Balmoral Review and Specifications
Specifications of Balmoral
|Year built||1988 / Age : 31|
|Builder||Meyer Werft (Papenburg, Germany)|
|Building cost||USD 180 million|
|Owner||Balmoral Cruise Ltd|
|Operator||Fred Olsen Cruise Lines|
|Speed||16 kn / 30 kph / 18 mph|
|Length (LOA)||187 m / 614 ft|
|Beam (width)||28 m / 92 ft|
|Gross Tonnage||43537 gt|
|Passengers||1350 - 1420|
|Decks with cabins||9|
|Former names||Crown Odyssey|
Review of Balmoral
Launched in 1988 as Crown Odyssey, Balmoral is the biggest of the Fred Olsen ships, with fleet mates Boudicca, Braemar, and Black Watch. The cruise ship cost to build was USD 180 million. The vessel was last refurbished in 2019 December.
History - construction and ownership
Fred Olsen Cruise Lines is a Norwegian-owned and UK-based cruise shipping company, part of the Fred Olsen Group. The company is headquartered in Ipswich (Suffolk England) and is owned by Bonheur and Ganger Rolf. The company was founded in 1848 (in Hvitsten, Norway) by the three Olsen brothers (Petter, Andras, Fredrik Christian) who bought their first ships and established an international shipping company. Today Fred Olsen Group is into its 5th family generation and operates subsidiary companies specializing in cruise passenger shipping, trade, shipbuilding, aviation, offshore industries.
The 43,537-ton, 1,340-passenger cruise ship Balmoral offers a mix of old and new that is fresh and satisfying. If cruisers seek for a well-run vessel which provides peace and coziness while also featuring a nice range of amusement, friendly service, solid cuisine, interesting routes, and competitive rates, Balmoral is a good choice.
The ship debuted in 1988 as Crown Odyssey, built for Royal Cruise Line. Since then, Balmoral has changed her name to Norwegian Crown (for NCL) and Crown Odyssey (for Orient Lines). MS Balmoral debuted for Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines after a major refit and refurbishment in 2007-2008 which added a 30-meter midsection. The inaugural cruise of the ship started on February 13, 2008.
In November-October 2007, MV Balmoral (under Fred Olsen’s ownership) was stretched by inserting a 99 ft / 30 m long prefabricated middle-section. The refit resulted in an increased gross tonnage (from 34,242 to 43,537) and passenger capacity (from 1230 to 1780). During the ship’s stretching (reconstruction was done in Germany, Blohm+Voss’s shipyard) were built new cruise cabins (186, including 60 balconies), restaurants, bars, and lounges.
The list of other stretched (elongated) cruise ships includes the fleet mates Balmoral, Boudicca, and Braemar, also the MSC Cruises ships Armonia, Lirica, Opera, the Phoenix Reisen’s Albatros and the Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of The Seas.
Cruise itinerary program
Fred Olsen Balmoral itinerary program is based on World Cruise deals out of the UK and regular round-trip voyages from Southampton to the Mediterranean, Canary Islands, Scandinavia, Russia, and the Norwegian Fjords.
Balmoral has a total number of 710 cabins (of which 68 Suites, 94 Balcony rooms, 123 Inside) in 21 grades. Most Balmoral staterooms are 165-200-sq.foot Oceanview rooms (340). 9 are the wheelchair accessible cabins. The largest aboard Balmoral is the Premier Suite (430 ft2).
Shipboard dining options - Food and Drinks
Dining on Balmoral is resolutely classic. The vessel's one main dining venue and two satellites all offer set-seating, set-tablemates evening scenarios.
Follows the complete list of Balmoral restaurants and food bars.
- Ballindalloch Restaurant (main dining room; hosts the formal Gala Dinner; dining times are the same in all 3 dining rooms – with 2 fixed dinner seatings at 6:15 pm and 8:30 pm, open-seating buffet-style Breakfast 8:00 - 10:00 am and Lunch 12:00 - 2:30 pm)
- Spey Restaurant (ship’s 2nd largest dining room, with the same menu as the Ballindalloch’s; features floor-ceiling windows and intimate design)
- Avon Restaurant (ship’s 3rd dining room with floor-ceiling windows; offers the same menu as the other two restaurants)
- Palms Cafe (alternative buffet-style restaurant, open-seating; offers Breakfast 7:00 - 9:30 am, Brunch 10:30 - 11:30 am, Lunch 12:30 - 2:30 pm, Afternoon Tea 3:30 - 4:30 pm, Dinner 6:30 - 9 pm and Supper Club 11:30 pm - 12:30 am; also features a 24-hour open tea-coffee station)
- Marquee Bar (casual restaurant for lunch; al-fresco dining, with large, floor-ceiling panoramic windows; serves the pool area with alcoholic/non-alcoholic drinks).
