It Grew on Me
Jim | January 19, 2014 | Fred Olsen Cruise Lines | Balmoral
This was my first cruise with Fred Olsen and first time as a singleton in an inside cabin. Prior to beginning my cruise I was a little disappointed with the online website and the speed of operation, also having to change passwords several times to access any information and it wouldn’t recognise previous passwords. The additional ?2 per night for an early dining sitting was surprising.
Nevertheless, I joined the ship in Southampton with an open mind and as usual the embarkation was very smooth and I was onboard and in the cabin (bags already there) within 45 minutes of arriving. I had been upgraded to a superior single on deck 9 and I have to say the cabin was very spacious with a ‘normal’ double bed (not two singles pushed together). Lighting was good and I didn’t feel claustrophobic or in any event I didn’t really notice the loss of the window – very good blackout for sleeping. Given the age and size of the ship, I think in general it was in good order and I have to give praise to the Captain, officers and crew on their politeness. Although I have no real instances to complain about – you do however get the impression that you are disturbing the reception desk when approaching about anything – this isn’t unique to FO by the way.
The entertainments Director and his team were first class and were always keen to please. The Balmoral Singers and Dancers I understand we’re on their first cruise and apart from the Opening show (maybe nerves) were excellent throughout. Guest entertainers were also very good particularly the comedian – on the final show, the BBC Radio 2 singer should have sang more than he did (one song then another with audience participation). The magician/illusionist couple were great and added that extra bit of variety.
I took all meals in the main dining rooms and felt awkward to begin with over breakfast and lunch whether you had to help yourself or order from the menu – eventually I realised that if you wanted a la carte you ordered from the menu or just helped yourself to the buffet. Food was plentiful and very nice. The waiters did a great job and deserve every penny they earn or receive in tips as do the cabin stewards. I had the pleasure of meeting the Captain and Chief Officer in the gym on a couple of occasions who were very polite and proud of the the ship and crew. The gym itself could do with a make-over (particularly the laminate floor!) and the equipment is a bit tired. This is the first time I used an infra red sauna which I have to say was useless and didn’t seem to be very popular with anyone else. They are individual saunas and just not in anyway shape or form inviting.
I did a similar cruise last year on P&O so had already done the tours so on this trip I just did my own thing which was also very pleasant and relaxing. If anything there were far too may ports and a couple of days at sea would have been welcome.
In all a very pleasant experience – would I do it again? Yes definitely if the single tariff is inviting.
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