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Everything posted by richard_london

  1. She sailed around in circles for a bit, for a moment I thought she wasn't going to go but maybe just testing compass and steering. But she's heading north now at a very sedate 7 knots and coming up on Aberdeen.
  2. She's on her way to Belfast. First time she'll have been at sea since the pandemic. Such a shame FOCL disposed of her.
  3. The latest render from this week (with the slot machines in the background) looks like the casino bar, seems very low. And looking back through all the previous renders they do give that impression. Because this HAL class of ships that the QA is based upon have a lot more superstructure compared to the QV and QE, I wonder if they have reduced the height of each deck for stability purposes? I am due on the maiden voyage, if I remember I will take a tape measure and the same on my next QV voyage to see if there is a difference.
  4. I phoned today and spoke to the lady on the phone about the error messages: "Sorry, we are unable to process your booking at the moment." "Payment has failed due to package unavailability." She wasn't sure why it was displaying these as there was availability on the cruises in question but said she would feed back the problems I had. So I am none the wiser.
  5. Hi, yes I tried with different browsers on the computer and also on my phone to no avail. Never had this ever before and I'm platinum in CWC. Very strange. Thanks for the advice.
  6. Okay, thank you for sharing too. I will have to find out tomorrow what is going I on, not sure why I am affected this way. I appreciate the information.
  7. I tried that cruise with ocean view and balcony but couldn't book those. Interesting you were able to book an inside. Thank you for the information. I will be calling them tomorrow.
  8. May I ask which cruise it was and what grade of cabin you booked, if you don't mind sharing publicly?
  9. Is this on the Queen Anne, or one of the other ships?
  10. Trying to book single occupancy on the Queen Anne doesn't look possible, is anyone else experiencing this problem? Have tried multiple cruise options and I can book, but when I click o confirm I get one of two messages: "Sorry, we are unable to process your booking at the moment." "Payment has failed due to package unavailability." But i've tried again a number of hours later and the cabins are still available. It is like Cunard are blocking solo passengers on the QA. Applied when I tried Ocean View and Balcony cabins, so it affects different grades. Disappointed and slightly angry to be honest.
  11. Your insights make interesting reading as I find it difficult to decipher the quarterly reports, so thank you. Whilst every other cruise company seems to be on the up FOCL seem to be stagnating. I see the new 2025/26 intineraries go on sale next week, so I will be interested to see in the Balmoral is sailing for another 12 months. Hopefully the new cruises will be more popular.
  12. It's official, Braemar will become the "Villa Vie Odyssey". https://www.maritime-executive.com/article/startup-agrees-to-buy-fred-olsen-s-braemar-for-3-5-year-world-cruise Also, the website has been updated: https://villavieresidences.com/meet-the-ship There is a video which combines CGI artists impressions and old footage of the Braemar. Some of the video clips used are of poor quality, so it looks like they haven't shot this specifically for this purpose but used clips in the public domain. Apparently she will be setting sail on 15th May 2024. FOCL will hand her over at the end of Feburary. So that's two months to reactivate her and refit all the cabins? Is that posssible?
  13. Christmas 2022 was due to issues with lifeboats that meant she failed her Passenger Ship Safety Certificate renewal. I had a vague recollection of something prior to that so did some digging around online. Turns out in May 2022 she was detained by the MCA at Tilbury with 22 deficiencies and two were grounds for detention (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/foreign-flagged-ships-detained-in-the-uk-during-may-2022-under-paris-mou). It seems like every time there is a mandatory inspection she needs to maintain her ceritification something crops up. If you go on the Lloyds Register site (https://www.lr.org/en/about-us/who-we-are/lr-ships-in-class/) and put in the details 8521232 or AMBIENCE in the search boxes you can see her certification status. From what I can make out, she has an overdue survey for "Exhaust Gs Economiser" from November 2023 and another 8 surveys that need to be completed by 10th Janaury 2024. So I guess one of these surveys threw up this latest problem, but there could have been others that Ambasssador have chosen not to publicise. According to the notes section she has four outstanding actions that were meant to be done in January related to deck plating, tanktop, her port anchor and forward mooring station. You can do a forward look and see what over surveys she has coming up and there are so many! Sadly I would agree, and also expect her to have more issues at some of these later surveys.
