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Balmoral review 2017

Balmoral review 2017

Postby sparkiethecruiser » 06 Aug 2017 21:28

Embarkation

As we were on deck 9 we were able to check in from 1pm although we had been told in all the paperwork that physical embarkation of the ship would not start until around 2pm. We actually arrived a little early at around 12.30 but where able to check in straight away. Two things that were a little different this time where they used the photo on your passports for most people instead of taking the usual photo. Although both the niece and nephew got their pictures taking since nephew picture was over 9 years old and niece was about 12 in hers :lol:. We also didn't have the usual mandatory questionnaire to fill in the questions where just posted on board at check in and we were just asked to confirm that no one had any of the symptoms or illnesses mentioned. After checking in we had lunch in the café at the port well Johnathan had lunch, Emma had packet of crisps and ice cream. I just had bottle of diet pepsi since I was still full up from breakfast at the hotel :lol:. After this we went and sat in departure lounge and they started boarding everyone soon after. We had to take the bus around to the ship then the mandatory bathe your hands in antibacterial spray begins :lol:. Our cabins were ready straightaway as usual.
Last edited by sparkiethecruiser on 09 Aug 2017 13:01, edited 1 time in total.
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Balmoral review 2017

Postby sparkiethecruiser » 06 Aug 2017 21:28

daytime entertainment

This cruise was very Port intensive cruise so on most days day time activities where limited. However on the two sea days there were several things going on around the ship. There was the usual lectures and talks, the guest comedian Andy Rudge did a talk on the last sea day of the cruise about his favourite comedy moments. He was a very funny guy and he showed various clips from abbot and Costello to the two Ronnies and lots in between. I was in stitches anyway and so where most in the room. I say most as Emma said wasn't funny think lots of it was over her head :lol: . There was of course Dolphin racing and Nephew won twice so he was delighted we like the dolphin racing the kids always do great riding the dolphins.

There was craft classes and fitness classes but we didn't go to them. We did take part in the wii bowling games which where great fun.

There was none of the usual napkin folding demos or ice carving and so on again this year but this was probably not necessarily a bad thing. You know there is only so many times you can watch someone fold a napkin :lol:

There was also an afternoon quiz every day of the cruise and bingo although not sure if it was only sea days or if it was every day I just know they played.

There was also dance classes and I learned the social foxtrot (wasn't very good). I also learned to Jive was better at this one and it was great fun. I want to go to ballroom dancing classes now it was great fun :lol:

There really was something for everyone. Including the kids who had there own club this cruise as there was so many on board they needed 3 hosts. They had mini discos and other fun activities not sure exactly what they did not having any young children with us.
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Balmoral review 2017

Postby sparkiethecruiser » 06 Aug 2017 21:29

evening entertainment - There was lots going on around the ship in the evenings. There was live music around the ship with a band in the lido lounge who where fantastic musicians, and the female singer was a good singer but she sang some rubbish songs. I swear if I never hear the Carpenters again it will be too soon. Carpenters where great musicians Karen Carpenter was very talented vocally but they sung some really depressing songs. in one evening in 45 minutes set she sung about 5 Carpenters songs. The man who was the morning light pub was much better and there was usually something that resembled a rave before the night was out yes rave not disco. Best bit is the band where the party band they where not really my idea of a party :lol: . There was the string trio very talented and the pianist up in the observatory.

There was also in the evenings the late night quiz and some evenings there where quiz type game shows such as scatergories, name that tune etc. Scatergories was lets just say interesting :lol: the things people pack in their cases and that's all I'm saying.

There was also two captains cocktail parties with the usual cheap bubbly and nibbles. We were very briefly introduced to the captain and the officers. I say briefly as the Captain was needed back on the bridge as we were with the pilots as we were entering the fjords for scenic cruising.

There was also of course the highlight of the evening the shows. There were the wonderful cruise show which there were 4 of I especially liked the Rainbow show can't remember its exact name but it was amazing. Although not as amazing at the crew show which was truly brilliant as usual. Then there was a comedian called Andy Rudge very funny guy its not what you say its how you tell it and a Magician Mark cant remember his surname he was pretty good as well. We enjoyed every show we saw and everyone else we talked to did as well.

There was the late night disco but we never made it once the whole cruise due to the fact we were up at 7-7.30 every morning except disembarkation day and the last sea day when it was 8am :lol:

There was also hosted ballroom dancing in the evenings before/between shows and before captains cockatail me and Emma are thinking of taking it up :lol: we are seriously looking for a club in our area I wasn't very good but its the taking part that counts
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Balmoral review 2017

Postby sparkiethecruiser » 06 Aug 2017 21:30

the restaurants and food

There are five restaurants on board ship.

