11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2019
The Fred Olsen product is dire! We will NEVER book another cruise with them. When we got home we complained, and ended up being told that we were clearly "not the type of passengers suitable for a cruise with Fred Olsen!" Such ... Read More
The Fred Olsen product is dire! We will NEVER book another cruise with them. When we got home we complained, and ended up being told that we were clearly "not the type of passengers suitable for a cruise with Fred Olsen!" Such wonderful customer service! We're experienced cruisers, but this short Valentine cruise, our first time on Fred, was truly awful. We paid £240 per person, per night, for what was described as a Superior Suite, with the All-Inclusive drinks package. What a complete rip-off! Embarkation was painful. Although we turned up on time we had to sit and wait until called. Not the "priority boarding experience" we'd expected from their "Suite Dreams" package!. It was disorganised, with no-one to meet and greet, and the general first impression was that they just don't give a toss about their customers. Our cabin was a 1/10. We've written a separate review of this. We did explain our cabin issues to a lady at Reception for whom English was still not quite yet a second language! Although we were assured that action would be taken, nothing happened, and we never saw our cabin steward even once! The "Suite Dreams" package gives you a free bottle of fizz (worth about €1,00 at most), a bowl of hard and inedible unripe fruit (green bananas even!), and unlimited free bottled water in the cabin. Be warned though that getting the small water bottle replaced is a complete pain in the butt - you have to fill out the form on the neck label EACH TIME! Never had that one before! Our dining experience was unacceptable. Think Butlins rather than Michelin! They serve the same limited choice of food in each of their restaurants. Service is of the "bored" variety, with the wait staff definitely wanting you to think that they're doing you a favour deigning to acknowledge your presence. Both the large restaurants are very noisy, and we had a couple of tables of drunken chavs close by, each of whom had already had enough booze to sink their ship, and who only seemed to talk at full shout. After two nights we gave up and ate in the buffet. Its quieter, and the food is just as awful as elsewhere. We'd describe the whole food choices as "done to a budget" - the lowest one possible! We also came home with gastroenteritis. Not fun! The "All-Inclusive Drinks Package" is a massive con. The bar drinks menu has eight pages or so; the "All-Inclusive" list is the back half page. There's a limited choice of beer and wine, and some soft drinks. No cocktails. Nothing at all! You even have to pay for tea and coffee UNLESS you want to trek to the grotty Nescafe machine in the Iceni room. To be fair to Fred, we can see that this short four day cruise possibly attracted the wrong crowd. There were a large number of noisy drunks on board shouting at each other every evening, and our escape was to the Observatory Bar near our cabin! It possible that there was a significant number of cruise first-timers onboard who perhaps weren't that careful about hand hygiene, so its easy to see how you can pick up a mild gastroenteritis bug. The key issue we have with Fred is the poor value for money. They're charging a 5* price, and delivering at best a 3* product. The customer services lady who called us to follow up on our complaint was a complete time waster who aggressively rejected all our fair and reasonable points before telling us that we were "not the type of passengers suitable for Fred Olsen". In summary, don't bother with Fred Olsen. For around the same price you can go on Azamara or Oceania, get a decent clean cabin where the bed sheets and towels actually get changed, reasonable food and a good all-inclusive drinks package. Both cruise lines offer lovely "R" class ships that have roughly the same size and passenger numbers as Fred. Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: May 2018
Did a lot of research before hand, as we new nothing about cruising, and chose Saga because, to win all the awards they have, they must be doing it right. We were not disappointed. From pick up from our door to return to home, our whole ... Read More
Did a lot of research before hand, as we new nothing about cruising, and chose Saga because, to win all the awards they have, they must be doing it right. We were not disappointed. From pick up from our door to return to home, our whole experience was way above our expectations.Embarkation was quick and easy, cabin very clean and bigger than expected with more than enough storage space. The food was of a very good standard, with plenty of choice. Entertainment overall was good.The service throughout was excellent,with all the crew being very polite and helpful. although the sapphire is classed as a small ship, it certainly didn't feel like it to us . Disembarkation was very slick and smooth, yes, there is a waiting time, but you know in advance your app. time to go. all in all a very enjoyable holiday, and yes we will go with saga again in the future. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We chose this cruise to explore Norway and were not disappointed. The staff and crew were very friendly and helpful, the entertainment excellent especially the Boudicca show company. There are plenty of activities onboard for the days you ... Read More
