Fred Olsen - Gdansk to Southampton via the Kiel Canal

Kate Self on 15 September 2013

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Fred Olsen is a cruise line that has been around for much longer than I had thought. The company has history going back as far as 1848 when a young shipmaster called Fredrik Christian Olsen entered ship-owning on his own account. Today, Fred Olsen has four ships. The Balmoral, Boudicca, Black Watch and Braemar.

We flew from London to Gdansk via Copenhagen with SAS who offered a comfortable flight with complimentary tea and coffee and food and other drinks available for purchase on-board.

On arrival into Gdansk, we transferred to the Hotel Gdansk located on the edge of the main Old Town Square. This boutique hotel has two parts to it with its own micro-brewery where we had a fantastic meal that evening. The Beer Giraffe’s were amazing and if you are ever looking for an alternative team building or stag party location, Gdansk is the place I would recommend.

The next morning we took a walking tour of Gdansk taking in the Main Square with is entrances, fountain and décor of the beautiful buildings, we visited the original wooden harbour crane, the old town and St Mary’s Church which is the oldest brick built church in Europe. Overall the main tourist parts of the city were really interesting, with beautiful architecture and a lot of history relating to it. The main square has lots of bars and restaurants and cobbled streets which is lovely to relax and watch the world go past. Prices weren’t extortionate by any stretch and it would be a great city for a long weekend or a twin centre within Poland.

After the walking tour, we headed to Gdynia and boarded Fred Olsen’s Balmoral and headed straight for the main restaurant Ballindalloch for lunch. After lunch we walked around the ship to orientate ourselves and for the next three days, we were free to explore the ship, visit cabins and visit the restaurants, spa, and bars, take part in activities and watch the evening entertainment in the same way any other passenger can do so.

Our evening meals were in Ballindalloch, the main formal restaurant. The food was excellent as was the service. Over the three nights I had steak, seafood, pasta, salads, wonderful soups and sumptuous desserts. One evening, we couldn’t decide what we wanted so we had desserts and a cheese board in the middle of the table as you can do this on a cruise. You can even have one of each dish on the menu if you think you can eat it all!

My general impression of the ship is that the public areas were excellent with efficient and courteous service. The food was excellent and range and prices of drinks available was very good. We ate in the Spey Restaurant for breakfast which offered a buffet breakfast with a range of items available to order, and we ate most lunches in the Palms Café which was a buffet style restaurant with waiter service drinks.

We had traditional afternoon tea in the Observatory Lounge which was wonderful and met for pre-dinner drinks in the Morning Light Pub which was of a more casual surrounding.

The spa treatments were wide in range with massages, scrubs, hair and make-up and gym. The pool was heated and even on a cooler day travelling down the Kiel Canal, it was warm enough to swim in and sit in the heated whirlpools.

We visited one of each cabin grade and stayed in superior balcony cabins which I would recommend to my clients. The cabins of lower grades were nice, but I felt they were a bit dark even with balconies or windows.

The entertainment was of a very high standard with choices of string trios or a comedic man and his piano, to full west end style performances in the Neptune Lounge, where pre and post-performance, dances hosts were available for single passengers to dance with if they wished to. There was only a blackjack and roulette table on-board, so if you are a big gambler, this ship would not be for you.

If you are a single traveller or 65 years of age and above and like smaller ships, Fred Olsen is the way to go. With smaller ships, a fantastic range of itineraries from lots of UK ports and great prices, next time you are thinking of cruising, call me and ask me about Fred Olsen.

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