Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Cruise Ship Tour: Fred. Olsen MV Balmoral

Fred Olsen River Seine Cruise Paris Rouen Honfleur

Hey Owlets,

I know you're probably getting a bit bored of the travel content so I'll try to make this the last one, but chatting to one of my friends gave me a post idea so I wanted to write it while it was still fresh in my mind. We were talking about going on holiday together but she said she wasn't sure about going on a cruise ship because she didn't know what to expect, and this is something I've heard on Twitter a few times too. So today I thought I would give you a tour of my most recent floating home, so you can have a bit more of an idea of what to expect.

Fred Olsen River Seine Cruise Paris Rouen Honfleur

I thought we'd start with what, in my mind,  is the most important part - the cabins. Fred. Olsen refurbish their ships every two years so they're always really well looked after. When I went on the ship it had only just come out of it's latest refurbishment and I'll be honest, the photos of the cabins nearly put me off booking as they looked a little outdated. However, the cabins had been refurbished while the website hadn't, so I was pleasantly surprised when I opened the door to my room.

Fred. Olsen are one of the few cruise lines that have single cabins, but you can also book a double room for single occupancy. Ship cabins aren't huge, but there's plenty of room when you're not going to be spending much time there. Ship cabins also come in different grades - mine was a superior single inside cabin, meaning I didn't have a window or balcony, but this was what I had on Royal Caribbean and it didn't bother me at all. The one thing I would recommend for your first cruise is spending the extra money to get to choose your cabin. Most cruise lines offer two fares - the cheaper of the two allows the company to allocate your room and the more expensive gives you the choice. For your first cruise it's best to book a room in the middle of the ship as this minimises the amount of movement you'll feel.

Fred Olsen River Seine Cruise Paris Rouen Honfleur
Photo: Bonvoyage UK
Ships all have different personalities - Fred. Olsen's ships are quite traditional, whereas some of Royal Caribbean's ships are more like modern hotels with the kind of decor you'd expect in a Hilton Hotel. I personally prefer the more traditional decor - it's completely over the top but for a few days it's nice to wander round surrounded by everything that sparkles. Balmoral had three restaurants but this photo is of the Ballandaloch which is the main restaurant. When you book you can pay £6 extra to choose your dining time, or if you don't mind then you'll be allocated a time by the company, although this isn't the same for all companies. As well as the three formal restaurants there's a buffet restaurant for people that don't want to dress up for dinner, or have a quick bite to eat without the formality of the main restaurants.

Fred Olsen River Seine Cruise Paris Rouen Honfleur
Photo: Cruise Critic
Most cruise ships have at least one pool - on Balmoral there were two pools and four jacuzzis - none of which we actually got to use during our four days, but they were open for those who were brave enough to face the cold.

Fred Olsen River Seine Cruise Paris Rouen Honfleur

One of the best parts about going on a cruise is the variety of entertainment that you have on offer. For the first two nights of this cruise I wasn't a fan of the shows, so I went to the Lido Lounge instead where they had a band and later on a DJ. On the final night I went into the show which was Rock music themed. I wasn't really sure what to expect but it was amazing and all of the songs they chose to perform were well known so you weren't left wondering what was going on. The costumes and dance routines were also amazing so if you're into seeing something a bit more high energy this was definitely it, but they also had other things like a comedian on one night and magician another.

Fred Olsen River Seine Cruise Paris Rouen Honfleur

One of the things I loved, particularly on the Balmoral, was the access that you had to outside space. On Independence of the Seas you had access to the outside on a few decks only, whereas even on residential decks you could get outside at either end. I'm one of those people that loves having access to fresh air, so being able to get outside and do a lap of the ship first thing in the morning was a great feeling. There's also a guided walk every day so if you didn't want to walk around the ship on your own you could meet up with others and chat as you go. There were also a lot of other exercise options but, let's be fair, it's me so I never went to investigate any of those!

Fred Olsen River Seine Cruise Paris Rouen Honfleur

I hope having a mini tour around the cruise ship has helped you make up your mind on whether or not you'd like to go. If it's something you're considering then most cruise companies offer taster cruises that are two or three days long, and there's even a few companies that offer you a chance to go on board for the day, have lunch or dinner and a tour of the ship for around £50, so this is also a great way to decide if it's something you want to do.

Have any more questions? Let me know in the comments below!

Love and Feathers, 
 The Owlet 💜

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