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Balmoral In Stormy Seas


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On 12/1/2023 at 1:59 PM, twotravellersLondon said:

We've seen another report from a passenger that this was "the voyage from hell" with "engine failure" "hurricane force winds" "10m waves" "4 windows cave in because of the force of water" "flooding" "loss of property" "cuts and bruises" "broken bones" passengers tossed onto the floor along with tables, chairs and glasses" and compensation for a "holiday that never happened" 50% off a future cruise if taken within 12 months."

 

By comparison... since seen one comment that passengers who were on the SAGA Discovery in the same storm got a 100% refund.

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The captain announced that we had an intermittent engine fault, so we did not have the power to clear the well-publicised approaching storm.

Should we have gone to sea with this fault? in my view certainly not!!  So we were caught and battered by the worst storm for over 70 years, the ship took on an unnatural list which I believe was righted by pumping water ballast from one side of the ship to the other which righted the ship, in this manoeuvre deck 4 windows were shattered and water ingress also flooded inside cabins, we limped to Gatxo which was cold and wet and although unfortunately after making repairs we did not go the Canaries where we were contracted to go but to Madera, for the Fred Olsen PR exercise which it seemed that the captain thought was more important, in total we had just one day on deck in the sun, therefore, it was not a cruise having had just two contracted ports, should we get our money back? you bet we should so let's see if FO can match Saga without any quibbling.  

Edited by Bar-fly
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3 hours ago, Bar-fly said:

The captain announced that we had an intermittent engine fault, so we did not have the power to clear the well-publicised approaching storm.

Should we have gone to sea with this fault? in my view certainly not!!  So we were caught and battered by the worst storm for over 70 years, the ship took on an unnatural list which I believe was righted by pumping water ballast from one side of the ship to the other which righted the ship, in this manoeuvre deck 4 windows were shattered and water ingress also flooded inside cabins, we limped to Gatxo which was cold and wet and although unfortunately after making repairs we did not go the Canaries where we were contracted to go but to Madera, for the Fred Olsen PR exercise which it seemed that the captain thought was more important, in total we had just one day on deck in the sun, therefore, it was not a cruise having had just two contracted ports, should we get our money back? you bet we should so let's see if FO can match Saga without any quibbling.  

 

That's one of the most transparent and honest reports that we've seen. We knew that something was really amiss when FOCLs didn't invite reviews on Feefo. You all deserve nothing less than a fu ll refund!!!

 

 

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12 hours ago, Bar-fly said:

The captain announced that we had an intermittent engine fault, so we did not have the power to clear the well-publicised approaching storm.

Should we have gone to sea with this fault? in my view certainly not!!  So we were caught and battered by the worst storm for over 70 years, the ship took on an unnatural list which I believe was righted by pumping water ballast from one side of the ship to the other which righted the ship, in this manoeuvre deck 4 windows were shattered and water ingress also flooded inside cabins, we limped to Gatxo which was cold and wet and although unfortunately after making repairs we did not go the Canaries where we were contracted to go but to Madera, for the Fred Olsen PR exercise which it seemed that the captain thought was more important, in total we had just one day on deck in the sun, therefore, it was not a cruise having had just two contracted ports, should we get our money back? you bet we should so let's see if FO can match Saga without any quibbling.  

FWIW I think as a gesture of good will FOCL should give you a fair cash refund.

However I am not sure why you think you have "contracted ports". Have you read your contract?

Here's what the relevant section states;

 

7.1 Published Holiday details and those details notified to you at the time of Booking may be subject to changes by FOCL after the Booking has been concluded, as a result of changes in circumstances that have occurred since the Holiday was originally planned. Such changes may include omitting, substituting or adding ports of call; we may re-route the cruise vessel or flights or change a port of embarkation and disembarkation, flight class, cruise vessel or other arrangements that form part of the Holiday, including restricting the availability of any onboard facilities and services. Such changes may be made in the interests of promoting the health, safety, comfort or enjoyment of Passengers or the operational efficiency of the Holiday. Wherever possible, details of such changes will be communicated to you in writing.

