Balmoral Cruise Ship Review
Fred Olsen Cruise Line
by Paul and Carole
The cruise industry is growing at an alarming rate and focus is mostly on what is new and exciting. Cruise ships are getting bigger and bigger, with zip wires, bumper cars, magic carpets and the lastest NCL ship coming out this year even has a Go Kart track!
As we are now over the age of 50 (only just mind!) those things don’t really excite us any more but what does is a relaxing cruise on a stylish ship that provides comfortable surroundings, good entertainment and excellent dining opportunities.
We are experienced cruisers, and after cruising predominantly on the larger ships, are tastes are changing. In the last two years our favourite cruises have been on the smaller ships with Marella cruises. This got us thinking what else was out there and the reason why we wanted to see what Fred Olsen Cruise Lines had to offer. We were invited on a day visit on the Balmoral Cruise Ship and this is what we discovered.
*We were hosted for our day trip with Fred Olsen Cruise, however our opinions are a true reflection of our experience.
The Balmoral Cruise Ship has abundant deck space with open sea views
This might sound strange as your probably thinking, well your on a cruise ship at sea what else can you see, however, outside space with a a sea view on some ships is difficult to find. This is not the case on the Balmoral Cruise Ship. There is nothing better than sitting on deck watching the world literally go by.
The Aft Pool on deck 7 looked a really great place to catch some rays and enjoy a cocktail. The pool was a decent size with two jacuzzi’s which are raised for the perfect view.
There was also additional seating areas on the decks above and a promenade deck that extends all the way around deck 7.
Right at the top of the ship you will find the pool area on deck 11 which looked a fabulous place to hang out too.
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Comfortable lounges with large windows on the Balmoral Cruise Ship
The Balmoral has a few of these and we loved the magnificent Marquee Observatory located on deck 11 at the very top which provides panoramic views.
The Lido Bar overlooks the aft pool on Lounge Deck 7 and offers superb, unspoilt views from the stern of the ship.
The Lido also had large windows too, and with talks, lectures and classes during the day, and live performances of stand-up comedy and music from the resident bands and singers this looks a great place to be, this was definitely somewhere we would spend our evenings.
Another venue that we were told was popular is the Morning Light Pub, and we do love a pub! A great spot to grab a pint or a pre dinner drink.
Entertainment can also be found in the main theatre called the Neptune. A lounge with graduating seating so it appears wherever you are sat there is a good view. The stage can also be adapted and elevated, depending on the type of entertainment too.
The Bookmark cafe looked another comfortable space to enjoy a coffee and a good book, with a comprehensive library and an excellent selection of chocolates on offer which certainly caught our attention.
All inclusive drinks package can be purchased from £15 a day on the Balmoral Cruise Ship
Now this is cheap, however, checking the small print £15 per day only applies for cruises of more than 4 days. If you cruise for 1-4 days or less it is £34 per day. Getting an all inclusive package can save you money but do check out the bar prices here and see if the all inclusive is for you.
Unique Itineraries on the Balmoral Cruise Ship
Due to the size of the ships the Fred Olsen ships are able to access ports larger ships can’t which makes for really interesting and different itineraries. When we sadly had to get off after our visit the ship was heading down the river Seine to Honfleur and Rouen, and the following cruise was to Brazil and the Rio Carnival!
We are currently watching Danielle also known as Cruise Miss who is currently on a World cruise on the Black Watch, another Fred Olsen ship and we dream of doing this one day!
For UK cruisers there is also a variety of ports to choose from including Dover, Southampton, Liverpool, Newcastle and Rosyth
Loyal following of the the Balmoral Cruise Ship and Fred Olsen
Talking to Zhenya, the future cruise sales manager it became apparent that there are a high percentage of repeat guests. We sometimes wait until last minute to book our cruises, however, cruises on the Blamoral do get booked up and we found this out the hard way when we missed out on the the 3 night Cruise to Honfleur!
Traditional daily activities on the Balmoral Cruise Ship
We were told that at noon each day the Captain addresses the ship, this is something that we thought was a nice touch.
Daily quizzes, guest lecturers, bingo, afternoon tea and dance lessons also seem available. Must admit we have joined in the dance classes on previous cruises which has been great fun, though I don’t think we are quite ready for Strictly Come Dancing yet!
