What a delight it was to be back onboard Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines flagship vessel Balmoral for a recent cruise to the stunning Norwegian Fjords.
For this cruise I departed from the Port of Tyne. It's a port I had never sailed from before. The check-in process was extremely quick and I was all checked in and ready to board in no time at all! During embarkation, instead of having your photo taken for your ID card, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines now take a scan of your passport which automatically uses your photo ID from your passport records – this really impressed me and speeded up the process!
As soon as I stepped onboard, I was aware that a number of areas have been extensively refurbished and redecorated from my previous visit in 2016. She is the largest of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines ocean-going ships, but still small enough to enjoy scenic cruising through many narrow Norwegian Fjords, which was a highlight on this cruise. Named after the Scottish residence of the Royal Family, the Scottish theme continues throughout the ship, with the dining venues (Ballindalloch, Avon and Spey) all having the Scottish influence.
The highlight of the onboard experience has to be the cuisine! Now since my last visit to the ship, there were a number of new dining venues on offer. At the rear of Palms Café you can now find the Poolside, where you can enjoy alfresco dining with amazing sea views. The Grill is a new addition to Deck 9, alongside the Lido bar, with its stunning panoramic views looking out to sea, it offers cooked to order steaks and seafood. If you have a sweet tooth, why not opt for a visit to Gelato Bar, just alongside Palms Café which offers a choice of 12 different ice creams and smoothies. There are the main three restaurants Ballindalloch, Avon & Spey and the casual help-yourself buffet Palms Café. You can’t help but notice the wide variety of mouth-watering dishes every single evening of your cruise, and if that’s not enough, don’t forget to check out the late night super club at 11pm in Palms Café!
During Fred. Olsen’s fleet-wide refurbishment programme there have been some changes to Deck 7 with the introduction of the Bookmark Café which offers a choice of speciality coffees with delicious chocolates it’s accompanied by relaxing music from the Rosario Trio. This has replaced the old Internet Room, if you are travelling without a device or tablet, iPads are available to hire from reception should you wish to keep in contact with what is happening around the world!
You can enjoy a variety of entertainment in the evening onboard Balmoral. Why not start the night with a relaxing drink in the Observatory Lounge on Deck 11, watching the sunset after a relaxing day listening to the melodies from the piano before taking in a show. The main show is the highlight of the evening, the talented Balmoral Show Company comprise of singers and dancers who will sing classic songs and perform memorable shows. Guest entertainers will also feature on your cruise too, on my cruise to the Fjords was an excellent comedian and a very gifted musician was onboard. Don’t miss out on the crew show, which is on selected cruises featuring a number of the friendly faces you will meet around the ship offering an insight into the culture of their home countries. You can enjoy ballroom dancing, with onboard dance hosts if you are a single traveller, or enjoy live music in the Morning Light, the local onboard Pub. And when it’s time to head to bed, why not pop up to the Lido bar for one last drink and take in the live band who perform in there every night.
There is a treat of offerings in the daytime as well – do check The Daily Times which is posted into your stateroom every evening, this will detail the port talks and lectures which you are free to take part in if you wish. In keeping with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines British tradition, there was a British Night onboard where everyone waved flags and sang along to some old favourites in the theatre. I like the fact that Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines still offer that traditional British Cruise experience, you can meet the captain, enjoy a drink at the Captain’s Welcome and Farewell Parties plus you can dress up to the nines in your formal attire too!
There is an excellent onboard Photo Gallery, where you will find a selection of photos from embarkation to port arrivals, and from formal nights to themed evenings which you can buy as a souvenir. Do also look out for the official cruise DVD which is the ultimate keepsake from your holiday. In addition to this, you will also find three more shops onboard – the Port Shop (for your holiday essentials, souvenirs and sweet treats), the Boutique (for your duty free perfume and clothing) and the Jewellery Shop.
Balmoral is a traditional cruise ship. You will find the teak deck promenade with two swimming pools, 4 hot tubs and plenty of sun loungers to relax with open space for deck games. There are a choice of spa treatments available and a well-equipped gym – I visited the gym daily and enjoyed a cycle to burn off some of those calories!
I think the one thing that makes Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines that extra bit special for me is the onboard staff. The bar tenders remember what you like to drink after a couple of orders and the staff remember who you are. One staff remembered my name from a cruise 4 years ago, it truly is amazing.
