Great summer cruise!
Charlotte & Ian | May 10, 2017 | Fred Olsen Cruise Lines | Balmoral
Having sailed with P&O twice before, we weren’t sure what to expect from Fred Olsen, but we booked the ‘Authentic Andalucia’ cruise aboard Balmoral due to the fantastic itinerary and the ability to sail from Newcastle (much closer to home than Southampton). The best thing about departing from Newcastle is that we parked a short (2 minute) walk from the cruise terminal, and as soon as we pulled up our bags were whisked away to the ship.
We had booked an outside cabin (two portholes) which was lovely. Clean and comfy with plenty of space; especially in the wardrobe! Shortly after boarding, we had a good look around the ship. Despite being older than the P&O ships we had sailed on before, Balmoral is clearly very well looked after, and we found the ship to be an ideal size; not too small, not too big. We dined in the Avon restaurant which featured floor to ceiling windows and offered fantastic panoramic views from our table. We had expected the Balmoral to be a bit quieter than the P&O ships but we found the entertainment to be fantastic, with live music in the bars every night. By far the best aspect of the ship, however, was her crew! Within a couple of days, most of the staff recognised us and remembered our drinks preferences etc. We quickly realised this wasn’t limited to just us. The staff really seemed to go above and beyond for everyone on board; I’m not sure how they do it! We’ve always found the food on cruises to be great, and the Balmoral was no exception. There was plenty choice, and we particularly enjoyed the themed nights in the buffet.
The itinerary was brilliant and we thoroughly enjoyed all the ports of call, and with the exception of Gibraltar, we got a full day in each port. It was fantastic not to have to rush back to the ship for 3 or 4pm to set sail early. The extra 2 or three hours in port really made all the difference. The real highlight for us was the overnight stay in Malaga. It’s a beautiful city and we really enjoyed the extra time we had there, especially being able to see the city at night.
I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Fred Olsen & Balmoral to anyone!
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