 

As I said, I do think you should be fairly compensated, but for the benefit of other cruisers, particularly new cruises, I think it is important not to mis-lead folk that ports are part of the contract and thus guaranteed. They are not. So if it is so important that Madeira is not a suitable alternative to the Canaries,say, then a cruise is not a suitable holiday.

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Hi Trevor, I now see your point, and as people pick their cruises by port or destination I foolishly thought that after payment we had a contract of sorts, having cruised for many years I do know that things don't always go to plan and it's another reason why we should read the small print 🙂 I still feel that the on time arrival at Madera for the company PR stunt took presedence over other decisions and why we sailed into the teeth of a massive storm    

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But this is not the first time that the Balmoral has got into difficulties in stormy seas...

 

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1129302/Pictured-Storm-tosses-massive-cruise-liner-like-toy-boat.html

 

In addition...

 

November 2022, the Balmoral hit a storm as it returned from a Northern Lights trip. A small cabins were damaged, windows were blown in cabins were flooded and people were injured.

 

We've seen other comments by passengers... including a third incidence of a window being blow in.,, but we've not been able to verify that post.

 

Our own experience is that we've been thrown out of bed on the Balmoral during a Bay of Biscay transit. If we were to travel on the Balmoral we would ensure that we only took a cabin midships on the upper decks.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

 

The Balmoral is currently in Oslo and is due to be back in Southampton on Thursday 21 December. 

 

Currently there is a strong breeze of about 22 knots and moderate 2 m seas on the passage across the southern North Sea. 

 

However on Wednesday, the Balmoral is likely to face winds of about 30 knots (a near gale) and estimated wave heights of 4 m... possibly up to 5.5 m... rough to very rough.

 

However forecasts may change and the Balmoral has been in worse weather conditions in the last few months. 

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On 12/3/2023 at 12:16 AM, twotravellersLondon said:

 

That's one of the most transparent and honest reports that we've seen. We knew that something was really amiss when FOCLs didn't invite reviews on Feefo. You all deserve nothing less than a fu ll refund!!!

 

 

Hi Two T's, Fred Olsen is playing the incident well down, it all stems from the Captain's decision to sail with only one propeller shaft working into the worst predicted gale in 70 years, as the gale grew in strength we were going nowhere fast and the Captain decided to run for lexos then changed to Gatxo in the Bay of Biscay unfortunately, during the turn there were several deck 4 cabins flooded including the companionway, as the ship listed my wife and I had our life preservers to hand but in retrospect they would have been useless in such seas, while there were several injuries and one passenger told me he stayed seated as instructed but with one big crash was catapulted off his chair and underneath the adjacent table receiving obvious damage to his nose and forehead, the ship had so much list that the waves hit my deck 5 cabin just like a sledgehammer, both of the ship's searchlights were on and searching the wave patterns in order to turn and in my view it was with luck that we completed the turn, and with the wind and waves behind us the ship picked up speed to Gatxo where I was told that 40+ passengers had left the ship, and where the technical engineer came aboard to fix the software which then allowed the two propeller shafts to work together.

All in all, we had just one good day of sun and two ports where the weather was hazy sun with clouds, in fact we were glad to get home, I received an email in answer to my letter asking for my money back stating that they were looking into it, I do wonder what is there to look into?

 

   

Edited by Bar-fly
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On 12/18/2023 at 3:16 PM, Bar-fly said:

Hi Two T's, Fred Olsen is playing the incident well down, it all stems from the Captain's decision to sail with only one propeller shaft working into the worst predicted gale in 70 years, as the gale grew in strength we were going nowhere fast and the Captain decided to run for lexos then changed to Gatxo in the Bay of Biscay unfortunately, during the turn there were several deck 4 cabins flooded including the companionway, as the ship listed my wife and I had our life preservers to hand but in retrospect they would have been useless in such seas, while there were several injuries and one passenger told me he stayed seated as instructed but with one big crash was catapulted off his chair and underneath the adjacent table receiving obvious damage to his nose and forehead, the ship had so much list that the waves hit my deck 5 cabin just like a sledgehammer, both of the ship's searchlights were on and searching the wave patterns in order to turn and in my view it was with luck that we completed the turn, and with the wind and waves behind us the ship picked up speed to Gatxo where I was told that 40+ passengers had left the ship, and where the technical engineer came aboard to fix the software which then allowed the two propeller shafts to work together.