Shipboard entertainment options - Fun and Sport
MS Balmoral offers a variety of amenities while also presenting a cozy ambiance. There are lots of places to sit, relax, read and nap without feeling pressure to buy drinks or merchandise. Some aspects of the cruise ship, such as the inflexible bed setups (that offer either a double or 2 twins that can not be converted into the reverse), found in older rooms, might feel a bit dated. Balmoral also features a high-tech, in-cabin interactive TV, and Spa and fitness amenities with state-of-the-art equipment and services.
Follows the complete list of Balmoral lounges, clubs and other entertainment venues for kids, teens, and adults.
- Arts & Crafts Room; Art Gallery
- Atrium (2-deck high, with glass and chrome design elements; has a spacious seating area)
- Port Shop (duty-paid, sells essentials, hats, swimwear, toiletries, beachwear, sweets, books, snacks)
- Photo Gallery & Shop (offers digital images printing/transferring; personal video making; sells photo and video equipment at duty-free prices)
- Neptune Lounge (ship’s theater & main entertainment venue for grand-style show productions in the evenings at 8:45 pm and 10:45 pm; during the day serves the Fred Olsen enrichment program, with various lectures and seminars, multimedia presentations, dance classes, workshops, bridge lectures, cards playing tournaments)
- Boutique Shops (duty-free luxury gifts, perfumes, cosmetics, fashion clothing, watches, fine jewelry, Fred Olsen logo merchandise)
- Card Room; Library; Internet Room
- Bookmark Cafe (a la carte priced patisserie; offers luxury chocolates, specialty coffees, hand-made chocolates); Cafe Venus
- Braemar Lounge (relaxation place with large windows)
- Morning Light Pub (features stand-up comedy acts, live music performances)
- Deck 7 pool area (swimming pool, 2 whirlpools, sunbathing area)
- Lido Lounge (hosts daily bingo games and trivia quizzes; evening entertainment includes cabarets, resident music trio, and Big Band Show)
- Lido Bar (live-music program)
- Casino corner
- The Wellness Centre (Atlantis Spa & Fitness; has treatment rooms for massages, Sauna, gym; the Fitness Centre hosts exercise classes Yoga/Pilates/aerobics/meditation/dancing classes)
- Beauty Salon (part of the Wellness Centre; offers hairdresser/barber services, facial/body treatments, manicure/pedicure, massages)
- Observatory Lounge (indoor observation lounge with piano, glass dancefloor, panoramic windows for 270-degree views; serves Afternoon Tea and transforms into a disco in the late hours)
- Sun Deck’s pool area (with one heated swimming pool, 2 whirlpools, sunbathing area)
- Golf Net; Deck Games area (shuffleboard, quoits).
Balmoral - user reviews and comments
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Balmoral ship related cruise news
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Fred Olsen introduced its inaugural 34-night ‘American Waterways in the Fall with New York’ cruise onboard ms Balmoral in September 2020...November 11, 2018
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The flagship of Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, Balmoral, commenced her inaugural cruise season from Edinburgh (Rosyth) on May 16, 2018, on a 10-night...May 23, 2018
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Other Fred Olsen cruise ships
Launched as "Crown Odyssey" in 1988, Balmoral cruise ship was constructed originally for the Royal Cruise Line and operated by NCL Norwegian Cruise Lines and Orient Lines before being bought (2007) by the Fred Olsen. After a major drydock refit (during which a 30 m / 99 ft long midship section was added to the vessel's center) in January 2008 mv Balmoral joined Boudicca, Braemar and Black Watch as the fleet's largest ship. The inaugural cruise started on Feb 13, 2008. Currently, Balmoral is the largest ship operated by Fred Olsen.
An interesting fact about MS Balmoral is that in 2012 "Miles Morgan Travel" chartered the cruise ship to follow the RMS Titanic original route honoring the 100th anniversary of Titanic's sinking. Balmoral stated her "Titanic Cruise" on April 8 departing Southampton with last stop – the site of the wreck of the famous (infamous) ocean liner.