If you haven’t tried a cruise onboard Balmoral yet, then do it. Whilst she isn’t one of the mega resorts, she offers that traditional home from home with award winning cuisine, a variety of entertainment and that extra special friendliness from the onboard crew.
Carrying just over 800 passengers when she is full, Black Watch is an intimate cruise ship with a friendly and familiar atmosphere. Fitted out like a country house hotel, Black Watch is like your home from home. It’s easy to navigate and there is always a friendly face around the corner to wish you a good morning or help you find you way.
Offering a choice of itineraries from Southampton to the Fjords, Scandinavia, British Isles & Scottish Locks and to the Canaries. Black Watch is able to visit smaller ports that some of larger ships can’t and also has an ever popular river cruise programme too.
The heartbeat of the ship is the reception area, who are always on hand day or night to answer any questions. When it comes to dining on board Black Watch there are several options for you. You will be allocated a table in the Glentanar or Orchid Room restaurants where you can enjoy a freshly prepared 5 course meal every single evening! There are also formal nights on board when you can dress up in all your finery. If you are after a help yourself option, you can visit Brigadoon which is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If it’s a fine day outside there is the option to sit alfresco at The Poolside and if you are celebrating a special occasion I would recommend The Black Watch Room.
A holiday is all about relaxation and what better way to spend a day at sea on board Black Watch than in one of the Jacuzzis and heated pools on top deck, you can even visit the fitness centre after all that food. You can also enjoy a stroll around the promenade deck, play tennis or golf on board as well! And after all that I would recommend a visit to the Atlantis spa for a relaxing pampering treatment, the perfect way to end the day.
Now when it comes to accommodation, Black Watch offers something for everyone. You can choose from an inside room, an ocean view room, a terrace balcony or even a suite. I would recommend a suite if you are having a birthday or anniversary on board, it comes with added extras that make your holiday that bit special.
In the evening there is always the main show in the Neptune Lounge, which could be the resident show company, a live comedy performance or cabaret; these will all be detailed inside your room in the daily times printed on board. There’s an Internet room, card room and deck games also available in the daytime. Next to the Explorers Library is the Bookmark Café which is an a la carte patisserie, with luxury handmade chocolates. You must try the afternoon tea that’s served in the Braemar Garden with fresh scones & sandwiches. And don’t miss out on the live entertainment in the Morning Light Pub with the daily quiz!
If it’s a duty free handbag, perfume or designer watch you are after, or maybe you have forgotten the toothpaste or shampoo, there are shops on board for souvenirs and essentials.
If you haven’t sampled Fred Olsen Cruise Lines yet, what are you waiting for! It's intimate cruising to a choice of destinations around the world.
Pictures: Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
I’ve just returned from Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines Braemar. Carrying around 929 passengers in 485 rooms, she offers a country house hotel atmosphere and a relaxing home from home.
There are 7 passenger decks to explore on Braemar. I noticed that in the majority of public areas, the ship had large windows which filled the ships interior with natural light, as well as offering spectacular views out to see. Tastefully decorated with decadent fabrics, polished wooden fixtures and shiny brass fittings, she offers a unique and intimate feel, coupled with fantastic on board crew offering an outstanding level of personal service.
I think its amazing how the staff on board Fred. Olsen can remember your favourite tipple, and also remember exactly how your steak is cooked. I have returned to Fred. Olsen ships after 6 months and the staff still remember my name – I am not that memorable!
The top deck - the Marquee deck, is the place to head when the weather is nice. You will find 2 swimming pools, a paddling pool and 2 Jacuzzis with plenty of sun loungers. The perfect place to relax on a sea day. The marquee bar will keep you refreshed throughout the day before heading to dinner in the Grampian restaurant. You can also find more places to lounge in the sun and play golf in the nets on the upper Sun Deck. Towards the front of the ship is the Observatory Lounge, I must recommend traditional afternoon tea here. Served on certain days during your cruise. It must be pre-booked as it is popular. You can have a selection of teas, finger sandwiches and tempting sweet treats.
On deck 7, the Bridge deck, you will mainly find suites and rooms, but this is the location of the rather impressive gym. Formally a bar on board, the company decided to change it to the gym and what better way to keep in shape then exercising with fantastic sea views!
Deck 6 is next, the Lido deck, again, this is mainly filled with rooms but you will find the buffet 'style' Palms Café. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, this is an alternative to the main restaurants, and if you don’t fancy dressing up one evening, this is a great option. There is so much choice here from salads and starters to mains and desserts. With Fred. Olsen having a Norwegian heritage, seafood is very much order of the day with anything from a seafood cocktail to the fresh catch!