All in all, we had just one good day of sun and two ports where the weather was hazy sun with clouds, in fact we were glad to get home, I received an email in answer to my letter asking for my money back stating that they were looking into it, I do wonder what is there to look into?

 

   

 

Your post made us wince and shudder just reading it. We've been through a few storms on the Balmoral, don't like the way that she rolls and corkscrews in heavy weather... we've even been thrown out of bed but never have we experience the ship in the state that you've described. It must have been horrendous. We've seen other similar accounts where passengers thought that they were going to die.

 

The Captain's decision to sail with only one propeller shaft working into the worst predicted gale in 70 years, as the gale grew in strength sounds very odd unless he had discussed the situation with HQ in Ipswich and believed that he had their approval. Ever since the Costa Concordia trial the vast majority of Captains have been keen not to be left out of a limb where it's so easy to hang them out to dry. Management in Ipswich surely knew of the mechanical problems, of the weather forecast and must have been aware that the Balmoral had found itself in a very similar situation... with sea water flooding trough windows, the ship damaged and people injured... less than a year earlier. (At that time there was talk of the storm being "unexpected." The Gale tomorrow morning has been forecast for yonks!)

 

Your comment that, "Fred Olsen is playing the incident well down" is interesting... Tradewinds (Fred Olsen is the ultimate owner)... reported at the time "Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, in an update posted on its social media, said that the rough seas caused some damage on deck four of the ship which has affected a small number of cabins and an area of our Neptune Lounge.” “Our Captain is keeping guests on board up to date with any information on our onward plans,” 

 

We're amazed that on the review site that they use FOCLs has also published a post by, one person who was on board the Balmoral that the cruise (L2324) was; "Excellent enjoyed it relaxing, lovely," another "passenger" said that it was, "fantastic. Food was perfect. Entertainment was incredible. Staff were phenomenal." another passenger claimed that s/he had a, "Brilliant time," yet another passenger described the Balmoral as "great for dancing."

 

Perhaps some of these folk were so traumatised  that hey just couldn't take in just what a terribly dangerous situation that they found themselves in during their "holiday." No company want's bad new to affect sales but there's a strong case for companies to be open, transparent and honest about problems... if for no other reason than the sake of friends and relatives who may be picking up all manner of bits and bobs of speculation. 

 

Another small UK cruise line (two ships rather than FOCL's bigger three ships) was caught in the same storm and had similar problems... we believe passengers were given an apology and a 100% refund. FOCLs should do the same... no question, no prevarication, no delay... the company should do the same. But that's simply our opinion.

Edited by twotravellersLondon
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  • 2 weeks later...

The Balmoral is currently off the coast of Norway about 60 miles to the West of Rorvik. The ship is due to be cruising by Honelen in 1 Jan and the transiting the North Sea in time to arrive in Southampton on 4 January 2024. The weather between during the transit promises to be a bit bumpy.

 

The advanced forecasts from the Met Office/BBC estimate that there will be severe weather in the North Sea associated with a complex low pressure area between the Southern tip of Norway and Shetland, Orkney and North-East Scotland on the 2 and 3 of January. 

 

This will particularly affect the Shipping Forecast areas; Viking, Forties, North and South Utsire and Fisher. (Currently there is a Gale warning for all of these areas)

 

According to the Norwegian meteorological Office, on Tuesday 2 January a Gale with wind speeds between 14 m/s increasing to 19 m/s and wave heights of 4.4 to 7.1 m has been forecast.

