A-Z Cruise Holiday Guide
Each evening during the course of your cruise holiday, a Daily Times newsletter will be placed in your cabin, detailing events and timings for the following day. This will include time zone changes and dress code guidelines.
There will be plenty of opportunity to practice and show your dancing skills during your cruise holiday. From ballroom to line dancing and dancing the night away in the disco, there is the variety to suit all tastes and skills. Dance classes are often held throughout each cruise holiday, details of which will be advertised in the daily newsletter, the Daily Times. Dance hosts are on board all cruises to make sure single Guests are never too long without a dance partner.
We want you to enjoy every aspect of your cruise holiday and we can happily cater for the following dietary requirements; diabetic, gluten/ wheat free, dairy free/soya, vegetarian, vegan, low fat/ cholesterol and low salt. All we ask is that you kindly give us 3-4 weeks advance notice by calling our Administration Department on 01473 292444. For anyone with food allergies/ intolerances you will have the opportunity early in the cruise to meet with either the Maitre d' or Executive Chef to discuss any special requests.
Once you have embarked your cruise ship, the Maitre d' on board allocates your final dining table arrangements. Your preferred dining time, early 6.15pm or main 8.30pm (Braemar's dining times are 6pm or 8.15pm) will be confirmed, subject to availability, at time of booking. When you arrive on board you will find a Restaurant Seating Card in your cabin, which will advise you of your table number and dining time. A buffet breakfast and lunch will also be served in the Palms Cafe on both Braemar and Balmoral, the Braemar Garden Cafe on Black Watch and Secret Garden on Boudicca. Weather permitting food may also be available from outside deck areas.
The main restaurants are:
Black Watch - Glentanar Restaurant
Boudicca - Four Seasons and Tintagel Restaurants
Braemar - Thistle and Grampian Restaurants
Balmoral - Ballindalloch, Avon and Spey Restaurants.
Ballindalloch is the main restaurant on Deck 6, whilst the Avon and Spey are more intimate restaurants on Deck 10. Menu and service are identical.
Mealtimes are as flexible as possible - after all you are on holiday. Breakfast is normally served between 7.15 and 10.00am, and lunch between 12.00 and 2.00pm in the main restaurants. A buffet breakfast and lunch will also be served in the Palms cafe on both Braemar and Balmoral, Braemar Garden Cafe on Black Watch, and weather permitting in the Poolside Cafe and Marquee Bar on Black Watch.
Open Sitting evening dining is offered as an informal option in the Braemar Garden Cafe on Black Watch, The Secret Garden on Boudicca, and The Palms Cafe on both Braemar and Balmoral. These informal restaurants operate on a self service basis, but a bar service is available.
Check your Daily Times for opening hours. Please note that all restaurants on board operate a no smoking policy.
Disability and Reduced Mobility
General Mobility Information Guide
Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines warmly welcomes guests dependent on the use of a wheelchair/scooter for mobility on all vessels within our fleet. However, with the very different nature of a holiday at sea when compared to one on land we very strongly recommend you are accompanied by an able-bodied companion who is responsible for providing any assistance that you may require both on board and ashore. On board we are unable to offer any sustained or long term assistance. If you opt to travel alone but it transpires that you are unable to cope on board you will be required to meet with a senior officer to discuss the situation, and in extreme circumstances asked to disembark the vessel at your own expense. If in any doubt prior to departure as to whether we can safely accept the guest for passage, we do reserve the right to insist a guest is accompanied by an able-bodied companion.
The number of guests either reliant upon the use of a wheelchair/scooter, or with reduced mobility, that we can accept is governed by the number of crew we can assign to assist disabled/mobility impaired guests in the unlikely event of an emergency. This is in accordance with the International Maritime Organisation’s convention on ‘ Safety of Life at Sea ‘ (SOLAS), governing the safe evacuation of a vessel within 30 minutes of the emergency alarm being sounded. This regulation is not superseded by the EU Passenger Bill of Rights Regulation 1177/2010, effective 18 December 2012, concerning the rights of passengers when travelling by sea or inland waterways.
Other guests who request to bring a wheelchair/scooter solely to assist them in covering significant distances ashore will therefore be restricted from using their wheelchair when the vessel is at sea. These chairs will be stored safely in the vicinity of the gangway by our Security Officers. Owing to limited storage space we do also have to strictly limit the number of wheelchairs/scooters we can accept for this purpose.
A limited number of cabins on each ship have been adapted to facilitate more comfortable occupation for such guests. ( 4 on Black Watch, Boudicca, Braemar and 9 on Balmoral) .Only these cabins have wide thresholds to facilitate the acceptance of a wheelchair/scooter.
