Elegant, calm and homely, Fred. Olsen Cruises' Balmoral prides itself on offering comfortable and welcoming cruises, with many itineraries departing from as close to home as Newcastle and Southampton. Named after the world-famous Scotland home of the Royal Family, the stately theme continues throughout thanks to the stylish décor, fine dining and sophisticated entertainment. Small enough to navigate through narrow waterways yet large enough to host all the amenities you could need for a relaxing holiday, including bars, lounges, a swimming pool and spa, guests can enjoy an exclusive, scenic experience where they feel at home from the moment they step onboard.
Blending the boundaries between entertainment and relaxation, Balmoral prefers quality over quantity and all facilities are perfectly polished. This means that whether you need a light snack or a filling evening meal, every dining area will do more than enough to accommodate your needs. The Grill is a superb dining option featuring sumptuous steaks cooked exactly to your taste and decadent desserts, all enjoyed in an elegant setting. However, this is a popular restaurant so bookings must be made in advance whilst onboard. For a more relaxed ambience, head to the Poolside for an Al Fresco dining experience with menus taking inspiration from the cruising region. Please note that there is a £20pp supplement at The Grill and a £15pp supplement at the Poolside.
Along with every meal, Balmoral's wealth of fine wine aims to compliment every dish with vintage selections from all over the world. You'll have no trouble finding the perfect match for that delicious, grilled Red Snapper fillet you've chosen. Whether casual or formal, dining onboard Balmoral is always a treat.
Entertainment onboard Balmoral ranges from cabaret performances to comedy nights and live music. With '60s and '70s themed nights, graceful ballroom dances and all kinds of shows going on, Balmoral is strictly mature, but also bursting with a livelier side where guests are guaranteed to have the time of their life.
The Neptune Bar acts as the main lounge of the ship with regular live music, cabaret shows and of course, a full range of your favourite tipples. Other venues onboard include the Lido Bar, which overlooks the pool, Marquee Bar, which has an extensive gin menu and Morning Light Pub, open day and evening. Alternatively, head to the Observation Lounge for panoramic views and a pre-dinner drink or traditional afternoon tea.
A cruise with Balmoral makes it easy to rest and let your worries and stresses evaporate. The Atlantis Spa has all of the treatments you need to leave you feeling refreshed, including massages, manicures and hair styling. Next door to the spa is the fitness centre which has all the facilities you would expect from a gym back home, plus several fitness classes on offer including Pilates and aerobics for all fitness levels, perfect for those who like to exercise in a more social environment.
As you'd expect, all recreation is aimed towards relaxation, with shuffleboard, card games and a tremendous library of books giving you plenty of choice whilst you let the day melt away into the sunset. There are two large, heated pools onboard which are both surrounded by plenty of sun loungers. The bubbling Jacuzzis will provide you with a welcome relief after an undoubtedly busy day on shore. Once the sun has set, why not take a leisurely moonlit stroll on the Promenade, a large open air deck space providing stunning views over the ocean. Before you leave, don’t forget to indulge in some retail therapy at the Balmoral Boutique and take home with you memorable souvenirs, cosmetics, fragrances, fine jewellery and fashion accessories at duty-free prices.
We wanted to do the Christmas Markets and found a cruise on the Balmoral. Having never cruised with Fred before we didn’t really know what to expect. Couldn’t fault it - from embarkation to disembarkation, there were no issues at all. The staff were brilliant and just can’t do enough for you. We had a superior suite which was spacious and very comfortable. Food was top notch and evening entertainment very good. Great stops and always not too far to go to get into the towns and the markets. We enjoyed it s much we have booked to do it all again in 2020.
This was our first cruise with Fred Olsen and having just returned from a 10 day Mediterranean cruise with Azamara, we weren't sure what to expect. However, we were not disappointed! Our cabin was surprisingly large and a very substantial bathroom! We were very fortunate in that we had amazing weather sailing from Scotland to Orkney and Shetland and even on our day at sea, we were unaware we were sailing. There were many features on the ship itself which were pleasing - my husband loved the carpets and liked the general decor on the ship. The food was good and the service efficient. For us, it was a huge bonus sailing from Rosyth - only a 40 minute drive from home!
Well appointed ship with varied passenger groups leaning towards older. The food was excellent and well presented and there was little or no queueing for anything. Good entertainment and superb staff!! Fair prices in all outlets however shore excursions were very expensive.