  14. It looks like the future for the Braemar as a residence at sea is confirmed following this story: https://cruiseindustrynews.com/cruise-news/2023/11/villa-vie-to-announce-ship-purchase-agreement-in-december/ The Villa Vie Residences website has been updated with ship plans and rooms renders. The ship profile clearly is the Braemar and the deck plans are lifted from FO originals. From the initial profile image it looks like she will be going back to a light hull colour. https://booking.villavieresidences.com/ship-and-listing There are some interesting renders of how the cabins will look. It helps you imagine how a refitted Braemar could have looked in service with FO, but sadly that just remains a dream. We've seen a number of plans for residences at sea come and go (now Ambassador's Ambience was going to be the Satoshi and more recently Aida's AIDAuara was going to become Life at Sea), so it will be interesting to see if this gets off the ground. I say that because I recall the Miray (behind Life at Sea) originally tried to use the Braemar's sister ship, MV Gemini (https://www.cruisecritic.co.uk/news/worlds-first-three-year-cruise-runs-into-rough-waters-executive-team-parts-ways ) but pulled out of using that ship because it would be unsuitable for the purpose. I know the Braemar was lengthened by FO but I wonder if she is viable as a permanent residence at sea. Anyway, for those who loved the Braemar and are interested, these are the changes I could seem compared to the old FO deck plans: 2 deck - Community storage added 3 deck - Culinary centre replaces arts and craft room 4 deck - Thistle Restaurant becomes Marina Diner 5 deck - Neptune Lounge becomes Theatre, Morning Light Pub becomes the Morning Light Club, Library remains, networking area replaces gaming tables, meeting areas replaces Bookmark Cafe, shops, photo gallery and guest services, Coral Club becomes Club 6 deck - Palms Cafe and Grill becomes Wave Cafe 7 deck - no significant changes 8 deck - Observatory becomes Villa Vie Lounge, Marquee Bar becomes Sun Bar, Grampian Restaurant becomes Gourmet Restaurant
  15. Yes, Southampton is best with me, but the Balmoral is doing very little in 2024 so I've booked one of the already announced 2025 cruises. Seems an awfully long way off, I just hope she is still in the fleet by then.
  16. Yes, that's a good point, I had forgotten about those cancellations. Let's take it as a good sign of things.
  17. I have a Balmoral cruise booked in 2025, slightly concerned now that there might not even by an FOCL let along the Balmoral in service. Just have to keep my fingers crossed. I am wondering, a few years ago had they made their new advert then Fred Jr would have undoubtedly featured, as part of the family history narrative. But it seems the company is not doing well and the decision to buy the HAL sisters doesn't look like it was a wise one. Was he forced out/made to carry the can for these problems, which is why his departure was rather under the radar, and with no fanfare announcing his departure?
  18. Thanks as always for your insightful previous posts. It doesn't paint a positive picture, the loss of the Balmoral would be terribly sad. Since the Balmoral has spent most of her time recently cruising out of Newcastle and Rosyth it has not been practical for me to cruise from there, but I have fond memories of her from cruises before the pandemic. Her removal from the FOCL fleet would be a mistake. The "new" HAL ships were already much larger than the Black Watch and Bouddica and in an instant Fred elimated a lot of their nice itineraries those ships did, like the Kiel Canal transits. I notice in their latest (heavily promoted) advert on television that in the attached screenshot the two images of the Balmoral show her doing two canal transits, something only the Balmoral can do now. They lost the Corinth Canal transits when they stopped using the Braemar, which I never managed to do, and really regret now having missed out. If the Balmoral goes, any pretence of "small ship" cruising by FOCL will be pure fiction.
