Courtesy of Fred. Olsen
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Courtesy of Fred.Olsen
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Courtesy of Fred.Olsen
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Our Ship Review
Deal Expert / Travel Blogger

Like other Fred. Olsen ships, the 1,325-guest Balmoral is thoroughly British in character: It is named after the Scottish residence of the royal family, the onboard currency is the British pound, and the majority of passengers are Brits age 50 and up. Since the debut of Borealis and Bolette (two former Holland America ships purchased by Fred. Olsen in 2020), Balmoral is now the smallest ship in the Fred. Olsen fleet. Lengthened nearly 100 feet during its 2007 refit and extensively refurbished in 2017, the ship is solidly midsize and retains a cozy, intimate setting.

What We Love

The Observatory Lounge: Perched on the top deck, the lounge is the place to soak in dramatic sea views, as well as to sample the wide selection of cocktails.

Single Cabins: Before Balmoral joined the Fred. Olsen fleet in 2007 (it was previously under Norwegian Cruise Line and Orient Lines), a number of cabins were converted to single occupancy, making it a convenient and more affordable option for solo travelers.

Best Known For

Classy Decor: Nautical memorabilia and leather-covered stools fill the traditional Morning Light Pub, the main Ballindalloch Restaurant is adorned with Tiffany glass domes, and the smaller Avon and Spey restaurants feature round portholes. Scattered throughout the ship are original British and Scandinavian artworks from the Olsen family collection.

Relaxed Atmosphere: The ambiance is generally relaxed and refined, with limited public announcements and low-key diversions such as ballroom dance music, lectures, crafts classes, and carpet bowling. Passengers do tend to go all out for formal nights though, donning tuxes and white dinner jackets — even kilts.

Who It's Best For

Anglophiles, Mature Adults, and Singles: If you like British civility and getting to know passengers from around the English-speaking world, Balmoral provides the grown-up, international flavor you crave. In addition, cabins and special programs cater to solo travelers.

Don't Say We Didn't Warn You

Not for Families: Even though Balmoral does offer a kids club during British holiday periods, this is not really a family-oriented ship.