Marina Deck 3
Medical Centre, Arts & Crafts Room, Launderette
Main Deck 6
Photo Gallery, Reception, Shore Tours, Future Cruise Sales &
Customer Relations. Ballindalloch Restaurant & Art Gallery
Lounge Deck 7
Neptune Lounge, Boutiques, Braemar Lounge, Card Room, Internet Room,
Library, Morning Light Pub, Palms Café - Aft Pool Area
Lido Deck 8
Lido Lounge, Gaming Tables, Lido Bar
Highland Deck 10
Fitness Centre, Atlantis Spa & Beauty Salon, Spey & Avon Restaurants
Marquee Deck 11
Observatory Lounge, Marquee Bar/Grill, Marquee Pool, Sun Deck
Onwards & upwards to Highland Deck 10. Aft are the newly
constructed Avon [in green/beige] & Spey [in
teal/grey] Restaurants named after the rivers flowing through
Ballindalloch Castle grounds. Avon to starboard and Spey to Port they
both command wonderful views through both large round and full length
panelled windows [blinds may be needed]. They share a serving station
in the centre for breakfast/lunch buffets. Menus are the same as that
in the Ballindalloch Restaurant. There is access to the aft deck area
through automatic doors, but the open doors did cause a through draft
at times, so were kept 'locked' most of the time on our trip. These
two restaurants are a real favourite; perhaps one of the nicest
dining areas anywhere.
Occupying the forward area of Highland Deck 10, a structure which was
added by NCL, the Fitness Centre has the best forward views on
the ship, but you have to be on a treadmill or using the free weights
to take advantage. The Atlantis Spa & Beauty Salon is also
here offering a variety of services; facials, body treatments,
massages, body shaping, acupuncture, hair styling, nails &
fitness programmes. A number of treatment rooms are available; also a
Steam Room and Sauna. Altogether, apart from the views I found this
area a bit dismal. FOCL would be wise to turn this into a wonderful
Observation Lounge & send the beauticians & fitness centre up top.
The Fitness Centre's group activities include Yoga [£5 per
class], Understand your Metabolism seminar, Pilates Institute Method
- How to improve your Posture, Pilates Class £5, Legs Bums &
Tums, Walk a Mile, Detox for weight loss, Healthy Abs and Backs, Fab
Abs Classes etc while the Atlantic Spa offered a Comfort Zone Launch
Party, "Time for your Hair", "What is Acupuncture"
& "Massage Therapy & its benefits" seminars.
Continuing the tour up to the uppermost deck, Marquee Deck 11.
The Observatory Lounge fwd. One cannot help but compare this
lounge to those aboard Black Watch and Boudicca. Balmoral's is
unfortunately a bit of a misnomer; observation is minimal. Forward
one can only 'enjoy' the wide, & dirty, expanse of the roof of
the Fitness Centre below [the bow is completely out of sight] &
to the sides, a bit further back, although there is more clearance
& indeed a view, balconies are below & it's the fwd
observation one really wants! Stick the treadmills up here please.
The décor remains in the original styling with new upholstery,
dark blue similarly patterned carpet to that on the aforementioned
vessels, with gold compasses, anchors, sextants & lanterns etc
woven in & maps inserted in the table tops. A small dance floor
is in the centre & Grand Piano. Numerous Daily Quizzes take place
here, the Collective Quiz, Afternoon Quiz & 'Quiz Specials' -
Valentine Quiz, Outburst - fun quiz, Chocolate Quiz.. if you like a
Quiz you won't go short. Bar from 11am, Lunchtime Melodies, Piano
Classics & Musical Melodies during the evenings followed by then
Nightclub with DJ until 'whenever'.
Abaft the Observatory Lounge is the Marquee Bar serving the Marquee
Pool area midships. Seating both inside & out. Outside are
nice hand woven wicker type weather resistant chairs, settees and
tables [Dedon]. Weather permitting it is open 10:30 until 18:30,
serving morning coffee & afternoon tea with cakes/sandwiches &
offers a light grill service.
The rest of Marquee Deck contains the lovely midships pool area with
2 jacuzzis & saunas screened from the wind. Further aft &
around the funnel is the Sun Deck with wide open deck spaces, teak
decking, full of loungers & tables, open to the elements with a
railing surround. Aft of the funnel there are to be some golf nets
installed. I did note that this area did tend to collect a bit of
soot from the funnel though. The figurehead from the Fred. Olsen &
Co. 1948 Akers mek built fruiter BALBLOM is displayed ahead
of the midships pool. The figurehead, by Per Palle Storm, was
previously on Black Prince (ii)'s afterdecks and before that, in the
late 80s, in the Grand Staircase aboard the ferry Braemar (ii).
Looking back over Balmoral's stern & after decks from above,
watching the wake, is wonderful.
Balmoral has a variety of different cabin categories, from insides to
outsides, balcony cabins & suites. There are a number of single
cabins, ones adapted for wheelchair use and 3 & 4 berths. All
were occupied and only fleeting glimpses through the doors of those
being serviced was possible. Our standard outside cabin 5170 on
Atlantic Deck 5, port aft was a 3 berth good sized cabin, clean
[except for some rust streaks under the window], fresh with new
carpets & pleasantly decorated. Plenty of cupboards and drawers
for a long trip. Coffee/tea maker with Highland Shortbread biscuits,
safe [PIN operated], European 2 round pin 220 V outlets & 110 V
US flat pin where the flat screen TV is plugged in, but no earth for
a 2 flat/1 round lead. One bed was along the bulkhead under the
window which was nice. The window ledge was screened off with a
Perspex panel but a shelf ran the full width of the cabin there
under. 3rd berth being a pull down bunk above the 2nd bed.