Balmoral cruises attract a loyal base of mature passengers (almost all British), who prefer to travel only with the Fred Olsen company. The ship has some single occupancy cruise cabins and offers regular meetings for solo travelers. Dance hosts are available. This is the ideal UK cruise ship for people who travel alone. Throughout the voyage, guests will find ballroom dance classes and a program of exercise, plus the first jazz dance classes at sea.
Fred Olsen offers an all-inclusive cruise package upgrade (additional fixed price PP per day) and UK fly-cruise deals to Canary Islands (year-round discounted airfare from Southampton, England).
In 2018-2019, MS Balmoral offers roundtrip departures out of Edinburgh (Rosyth) Scotland for the first time ever. There were a total of 9 cruises scheduled (May through July), including 5-night Norwegian Fjords, 14-night Scandinavia and Russia (St Petersburg), 9-night "German Waterways".
In 2017, Fred Olsen (for the first time ever) scheduled "Mardi Gras Cruise" combining Caribbean, North and Central America and leaving roundtrip from UK (Southampton). The voyage was on fleet's flagship Balmoral. The adults-only cruise had 18 ports of call and 3 full days plus 2 overnights in New Orleans for the fun and festivities at the annual Mardi Gras Carnival. This unique themed cruise (46-night itinerary, code L1703, theme "Central America and the Mardi Gras" left Southampton on February 4, 2017. Prices started from GBP 3450 pp (based on double-occupancy twin-bed Superior Interior cabin). Pricing included accommodation, all onboard meals, and entertainment, plus port taxes.
The list of cruise ports of call included: Southampton – Funchal Madeira – Bridgetown Barbados – Castries St. Lucia – St John’s Antigua – Road Town Tortola BVI – Falmouth Jamaica – Trujillo Honduras – Belize City – Cozumel Mexico – New Orleans LA (2-nights) – Tampa FL – Key West FL – Miami FL – Port Canaveral FL – Jacksonville FL – Charleston SC – Hamilton Bermuda – Ponta Delgada Azores – Southampton. The 2-night stay in NOLA allowed cruise tourists to enjoy the festivities at this extravagant festival. Passengers were also provided with the opportunity to attend the "Orpheuscapade Black Tie Ball" in New Orleans – something rarely experienced by tourists. This formal event was held in the city's Convention Centre, featuring live music, dancing and the chance to get up close to the gigantic carnival floats, as a local celebrity leads the parade directly through the Centre.
Fred Olsen Balmoral refurbishments review
On December 9, 2014, the ship underwent a 10-day drydock refurbishment for engineering works, interior and exterior painting works. The Library area was redesigned, a new patisserie (Cafe Venus) was added on Lounge Deck (deck 7).
Balmoral ship's drydock 2019 (December 10-19 at Blohm+Voss Shipyard in Hamburg Germany) was for general maintenance and engineering works, interior renovations (public areas) and cabin refurbishments. The USD 18 million drydocking project also included adding the new Tea Room (China-themed lounge) and Photo Gallery.
The below listed Balmoral cruise prices on itineraries are only indicative and Per Person (in US dollars, based on double occupancy). These are the cheapest Fred Olsen fares on the ship’s lowest category cabins available for booking. Cruise fares typically change with departure dates approaching, last minute deals, discounts, promotions, independent travel agency offers.
