Balmoral Mystery Cruise
We joined Fred Olsen's Balmoral for a 'Mystery Cruise' which was advertised as the chance to visit some different destinations. The ship actually visited La Coruna, Malaga, Cartagena, Gibraltar, Cadiz and Lisbon which were virtually predictable ports after we reached the first destination. The tours brochure indicated that the ship would berth within walking distance of five of the six ports' centres except for Malaga but the cruise terminals in Gibraltar and Lisbon are certainly not for the less able. As we had been to all of the ports before we did not take any organised excursions but chose to wander around which we enjoyed. The ship's lounges are very comfortable and drinks prices are reasonable. Tips are 5 pppd but can be amended.There is also a library with a good choice of books. Food in all restaurants and buffet was of a good standard and quality. The waiters were efficient but we found very little interaction with them compared to other Fred Olsen ships. None of the Maitre Ds came round any table to check if everything was all right. We believe that there had been a large crew change at Southampton which may explain this. We felt the same with the entertainment staff who rarely acknowledged you. The same could not be said of the Captain and his fellow officers who were quite high profile. Daytime entertainment we felt was very limited - especially the speciality lectures. Evening shows were the usual standard but special mention must go to Simon Sands,comedian, and Mandy Muden, comedienne/magician. They were very funny and entertaining. We had an inside cabin which was kept spotless by the cabin stewardess. There was loads of wardrobe and drawer space and the bathroom had an excellent shower. Overall a pleasant cruise but we would have liked to have gone to other ports that fewer cruise ships go to.
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