However, we must stress that these cabins have been modified based on original specifications as opposed to purpose built, and consequently may still pose difficulties to those guests fully reliant upon a wheelchair.
For example, bathrooms on Black Watch have a small ‘ ridge’ to negotiate in the shower area which retains the shower water. This can hinder the manoeuvrability of a wheelchair. On Braemar we would not recommend the adapted cabins to any wheelchair bound guest, owing to the very limited turning circle within the cabin, restricting easy access to the ramped bathroom entrance.
For all adapted cabins there are no handrails in the main cabin area, only in the shower/WC. A rail is provided to assist with use of the WC and a fixed seat is provided in the shower. In effect the entire floor of your bathroom acts as the shower tray. Your dedicated Cabin Stewardess will naturally clean and dry the floor as required. Bed and toilet heights are relatively low, however, an additional mattress and/or raised toilet seat can be requested. All cabins have a telephone link with both the ship’s Reception and Medical Centre.
Guests are welcome to bring or privately hire additional equipment, such as hoists if required. With prior approval from FOCL the delivery/collection and safe use of such equipment will be entirely the responsibility of the individual.
In our opinion the Boudicca is the most wheelchair friendly vessel in our fleet owing to the very generous cabin dimensions and layout.
In all cases guests must supply their own wheelchair/scooter. On safety grounds such devices weighing in excess of 25kgs unladen, cannot be carried ashore at any ports of call, unless easily dismantled with each part weighing no more than 25 kilos. Again, in line with SOLAS regulations, wheelchairs must not be left unattended at anytime in public areas and/or corridors.
In general, and particularly on guest accommodation decks, wheelchair users will encounter shallow gradient ramps and shallow risers as a result of the vessel’s construction and location of fire and water tight doors. Similarly, public areas and Promenade Decks are accessed via shallow ramps or a gradual slope. Subject to the vessels superstructure, not all doors leading on to open deck areas will be suitable for wheelchair users. Our staff will be happy to offer advice on the most practical exit/entrance for you. While all ships have public lifts to all guest decks, excluding Sun Deck, these do have restricted space for wheelchairs, particularly for the larger motorised type. Please bear in mind that most doors leading to outside decks are non-automated and to serve their purpose are very heavy and could not be negotiated by a wheelchair/scooter user unless accompanied by an able-bodied companion.
For wheelchair confined guests and, subject to a combination of local conditions and port facilities to include, but not solely restricted to, tides and gangway it may be necessary to physically lift the chair and it’s occupant to/from the vessel. In these circumstances the vessel’s Safety Officer will risk assess the situation before making the decision to permit this or not.
Since we sail from several smaller UK regional ports terminal and embarkation/disembarkation facilities are very limited which can seriously effect our ability to safely embark/disembark guests and in a dignified manner. In particular Liverpool, Portsmouth and Rosyth pose a greater challenge to those confined to wheelchairs owing to the absence of either an ‘air bridge’ or non-stepped gangway. Invariably, a guest will physically have to be lifted onto the vessel in the wheelchair by our gangway staff. Albeit fully insured to do so guests may feel this is not a process they would be prepared to undertake and it to be undignified. Again, if in our opinion, and given the combined weight of guest and wheelchair, it would be unsafe to embark/disembark them, we do reserve the right to refuse passage.
At times where we cannot be allocated a physical berth in a port we may have to anchor off and utilise a ship to shore tender service. We regret that on safety grounds wheelchair confined guests will be unable to go ashore. Please note that on these occasions there may be up to 24 steps down to the tender platform. Fully collapsible wheelchairs can be carried on board a tender, but the guest in question must be able to board the tender with the minimum of assistance. Whereas tender ports are generally known in advance of arrival and as detailed in both our brochure and on our website, unforeseen circumstances on the day may necessitate such a service should the original berth become unavailable for whatever reason.
Shore Tour Programme
Unless able to climb the steps of a coach, it will not be possible to participate in the programme of organised shore excursions we offer for sale on board. This includes tours with minimal walking involved at destination. We also cannot guarantee easy wheelchair access to all attractions visited on shore tours, or access to shuttle buses provided by the local port authority.
Please however contact our Shore Tours Department should you wish to explore private tour arrangements with suitable transport.
Deaf and visually impaired Guests
As with mobility impaired guests we would strongly recommend guests are accompanied by an able-bodied companion to assist them both on board and ashore.
Whereas infra-red hearing loops are fitted on all vessels, with headsets available from Reception, for use in the main ‘Show Lounge’, please note that this headset system is not suitable for people who wear permanently inserted hearing devices; and none of our cabins feature any additional emergency equipment such as flashing lights or ‘bed shakers’ that can be used in the event of an emergency. In the event of an emergency our specifically trained and assigned crew will come directly to your cabin. However, please let us have advance notice of any serious hearing impairment.
