I spent 5-nights aboard Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, Balmoral recently on a trip to the Norwegian Fjords. It was a fantastic cruise, filled with splendid scenery, great food and wonderful people, and I couldn’t wait to get back to share it with you.
Balmoral is a traditional cruise ship in many ways and that’s one of the things I love about the Fred. Olsen fleet as a whole. I spent every evening on Balmoral outside watching the world go by and I was in my element – that really is my happy place. There’s nothing more peaceful than watching the sun set across the open ocean, or in this case, a rather impressive Fjord where snow-capped mountains tower high above the ship and remind you of just how small you are in the world.
Bergen and Mount Fløyen
Our first port of call was Bergen and as I’d missed out on this port during a previous cruise (we couldn’t dock because of a storm) I was quite excited to get off the ship and explore. I booked an organised excursion with Fred. Olsen which included Mount Fløyen and a city tour. The views from the top of Mount Fløyen were nothing short of breathtaking, just as you’d expect when at 1,000ft above sea level. I could have stayed up there for a lot longer than we did, another 20 minutes would have been perfect. I’m told that you can actually walk back down into the city from the top as opposed to taking the funicular, so keep this in mind if you visit on your own, I’d imagine they are beautiful walks! Once back on the coach we had a drive around the city, making a few brief stops to take some pictures and learn a little more about the town. The tour was only three and a half hours in total, so it had left ample time to explore on foot, however, the rain came and I decided to stay onboard and take part in the afternoon general knowledge quiz in the Lido Lounge.
Exploring Eidfjord on foot
Our second port on the cruise was the small town of Eidfjord. I didn’t book any excursions here, I was told it was a nice place to explore on foot, and that turned out to be correct. It was a beautiful little town and when I say little I do actually mean tiny, but it was picturesque. Tall mountains surrounded us, some with flowing waterfalls, and little houses were dotted here and there. I would love to visit Eidfjord again on a warm, sunny day as there was a little pebble beach just in front of the ship and it would be a lovely place to sit and enjoy the scenery for a few hours under the glow of sunshine.
The food onboard Balmoral was delicious! Every evening the menu was exciting and there was always good variation between dishes. I ordered a pasta dish on my first evening aboard which was incredibly tasty, I do love pasta in a white sauce and aside from it making my taste buds happy, it was also visually very pleasing. I had steak twice during the cruise – both were cooked exactly to my liking – and I had soup at just about every other opportunity. If there’s one thing you can’t go wrong with on Fred. Olsen it’s the soup!! I can also highly recommend The Grill, Bamoral’s specialty restaurant where for £20pp you can fill your tummy with delicious seafood and steak. There are 4 starters to choose from, including lobster pasta (which was delightful) and beef carpaccio. As an entrée you can choose either an 8oz fillet, sirloin or rib-eye, or if seafood is your thing then the only choice you need to make is the Grilled Mixed Seafood. Each main meal comes with your choice of 2 side dishes, including thick cut chips, grilled asparagus, garlic mushrooms and salad. If you still have room left after all of that, then I highly recommend the chocolate and orange Bavarian cream tart to finish.
Overall, the cruise was absolutely fantastic and I loved every moment of my time aboard Balmoral. The scenic aspect of the trip – which was the main focus of the cruise – didn’t disappoint, we were presented with some truly stunning sights, including the Furebergfoss Waterfall, which was magnificent. The water was thundering down the side of the fjord and there we were, just sitting in front of it like it was no big deal. Once we left the North Sea and got into the Fjords it really was stunning. Several times, we simply just stopped in the middle of a Fjord and sat there for a while before doing a 360 degree turn and heading back out the way we came in. Norway is such a beautiful country and no matter what time of year you visit, it offers captivating views and scenery. The only criticism I have of this cruise is that 5-nights aboard Balmoral simply wasn’t long enough – until next time, little one!