Fantastic norway cruise on Balmoral
Louise | March 5, 2014 | Fred Olsen Cruise Lines | Balmoral
the parking and check in at Newcastle port was very efficient. We were directed to the carpark at the port, the porters took our luggage and we then walked the short distance to the terminal building. The check in was very well organised. priority check in was offered for decks 8,9 and 10 with self-service check in offered for all other passengers. We had booked a premier suite. The cabin was very spacious and was more than enough space for a family of four. Oliver had the convertible sofa bed and spencer slept on a camp bed. Oliver was also offered a camp bed if he preferred it instead of the sofa bed.
We found freds supplied a comprehensive shore excursion booklet with port guides enclosed before departure but we did feel the excursions were very expensive for kids and a lot of the excursions had notes to say not suitable for under 12 years.
The kids club was fantastic and really made the holiday although the facilities supplied for the kid??s club wasn’t brilliant. The main room for the kids club was the arts and crafts room on deck 3. The staff made the very best of the facilities which they had and the boys had a fantastic time.
The weather was very rainy in the fjords. The ship coped extremely well in the fjords and we were able to do more scenic cruising into the fjords where the larger ships couldn’t go.
Having travelled with Fred Olsen before we knew it would be a smaller ship, more traditional ship with fantastic food and not as many facilities as the newer ships. Our impressions changed as soon as we embarked the ship, we found the attitude of passengers more friendly than last time. We were stunned when we entered the cabin to see the size of it. The cabin stewards were fantastic and the sweet dreams package supplied Champagne on arrival, fruit basket replenished every day and daily canapes and complimentary shuttle buses. The cabin had a flat screen interactive tv where we could see our onboard account, order wine for in the restaurant etc.
The ideal target for fred Olsen is couples, seniors and singles. The ship is ideal for these groups and most of the entertainment is targeted in this way.
Seniors are the ideal age group for Fred Olsen as it is more traditional cruising with traditional dining. The entertainment followed the British theme throughout the cruise during the evening shows in the theatre and dance classes throughout the day. The morning light pub in the evening tendered to cater for a younger age group with live Irish music, the morning light pub had a fantastic atmosphere and was busy most evenings.
Families were very well catered for on Balmoral. The deck 11 pool area was the family area and other passengers were also made aware of this. Family dining at kids?? corner was provided but not until much nearer the time of sailing. This was at 5:45pm until 7pm as we had booked first dining it was too late to change. The kids club on board was run by Mark & Hannah 3pm until 5:30pm and 7:30pm until 9:30pm on port days and then also 10:00am until 12pm on sea days. The kids club activities were brilliant even with the lack of facilities provided and the kids had a fantastic time. They loved getting their own little skippers newsletter each evening ready for the next day. The staff in the restaurant were fantastic with the kids and they also had the choice of having a kid??s menu in the restaurant.
Singles -single passengers had meetings provided a couple of times a day in the lido lounge to meet up and seemed to be well catered for.
Young couples – we did notice a lot more young couples and larger extended family groups onboard travelling together. talking to other passengers the drinks packages have made it more attractive. The only criticism we could make is the drinks package is the same price for kids and adults.
We thoroughly enjoyed this cruise and would definitely cruise with Fred??s again. The ship is a perfect size for the Fjords and for families. I would definitely recommend Balmoral for families and having the kids club was an added bonus.
We have travelled with Fred Olsen before and the experience was completely different, Black Watch was definitely a ship suited more to seniors and singles rather than families and I believe this was more due to the attitude of passengers not wanting kids on board rather than the staff. The Spey restaurant was perfect not too cramped and had a good mix of tables for 8 or 4. We didn’t see any tables for 2. We have also travelled as a family with P&O Cruises and found this again to be a different experience due to larger ships and the kids club having more facilities with longer opening hours. We did miss the flexibility of Freedom dining and if we had prior warning of the kids?? corner tea we would have opted for second dining.
Fred Olsen is one of the friendliest cruise lines I have been on. The staff work really hard and are always happy to help. The extra benefits available with the suites are fantastic and I didn’t realise until I went onboard just how big the suites are. Due to the weather not being brilliant having the extra space in the cabin was really important and made our holiday. It was definitely worth upgrading. The balcony was very spacious with a full size dining table and four chairs plus two full size sun loungers. although the ship is older the technology in the cabin was up to date with flat screen interactive tv, dvd and surround sound speakers.
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