We chose this cruise to explore Norway and were not disappointed. The staff and crew were very friendly and helpful, the entertainment excellent especially the Boudicca show company. There are plenty of activities onboard for the days you are at sea. Once in port I did find that it may be better to arrange your own excursions so you can work to your own timetable. It would have been nice to spend a little longer in some ports such as Bergen in order to explore further. Food was for the most part good and plentiful with plenty of choice. However I would suggest looking at the all inclusive option as my bill was over £700 although that did include some spa treatments and purchases from the shop. We were lucky enough to be invited to dine with the Captain and one of the singers from the show company, Sasha, a very pleasant experience. Disembarking was quite easy and quick. I would definitely recommend Fred Olsen, smaller ships do seem to have advantages. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
Wanted to see the Hanseatic cities so this fitted the bill. Positives:- Good itinerary, but we did our own thing in ports, usually using the excellent public transport. I'm fluent in German, which helps. Food very good. Cabin ... Read More
Wanted to see the Hanseatic cities so this fitted the bill. Positives:- Good itinerary, but we did our own thing in ports, usually using the excellent public transport. I'm fluent in German, which helps. Food very good. Cabin nice. I can't comment on the entertainment, as we didn't bother with any of it; it's just not our thing. Nice to have Bridge lessons on sea days. Plenty of activities; unlike many cruise lines these did not just involve trying to get you to spend more money on rubbish. (Usually.) Plenty of space to sit and read quietly, even though, being April, it was too cold much of the time to sit outside when under way. Drink Prices very reasonable, unlike a certain large USA-based group. Ship fully refitted a few years ago, but it looked all very new. Carpets just fitted I think. Against: We had Junior Suite 5005. Every night there was noise from above. Quite intrusive, though I usually slept through some of it. It sounded like some large wheeled objects were being wheeled around; a rumbling like distant thunder. Hopeless if you are a light sleeper. I think it must be the galley. Our neighbours in 5003 said they didn't have a problem, which seemed odd, but there you are. We preferred dining in the cafe as it just took so long in the restaurant, though that is our preference, rather than a criticism. Almost all cruise ships have to do some maintenance as they go along and this was no exception but the smell of the paint was pretty horrible tbh. Embarkation pretty smooth and disembarkation VERY quick and efficient as we took our own stuff off and Dover Port Parking were excellent. Yes- lots of very old people on there; if you don't like us oldies then please stay away! So, happy to use Fred Olsen again. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
We travelled by Evesway coach from Chester. Although we had 2 coach changes everything went smoothly. Embarkation went well and we boarded quickly, greeted by friendly staff and the usual photographer who took our photos as we boarded. The ... Read More
We travelled by Evesway coach from Chester. Although we had 2 coach changes everything went smoothly. Embarkation went well and we boarded quickly, greeted by friendly staff and the usual photographer who took our photos as we boarded. The ship a traditional older style suited myself and my husband and we enjoyed the freedom of moving from deck to deck outside. We had cabin 5019 junior suite. This is the third time we have travelled o and Boudicca. We have always been on deck 5 and find it an ideal deck location for the main activities and restaurants. The entertainment was good we enjoyed a new Boudicca Show Company, although the singer was a little dated for my liking. Other entertainers and dancing hosts were very good. We also enjoyed the lectures. Cabin very comfort and our hostess looked after us very well. We went on several tours, although not included in the initial cruise price, such tours I consider excellent as you travel in a group and you are likely to visit places you wouldn't do on your own. We went as a personal choice to see Bergen Belsen, Berlin, Lubeck, and superb Brenem. We had an excellent guide in Brenem. A special thank you to the waiters. I fact the waiter David also waited on us on the ship 3 years ago when we went to see the Solar Eclipse. One point it does seem a same that when you are asked to complete a form a couple of days into the cruise Fred Olsen will donate a 1p,yes 1p to the RNLI!!!! Why so little Fred? I would certainly recommend Fred Olsen. Although I was probably in the youngest 10%on board the ship suited me and being a smaller ship ideal for River Cruising. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2018
