I have just got back from a cruise on the Braemar to Spitzbergen and felt the need to let off 'steam' in a letter to FOCL - reply awaited with interest. The staff were as delightful as ever and the lecturers were varied and interesting. The food was very good as usual. The Grampian is an excellent restaurant but the waiters now service more tables so you wait for service to an unacceptable degree. Amongst my gripes were lack of information from the bridge as to what we were seeing and passing. The main complaint was the change of itinerary which meant we spent a day less in Spitzbergen which was the point of going! I would not have booked the revised itinerary! The tour we took in Tromso was a disaster as for laudable reasons we were unable to go in the Arctic Cathedral, but were not even allowed a photo stop - an utter waste of money! The Neptune Lounge was as uncomfortable and cramped as I remembered it. As for the Coral Lounge in the evening - no comment! Would we take another cruise with FOCL - probably not although we have done five so they must be doing something right. The staff are a delight and can not do enough for you - but it is not enough in itself. FOCL must try harder. I am told that the Black Watch is a delight?
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Topic: McC Eastbourne
5th August 2011, 11:47 AM #1Ship's Cat Member
- Join Date
- Oct 2010
5th August 2011, 12:05 PM #2
We are big FOCL fans and must admit we have never had information from the bridge about what we are passing, except when we saw whales. I think it must be down to individual captains. One captain did a star gazing evening up on deck on Balmoral which was excellent, but this was the one and only time we have had captain participation. It was so popular he did it another evening. As for tours I dont think there is a lot between any company regarding value for money, and the photo stop would have been to do with the tour company and not Fred, unless they were running late? The itinerary change is unacceptable in my mind. As you say that was the point of going! Black watch is an older ship and quite nice since its refit, although ardent fans of BW havent been so complementary. She is still Fred Olsons favorite ship and he is on there every month or so. Did you raise the issue of long waits on your table to the Maitre de? Best of luck and please feed back your response that you get, I am really interested.
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5th August 2011, 02:27 PM #3Leading Seaman Member
- Join Date
- Aug 2010
Hi I agree with your comments on the increased number of tables the waiters are expected to serve. It does lead to considerable degree in waiting times, but more importantly to me, the waiters no longer have time to talk the passengers. This aspect was normal a few years ago and certainly added to the "friendly" atmosphere onboard. However, the prices are now lower than they were a few years ago (particularly ther late booking prices) so I suppose it is obvious many cutbacks in service have had to be made. I have been on all of Fred Olsen ships except Boudicca (some more than once) in the last three years and this criticism is fleet wide.
Last edited by Alan, Newcastle-upon-Tyne; 5th August 2011 at 02:30 PM.
5th August 2011, 11:04 PM #4Ship's Cat Member
- Join Date
- Feb 2010
Hi - My wife and I were on the same cruise and agree with your comments. I too have written to FOCL listing our disappointments. The main one being the change of itinerary and the especially not visiting Longyearbyen. The reason for this being fully understood that safety must come first. We did a cruise to Spitzbergen with FOCL four years ago and have to admit the itinerary on that occassion was much better that this years. Our first port of call was Trondheim which then allowed us to join in the fun with "King Neptune" as we crossed the Arctic Circle during the day instead of during the middle of the night on this years cruise in both directions. We were also given lots of information from the bridge by the port lecturer which we found very helpful and which we missed this year. FOCL increase there prices each year but continue to lower various services like less waiters, withdrawing wine waiters, having bread served by the waiter instead of a full bread basket being placed on each table, charging 2% on your on board account should you wish to pay by credit card, charging for shuttle buses and of course the unfair way in which they imposed their fuel supplement.