I’ve just returned from five days with Fred.Olsen sailing on Balmoral in the Baltic. It was the 2013 Viking Masters trip with all Fred.Olsen’s leading independent travel agents. Given that my last three trips had been on Royal Princess, Oceania and Regent, my hopes of having a good time were on the low side. Mixing it with Zimmer frames, eating stewed veg and sailing on a rattling ship did not have much of an appeal.
How wrong was I.
Despite being some 25 years old Balmoral is a credit to its owners. Traditional in style but clean, well maintained and decorated with Fred.Olsen junior’s own artwork, the ship had a lovely feel to it.
In terms of the customers, how surprised was I. Although largely retired and perhaps missing their grandchildren as much as there own children, the passengers were a lively bunch, joining in with the entertainment, equipped with iPads and Kindles, and were genuinely very nice well mannered and conservative (with a small c).
There was also a good selection of food, which was all very well prepared, served hot, on time and it tasted pretty good too. The Lido deck was always available for those who wanted flexibility in their dining times too.
Most importantly, the atmosphere on board was one of the best I have ever felt onboard a cruise ship. This was made possible by the superb staff. Always attentive, always smiling, always genuinely happy to help. That went for the Fred.Olsen head office staff too who made us all feel special, individual and appreciated.
Thanks guys, here’s to another 165 years of Fred.Olsen sailing the seven seas.