Jessica Robbins, Senior Travel Consultant at our Norwich travel agents in store at Jarrolds, had the chance to experience a cruise with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines first hand. Here is what she thought of the ship and some highlights from her journey along the rivers of France.
Destination: French Rivers Cruise
Operator/Host: Fred Olsen Cruise Lines
(Hotel names/Ship name): Balmoral
Duration: 5 nights
Balmoral really exceeded my expectations. It is a beautiful ship with a friendly and relaxed ambiance. I stayed in a Junior Balcony Suite and was told that they had recently renovated these cabins, which explains the impressive decor. It wasn't too much; simplistic but warm. There was plenty of space and it felt very light and airy. The bed was comfortable and there was amble storage space – exactly what you'd expect in a Junior Balcony Suite.
The food and drink were phenomenal. Our buffet meals in the Ballindalloch Restaurant and Palms Cafe were tasty and offerd a huge variety to choose from. We dined in the Avon restaurant most nights, however, we did have one night in the Poolside Restaurant and another in the Grill.
The Poolside Restaurant was my personal favourite; it focus its dishes on where the ship is in the world, which I think is a great touch. It’s small and intimate, so not too noisy and, when sailing in warmer parts of the world, it opens up so you can dine outside. The Grill was also lovely. It has a real elegant feel to it and the ribeye steak was cooked to perfection.
The service on board really made my trip special. It is easy to see why Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines prides itself on customer service. All the staff couldn't do enough; I was really impressed when, on the second night, our waiter remembered our drinks, names and cabin numbers. The ship was clean and well-presented throughout the entire cruise and it's not hard to see that each and every crew member takes real care in what they do.
Monet's Garden - During our time in Rouen, we visited Monet's Garden, which was absolutely beautiful. We wondered around the Water Lily Garden and visited Monet's old home. We were allowed to roam as we pleased, which was nice, however, it was extremely busy. We were told this attraction is always busy, so I would recommend pre-booking this excursion if it takes your interest.
Cheese & Cider Tasting Tour - We were also taken to Busnel Calvados Cidery & Distillery during our time in Honfleur. We tried cheeses and locally produced brandy and cider. It was all very beautiful and typically French.
Tour of Honfleur - We had a tour of Honfleur one morning. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and Honfleur was beautiful in the early morning.
The food! The food on board Balmoral was so tasty and not what I had expected.
It depends what you want as the Fred. Olsen ships are not for everyone. However, if you value great food and getting closer to the destinations, it is a great choice. The price for this itinerary is very reasonable and you get so much included. It’s fabulous value for money and a great way to see new places.
Must see? Monet's Garden
Must do? Excursion to Busnel Calvados Distillery
Must try? Locally produced Brandy at the Distillery
If you would like to enjoy a Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines sailing, just like Jess, you can contact the team at your local branch. We have travel agents in Hythe, Bournemouth, Christchurch, Lymington, Westbourne, Dorchester and around East Anglia.