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Live(ish) from Balmoral German cities and Kiel week


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Well this is a live(ish) report from Balmoral going out on Thursday to German cities and Kiel week regatta. I don’t have WiFi on board so will be posting as and when in port and when free WiFi is available.

 

I’ve been on a number of previous Fred cruises and tend to book them from Scotland and the north of England to avoid the very long haul to Southampton. For me this is one of the great benefits of Fred Olsen cruises.

 

For those perhaps not familiar with Fred cruises I will discuss the pre cruise process. Booking Fred is easy whether online (recently improved process) or by phone. Phones are answered quickly and customer service staff are friendly and helpful.

 

The downside of Fred is pricing. Smaller ships ultimately means higher prices. Pricing can be extremely frustrating as later bookers often get much better cabins / prices (but that can be true of most cruise lines). On this cruise later bookers definitely benefitted and Fred’s much vaunted  “choice of cabin and dining” is meaningless as only late dining was available many, many months ago. We did not do well on pricing for this cruise and consequently I’m holding off on booking another cruise later this year.

 

At 13 weeks before the cruise we started to arrange trips, specialty restaurants, tastings etc. Fred sent a lovely brochure detailing trips and activities which is refreshing in this day and age. While this is available on line, the paper brochure is nice to browse through and encourages bookings.

 

Fred do a taste of the region and on this trip I’m really looking forward to trying for example the promised kaserspatlzle, stollen, apfelkuchen and currywurst. It feels more authentic to have local foods while in the region. On our last Fred cruise we enjoyed watching the cookery demonstrations of local foods.

 

We have booked a variety of onboard events and restaurants. At £10pp advance booking the speciality restaurants are excellent value as from previous experience the food is great (£15pp if booked onboard). 

 

We have also booked the drinks package £25 pppn and while this is perhaps more limited in range than other cruise lines it is perfectly adequate if you like a few soft drinks, beer and acceptable wine. If you want something better in wine or cocktails then there is a 50% discount which makes it really well priced for a decent bottle.

 

We have our boarding time and I’m really looking forward to the relatively short journey to Rosyth. A nice change from the 2 day long haul to Southampton.

 

Anyone else on this cruise?

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We’re not on this cruise, but will be very interested in your review. We haven’t been on Balmoral for a few years now. Our last cruise on her was to the Baltic including 2 days in St Petersburg, with a daytime transit of the Kiel canal.  We dined in the Spey restaurant and the food was excellent.  It was a very enjoyable holiday.

 

 

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Looking forward to your review.  Wouldn’t it be great if more lines departed from Rosyth or Greenock - I suppose there just aren’t the numbers to justify it.    I would like to try Fred but unfortunately their Rosyth departures are all in the summer and I won’t leave my garden then.  

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1 hour ago, Ilovemygarden said:

Looking forward to your review.  Wouldn’t it be great if more lines departed from Rosyth or Greenock - I suppose there just aren’t the numbers to justify it.    I would like to try Fred but unfortunately their Rosyth departures are all in the summer and I won’t leave my garden then.  

Newcastle is a great option. Just a short drive and an easy embarkation.

 

Ambassador flies from Dundee but I’m not sure about them as yet. 
 

Greenock only has the odd departure. MSC did it during the pandemic but no longer unfortunately.

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Well I have been up since 4 am. I never sleep well the night before a cruise, fear of not getting to the port on time even if we stay overnight in Southampton. Last night I was in my own bed and still didn’t slept!

 

The weather is really lovely so it should be warm enough to be out on deck for the sail away later this afternoon (change in Scottish weather allowing). The sail out of Rosyth is always really nice as you go under the Forth Bridges then along the Firth of Forth to the sea passing the bass rock.

 

I don’t know about anyone else but in addition to not sleeping the night before a cruise I obsess over checking that I have everything. I have a list and check off passports, tickets, insurance documents etc etc.

 

For those who don’t know the “cruise” port at Rosyth was originally designed  and built as a ferry terminal for Superfast ferries which used to go daily to Zebruuge. Unfortunately that service ended many years ago but left behind some really nice facilities which are just as useful for cruise ships. As a result of the previously very busy and popular ferry there is really good network of road signage for anyone driving to Rosyth so look for the ferry signs from way back the motorways and nearer to the port.

 

During the pandemic the Fred ships were berthed at Rosyth and poor little Braemar has never left or sailed with passengers again. 
 

