We have been on previous river cruises, but always with Avalon Cruises, we thought that with a reputation like Fred Olsen this cruise would be of the same standard, Oh how wrong we were. The only thing that matched Avalon was the food.
Everything else was poor, it was not even a Fred Olsen cruise, but a Luftner Cruise and only one person on the whole boat actually worked for Olsen, the hygiene standards where not good, it was possible to come down the steps of the sun deck, straight into the bar area where the light lunch was served daily without even passing a hand sanitiser, not once did we see any hand rails cleaned, this is normally carried out daily on most cruises. On booking we were not told that due to one river having numerous low bridges the sun deck would be closed for three days, we were not told that on the same river we would have to pass through 34 locks. The entertainment was poor, with the vocalist being unable to sing in the same key as the piano quite often, some nights she almost emptied the bar in minutes.
One very hot day, moored next to an Avalon boat, the sun deck was roped off and no chairs or sunshades were erected, people in their 70’s and 80’s were left to either climb over the rope and grab a chair or just stand, while some of the lazy crew watched from the back of the boat, where they had erected something for themselves, while others stood on the dock smoking. By contrast, the Avalon crew had put out sunshades and sun beds for their guests. I have photos of this. I spoke to Richard, cannot remember his job title as he came back on board with the only Fred Olsen employee, Jess, who shot off quickly before I could speak to her, I think he did try to help, but he had no authority and we were just left to stand there.
I have never in 40 years of holidays heard so many guests moaning about so many things, I could site numerous other failings, but I am sure they will be covered by other guests. The only praise that I can credit them with is the standard of the food and the willingness of the waiting staff, who were very good, but even their, although the food came out hot at breakfast, their was totally inadequate facilities to keep it hot, the person in charge of service was aware of this, but again did nothing to rectify it, just total lack of competent management from start to finish.
To be fair to Fred Olsen, they are relatively new to these type of cruises and I have been told that their sea cruises are much better, the only advice I can give them, is to book themselves onto an Avalon Cruise, observe, record, go back to Brabant and implement. They are doing their hard earned good reputation not good by carrying on with cruises of this standard.
Clean, tidy, on par for a river boat. Mattress very uncomfortable.