  19. Can you get tables for two in the dining room for guests staying in suites?
  20. Yes I had family on the cruise and it was due to the weather. By all accounts it wasn't a pleasant experience and on the last day they came down with Covid.
  21. Every cruise line is trying to increase onboard spend with extra costs options. It is easier for Cunard with a new ship under construction to add them in. But looking at the QM2 deckplans (and this is pure speculation) would they take space from the Kings Court buffet and convert that? I've seen reviews on Youtube, it was either the new Celebrity Apex or NCL Prima class ships that had smaller buffets than would be expected for a ship of that size to allow, presumably, for extra charge options. I hope this doesn't happen. The current Sir Samuels looks small, there is that room next to it (I think it is for the wine tasting) so the two spaces could be cannibalised to make a larger extra cost restaurant. But that would be a shame to loose the current Sir Samuels Clearly extra pay options will come to the current ships, I guess once the QA is in service. But I fear it would mean compromising existing venues to accommodate them.
  22. I don't think anyone has metioned this, apologies if repeating. Seems strange to me the steakhouse on the QA will be called Sir Samuel's as Sir Samuel's exists on the QM2 but that does pastries, cakes and chocolates, but on the existing Queens the steakhouse is the Verandah. All the other restaraunts are named consistently across the fleet. I wonder if they will do some renaming on the current fleet to match the QA.
  23. So I check I understand correctly, even if the second half of 2023 they achieved, say double what was achieved in the first half (so £2 million) the repayments for the two ships will be wiping out any profit?
  24. I think in your earlier post you said by 2 hours. I've had cruises that have proceeded perfectly normally have that duration of delay in boarding, so 2 hours is no time to do a deep clean of the ship. My experience of norovirus on a FO cruise (also on the Balmoral) was that our cruise was curtailed a day eary to get back to Southampton so the company could do a "deep clean". I don't know if the problem originated on our cruise or continued to the next. But what I do recall is going to dinner on the second evening to find the dining room decimated with people absent, and that's when we found out there was a norovirus outbreak. So two hours is a woefully short amount of time for the crew to fix things. Clearly, given it originated on the previous cruise it wasn't stopped by whatever they did. That was my experience too. Too all intents and purposes it looked like an uncontrolled outbreak and nothing could do done to stop it. I managed to avoid it (the worst I experienced was red-raw hands from all the hand gel and handwashing we had to do), but there were people I met early on during the cruise, who came down with norovirus, recovered, and then caught it again before they disembarked! It was a pretty disasterous cruise and particularly unpleasant. I'm sorry you had a such a bad experience, anecdotally it does seem to be on FOCL ships that this seems to happen. It's always brought on board by a passenger, according to the Company. But the CDC in the US connects norovirus not to guests, but to ill workers in food production (https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/norovirus/index.html?fbclid=IwAR1S8XZVtJa7M8sFavTu68aEZaPgy7GRIK-u7ZWEHAVuF6Ds3YBY6kj-NEQ). The article says "Infected food workers cause about 70% of reported norovirus outbreaks from contaminated food". Given that crew members rely heavily on tips to supplement their wages, you can understand them not reporting ill, but if they are in food handling and preparation then that is going to have potentially serious consequences. Until crew have better working conditions and pay I don't see this particular problem going away.
  25. In my case, the same. The single supplement applied to solo cabins really does infuriate me. The room is designated a single, it wouldn't be me occupying a double room on my own. The fact they drop the supplement on some cruises and not others shows how very unfair it is. But on a more general point, it's physically and mentally exhausting for anyone to have to track Fred.'s prices to make sure you are getting the best deal possible. Cruising is meant to be relaxing. I like to book a cruise as soon as they are announced to get the cabin I want and then not to have to worry about it (until payment day!). The whole Fred pricing strategy causes too much anxiety, stress and worry so at the moment I'm not considering their cruises right now until someone decides to do somehing about this strategy.
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