So I now have several hours to kill as we don’t check in until this afternoon. We will go out for breakfast / brunch driving to somewhere closer to the Rosyth (as the fridge is emptied out and cleaned so nothing to eat here). That and a bit of retail therapy will pass the time until check in.
 

The nearest big town, now a city actually, on the right side of the water is Dunfermline. For anyone driving to Rosyth, Dunfermline has some nice things to kill a morning including the Abbey, the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace museum or you can just walk in the lovely Pittencrieff park which has a good range of flowers, plants and wild peacocks. 
 

Anyway I’ll report back as and when WiFi allows.

 

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Well that was a nice journey, it’s such a joy to be so close to home for a change. Unfortunately once we were in Fife we received a text telling us embarkation was delayed by 2 hours for cleaning. There was a gastric issue on the last cruise! Not the best start.

 

Arrived at the port 2 hours late and parked. Car parking is self park and very close to the terminal. We pre-booked a space via Fred which is cheaper if you do it in advance, the price goes up in the last few days.

 

So check in was dead, slow and stop. Not everyone had adhered to the changed times and there was a massive queue. To be fair some don’t seem to have been contacted.

 

Headed to the Palms. Food is being served rather than self service which is a sensible precaution. 

 

At least we are onboard at long last

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The Captain came on to outline some very sensible precautions to avoid the gastric issues of the last cruise.

 

Buffets are no longer self service

Public toilets will have attendants (hand wash police)

Public toilets will be closed on rotation for more regular full cleaning

Jaccuzes closed off short term

And all the usual wash hands etc

 

Let’s hope this is a healthy trip and that the necessary precautions work. Personally I never use the public loos and rarely eat in the buffet. Today we missed lunch with the later embarkation so did.

 

The weather is beautiful so the sail away was stunning. Regal Princess was out in the bay and we passed her on our way out.

 

We sat up on deck 11 enjoying the views and the sunshine so I haven’t seen much of the ship as yet. Sea day tomorrow so will do some exploring.

 

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Day 1 

 

It’s been a few years since we have been on Balmoral so I’m looking at it with fresh eyes.  It is undoubtably an extremely old fashioned design when compared to our recent cruises on Iona, Virtuoasa, Sky etc and even her sister Bollette. That said it has a lovely old world charm. You also don’t have to walk far to get anywhere so it saves the legs. It’s more intimate and homely. If however you like the big shiny new ships, you really won’t like this.

 

The cabin is more basic than I remembered but with all the amenities required. It is clean but very old fashioned by modern ship standards and frankly tired and in need of a little TLC eg scrapes on the woodwork etc. There are two smallish wardrobes with plenty hangers, lots of drawer space, a safe, fridge, hairdryer, Tv and tea marking facilities. There are no USB ports so bring your own and you will need a travel adapter plug for 2 pin.The  toiletries on offer are Cole and Lewis hand soap and body and they smell very nice. NB no shampoo or conditioner so bring your own. Lots of open shelf storage in the bathroom.

 

Nice little touches you don’t see on some of the modern ships include evening turndown, pillow chocolate and the little things you used to see like a pen and pad.

 

We booked an outside cabin as the balcony and suite cabins are pricey and I’d rather have 2 cruises than one in a balcony / suite but I do miss having a balcony which I have got used to (for about the same price as an outside here) on newer ships. That is balanced with the fact that on Fred I don’t tend to spend much time in my cabin as there is usually a lot of activities during the day and in the evening which keep me busy out and about.

 

For those who have not travelled on Fred they do tend to offer more activities. There are usually excellent speakers and the brochure they sent out in advance tells you who they are and their areas of expertise. You can even participate in a breakfast or lunch discussion (small charge) with a small group of others interested in the subject and the speaker. On this cruise we have an expert on music and specifically the Beatles (we are going to Hamburg) and one specialising on German history and the Hanseatic league. Looking forward to hearing them both.

 

We changed after an afternoon enjoying the sunshine and headed for late dinner. Cant fault the food which for me included a salmon tartare, pumpkin soup with nice toasted pumpkin seeds on top, watermelon and feta salad and butterfish curry which was lovely. The food was served hot. The wine on the package was absolutely fine, perfectly drinkable.

 

Headed to the show in the Neptune lounge which is a tiered show show lounge with tables and drinks service. We wandered in at 10.20 and could still easily get a nice table, were served drinks quickly and ready for the show, no queues, no fussing with an app. Last night was classic American composers like Irving Berlin.

