Recently, I was invited to spend five nights on board Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines Balmoral. The destination? Amsterdam and Antwerp. Balmoral is the largest and newest cruise ship in the Fred. Olsen fleet but despite her size, she retains the intimate feel synonymous with this cruise line. Her friendly feel makes it easy to meet people and we made a lot of friends during our time on board, bonding over our mutual love for the staff, the ship and our passion for dancing.
The crew on Balmoral were faultless, every member of staff was friendly and so helpful – especially when my suitcase wouldn’t open on the first night. Luckily, Mark and his trusty screwdriver were on hand to save the day, and my wardrobe!! Bernard was our favourite barman, not only did he remember our drinks order (very important), he made us feel at home, chatting to us and providing recommendations for our next port of call.
The only thing better than the staff was the food. From pasta to lobster, you will always find something to tempt you on Balmoral. There are two main dining options, Ballindalloch and Spey & Avon. One relaxed option, Palms Café, with buffet-style service, two speciality dining options, The Grill and The Poolside; as well as room service and afternoon tea.
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines travel to hundreds of destinations but our itinerary covered Amsterdam and Antwerp. Amsterdam, with its romantic canals reflecting the moonlight, was truly magical. Fred. Olsen offers a variety of shore excursions, so you can experience the amazing sights in the area from a professional guide or by exploring on your own. We decided to explore on our own and easily found our way to the famed Red Light District as well as Rembrandt Square. Amsterdam has a lot to offer with plenty of history and inspirational architecture – a truly relaxed and striking city bustling with eclectic and interesting people. Just make sure to keep an eye out for oncoming trams and bicycles!
Antwerp was just as beautiful. With its grand Baroque buildings, cobbled streets lined with Belgium chocolate stores and shops selling world-renowned Belgian beer, you feel like you’re stepping back in time. We were lucky enough to spend an evening in this wonderful city, so headed out along with some new friends to a local karaoke bar.
The age range on board Balmoral was varied, ranging from a 21 year old away with his parents to couples in their 70s. But it was the older generation that showed us how to have fun with their never-ending enthusiasm, fabulous dancing and incredibly well-rehearsed karaoke performances.
If you’ve never been on a cruise before, I urge you to go. Perhaps start off with a mini-cruise like the one I went on with Fred. Olsen – it’s the perfect mix of socialising, amazing food, great entertainment and incredible destinations. Ranging from 1 night to 6, there’s plenty to keep you occupied on and off the ship. Don’t just take my word for it, book today and discover cruising for yourself.