Most of the public facilities can be found on Deck 5, the Lounge Deck. The Coral club is located at the back of the ship, with live entertainment and a place for a pre-dinner drink. Guest services are open throughout the day for any queries whilst on holiday. The port shop, photo gallery & excursion desks are located here. The Bookmark Café is a fantastic chocolate shop selling handmade chocolates to eat on board, or take home as presents! The Morning Light pub is like a local at sea with its daily quiz and the place to head for a cocktail before taking in an evening performance in the Neptune Lounge. The Library offers a selection of books, the latest news around the World in the daily newspaper printed on board, plus a selection of board games.
Decks 4, 3 & 2 you will mainly find accommodation. On deck 3 there is the Atlantic Spa offering a range of treatments from massages to haircutting! There is a sauna and steam room here too.
Once again my time on board Braemar is over; I always wish I could stay longer on board but can’t wait to join Braemar again, hopefully very soon.
Well I have finally done it – sailed in and out of the Liverpool Cruise Terminal at the Pier Head, right outside the Liver Buildings in the heart of Liverpool City Centre! What other city can boast an impressive cruise departure point slap bang in the heart of the city centre?
The check-in process at Liverpool Cruise Terminal is really quick, on arrival to the terminal the porters took my case, I went to check in and then was transported down to the dockside and on board all within 15 minutes of stepping foot out of the taxi by the Pier Head!
I enjoyed a 2 night short break to Dublin on board Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines Boudicca, it was not the first time I had sailed on board Boudicca, but I was looking forward to getting back on board and seeing what the ship had to offer. Holding around 880 passengers, it was just the right number to get to know your fellow cruisers.
The cabins are quite spacious on board, in fact she was built for World Cruising, so you do find that there is a lot more space. The bathroom was well equipped with a bath and shower, something you don’t often see on the ocean waves!
During my first night on board, I chose to eat in the Four Seasons Restaurant and wow the food was delicious, I started with a tasty soup, followed by tender beef and then a cheesecake, I was so full I couldn’t manage the salad, pasta or cheese courses, but trust me some people did! On the second night, I chose to ate in the Secret Garden Café, and as it was a festival cruise, I enjoyed a delicious traditional Christmas Dinner with all the trimmings..yum! Boudicca also has a very tasty chocolate and coffee shop next to the library, so you can take a book, enjoy a cocktail and eat some of the tastiest treats – if you can fit any in after all that food!
At night, the ship literally came alive – from the piano entertainer (and karaoke) in the Lido Lounge, to the main show in the Neptune Lounge. You can also enjoy live music in the Secret Garden Lounge, or a drink with new friends in the Morning Light Pub. And when it gets very late there is the late night disco, so get on your dance shoes and dance the night away in the Lido Lounge!
One little hideaway I found was the steamroom and sauna, located on deck 4. Hidden away between cabins it’s the perfect retreat to get away from it all and enjoy some quiet relaxation and feel like a new person when you have finished!
Of course there are the shopping opportunities; you can buy souvenirs, essentials, clothes and even a jewellers on board too! And not forgetting the talented photographers who are there to capture the special moments on board.
A thoroughly enjoyable relaxing break on board a smaller intimate ship, the Boudicca is like your home from home.
I was also cruising with fellow presenter Laura Penn - check out her blog here
I enjoyed a ship visit on Fred. Olsen Cruise Line’s Braemar whilst she was docked in Dover for the day.
Refitted in 2008, she carries around 900 passengers and is very much a relaxing home from home atmosphere. On board, it’s a very friendly welcome from all the staff who are on hand to help with anything or answer any questions.
The five deck atrium on board it very spacious, it makes the vessel feel stylish and comfortable. The Morning Light pub is a great venue for quizzes, relaxing or taking in some light entertainment. The main entertainment venue is the Neptune Lounge and the ships show company puts on a great performance! The Coral Club is an alternative venue with musicians, vocalists and more whilst the Observatory lounge offers excellent views out to sea and is ideal for pre-dinner drinks or an afternoon reading a book.
When it comes to dining the main Thistle restaurant is usually where you would eat most nights, the alternatives are the Grampian restaurant, which offers a more intimate experience or the buffet style Palms Café. The lido bar on deck is a place to eat, or drink alfresco.