 

This is more basic entertainment than you will find on the modern ships. There is no fancy staging or video walls. It is simply some singers and dancers in costume presenting the music backed by live musicians but it is entertaining and we enjoyed the show. I have to say the costumes were not the best, one reminded me of the dolly toilet roll covers which were popular in the 1970s, if you know the ones I mean I’m sure you can visualise the costume.

 

Anyway an enjoyable first day in spite of the embarkation delay.

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Day 2

 

Well after a comfortable sleep we got up to have a light breakfast. On Balmoral you can opt for table service or self service (still served by staff at present due rom code red) in the main restaurants at breakfast and lunch, the Palms buffet is also available.

 

We explored the ship then went to the cookery demonstration which was a  prawn curry. Absolutely delicious, I’m going to have the full version the night we got to Vasco. At the demos on Fred you see how to make the dish, get the recipe and get a decent sample to taste.

 

After that we then went to the quiz in the Morning Light, did fairly well but who knew a Giraffes tongue was blue. 

 

Lunch service was a bit busy which is unusual but I think serving instead of buffet is slowing everything down.

 

In the afternoon between sunning out on deck we attended an interesting lecture on the Beatles during the Hamburg era. Really enjoyed that.

 

Formal night tonight and the food was really nice. Salmon pillow, lobster bisque, pear salad and a well cooked filet steak in rich sauce with nice crispy veg on the side. I don’t really do dessert much but the crepe Suzette went down well at the table followed by Pettit fore.

 

The show tonight was a singer performing from the musicals and in addition to items from Joseph, Les Mis and phantom he did some sing along melodies which went down a storm, people really joined in. Again aimed at an older age group but perfect for the demographic currently onboard.

 

Back to the cabin to a nice towel animal and a boat in the toilet tissue, nice little touches like this just make a cruise pleasant.

 

We still have the dreaded onboard wit all the incumbent  restrictions.

 

 

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30 minutes ago, Eglesbrech said:

Day 2

 

Well after a comfortable sleep we got up to have a light breakfast. On Balmoral you can opt for table service or self service (still served by staff at present due rom code red) in the main restaurants at breakfast and lunch, the Palms buffet is also available.

 

We explored the ship then went to the cookery demonstration which was a  prawn curry. Absolutely delicious, I’m going to have the full version the night we got to Vasco. At the demos on Fred you see how to make the dish, get the recipe and get a decent sample to taste.

 

After that we then went to the quiz in the Morning Light, did fairly well but who knew a Giraffes tongue was blue. 

 

Lunch service was a bit busy which is unusual but I think serving instead of buffet is slowing everything down.

 

In the afternoon between sunning out on deck we attended an interesting lecture on the Beatles during the Hamburg era. Really enjoyed that.

 

Formal night tonight and the food was really nice. Salmon pillow, lobster bisque, pear salad and a well cooked filet steak in rich sauce with nice crispy veg on the side. I don’t really do dessert much but the crepe Suzette went down well at the table followed by Pettit fore.

 

The show tonight was a singer performing from the musicals and in addition to items from Joseph, Les Mis and phantom he did some sing along melodies which went down a storm, people really joined in. Again aimed at an older age group but perfect for the demographic currently onboard.

 

Back to the cabin to a nice towel animal and a boat in the toilet tissue, nice little touches like this just make a cruise pleasant.

 

We still have the dreaded onboard wit all the incumbent  restrictions.

 

 

The show sounds right up my street and the salmon pillow divine!  

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19 hours ago, Eglesbrech said:

Day 2

 

Well after a comfortable sleep we got up to have a light breakfast. On Balmoral you can opt for table service or self service (still served by staff at present due rom code red) in the main restaurants at breakfast and lunch, the Palms buffet is also available.

 

We explored the ship then went to the cookery demonstration which was a  prawn curry. Absolutely delicious, I’m going to have the full version the night we got to Vasco. At the demos on Fred you see how to make the dish, get the recipe and get a decent sample to taste.

 

After that we then went to the quiz in the Morning Light, did fairly well but who knew a Giraffes tongue was blue. 

 

Lunch service was a bit busy which is unusual but I think serving instead of buffet is slowing everything down.

 

In the afternoon between sunning out on deck we attended an interesting lecture on the Beatles during the Hamburg era. Really enjoyed that.

