouth port in good time for our 6 night cruise to Spain and France, calling at Getxo (for Bilbao), La Pallice (for La Rochelle), and L'Orient . We normally have to travel to Southampton for our cruises, so this was convenient as we live in the South West, saving us an hour of travelling time. The facilities at Avonmouth are basic, but parking is just a couple of minutes walk from the port, which is a bonus. The ship underwent a refit last year, and we found it to be light, airy and spacious. The food in the restaurants is good, and the service throughout the ship is of a high standard.. We liked the new coffee bar, but didn't try the outdoor Grill restaurant. N. B.there is a supplement for eating in this restaurant, which started at £15 per person, then was reduced to £10 per person after a couple of days! Entertainment was of a high standard, with a comedian and an international flautist, Stephen Clark, as well as the ship's company. The port lectures given by Hazel Griffiths were very useful, and its possible to visit all the ports without having to take the ship's tours if you wish. There were also some interesting lectures given by Mick Dawson about his successful trip across the North Pacific in a rowing boat. This was our first cruise on the Boudicca, and we thoroughly enjoyed it! Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2014
We sailed from Avonmouth to Bilbao and returned to Avonmouth calling at La Rochelle and L'Orient. The cruise began in dreadful weather and we were bussed the short distance from Avonmouth the Royal Portbury Dock. This was achieved by ... Read More
We sailed from Avonmouth to Bilbao and returned to Avonmouth calling at La Rochelle and L'Orient. The cruise began in dreadful weather and we were bussed the short distance from Avonmouth the Royal Portbury Dock. This was achieved by the port staff with minimal fuss and the staff at Bristol Airport could learn a lesson from it! We have now done three cruises with Olsen and I would be very surprised if there was a fourth. On the plus side: A good captain who made most of the announcements rather than leaving it to the "cruise director" who, whenever he could broadcast, talked to his audience as if they were idiots. Where do they get these people from? We had a nice cabin although, perhaps, a little tired On the negatîve side: Olsen, if he could, would charge for the air his British passengers breathed. He wanted £22 for a return bus ride of about four miles from the port into La Rochelle! Because of the cabin we had we were entitled to a free shuttle. Together with another couple we shared a taxi which was 20 euros each way. In other words 40 euros as opposed to £88! I was told by reception, the night before we arrived in La Rochelle, there would be no taxis in the port. There were loads of them. Catering, generally, was not impressive in terms of food or service although better than when we went on the Braemar in 2013. Overall, my feeling is that Fred Olsen is losing its way and is not realising that it's passengers are human and will react if badly treated.   Read Less
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