It fitted in with our busy schedule as we needed a much earned break and we received a good deal with all inclusive drinks. The ship was supposed to have had a refit but we couldn't see much that was new, carpets were still being ... Read More
It fitted in with our busy schedule as we needed a much earned break and we received a good deal with all inclusive drinks. The ship was supposed to have had a refit but we couldn't see much that was new, carpets were still being fitted, there were rolls of it everywhere, there was a smell of paint on several occasions but there were still areas that needed doing up, made it look untidy. Food and service was excellent. Husband was disappointed that he could not take his fold up bike as he is disabled and unable to walk very far, when we got on board several people had mobility scooters and someone even had a fold up bike! Would have made it much easier to get around as we had to make our own way because the tours were expensive, not really what we wanted to see and do and most of them involved a lot of walking. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2018
During the bleak November short evenings an e mail arrived in my inbox from Fred Olsen advertising a mystery cruise for 5 days over Easter. Where were we going ? Don't know! So of course we booked on! Driving down to Dover from ... Read More
During the bleak November short evenings an e mail arrived in my inbox from Fred Olsen advertising a mystery cruise for 5 days over Easter. Where were we going ? Don't know! So of course we booked on! Driving down to Dover from the Midlands is always fraught with delay so we went down the day before and stayed at the Best Western Hotel on the seafront. Nice hotel and a good bar meal. Taking a walk I looked over to the port and there was the Boudicca, tied up in the docks. Over breakfast we could see the steady arrival of lorries replenishing the ship which had been undergoing a refit for the previous two weeks. We boarded at 2:30 pm after a trouble free check in. We had a wheelchair and were taken on to the ship with as much help as we needed. A quick visit to the Secret Garden on deck 6 supplied the first of our tea and cake stops. There were sandwiches for those who were more hungry. The lifeboat drill was our first event and it passed the time until dinner. I was getting a little worried as the ship was getting underway and our bags were not in the cabin. However I need not have worried as they turned up shortly afterwards. Our first port if call was Ghent in Belgium which is a pretty town and accessible for visitors. There is a chocolate shop there where you can see chocolates being made and they are the best in Belgium. There was a shuttle bus from the port and our driver was a star getting the large coach through the narrow turnings and obstacles. The second port was Amsterdam which we accessed by a taxi. It was really busy and a frightening experience, but we are glad we went as we have never seen so many bikes. To be honest I never want to see that many again. Rotterdam was accessed by the port shuttle bus and was quite nice with an outdoor market and an indoor food hall but I think quite a lot of the town was shut as it was a Bank holiday. However we came back laden with cheese. We booked two outside cabins on deck 3 with port holes. We like deck 3 as it is the evenest place to be on the ship when the weather is bad. It is also good when the boarding is at deck 3. Boudicca is a small ship which means that you can find anything you want and you don't lose your family or friends for too long! We tend to hang around the same areas such as the library so we can find each other. The ship has had some changes since we were on her in August. Most noticeable is the Indian Ocean Restaurant which is now a light and airy place to eat and the oriental tea room on the way to the Neptune lounge. Again this is light and airy. There is a new TV system which seemed to work and had some reasonably new films on it. There did not seem to be the controlled chaos which followed the first trip on Black Watch after the refit . ( We were on that too) There is no 24 hour dining on Fred Olsen ships but I can't think why people want it anyway. Breakfast is available in either the main restaurants or the Secret garden at the times displayed in the Daily Times. There is probably everything to eat that you have at home and everything that you could wish for, from cold meat, cereals and porridge through to the full English. Lunch is a choice, you can