Dear ms pollard.
I am writing to you regarding our recent cruise on your ship the Balmoral. The main point i would like to address is that there was no correspondence from your company to inform passengers to pre purchase tickets for the new Titanic museum/exhibition in Belfast, the first we knew about the tickets all being sold out was on the arrival in Belfast from the tourist information.
My wife and i went to see your customer relations officer, valerie ruts, and quite frankly she should sue the charm school she attended!!. When i said that i thought Fred Olsen should have informed customers that tickets should be pre purchased, she said we should have booked one of the official tours from the ship!! I said i thought that was a very rude and disgusting thing to say to a customer, she said ,and i quote, “Fred Olsen is a business you know” with a very condescending grin on her face! (i think she enjoys winding people up) At that point, not only was i upset at not being able to go to the exhibition, i felt EXTREMELY OFFENDED!!.
I asked ms Ruts for an address to complain to, and she said we would have a letter with all details later that day. Of course it didn’t arrive. The following morning we were at reception and whilst i was dealing with the reception girl ,my wife saw ms Ruts and asked her about the letter. She then gave my wife the letter. HOORAY!! Of course it was for a mr and mrs hall!!. Having said that, it was regarding the same complaint, so hey-ho!. Later that day ms Ruts obviously realised her mistake and sent us the correct letter apologising and she also sent us a bottle of sparkling wine. I do genuinely appreciate this . I took the wine up to the restaurant at 5.30 as i wanted to share it with the other guests at our table. It was ,and had been,in a bucket of ice for a couple of hours and i would have expected the restaurant staff to top up the ice really, but sadly they didn’t and although we enjoyed it, it would have been nice if it was properly chilled.Sometimes, it is the attention to detail that can make or break a holiday and ,as your television adverts say,that’s what makes Fred Olsen a good choice!.
Now things can go wrong for any company but it’s how you deal with these incidents, and i’m afraid ms Ruts is most definitely in the wrong job! Perhaps politics could be her calling as politicians always seem to enjoy inflicting pain on the ordinary man in the street!
This was our first cruise with Fred Olsen and i would like to address some other points from our experiences and observations from our cruise on Balmoral.
Embarkation was a little unorganised ,this was probably due to the ship being late getting in and of no fault of Fred Olsen. while we were waiting i saw you could pre book some wine for dinner, a good idea i thought! (i was wrong of course!) I ordered a bottle of Australian red for dinner that night. Now i would of thought that the bottle would have been opened and left to breath ,as red wine should be, but of course it was just on our table unopened!.SO WHAT’S THE POINT OF PRE BOOKING? Then of course i had to open it myself!
On entering the ship, and throughout our cruise,and throughout the ship at various places and times there was a very strong smell of sewage! just what you need when your on your way to dinner!!.
The bottle of water in the cabin had NO sign on it to say that you would be charged if opened, Now i know it says so in the cruise information , BUT WHO READS THAT COVER TO COVER BEFORE YOU TOUCH ANYTHING?? On previous cruises with other companies, the first bottle is free and subsequent bottles are charged for, so we thought it would be the same. I think Trading Standards would like to hear of this underhand tactic!.
The casino, (well it’s described as such in your brochure!) one blackjack table and one roulette table!! YOU CALL THAT A CASINO?? MY LOCAL CHIP SHOP HAS MORE OPPORTUNITIES TO GAMBLE!! I know you couldn’t open it due to being in british waters, although it did say it would be open in the daily times!, but come on, that’s not what i would call a casino!
Fine dining!! (excuse me while i fall over laughing again!!.) the dining experience took me back to the heady days i spent as a child in the all inclusive dining room at Butlins in Minehead!!. The food was, at very best, mediocre! Only one meal we had, the first night,was at what i would call a pleasant and safe temperature.Most of the meals were bland,tepid and tough,(my wifes duck asked her for a fight at one point!) and quite frankly if it wasn’t for two ports of call where we could find restaurants to eat in, i would have lost weight during my holiday! We have cruised many times and NEVER had to seek food at any port, actually what we like most about cruising is the quality of food. Now, when we have cruised before, the waiters sweep the crumbs off of the table into a plate, with your company you just use the floor!! or ,as happened one night, MY LAP!! Thank you!.
Lunch buffet was equally laughable to be honest!. On the last day at sea 07/04 i went to the Ballindalloch restaurant to see what was available, OH BOY! Very little!! The only meats available were -dried chicken and ox tongue, WHAT, NOT EVEN ANY HAM!! So we decided to have the pub lunch in the Lido lounge. I must admit i do find luncheon meat very exotic!! NOT! But ,none the less, bread and cheese would suffice. Now we waited for the queue to die down and went to get our food at 1.05pm (lunchtime in most peoples book!) and we literally had to prize what was left off of your waiters as they were trying to clear it all away!! i got a very loud grunt when i asked for a knife and a very curt “NO,LUNCH HAS FINISHED” when i asked if i could get some pickle!!. Could he have been a relation to ms Ruts perhaps?
We did not see much entertainment but what we did see was of a reasonable standard except for the comedy act, i think they were called the rosario trio, please send me details of where i can make a donation to get them some music lessons! they were DREADFUL!! And by the way, i am a professional musician so i know about pitch! Which sadly the violinist didn’t!. Flatter than a witches something or other is the saying i believe.
The concert pianist ,who played in the mornings in the observation lounge, was quite simply fabulous and i can only assume he either got on the wrong ship or was incredibly cheap as this was a rare highlight to the cruise. Even the toilet paper gave me flashbacks of using the toilets at school!!
In all fairness the cabin was kept clean, although the hairdryer was about as powerful as a bronchial mouse!
When the ship cruised at a certain, mainly lower speed , the vibration in the cabin was ABHORRENT!! and only akin to the kind of vibrations that i assume could occur in an Ann Summers warehouse!! this is OK during the day BUT AT 3AM!!!! Do me a favour!!
My parents cruised with Fred Olsen a few years back and had a great time, so our expectations were quite high. But talking to them about our experience, we can only come to the conclusion that accountants have got hold of the company and although ,on paper,(not the toilet paper of course,it’s too rough!) they assume they are saving the company money, realistically all they do is alienate customers who,like us/my parents/friends etc, certainly will not be booking with your company again.
Anyway i would like to hear your views on the points i have made, especially the lack of information on the Titanic exhibition.
John Wines