At least 24 hours before the end of your cruise full disembarkation instructions will be placed within your cabin. On arrival into UK ports the cruise ship has to be cleared by Customs and Immigration Officials before disembarkation can commence. This enables you to have a leisurely breakfast, vacate your cabin, and take a comfortable seat in one of the public lounges before being called forward according to your colour coded disembarkation card.
In general, disembarkation commences at 0800hrs, but please allow up to 2 hours for the entire cruise ship to be cleared. Please plan your onward journey from the UK port accordingly.
Assistance will be given to those Guests with wheelchairs. Once leaving the vessel please ensure you collect all your luggage from the baggage reclaim area before continuing your onward journey. As baggage is arranged in the reclaim area according to deck colour it is very important to ensure that your original baggage tags are still affixed to your belongings. Please ensure you take only your belongings. Guests who take luggage belonging to fellow Guests will have to pay any charges incurred in returning luggage to its rightful owner.
Full disembarkation procedures will be placed in all cabins, and for operational reasons may differ slightly from the above.
To help you decide what to pack we have put together the following simple guidelines. Other information about your cruise holiday on board experience may also help with packing for your holiday.
During the Day
Daytime dress is casual. Casual shirts, shorts and beachwear are ideal, although we do ask you to adhere to appropriate dress codes in the main restaurants. For going ashore and walking on deck, flat, comfortable shoes are a must. We would also recommend that you take a lightweight jacket or fleece for the evenings.
Don’t forget your sun cream, hats and sunglasses, as the power of the sun is magnified at sea.
During the evening there are:
Formal nights – For ladies, this is the opportunity to wear a cocktail or evening dress. For gentlemen, dinner jacket or tuxedos. Alternatively, a dark suit and tie is acceptable.
Smart casual – Stylish leisure wear is ideal. Open neck shirts with collars please, for the men; whilst casual separates or a summer dress will be fine for the ladies. The requirement for a jacket and/or tie is optional, but is often the preferred choice of many of our guests. Chino type trousers and smart dark jeans are acceptable, but no trainers please.
As a guideline there are normally four formal nights on a two week cruise, with the remaining nights as smart casual.
There will also be various cruise theme nights such as ‘Nautical’, ‘International’, ‘Tropical’ and ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll’, which you may wish to join in. Dress code guidelines are mentioned in the ship’s Daily Times so you can anticipate the tone of the next evening to come. The number of formal, informal and smart casual nights for your particular cruise will be advised in your ticket pack.
Please note that on day of embarkation we always operate a Smart Casual code for dinner as your cabin baggage can take up to 2 hours to be delivered to your cabin.
Guests should kindly note that due to company policy, only alcohol purchased on our cruise ships may be consumed on board. Any alcohol brought from ashore will be placed in safe keeping by the ship’s security officers and returned at the end of the cruise. However, you may purchase cigarettes, tobacco and alcohol on board to enjoy in your cabin or take home via either our Cabin Shopping Service, or on- board boutique, which give you excellent savings on shoreside prices. Duty Free purchases can normally be made on the last full day of your sailing, subject to itinerary. See 'Shopping & Duty Free' for more details.
When returning from EU countries there is no limit to the amount of goods you can bring back into the UK (exceptions apply for certain Eastern European countries). However, these must be personally carried and be for your own use - which includes gifts. If you bring back large quantities of alcohol or tobacco, a Customs Officer may ask you about the purposes for which you hold the goods. This particularly applies if you have with you more than the following amounts:
- 800 cigarettes
- 400 cigarillos
- 200 cigars
- 1kg tobacco products (other than above)
- 10 litres of spirits
- 20 litres of fortified wine
- 90 litres of wine
- 110 litres of beer
Please note that it is unlawful to carry in excess of 10,000 Euros in cash between some European Union countries.
Your Customs allowance when returning from non-EU countries is;
Tobcacco - either, 200 cigarettes, 250g of tobacco, 50 cigars, or 100 cigarillos.
Alcohol - either, one litre of spirits, or 2 litres of fortified wine or any other alcoholic drink that’s less than 22 per cent volume. In addition you are permitted 4 litres of still table wine and 16 litres of beer.
In total £390 worth of all goods including gifts and souvenirs.
Pease note on fly/cruises it is the policy of most airlines that Guests can travel with alcohol that is 1-70% proof. Anything above this will be confiscated as considered to be dangerous goods.
Please note, if you have booked a fly-cruise with us, purchase of duty free alcohol is not available on the outbound legs of our charter flights.