This was my first ever cruise and I chose Fred Olsen for the destination and departure port. We had a very smooth check-in, embarkation and luggage delivery - you couldn't fault it. The suite was spotlessly clean and fresh, and was a very comfortable place to spend time. When underway you really had to strain your ears to hear any engine or internal noise at all. There were plenty of different public areas, but they were a little bland in appearance and all looked alike. The service, whilst overall very good, was lumpy. Breakfast and dinner were well executed but lunchtime had no finesse or style to it whatsoever. On several occasions, with just two of us dining, one person's plate was removed as soon as they finished and the next course served,straight way, which left us having different elements of the meal at the same time. The restaurant wasn't busy and there was no reason not to pace the service so that each diner was enjoying the same course at the same time. The Marquis Bar, on the top deck, had very poor service, and more often than not you had to go to the bar and order yourself. The Lido Bar at the back of the ship was, in contrast, somewhere where you wanted for nothing. What really let the ship down was the quality of the daytime and evening entertainment. It was beyond words. Daytime entertainment consisted of nothing more than 'Crafts with Marjorie' (that's a direct quote), Bingo, Carpet Bowling, or other mind-numbing offerings. The evening shows, with the exception of the ship's dance and singing troupe were equally dire, with several 'comedians' working hard to raise a laugh. The lesson to learn from that was to bring your own entertainment, for there was nothing to be found onboard. That said, we enjoyed it enough to decide to go again, as the overall journey, service levels, cabin environment etc were really enjoyable.
We had a wonderful experience on this cruise. This was our first ever cruise and we were a little nervous at what to expect. However the week’s cruise to the Norwegian fjords was absolutely fantastic. The scenery was stunning. The staff on the ship were always friendly and helpful. The food was delicious. The entertainment was outstanding. This was an unbelievable holiday experience which I would strongly recommend.
The staff were exceptional, fabulous food, we were treated like royalty. Each port we went into the disembarkation process went very smoothly. The ship was very clean The entertainment was very good. I would definitely go on a Free Olsen cruise again.
Cruised from Rosyth to Iceland and back and was the first time we had been with FO. On check in at Rosyth we were advised that our cabin needed urgent repairs and that we had been upgraded. We were moved from an Ocean View to. Superior Balcony. Never saw the room we had booked but the replacement was very nice and came with a welcome bottle of Cava and flowers. Only disappointment was that it was a twin bedded room where the beds could not be rolled together. The upgraded room came with a daily refresh of a fruit basket and also afternoon canapes. The room had the usual kettle, tea / coffee and minibar together with a daily refresh of a flask of water. Separate seating area, the loan of two umbrellas and a pair of binoculars, bathrobes and slippers. Some hotels still leave you with 3 or 4 bent wire clothes hangers. We must have had near on 30 wooden hangers between the two of us. These extras made the cabin very good quality. Being a smaller ship there wasn't the range of entertainment and distractions we've experienced on say, Cunard and Holland America. The library was very small for example. Some omissions were welcome however. The Port "talks" did not have the overt sales pitches to visit certain shops, the photographer's were not as pushy, there were no invites to art "auctions" to collect "valuable" free prints that were in reality poor postcards. I think there was a casino but never came across it but then I never looked for it. The food was mostly competent but not as refined as Cunard Holland America. However, it was very useful to mix and match at breakfast and lunch between a la carte and buffet at the same table i.e. you could have an a la carte waiter served starter and then help yourself to a buffet main course. The usual evening show varied between a company ensemble song and dance, comedian, versatile singer/ musician, and ships crew show. Our last cruise on Norwegian featured an excruciatingly amateur ships crew show. It was truly dreadful. Balmorals show however was a revelation. The singers sang in tune, the dancers danced in step and the engine room guys were hysterical - really good (the deck crew were not far behind). From the professionals Gordon Cree (singer/musician) particularly stood out. The Blue Lagoon trip as the fourth leg of the Golden Triangle trip was probably the highlight of the cruise. The lagoon changing area was so well organised. Not been to a public swimming pool in the UK for some time: never knew which coins you needed for a locker , trying to squeeze your clothes into too small a cubby hole and then pulling them out all crumpled. None of that at the Blue Lagoon : electronic wristband controlled lockers. Wristband also acts as a charge card for drinks at the swimup bar or premium mud facials in the lagoon, hanging space in the lockers, liquid soap and conditioner in the showers, hairdryers and mirrors even ear buds to dry your ears and a fluffy towel to dry yourself with. Overall, good value for the money.
German waterways cruise from Newcastle, good staff, good food, clean cabin 6005, bathroom clean but in need of refurbishment. very good entertainment. only negative was other passengers sitting on steps blocking stairway prior to disembarkation at Newcastle , despite being asked to wait in lounges where there were seats.