go to the buffet and choose what you wish yourself or the waiters will serve you. We tend to do a mixture of both as my husband is very keen on the soup which is waiter service only. Afternoon tea is served in the Secret Garden which is the self service restaurant and is available without booking. There are a selection of sandwiches and cakes for those who have an appetite. Following this there is dinner which can be a 5 course extravaganza if that's what you fancy. There are limited options to choose from but the food is usually good or excellent and I have yet to find an equal at home. There is a supper club but I am usually tucked up in bed by then. Service is good in the restaurant and the bars and I noted that there were staff taken on to provide some activities for children. Would we go again? You bet! Would we go on a mystery cruise? Yes! Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2017
It was my friend's first time on Saga we had a great time. The door-to-door pick-up was excellent even as we left Norfolk early in the morning to reach Kent. Certainly of all the cruise lines, Saga look after their passengers the ... Read More
It was my friend's first time on Saga we had a great time. The door-to-door pick-up was excellent even as we left Norfolk early in the morning to reach Kent. Certainly of all the cruise lines, Saga look after their passengers the best. They are rightly famous for their food and their was no disappointments here, with sumptuous afternoon teas being a particular highlight. Only a short 6 days cruise but were trated to some high quality entertainment. For example, I believe I am right in thinking a brand new cast joined the same day as us. For a new team, some of whom were experienced but some new, it was thrilling to watch even though they only performed 2 shows. For my wife's friend who loves ABBA it was such a thrill to see their show. Also praise for the 'orchestra' working every night backing all sorts of material in the week. There was something for everyone on board. As well as the great entertainment, there is also a library as well as a spa, more than adequate for the size of the ship. We had 2 sea days whcih were filled with lectures and activities and flew by. And although the weather wasn't great at the start of the cruise you couldnt feel a thing. Overall highly recommended and will cruise again. Thank you Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: September 2015
We have just returned from a round britain cruise on Breamar. First the good points. The food in the thistle restaurant on most occasions was some of the best we have ever had on cruise lines. The staff were excellent and the ... Read More
We have just returned from a round britain cruise on Breamar. First the good points. The food in the thistle restaurant on most occasions was some of the best we have ever had on cruise lines. The staff were excellent and the balcony cabins large with good storage. Now the bad points. Breamar was a vast 800 person floating old peoples home. The cabin "bathrooms were so small and poorly designed that you could nor swing round let alone swing a cat as well. The gents public toilets had a dark and dingy appearance badly appointed and when I went to use them I was always treading in what I know was not water. The ship is small and bars are always full on quiz times (conducted by a screeching member of staff ). The theatre, is just a large airless room. and the "casino is two tables and no slotts at all again hosted by two members of staff with not the slightest bit of charisma at all. The ticket collection for shore excursions was a farce. no one was quite sure what they were doing. We will never go on a Fred Olsen cruise ever again and I hope anyone thinking of doing so to think hard to make sure this is a cruise for you Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2015
This was my first cruise on a Fred Olsen vessel. I usually cruise with Royal Caribbean and P&O. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised, as have previously read negative reviews about this ship. I can only compare with my previous ... Read More
This was my first cruise on a Fred Olsen vessel. I usually cruise with Royal Caribbean and P&O. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised, as have previously read negative reviews about this ship. I can only compare with my previous experiences, but although small, this ship exceeded my expectations. The food is excellent and the best I have had on a cruise. The staff are welcoming and so friendly and give 5 star service 24/7. Great onboard activities and entertainers, especially the Braemar Show Company who were the most talented bunch of singers and dancers I have come across. The ship is kept spotlessly clean, with great attention given to hygene. Embarkation was super speedy and luggage was waiting for us upon reaching our cabin. Quite a good mixture of age ranges onboard including some families with children. The only thing the ship lacks