We know it’s not for everyone but do we enjoy this side of cruising.
WiFi Packages on the Balmoral Cruise Ship
There are different options that are reasonable compared to other cruise lines. The 120-minute package for £13.00, the unlimited 5-day package for £50.00, and the seven-day package is £63.00.
The diversity of the cabin configurations available on the Balmoral Cruise Ship
We were shown a variety of cabins and were very impressed with the decor and how spacious the majority were. We noticed there were many different shaped cabins so it is really worth doing your research to find the perfect layout that works for you.
In an ideal world we would love to have a balcony on all of our cruises however in reality our budget does not always allow! We do like a bit of natural light so an ocean view does suit. We particularly liked this arrangement so that you could sit and drink your coffee with a view through the large picture window. In all of our previous ocean view cabins the bed has been under the window.
We cruise with our Dad’s sometimes and John uses a mobility scooter so it was interesting to see the accessible cabins and suites. Well equipped and ideal for individuals with mobility issues.
We dream of the days when we will stay in a suite and on this visit is was so good to see the suites that were on offer. Our particular favourite was the Owners Suite, with two bathrooms, walk in wardrobe, seating and dining area it was pretty impressive. We love to dream….maybe one day!
Fine Dining on the Balmoral Cruise Ship
These are multiple dining options on board the Balmoral. The Ballindalloch, Spey and Avon main dining areas and the Palms Buffet restaurant.
Recent refurbishments include a Mediterranean rest, which is a new dining area at the back of the Palms Restaurant. The Grill (Steak and seafood) which is another completely newly purpose built restaurant but as a speciality restaurant does come with an extra charge.
We enjoyed a 3 course lunch in the Spey Restaurant, Prawns, Pheasant and a delicious sugar free chocolate pudding that did not taste sugar free at all, the whole meal was delicious!
Complimentary Room Service on the Balmoral Cruise Ship
There is a complimentary room service for breakfast and light snacks which is served between 10am and 10pm each day. Drinks are also available 24 hours a day.
Oceans Club Membership
This is the loyalty programme for all the Fred Olsen Ships which is always good to see. You automatically start accumulating points from the first night you cruise.
Health and Wellbeing on the Balmoral Cruise Ship
I can’t pretend we are health nuts because we are not, however, we are always interested in what the health spa has to offer. The Atlantis Spa has a well equipped gym with excellent views out of the front of the ship.
Normally the prices for treatments at sea can be extortionate, however, we were pleasantly surprised as the prices here were competitive with a foot and ankle massage starting at £25.
Balmoral Cruise Ship Facts
The Balmoral Cruise Ship is the largest of the four cruise ships in the Fred Olsen Fleet. The other ships being the Black Watch, Boudicca, and the Braemar. The ship takes her name from the Scottish residence of the British Royal Family and there is a Scottish theme throughout.
With 710 well equipped cabins and suites, she can carry up to 1350 passengers and has a crew of 510.
The Balmoral Cruise Ship is just over 218 metres long and 28 metres wide, and with a tonnage of 43,537 grt can reach speeds of 18.5 knots.
Originally built in 1988 she has operated as the Crown Odyssey for Royal Cruise lines before she sailed as the Norwegian Crown for NCL. In 2007-2008 she was lengthened by 30 metres prior to entering service with Fred Olsen as the Balmoral Cruise Ship.
Our Verdict of Fred Olsen and the Balmoral Cruise Ship
We were shown around the ship by Rachael and Zhenya who were perfect hosts, very knowledgeable and a credit to the company. We so wanted to stay on this ship and cruise to Honfleur but alas our visit was over. We really enjoyed our day, the ship has a real classic British feel to it, and we particularly loved all the options of open space and unobstructed sea views. The standard of dining we experienced was excellent and we particularly loved that Fred Olsen offers traditional cruising without the gimmicks.
Fred Olsen is definitely geared for the older British cruising community, with the multiple port options in the UK, and the classic British feel, and as we fall into this demographic this suits us fine!
We have been very impressed with what Fred Olsen and what the Balmoral Cruise Ship has to offer and there is no doubt that we will be sailing with Fred Olsen in the future!
Have you sailed with Fred Olsen? Is there any other information that would be helpful? If so please comment below.
We have also put this video together regarding our visit so do have watch and please do subscribe to our You Tube Channel too!
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