The Ballindalloch Restaurant on board is the main restaurant on board and is the largest. Breakfast and lunch was served here every day on opening seating. Breakfast was buffet service although waiters brought tea and coffee to your table and you could ask for breakfast items you wished that were not available that day. There was lots of variety of both hot and cold foods. There was brown and white rolls, croissants, pastries, a number of different types of breakfast cereals, white and brown bread which could be toasted at the toasting station by one of the restaurant staff. Hot food was the usual bacon, sausage, scrambled, fried eggs with other types of eggs ie poached and omelettes available on request from the egg station. French toast, waffles, hash browns, pancakes were also available on certain days. Beans, mushrooms, grilled tomatoes where also available. As were various items of fresh fruit and yoghurts. Fruit juice in various flavours, cucumber water, melon water etc were also available. apparently these waters are good for detox so Em says anyway. You could get fresh milk on request. Breakfast was usually served 7.30-10 in this restaurant

Lunch in the Ballindalloch was a mixture of buffet and waiter service from a menu. Seems a bit strange but actually works out really well its best of both worlds for some parties let me tell you. There were various dishes including at least one fish and pasta dish, and meat dishes, potatoes etc. There where desserts available although on a few occasions I found them to lack variety one day there was four cake like desserts two of them was different types of chocolate cake one was a chocolate and coffee cake I don't dislike many sweets but I do not like chocolate or coffee cake. The other was cheese cake which was not that nice either :lol: . Lunch was usually served in here 12-2

Dinner was served in two seatings first seating was 6.15 and second seating was at 8.30. We were on first/early seating on a table for four although there was only 3 of us. We were situated right next to a table for two with two very nice lady seated at it. Who appeared to have had as equally a wonderful cruise as we had and always chatted to us about their day and asked about ours. We didn't go into the restaurant on every evening of the cruise. on first night by the time we were organised to go to dinner it was too late to go to main restaurant so we ate in buffet on couple of evenings. When we ate in the restaurant the food was always nice and we always enjoyed it although choices for dessert was once again lacking although I can highly recommend the sorbets they where lovely .

There where some items on the menu that where available every day this included pasta in tomato and basil sauce, butterfly chicken steak, fish of the day, veg of day, baked potatoes and so on.

Avon and Spey where two smaller restaurants on Deck 10 they had exact same menus as the main Ballindalloch restaurant and same arrangements for breakfast lunch and dinner on opening and seating times. Only difference was these restaurants where much smaller and more intimate that the main restaurants food and service where identical. We ate in one of these two restaurants one lunchtime and it actually has a much more relaxed atmosphere to it than the busier main restaurant and the buffet.

Palms café on board is the buffet restaurant. Breakfast was similar to that of the other restaurants and they did bring around tea and coffee but not in little tea pots like in the other restaurants for the tea. Light breakfast was served here 6.-7 this was tea/coffee and pastries I believe although we never went to this. Main breakfast was from 7 -9.30

Lunch was all buffet service with no menu with waiter service like in the main restaurants. There was a large salad and bread selection section of the buffet where you could make your own salad. There were various dishes available here was always at least one fish dish, one pasta dish and the other selection was usually chicken or other poultry dish, a gammon or pork dish and beef dish. there was also vegetables and at least one potatoe dish available and desserts there was lots of mousses and jelly available as well as a small cake selection. the selection here seemed better than the other restaurants on board. lunch was served here from `12.30-2.30

Dinner here consisted of soups, large salad selections where like lunch time you could make your own although the selection at dinner appeared to have more vast choice. There was a reasonable selection of main meal choices with Fish, Pasta, Vegetarian dishes and meat dishes with usual side dishes of vegetables, potatoes and the likes. diner was served from 6.30-9 each evening here. There was also a kids corner from 6-7 in here.

Morning coffee and afternoon tea is also served here we had this on embarkation day and one day as we missed lunch. The sandwiches often had strange combinations of fillings. cannot think exactly what off top of my head. The cakes at afternoon tea where gorgeous also. this was usually served from about 3.30-4.30

Late night buffet was also served here from 11-12. I usually just had a snack you know bread roll and butter with some cold meat or one chicken drumstick/wing that sort of thing but you could have a full meal if you wanted with things like chicken curry, macaroni cheese, pizza, chips (French fries).

Tea and coffee station was also available here and you could get tea from 6am until midnight.