 

One weather model has winds speeds of up to 51 knots by midnight on 2 January. But forecasts can change.

 

It will be interesting to see just how FOCLs and the Balmoral's Captain use the time available to navigate the forecast storm for the safety of the ship and the comfort of the passengers.

 

After all... nobody likes a bumpy ride home.

Edited by twotravellersLondon
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It's beginning to look a lot like if the Balmoral is going to finish its current Christmas cruise with a bit of an "Oky Coky"... "in out, in out and shake it all about."

 

On New Year's Eve it popped into Ålesund and cruised out a bit after midnight. This morning it popped into cruise past Hornelen and then cruised back out to sea. 

 

It's now off Haugesund and has turned to make its transit over the North Sea to be back in Southampton on 4 January.

 

It's due to cover 99 nm over the next 6 hours at a speed of between 16 and 17 knots. That will take it into the South Utsire sea area and by all accounts (the Norwegian Met Office and the UK and Danish equivalents) into severe storm force weather. The current predictions are for winds up to 24 m/s overnight with waves of over 6.5 m.... Tuesday could well be a bit of a "shake it all about" day. Obvious the Captain and the Company have every confidence in the ship.

 

We've experienced a force 9 and a force 10 on the Balmoral and didn't find it too bad... we just took he Captain's advice about using the handrails, had an early night so that we were surrounded by cosy padding and ate sensibly at meal times... and were lucky enough to enjoy an exhilarating experience.

 

Not many takers for the curry that day!

 

On one show the Comedian just couldn't stand upright... so he lay front down on the stage. looked at the audience and did his entire act from that position... ad libbing as he went... he was hilarious and put us all at our ease. 

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On 12/30/2023 at 5:03 PM, twotravellersLondon said:

One weather model has winds speeds of up to 51 knots by midnight on 2 January. But forecasts can change.

 

It will be interesting to see just how FOCLs and the Balmoral's Captain use the time available to navigate the forecast storm for the safety of the ship and the comfort of the passengers.

 

Oh, what a night!
Early January in twenty-twenty four

 

Well faced with the prospects of horrendous 20+m/s winds and mountainous 5.1+ seas blocking his route across the North Sea last night the Balmoral Captain... skilfully skirted around the heart of the storm.

 

From just off Bergen he hugged the Norwegian coast taking full advantage of the slackening winds in the lea of the coast and pointed his ship towards the Baltic and into the oncoming gale.... the best position to deal with the storm.

 

When the Balmoral reached just off Flekkfjord, the Captain turned South, crossed the entrance to the Skagerrak despite the 17.5 m/s winds and the 3m seas and made for the West of Denmark. 

 

Watching events as the unfolded on Norwegian Official Marine channels, the skill and expertise used to navigate the Balmoral around the worst of the storm... both for the safety of the ship and the comfort of the passengers... was really impressive.

 

It certainly seems to have been an exceptionally bumpy and rocky night and a fair number of folks must have had a bit of a disturbed night but far worse weather and waves were avoided. 

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FOCLs never cease to surprise.

 

The Balmoral left the usual route across the North Sea to line up to enter the Channel hours ago and is now striking out across the area of the Dogger Bank... if it carries on the same course... Whitby will have a new attraction tomorrow!

 

Currently a near gale at 15 m/s and waves of 2.7 m.  So... best not to have ordered the soup in the MDR this evening.

 

Too many after-dinner cocktails might also be a problem tonight and give the impression that the ship was rolling!

 

We will wait and see what happens overnight!

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The Balmoral left Southampton earlier this evening heading for the Canaries and Funchal but has found itself in a near gale. It's currently a little over 10 miles south of Swanage and is keeping close to the coastline.

 

By comparison the Spirit of Discovery is a little further South on route and on time.

 

Unless it changes course, the Balmoral, which is currently doing 17 knots in 2.1 m seas in a Near Gale, is going to end up at Dartmouth.

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