Last week we were among the lucky guests to be welcomed aboard Fred Olsen’s Balmoral. After a meet and greet with Steve Newman, as on previous ship visits to Newcastle, we were introduced to the Fred Olsen team of Keith, Rachel and Laura, who soon had all guests organised into three groups with welcome gifts.
On boarding we were guided through to the main show area which was a very good size for a smaller cruise ship which accommodates around 1,300 passengers. We received welcome drinks of choice, Champagne, Bucks Fizz or Orange Juice, while we were given a brief history on Fred Olsen cruise ships and outline of their worldwide cruises. Lots of useful information was given including the fact that on board drinks are pretty much on a level with pub prices and they have all inclusive upgrades for £15 per day, which seemed very good value for the drinkers.
After the presentation we joined Fred Olsen’s PR Manager, Rachel, who had spent the last 5 nights on board this ship, so had personal experience as well as her professional knowledge, having worked for the company for several years. Rachel’s tour included several eateries which were clean, light and spacious and, in part, designed as great viewing platforms for the Ocean life. Also the beauty, spa and gym areas which were strategically placed to view the outside panorama too.
The rooms we visited were many, of different shapes and grades but what they all had in common, whether they were inside or outside rooms, was that they were all spacious. Even with about 10 people in a room I noted we were easily able to move around each other. The bathrooms were a decent size also with most having bath tubs and showers.
Initially before boarding the ship we had been told by someone this was an old ship so on hearing this we were not expecting much from this visit. However, we were pleasantly surprised at how tidy and well maintained it was. Yes, there were ongoing repairs in operation eg replacing an area of carpet in one of the restaurants and a window was being repaired in the show room area but these are for safety and necessary while in port during mid cruise.
Our very informative tour was soon over but not before we were guided to the main dining area, which had a lovely walkway entrance, for a buffet lunch. We were offered a choice of 2 delicious soups for starters. This was followed by a varied hot and cold buffet, which was beautifully and ornately decorated. We were served with a choice of wine and I have to say the white wine was absolutely lovely. Compliments to whom ever chose the wine…if it was the house wine you are in for a real treat cruisers.
Soon it was time to disembark. We had been treated to a very informative day visit. Big thanks to all involved. We parted company with much to digest regarding cruising. It was good to see, on reading the brochures, that Fred Olsen also offer short cruises from 1 to 4 days long. This is a fantastic way to enjoy a taste of cruising and one I’m sure we will be taking soon. This along with Fred Olsen’s guarantee that if you find cruises are just not for you within the first 2 days they will drop you at the next port and fly you home, I really don’t think you can get fairer than that if you fear signing up for any length of time on the ocean waves.
Bon voyage my friends. We now need to look at the river cruises, as seen in the presentation and noted recently in Silver travel news, Fred Olsen have also introduced River Cruise boats to their family. Spoilt for choice we are. Enjoy!