On Saturday 30th April my partner and I travelled with Fred Olsen on Balmoral to Norway. My partner and I are in our early 20's, so much younger than most travellers. We found that the design of Balmoral was quite dated and feel that it could do with a make-over, new carpets, chairs etc. but no problems with the facilities so we couldn't complain.
We arrived at Dover at 12pm (the times given were between 12pm and 2pm) and check in was smooth and fast. We did have to wait until 2pm before they started embarkation which was a bit of a pain as we expected to get straight on as I did in my previous cruise with Cruise and Maritime Voyages. Once we were invited to the ship we were directed straight to our room where our luggage was waiting for us outside - very fast service.
We asked for a table of 2 in the restaurant as we were hoping for a romantic holiday together as it was our first, and we were given this! We were in the main (Ballindalloch) restaurant which was very spacious and waiters were great. With dinner you are given a choice of wine, beer or water, but no choice for soft drinks. As we had paid for the all inclusive package and expected to have soft drinks available to us with our dinner, as advertised, but when we asked we were informed that we would have to pay for our soft drinks. Aside from this there was a lot of variety of food available and waiters were very fast in taking orders, and serving food. Very nice people.
The drinks... As mentioned above we had paid for all inclusive when we booked with Fred Olsen. With the all inclusive you are offered a variety of house wines and spirits, and selected beers and ciders. Cocktails are NOT included in the AI which I feel should have been. The cocktail selection was not great either. Having the AI package you receive a 50% discount on cocktails and branded drinks, which is better than nothing and understandable with branded alcohol. Tea and coffee are only available from the restaurants and if you wish to have them from the bar you are asked to pay which is not acceptable. There were no self service machines either so you couldn't go and help yourself when you want one. The waiters serve you tea and coffee after your meals but there is no selection of tea or coffee, you just get what you are given.
The entertainment and Activities provided on board was phenomenal. Fantastic staff and incredible shows every night to end the day on a good note. The Balmoral Show Company, who were new to the cruise were amazing and had incredible voices, Barnaby (the ship comedian) was very funny and Matt Cairnes (another vocalist) was fab too. 4th Dimension, who played in the Lido Lounge every night, were great and always got the crowd up dancing of an evening.
The waiter service in the bars was good, fast service and always quick to take orders. We waited a max of 20 minutes but was understandable as the Lounge was very busy during the show.
The Excursions provided at the Port of Calls were great. In Bergen we went to the Fløibanen funicular which was a great day out, in Olden we visited the Briksdal Glacier on Nordfjord which was beautiful and in Flam we travelled on the Flam Railway which was a little bit disappointing at this time of year.
Overall, we had a fantastic cruise with Fred Olsen and would recommend travelling on Balmoral.
We opted for a superior inner room which was very spacious and clean. There were a lot of hangers provided and a hair dyer located in the bathroom (which was very weak, luckily I had taken my own). The TV, which i should mention was square, was located at the end of the bed which was a bit hard to move around as there isn't much space between the end of the bed and wall but again, not much of an issue. The room was out-dated but all facilities were in good condition. Would recommend if you aren't going to spend much time in the room.
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Briksdal Glacier was beautiful, a very quaint area.
Disappointing railway journey at this time of year but a fantastic second half of the trip. Beautiful place to visit.View All 212 Flam Railway Reviews