The final restaurant The Grill was not really a restaurant but a section of the buffet that had nicer tables and glass wear and was classed as the speciality restaurant onboard and for a small fee you could dine here. However never went here and it was only open on certains days as advertised in the daily paper. One thing to note is that they often used this part of the restaurant as like an overflow I suppose of the main buffet seating area if they ran out of seats but I think this was only on days where the grill menu was not being served.

All in all the food was mostly very good although on last evening the choices seemed a bit limited for dinner in both the main restaurants and the buffet. However we all managed to have something that we enjoyed no one starved and it was nice. My only real disappointment was that they didn't do the Grand Gala buffet on board this year as it was wonderful last year but it was not major issue or disappointment that it spoiled anything. Was just first time I had been on Fred and they had not done this or something similar.
Last edited by sparkiethecruiser on 10 Aug 2017 17:54, edited 6 times in total.
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Balmoral review 2017

Postby sparkiethecruiser » 06 Aug 2017 21:31

bars and lounges around the ship

There are several bars and lounges around the ship

Observatory lounge on Marquee deck which is deck 11 where there were some stunning views to be had throughout the cruise. This was also where the late night quiz and the classical trio and pianist played of an evening at various times as advertised. This was nice bar and lounge area and was usually busy.

Lido deck which is Deck 8 was where the lido lounge was located (wonder how the thought of that name :lol: ). In here was were the late night disco was held. They also held Karaoke in here as well one evening. They held a show in here hosted by the singers from the show company and it was brilliant. They also held the gameshow type quizzes such as scatergories and name that tune in here. It was also where the party band played of an evening. During the day it was used for various talks, dolphin racing, wii bowling and so on. This is also where the tables for the casino as never played and don't remember seeing anyone else playing. There is also a nice seating area here next to bar with great views over the pool.

Deck 7 or Lounge Deck is where the Neptune lounge is situated. This is the main show lounge where all the evening main shows where shown there are two shows one for first seating dinner and one for second seating. Both shows where the same each evening and first one was usually at either 8.45 or 9pm depending on whatever else was going on earlier such as cocktail parties or the night of crew shows the times was moved to 9. The cocktail party was in here also. During the day Port Talks, the comedian talk where done in here. This was also where the groups going on ship shore excursion met.

They have a really strange layout in here in that if someone is sitting on the sofas if someone is sits on the chairs in front the person on sofa has problems seeing '


The morning light pub was also on this deck and there was live music in here during sea days and every evening. The bar staff did YMCA and other dances in here at the end of most evenings and it was brilliant. It is a very nice bar with big comfy chairs and couches.

The bookmark café is also on this deck and is where you could buy speciality teas and coffees and truffles and other fancy sweets. was always reasonably busy in here although not sure if people where buying or sleeping half the time. the truffles are lovely though.

My favourite lounge/bar was probably the morning light pub as it had a great musician, great atmosphere and comfy furniture
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Balmoral review 2017

Postby sparkiethecruiser » 06 Aug 2017 21:31

swimming pools, gyms, boutiques etc.

There are two pools on board Balmoral one is a family pool on deck 11 and has kiddies splash pool area. It also has two hot tubs/Jacuzzi's. The other is on deck 7 and is supposed to be adult only and also has two Jacuzzi/hot tubs. I say supposed to be adult only as it clearly states in the daily newspaper and at the pool that its for use of people aged 16 years or over. However on a number of occasions there where CHILDREN in the pool :lol:. It didn't particularly bother me and I don't think it bothered anyone else as they weren't misbehaving or anything just swimming I just found it humours. We used the pool on only two occasions while on board as we were so busy with other things this was the only times we managed to fit it in :lol: .

The gym was a reasonable size for the ship I thought and appeared well used. There was also a spa which actually seemed reasonably priced for a cruise ship spa. It appeared also to be well used with lots of treatment rooms. There are three shops onboard Balmoral one that sells jewellery and had some very expensive pieces beautiful though. There was also the main shop which sold perfumes, clothes, bags, and that sort of things. There were various small stalls outside this shop selling various items that were on sale such as handbags, scarfs, perfumes, after shaves and the likes. On the last day they did a Norwegian Bazrra which was just an excuse to sell cheap tat ay over inflated prices from what I saw.

Then there was the small port shop on the deck below which sold toiletries, pens, teddies, fridge magnets and small gifts and sweets.
The photo shop sold yes you guessed it photos various prices depending on the photos around £15 for formal and £7 for what they called action photos which were photos in ports of call, embarkation etc.

There was ample space on deck for sitting or lying on loungers.

