The largest and most recent addition to the Fred Olsen fleet, Balmoral is a medium sized traditional cruise ship. Appealing to a primarily British audience she is described as being comfortable, spacious, clean and stately.
She has a wide range of on-board facilities, entertainment and dining. During her 2007-08 refit she was literally cut in half and 30m (99ft) added to her mid-section. With the refit came additional passenger and crew cabins, as well as an art-gallery, library, card room, top deck swimming pool and two new restaurants.
Worth a visit is the observation deck, although the view over the bow and out to sea is slightly hampered by the roof of the gym it does not detract too much from the experience.
The Neptune Lounge is the place to catch some cabaret shows in the evening, although Balmoral now offers a much wider range of evening activities and you can find live music happening in many of the lounge areas.
The Ballindalloch Restaurant is the main formal dining room, it has views out on both port and starboard sides. Dishes include champagne chicken, grilled salmon, lobster bisque. All are cooked to perfection and presented well, the range of choice is small though and the menu seems to cater towards the retiree passenger.
Beyond the main restaurant there are plenty of less formal places to grab something to eat. Palms Café is a far more relaxed buffet style way of dining, the food is of course cooked and prepared to the same level of excellence as you will find in the Ballindalloch Restaurant.
Fitness facilities are catered for on-board, the gym is adequate and there is plenty of room to brisk walk on deck. Unless you are in similar situation that the Balmoral encountered around the Bay of Biscay in 2009 when she had to navigate 50ft waves and 97kmph winds, we’d suggest staying indoors.
Balmoral was chartered by Miles Morgan Travel to re-trace the exact same route as the Titanic 100 years after her tragic sinking. Balmoral set sail from Southampton on Easter Sunday April 8th 2012, arriving at Cobh on April 9th. Cobh was the last port of call for Titanic before her ill-fated Atlantic crossing. Balmoral reached the site of the wreck at 11pm on 14th April, a memorial service was held on-board, three wreaths were cast into the ocean as a mark of respect for those who lost their lives. Balmoral stayed at the wreck location over-night and then continued her voyage to New York which was Titanic’s intended destination.