The accommodation on board is comfortable with every amenity you could wish for one board, around 80 of the cabins have balconies, if you can book one of these it’s well worth it to wake up on your own private balcony in a new destination.
The cascading desks at the rear of the ship are another great place to sit out on deck. When sailing away, this is where the sail away parties are typically held and are a great experience and fun for everyone – the passengers & the crew! The ship also offers a library, shops and a spa/gym for pampering and relaxation.
Sadly I was only on board for a few hours, I will be looking to book to go on board for longer next time!
There are a number of restaurants on board, the main being the Ballindalloch restaurant. Whilst on board a cruise, its not uncommon to witness a birthday celebration - and trust me the waiters make sure everyone knows its your birthday by singing at your table, and everyone joins in!
The food on board is superb, there was a wide variety of choice and speciality requests were catered for. We also sampled the other restaurants on board Spey, Avon (both on Highlight Deck 10) and Palms Café (on Lounge Deck 7). Palms Café served an excellent buffet style selection every evening after the review show, an alternative from the main restaurants. Breakfast was served in all restaurants, I've sampled the breakfast in all 4 restaurants on board.
The Morning Light pub was a new addition to the ship in 2008, we took part in the daily quiz on the days we were at sea (although never won!). A fresh and light pub, named after a earlier ship from the Fred. Olsen fleet.
In the daytime, there were lots of activities to do on board. There was an Internet Room to keep in touch with emails and news from back home, plus a card room and a well stocked Library. In the Lido Lounge we also joined in the fun of the Daily Bingo, with a prize of £500 on offer…(I was very close to winning!!!) On deck there were two pools and a number of smaller Jacuzzis.
Plenty of seating on deck was also available, sitting on deck in the blazing sunshine, topping up the tan, whilst we were in the middle of the ocean was fantastic…I didn’t want to come home! The gym and fitness centres were also available and provided good sea views whilst getting fit!
The nightlife on board excellent, after our evening meal, we would go to the Neptune Lounge and take in a review show or enjoy a musical. One of the nights was a themed night whilst another night we enjoyed a magical illusion show! The staff in the Balmoral Theatre Company were great and all spoke to us after the show. After the show, we would either go to Palms Café for our midnight snack or slope off to the Observatory Lounge for the Disco into the small hours of the night!!
It was sad to get off Balmoral, as I would have gladly stayed on board for another two (or three) weeks to sample to delights this fantastic vessel has to offer.
Cruise aboard Boudicca, a truly world class ship.
I enjoyed a mini cruise on board Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines Boudicca ship, sailing from Liverpool to Greenock via Dublin. Fred Olsen offer a range of itineraries and departures from many ports around the UK, however Boudicca is the only ship in the fleet that offers a variety of departure ports including;
Southampton, Liverpool, Greenock, Roysth, & Newcastle.
Because of it’s world cruise history, Boudicca tends to have larger cabins and a number of these are either outside or have a balcony. We decided to book a superior outside cabin, which was large in size, had plenty of storage and an en-suite bathroom with bath.
Out on the decks, there was plenty of room to sit down and enjoy the sea views. The ship had a large number of sunbeds on the decks and we even got sunburnt whilst in Dublin!
The food on Fred Olsen really is great; the main restaurant is split into three restaurants (Four Seasons, Heligan & Tintagel). We enjoyed our evening meal in the Four Seasons Restaurant, our waiter, Joseph, was helpful, hard working and the speed of service was fantastic. There is also the oriental styled Secret
Garden café which houses the midnight buffet and informal dining. On Lounge deck, a poolside buffet is also available at mealtimes.
In the Neptune Lounge, the great shows & productions including a swinging at sea production and a hilarious comedian! In the Lido Lounge, there was daily entertainment including a quiz and bingo during the afternoon and at night, the Lounge became home to the resident DJ, disco and cabaret singers. The Observatory Lounge, located at the back of the ship, was the ideal place to unwind for a quiet drink
after a long day exploring ports.
The leisure facilities on board were also great, with swimming pools, Jacuzzi, gym and fitness centre which were all available to use whilst on board. The ship enjoyed a number of improvements during a refit in early 2011, which included the construction of a new gym facility on Sun Deck with fabulous sea views! There are also shops on board to take home a souvenir or gift of your cruise.
We could not fault the staff on board who all worked hard and obviously enjoyed their job to go out of their way and help you.
I look forward to my next cruise on Boudicca.