|Date||Cruise Name||Departure Port||Price from|
|2019 Nov 29||9 days, round-trip Christmas Markets||Southampton|
|2019 Dec 20||2 days, round-trip French Escapade||Southampton|
|2019 Dec 22||15 days, round-trip Canaries Christmas & Funchal Fireworks||Southampton|
|2020 Jan 06||23 days, one-way from Southampton to Buenos Aires||Southampton|
|2020 Jan 06||43 days, one-way from Southampton to Callao||Southampton|
|2020 Jan 06||70 days, round-trip South American Exploration||Southampton|
|2020 Jan 29||20 days, one-way from Buenos Aires to Callao||Buenos Aires|
|2020 Jan 29||47 days, one-way from Buenos Aires to Southampton||Buenos Aires|
|2020 Feb 18||27 days, one-way from Callao to Southampton||Callao|
|2020 Mar 18||11 days, round-trip Wintertime Norway||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|2020 Mar 29||16 days, round-trip Four Fred's in Funchal with the Canaries||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|2020 Apr 14||10 days, round-trip Cities & Canals with Dutch Bulb Fields||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|2020 Apr 24||7 days, round-trip Fjords, Mountains & Glaciers||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|2020 May 01||5 days, round-trip Springtime Fjords in Five||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|2020 May 06||9 days, round-trip Introduction to Iceland||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|2020 May 15||7 days, round-trip Welcome to Denmark||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|2020 May 22||62 days, one-way from Newcastle upon Tyne to Leith-Edinburgh||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|2020 May 23||5 days, round-trip Scenic Scotland & Norway in Five||Leith-Edinburgh|
|2020 May 28||11 days, round-trip Sweden's Scenic Waterways & Cities||Leith-Edinburgh|
|2020 Jun 08||14 days, round-trip Exploring the Capitals of the Baltic||Leith-Edinburgh|
|2020 Jun 22||7 days, round-trip Scenic Fjords of Norway||Leith-Edinburgh|
|2020 Jun 29||10 days, round-trip Icelandic Wonders & Wildlife||Leith-Edinburgh|
|2020 Jul 09||5 days, round-trip Five Fjordland Discovery||Leith-Edinburgh|
|2020 Jul 14||9 days, round-trip Scottish Isles with a Taste of Norway||Leith-Edinburgh|
|2020 Jul 23||1 day, one-way from Leith-Edinburgh to Newcastle upon Tyne||Leith-Edinburgh|
|2020 Jul 24||9 days, round-trip The Best of the Fjords||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|2020 Aug 02||14 days, round-trip Capital Cities of the Baltic||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|2020 Aug 16||11 days, round-trip Sweden's Scenic Waterways & Cities||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|2020 Aug 27||5 days, round-trip The Norwegian Fjords in Five||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|2020 Sep 01||8 days, round-trip French & Belgian River Cruising||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|2020 Sep 09||7 days, round-trip Spellbinding Fjords of Norway||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|2020 Sep 17||7 days, round-trip Historic Cities & Waterways of Germany||Dover|
|2020 Sep 24||5 days, round-trip French River Cruising in Five||Southampton|
|2020 Sep 29||34 days, round-trip North American Waterways in the Fall, with New York||Southampton|
|2020 Nov 02||11 days, round-trip Madeira, Spain & Portugal||Southampton|
|2020 Nov 13||5 days, round-trip Netherlands & Belgium City Break||Southampton|
|2020 Nov 18||13 days, round-trip In Search of the Northern Lights||Southampton|
|2020 Dec 01||8 days, round-trip European Christmas Markets||Southampton|
|2020 Dec 09||8 days, round-trip Portugal & Spain Discovery||Southampton|
|2020 Dec 17||5 days, round-trip French River Cruising in Five||Southampton|
|2020 Dec 22||15 days, round-trip Canaries Christmas & New Year||Southampton|
|2021 Jan 06||14 days, round-trip Canary Islands & Madeira Winter Warmth||Southampton|
|2021 Jan 20||9 days, round-trip Wintertime Fjords with Shetlands' Up Helly Aa||Southampton|
|2021 Jan 29||18 days, round-trip Exploring Cape Verde & the Canaries||Southampton|
|2021 Feb 16||13 days, round-trip In Search of the Northern Lights||Southampton|
|2021 Mar 01||13 days, round-trip Exploring the Canaries & Madeira||Southampton|
|2021 Mar 14||2 days, one-way from Southampton to Newcastle upon Tyne||Southampton|
|2021 Mar 16||8 days, round-trip In Search of the Northern Lights in Eight||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|2021 Mar 24||8 days, round-trip In Search of the Northern Lights in Eight||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|2021 Apr 01||16 days, round-trip Exploring the Canaries & Madeira||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|2021 Apr 17||7 days, round-trip Fjordland Villages & Vistas||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|2021 Apr 24||7 days, round-trip Belgian Chocolates and Floral Holland||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|2021 May 01||5 days, round-trip Springtime Fjords in Five||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|2021 May 06||7 days, round-trip Springtime Scenery of the Fjordland||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|2021 May 13||14 days, round-trip Exploring the Capitals of the Baltic||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|2021 May 27||1 day, one-way from Newcastle upon Tyne to Leith-Edinburgh||Newcastle upon Tyne|
|2021 May 28||5 days, round-trip Five Fjordland Discovery||Leith-Edinburgh|
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