There were also golf nets although not sure how well these where used
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Balmoral review 2017

Postby sparkiethecruiser » 06 Aug 2017 21:32

cabin

We had a superior inside on deck 9 and the cabin was quite big it was cabin 9093. Bathroom was large as well. There was a kettle in the room, a safe, two double wardrobes, 3 small chest of drawers, a large dressing table, and couple mirrors. Flat screen tv and table and chairs. This cabin was for four people. However good job there was only 3 of us as we would have struggled to get somewhere to put all the clothes for four people. this cabin was more than adequate for our needs. The only thing I would say is that this cabin is situated above the lido lounge and when the band was on you could sometimes here the drummer well Emma said she could but only when lying in bed. I never heard a thing :lol: :lol: :lol: and she couldn't hear anything when the disco came on.


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Balmoral review 2017

Postby sparkiethecruiser » 06 Aug 2017 21:33

staff-

Everyone we met from the Captain to the Stewardess, cruise director to bar staff where all very helpful, friendly and worked hard to make sure everyone was having a good time. Our cabin Stewardess was worth her wait in gold and then some. As where our Restaurant waiters.
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Balmoral review 2017

Postby sparkiethecruiser » 06 Aug 2017 21:34

Ports of call and excursions

The cruise as you know was to the Norwegian Fjords.

First port of call was Bergen. This port was very busy as there were 4 cruise ships in port Queen Elizabeth, Costa and MSC not sure which ones of these plus the Balmoral. Also the MSC left early afternoon as another arrived. Anyway this port is fairly easy to DIY although you need to be careful where your ship docks as there are two possible locations and one is slightly further out from City centre than the other. We did the HOHO bus here and the Funicular railway up mount Floyen. We bought this a combi ticket which meant we could jump the queue and the funicular although we still stood an hour although those without pre purchased tickets stood much longer. Bergen is a great place to visit and lots to see and do.

Olden- we did the one hour glacier sightseeing bus tour here. We felt that this was a waste of money and not very interesting and I wish now we had did the little town train like we did last year which we felt was much better tour and value for money. On return we stopped off in the town centre and saw the church and did some shopping. Tip we found the shops here prices to be cheaper than same items in Bergen.

There is a tour bus that runs up to the glacier also and is three hour long tour we didn't do this lots did but we decided against it as it is bit of a trek. There is also a local bus that goes to and from the glacier and it is much cheaper than the tour buses but never used and don't know much about it.

Flam- Well this place is a little gem or I thought so anyway when everyone talks about Flam they talk about the magnificent railway and I can understand why it is really a master piece of engineering. With some stunning views however the little town is also very interesting with lots of walks and trails to take. There is also the small but very informative railway museum and the day we were there. There was a market there there was a few shops here as well.

In the afternoon we went on the railway we had bought our tickets for this threw Fred as a shore excursion. It was great and well worth the money. We even saw that dancing lady at the waterfall.

Eidfjord was our final port of call and we arrived here at lunchtime . We did a ships excursion here to go Kayaking and we all loved this it was pretty hard going at first but once we got the knack of it was great. We really had a great time although I did get a crack on the head from a paddle by accident. This really was a great way to see the fjord and I can highly recommend. After Kayaking we took a walk around town but wasn't particularly impressed but there may have been other things to do if we walked further out but by this time I knackered so we didn't we just headed back and got ready for dinner.

Overview of Ports of call we enjoyed our time ashore in all Ports of call we did a mix of shore excursions and DIY. We prefer DIY as we don't like the herded like cattle feeling of large ship organised excursions but the Kayaking was something we all wanted to do so we did it. The cruise line booked out all the seats on the trains in Flam so we had little choice but to buy our tickets through them for the train. However this was something we felt we wanted to do again as its great. We furtherly enjoyed ourselves.
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Balmoral review 2017

Postby sparkiethecruiser » 06 Aug 2017 21:35

disembarkation - We used the same luggage labels to disembark as we did at embarkations. The ship was cleared at a little before 8am when disembarkation started. The people going ing coaches left first and then those with cars parked at the port. The ordre of how everything is done at Newcastle is very important as they use buses to get people to different areas of the Port. We were the first lot of independent passengers to be called to leave as they do independents in deck order. We got off the ship, got on a bus and where transported to the main terminal building to collect luggage and in the taxi within ten minutes of being called. We arrived in the train station at around 9.10 am so had basically had almost two hours to kill at the station. The time went really quickly as we went into the shops to buy lunch and checked our emails and all the stuff we couldn't do for 36 hours due to not having internet. Emma also spent the next hour pointing out the various people she recognised as being passengers from Balmoral to the point it got a bit boring after a while :lol: .

All in all the disembarkation went really smoothly for us and we had good journey home after meeting some really nice people on the train who we spent the whole journey to Edinburgh chatting with so great end to a great cruise
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