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Review: Balmoral

Cruise - Ocean Cruise

Cruising? Yes please

  • By SilverTraveller soopernan

    35 reviews

    Ribbon Ribbon

  • Dec 2010
  • Wife
  • Family holiday
  • Inside

157 people found this review helpful

We went on our first cruise last Christmas and New Year to the Canaries and Madeira with another couple, and made the biggest mistake of our lives. Not the cruise, you understand, the other people. But back to the beginning. We had previously sold a business to the other couple, liked and enjoyed their company, so decided to enjoy our first cruise with them. 17 days away, we drove to Southampton in their car to join the Balmoral, the largest of the Fred Olsen ships. The terminal was well signposted, the valet parking worked well, and the luggage was taken away to be reunited in our cabin. Tickets, passport, customs, security, all were negotiated slowly, and then in the cabin we were advised that it was a requirement to meet in the theatre for the safety lesson and boat drill. All was new to us, and we paid suitable attention, but we were sure that there were some passengers who hadn’t bothered. Empty cases were stowed away in our cabin, with the life jackets, not to be required – don’t worry, all is done to ensure that you feel as safe as possible. No problems with seasickness, we didn’t have to visit the sick bay for any reason, and the whole 17 days were spent in a cocoon like bubble. There was a daily bulletin to keep you aware of the activities, one theatre but extra lounges, small shops, and a walk round the ship with four revolutions equalling one mile. Food was simply superb, with an allocated table and a menu that was more than enough for the most discerning and hungry diner. Four, or was it five, courses, and if you wanted two from a particular section, then no problem. A different selection every meal, with a gals dinner on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve.

Of the 17 nights, three were formal, half the rest required suits and or ties for men, and three nights were themed. One was Hawaiaan, and if you didn’t have a leary shirt, no problem, everyone got a lai. We stopped at Lisbon, and took the tour bus. Not cheap, but we had never been there before. The boat stopped at five of the Canary Islands, and some months later I can’t remember which was which, but I do know that we saw the sights independently, as we didn’t want to pay the money again. Madeira was the stop for New Years Eve, and as we knew the island very well from previous visits we were early risers, and off the boat by 9.30am. We saw the usual sights, and caught the island’s sight-seeing bus, which is very reasonable. We had a superb lunch in our favourite restaurant, and then back on the bus for a second circuit. The Funchal fireworks are world-famous, and there were seven cruise ships that had left port but were still in the harbour area, maybe a couple of miles out, and we had the most spectacular free display it was possible to see. The bay is about five miles wide, and the fireworks were set off from a lot of positions, up and down the hill to the harbour, and it was something that we will both remember for many years to come.

The entertainment on the ship was very good, but there were two sittings, so performances were staggered. They had a mini casino, and there was something going on all the time from early morning to late at night. You could not eat for 24 hours, but pretty close, as there was a midnight buffet. You didn’t have to eat in the main restaurant all the time, as you could alternate in the buffet restaurant. Breakfast and lunch were what you wanted them to be, and more than once I enjoyed smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for breakfast. There was a well equipped gym, hairdressing and beauty salon, and two more than adequate swimming pools. It was great to leave harbour, entertained by a band, as the locals watched enviously. Would we cruise again? Yes, most definitely. Would we go with others? Maybe. And do you encounter the cruise bores, who have been before so many times that they can tell you the precise number? Yes, you do, we called them whenwes. When we were on a particular cruise……..

157 people found this review helpful

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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.

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Silver Travel Advisor Recommended Partner: Fred Olsen Cruise Lines

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Other Members' Thoughts - 1 Comment(s)

  • pzmaid
    almost 5 years ago
    Went on a very similar cruise two years ago and agree with everything you say. Great value for money and no airports.