in my opinion is a proper theatre, as the main show lounge isn't really big enough to accommodate everyone at peak times. Restaurants onboard were excellent, we were in the Grampian on Deck 8 which is light and airy with large porthole windows all the way round. The self service Palms Cafe is superb, with tables laid properly with starched white cloths and waiters allocating you a table, which is better than other ships I have travelled on. Sadly, there was one big downside for me, the fact the ship is small and flat bottomed, there is a lot of movement which was a problem to me as I am not a good traveller. I spent two sea days feeling unwell, which was a shame. For that reason alone, I would probably not choose to cruise on Braemar again, but for those who travel well, I highly recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
I am a travel agent and I booked this two night break as I had never been on an MSC ship before, and I feel if you are selling a product you should really experience what you are selling to give an honest assessment. We travelled down to ... Read More
I am a travel agent and I booked this two night break as I had never been on an MSC ship before, and I feel if you are selling a product you should really experience what you are selling to give an honest assessment. We travelled down to Dover (UK) the day before the cruise departed, and I guess the biggest indictment of MSC Poesia is the fact that the meal we had in the local Chinese was vastly superior to anything we had on board (AND IT WAS SERVED APPRECIABLY HOTTER) We embarked at lunchtime on the 13th. Embarkation was absolutely superb and utterly seamless. Smooth and efficient. We found our way to our cabin (balcony category 11). Clean and tidy, nice space, good balcony and reasonable bathroom, so that was all fine. The only problem was there was a considerable amount of relevent literature missing from the cabin which took an age for them to actually rectify. We then went down to Guest Relations to register credit card, sort out all inclusive etc (which had been pre-booked and paid for) The lady on Guest Relations, whilst being perfectly pleasant had no idea about the packages, could not find out that we were on All Inclusive and I had to go back from deck 5, to my cabin on deck 11 to bring down the tickets as proof. Eventually after a period of faffing around it was sorted. We decided on a visit to Il Palladino for lunch which was mediocre at the very best. We both had pasta type dishes which were luke warm, and quite frankly bland. Italian ship/Pasta/Bland..........not really what we were expecting or hoping for. Ship exploration next. Always good fun and in truth the ship did not disappoint. It is lovely. Pools, pool area, bars, restaurants, in fact all the public areas are really nice. Clean bright, and each bar totally different in appearance and ambiance from the next. Casino was nice with plenty of tables and they actually have a separate poker room which is a nice touch. Then we came to another disappointment. Both of us enjoy looking in shops. It is always a pleasant way of spending a couple of hours....... and a few dollars. Very disappointed to find out that the shops were all going to be closed for the duration of the cruise due to the fact that the ship was going into dry dock at the end of the cruise. They were doing us the favour of opening up the Duty Free for a couple of hours on the Thursday night between 1900 and 2200 (fundamentally no use whatsoever as it fell between the show and the second sitting meal). Whilst I reluctantly accept that they closed the shops, it would have been nice to know in advance of joining the cruise. We then decided to take in a Jacuzzi and relax for a while at the Aureo Spa. A lovely ambiance. Child free with 3 lovely indoor jacuzzi and not over crowded, but my goodness they could do with putting some heating in the general relaxation area. Once you get out of the jacuzzi it was so cold, which was surprising for an indoor area. We went to the show on the Thursday night, and, although it was a trifle short, it was really very very good indeed. I am not normally a cruise-show person, although the person I was with is, and I would happily miss any cruise show. I am pleased we did not, as we both really enjoyed it and it provided a lovely pre-cursor to our dinner. DINNER. Average, average, average.........and that is the best I can say about it. Five courses, three of which were at a level of mediocrity that I am not used to on cruises and the other two minimally better. The company on our table was wonderful, but that is not something that MSC can particularly take any credit for. It did, however make the meal palatable and enjoyable as an experience. The worst part of it all was the seemingly total inability for them to serve up any dish at a temerature appreciably better than luke warm. A couple of little gripes dinner related (maybe a bit pedantic but hey ho!!) On Royal Caribbean/Celebrity/Princess etc cruises, if