Bathroom with shower [double length] was an adequate size with masses
of storage space. 110 V shaver socket. Shower gel/shampoo & hand
soap by means of dispenser & also other toiletries in a small
muslin bag with shoe cleaning kit, shower cap etc. Completely useless
650 W US hairdryer; even if you have cropped hair it would never dry.
Plenty of soft white 100% cotton towels. Poolside towels are yellow,
provided by the cabin steward/ess & need to be returned.
Excellent water pressure although the temperature was up and down at times.
Interactive TV for cabin shopping, ordering wine for the table, shore
excursions, bill check etc Free View Classic Movies & a selection
of pay-per-view films. Bow view & trip information. The latter
was lacking with detail & did not give details of the ship's
speed/sea state/wind force or direction. Merely showing your position
in various zooms using Google Earth. I kept touching the screen
expecting the info to pop-up as per the ships' locator on Fred.
Olsen's website - sadly not. The TV was not fully functional at times
losing the link; but work on installation of the system was still
ongoing. A card with magnetic strip [either cabin key card or any
other] needs to be in the slot by the door for electricity. Remove it
& the lights go out; remember to leave something in there if
charging camera batteries etc. Fluffy Duvets cover the beds, but
sheets & blankets are available if preferred. [Alcohol Shore Side
purchases are placed in safe keeping by the Ship's Security Officers
& returned at the end of the cruise].
Between Dover & Tenerife we had three days at sea with a day in
port at A Coruña [La Coruña, Corunna], a popular
& busy port on the way south, the 2nd largest city in Galicia, NW
Spain [after Vigo]. Built on a promontory, it is a bustling town,
famous for its seafood restaurants, lovely beaches with plenty of
Museums & sights to keep one busy, including Torre de
Hércules, built by the Romans as a navigation beacon in the
2nd century A.D. - the oldest lighthouse in the world, which is still
in use. During the summer months a tram runs around the coast &
the main attractions, but with no tram & having visited before,
we just wandered about the central area [remember most shops are
closed during the afternoon for Siesta].
The sun dawned on the day of disembarkation, well it hadn't actually
when I awoke & first looked out of the window just before 7am,
but had once I was on deck, just in time to see ARMAS' Volcan De
Tauce enter the harbour of Santa Cruz de Tenerife ahead of us.
Many vessels of all kinds, tankers, cargo vessels etc were at anchor
off port, with La Palma (1912) still on stocks in the distance being
refurbished as a Museum & Conference Centre. Far off I spotted
one of the Fred. Olsen Express HSC's approaching at speed. Staying on
deck to watch, it wasn't long before Bentango Express nipped by with
a wave. We turned & backed into our slot, the first berth along
Dique Muelle astern of LPG Lagos, opposite the ferry terminal where
Trasmed's Super-Fast Galicia was also alongside. No tugs were used by
Balmoral or even standing by. All tied up by 8.10am.
Off to our last breakfast in the Spey Restaurant. Did not see Kai as
we left the cabin to say goodbye. Tirso & his assistant were
there in the restaurant & commented again that hopefully next
time would be a longer trip! Hope so; where else can one eat with the
endless lovely views through those large round windows.
A hot sunny day saw us wandering the city centre & pottering over
to the ferry terminal to watch the ferries which included Super-Fast
Galicia, Super-Fast Andalucia, Volan de Tauce, Volcan de Tamadaba,
Bentago Express & Bencomo Express. With midday fast approaching
we soon had to return to Balmoral to await our transfer to Los Rodeos
(Tenerife North) Airport for our flight home to Stansted on a
Thomsonfly Boeing 757 "Eric Morecambe". This was a Fred.
Olsen charter & we were pleasantly surprised to find tea/coffee
& soft drinks were complimentary, including wine, with a hot meal
provided - the rather aptly named 'Chicken Pomodoro' as a finale
to a wonderful cruise.
ms Balmoral is a medium sized ship at 43,537gt with 9
Passengers Decks. She is a cozy intimate vessel where one does not
have miles to walk from bow to stern. There are many public rooms,
lounges & bars offering quite diverse forms of entertainment,
from 'West End' Shows to Port Talks, Enrichment Lectures on numerous
subjects, to Bingo, Dolphin Racing, Ballroom Dancing & Art/Craft
Classes; pleasantly decorated with some areas retaining their
original décor while others have been completely refurbished
or are new altogether. One is never short of something to do & if
a quiet time is wished for, there's the lovely Library/Reading Room
or Braemar & Observatory Lounges to while away the time. With
masses of open deck space, a wrap around Promenade, two Outdoor
Pools, four Jacuzzis & a wonderful set of aft terraces
overlooking the stern, one can also soak up the sun or take part in
something more energetic, walking the mile or pounding the treadmills.
The Cuisine is excellent, as is the service from the Multi-National
Crew. Dining in the new Avon & Spey Restaurants at some point
during any cruise is a must; don't forget the delicious cakes &
pastries at the Grand Tea Dance either. ms Balmoral is
certainly a worthy addition to the Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines' Fleet.
Itineraries are varied, from four nights to World Cruises, with
sailings from the UK & fly cruises from the US &
Mediterranean. She calls at the Major Cities along with smaller more
unusual Ports. The majority of passengers are well travelled & in
early retirement, with many an interesting story to tell. During
school vacation periods there will be some younger passengers aboard,
but not many.
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