Balmoral, which mixes contemporary features with traditional rituals, represents a dynamic new approach by the historic Fred. Olsen. Formerly known as Crown Odyssey, and having sailed under flags of Orient Lines and Norwegian Cruise Line, Balmoral, which debuted in 1988, joined the fleet after a massive refurbishment.
Indeed, so major was the refit that Fred. Olsen actually lengthened Balmoral by 30 meters, adding an entirely new mid-section. This gave the cruise line room to add a sparkling pool deck, new cabins and suites (many with verandahs), and fresh public spaces, such as the fleet's first-ever British pub.
There are three principal dining venues on Balmoral Cruise Holidays. Ballindalloch, on deck 6, looks and feels more like a traditional cruise ship restaurant. The Spey and Avon restaurants, both located on deck 10, are new additions since the refit and feel considerably more sleek and sophisticated. However, all serve the same menus and are set-seating at dinnertime (6:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.); they're open-seating at breakfast.
Balmoral has a good range of public rooms, which is important bearing in mind the fact that the ship also undertakes long cruises, such as around the world voyages, which feature plenty of sea days. Most of the public spaces are located on the Lounge Deck.
Balmoral has a total of 738 cabins, of which 116 have private balconies, and 21 cabin grades. These range from insides (160 sq. ft.) that are the smallest on offer to Premier Suites (430 sq. ft.) with separate bedroom and living room at the top end of the size range.
Neptune Lounge, the principal entertainment venue, is the home of shows, comedy, classical concerts and talks. During sea days, the cruise line's enrichment programme offers talk on topics from itinerary-influenced subjects like art in Spain (on Mediterranean sailings) to the medical qualities of spices. As well, via Fred Olsen's cruises Arts Club, many sailings feature extra speakers on a particular subject (also offered are special shore tours); on my cruise it was wine but other subjects include painting, ballroom dancing, wildlife and photography plus natural history.
Balmoral has a well appointed spa, operated by Harding Bros, forward on deck 10. There is a good range of treatments, from facials to body treatments that include feet and leg detoxification and massages from a 20 minute Balinese to a 75 minute ancient stone rubdown.
Balmoral does not have dedicated facilities for children though as mentioned it uses the Arts and Crafts room on deck 3 as a venue during school holiday periods.
Outside the main holiday seasons the ship caters to the 60+ market, but in the summer it attracts young families with children, multi-generation holiday markers and younger couples as well. Balmoral is also quite a popular choice for mature solos; in addition to dedicating single cabins, there also are gentleman dance hosts.