I order a bottle of wine, what I would expect to happen is that when the waiter saw that our glasses were getting low, he would ask and top up as required. Here, the bottle was just left on our table for us to pour as and when. I am not a snob by any means, it just isn't the way it should be. Also something as simple as cold water. With the above mentioned companies I would have my glass topped up from a jug by our waiter. Here it was a plastic bottle of water, left on our table to top up ourselves. After dinner we went into a couple of the bars to try and work our way through the cocktail menu. This proved very enjoyable and great fun. THe Zebra Bar was our particular favourite but as I said earlier they were all nice. Breakfast the following day was poor in so many respects. My companion had (and I use that word very carefully) a couple of slices of toast and a piece of waffle. The waffle was so hard that she found it virtually impossible to cut. We did think it may have been worth requesting a chisel to hack through it, but we felt our humour might fall on deaf ears. The toast was not appreciably better. The "hot" breakfast again should really have been done under the Trades Description Act. Yes it was a Breakfast. Not it was not hot, or even remotely close to that. This day we decided to go to the buffet for lunch which, from the food point of view was tasty(ish) however I can only reiterate it was warm at best. I truly do not know what is so difficult about serving either buffet or main restaurant food at an acceptable temperature. Between the two of us, I guess we have been on some 25-30 ships varying from Celebrity, Azamara, Cunard at one end and Ocean Village and Island at the other and we have never known a ship to be so incapable. The final insult to injurry was when I attempted to pay my bill. This had come across from the US and our bill for the two days was in US Dollars. It came to $57. I only had sterling and was told that it would be £59. As I am sure you will appreciate this would have represented an exchange rate of 0.966 dollars to the pound against an exchange rate of 1.40 roughly available elsewhere. I argued this with the Accounts man who insisted that it was correct until finally someone else intervened and said that it should be £39 and not £59, but it was unnecessary and potentially unpleasant. I will try and wrap this review up now. As a two night break we had a great time, however if I am making a genuine critique of the MSC experience I would conclude by saying the following:- 1) It purports to be 4* as does RCI/Princess etc. From a food perspective it cannot in anyway compete both in quality and presentation. 2) This is only an opinion. It appears to me that the staff to guest ration is unacceptably low as the inter-reaction with staff appears minimal and almost "fearful" 3) The language issues I have read about are unimportant and do not cause many delays or problems Would I cruise with MSC. Maybe again on a short cruise up to 5 nights, but I would not cruise on 7 nights or longer. I feel that I go on holiday to relax and the food quality and presentation would remove the relaxation element of my holiday. I would rather pay the slightly (and I do mean slightly) higher charges from some of the other companies and receive the experience they have to offer. Read Less
Sail Date: May 2010
This was our fourth cruise with HAL and we loved it. The others have all been to hot-weather locations. On this one the weather was good on all the land days and ideal for sightseeing but it was too cold to use the swimming pool (other ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise with HAL and we loved it. The others have all been to hot-weather locations. On this one the weather was good on all the land days and ideal for sightseeing but it was too cold to use the swimming pool (other than for a bracing wake-up call !) I missed lazing poolside on sea days but that's not HAL's fault. We chose this cruise for the destinations and they more than met our expectations. All 5 were memorable. Personally I thought the art on the Noordam and Veendam was better but that's just me and made no difference to the cruise experience. Everything esle was as before, withthe usual terrific service. Our pre-cruise research made it very clear that apart from St Petersburg all the other ports were very easy to do on your own. This made the land days quite cheap, unless you actually bought anything whilst on land. I was so busy sightseeing to have time to shop or have lunch so this was not an issue for me. All in all, another superb cruise, I would happily return to every port. In addition to my descriptions of the ports I have made short YouTube videos of the main sights at each, and if they are of interest you can find them by searching on my YouTube username, which is also Cornishpastyman1. (St Petersburg films to be added as soon as I can but all the others are there) Read Less

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