 

Formal night tonight and the food was really nice. Salmon pillow, lobster bisque, pear salad and a well cooked filet steak in rich sauce with nice crispy veg on the side. I don’t really do dessert much but the crepe Suzette went down well at the table followed by Pettit fore.

 

The show tonight was a singer performing from the musicals and in addition to items from Joseph, Les Mis and phantom he did some sing along melodies which went down a storm, people really joined in. Again aimed at an older age group but perfect for the demographic currently onboard.

 

Back to the cabin to a nice towel animal and a boat in the toilet tissue, nice little touches like this just make a cruise pleasant.

 

We still have the dreaded onboard wit all the incumbent  restrictions.

 

 

What is the problem with Fred ships that they have so much gastroenteritis?  I was really unwell in February for about three weeks during and after a cruise.  Needed antibiotics.  I am horrified to hear they have it on the Balmoral too as I’m going on it in July.  Beginning to regret my “bargain”.  Hope you don’t catch it.

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Well unfortunately I do indeed have the dreaded and I am confined to the cabin. To be honest I wouldn’t want to go anywhere anyway but I will save you from the gory details of why! 
 

I was perfectly healthy when I came on here but then so were all of the others who are now incapacitated. In spite of the delayed embarkation and deep clean it’s still here and the Captain comes on every day to provide an update, encourage hand washing etc.

 

Personally I think it’s pure luck. I hand wash frequently , I carry anti viral gel, I never use the public toilets and still I’m struck down.

 

The medical staff have been very efficient, came to the cabin to check my vitals, leave dioralyte and complete a questionnaire. They have checked up on me a couple of times. The cabin steward in full PPE did a thorough clean and room service have been dropping off water (I don’t feel like food).

 

So my German cities and Kiel is without Kiel, the reason I booked this cruise for the Kiel week. Really disappointing. I don’t know yet how long I’ll be struck in isolation.

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Well I was supposed to be out of isolation early this morning. The isolation letter I have clearly stated that and I had been repeatedly assured by the medical team this was the case. No one called this morning. At just before 11am, hours later than promised, I was informed isolation was now 48 hours.

 

I am now stuck in for another 24 hours which has nothing to do with my health, I am perfectly fine now. The German port authorities require 48 hours isolation after the last symptom so I am stuck in a claustrophobic little cabin for another 24 hours so that others can get into Warnamude. If it was actually to do with “health” it would have been implemented days ago as there have certainly been many cases, so clearly it is not. It’s purely commercial in my opinion as they received an email from the Port of Rostock at 7 pm last night (someone was indiscreet enough to tell me that).

 

Add to that the fact that I didn’t order breakfast or lunch as I thought I would free. The menu is extremely limited anyway, papp really as I’m not allowed to order from the normal menu. As I now feel perfectly fine I am really hungry so add starvation to the list of complaints.

 

I don’t feel well treated by Fred Olsen at all and feel that I have been locked in for another 24 hours just so they can enter a port. I also feel that I am being punished for doing the right thing, those like me who are responsible and report the issue get locked down and those who are not get to actually enjoy their cruise once they feel better, they just wander back out and about.

 

So I am bored rigid, hungry and stuck in for another 24 hours for no sound medical reason. Some holiday!

 

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1 hour ago, Eglesbrech said:

Well I was supposed to be out of isolation early this morning. The isolation letter I have clearly stated that and I had been repeatedly assured by the medical team this was the case. No one called this morning. At just before 11am, hours later than promised, I was informed isolation was now 48 hours.

 

I am now stuck in for another 24 hours which has nothing to do with my health, I am perfectly fine now. The German port authorities require 48 hours isolation after the last symptom so I am stuck in a claustrophobic little cabin for another 24 hours so that others can get into Warnamude. If it was actually to do with “health” it would have been implemented days ago as there have certainly been many cases, so clearly it is not. It’s purely commercial in my opinion as they received an email from the Port of Rostock at 7 pm last night (someone was indiscreet enough to tell me that).

 

Add to that the fact that I didn’t order breakfast or lunch as I thought I would free. The menu is extremely limited anyway, papp really as I’m not allowed to order from the normal menu. As I now feel perfectly fine I am really hungry so add starvation to the list of complaints.

 

I don’t feel well treated by Fred Olsen at all and feel that I have been locked in for another 24 hours just so they can enter a port. I also feel that I am being punished for doing the right thing, those like me who are responsible and report the issue get locked down and those who are not get to actually enjoy their cruise once they feel better, they just wander back out and about.

 

So I am bored rigid, hungry and stuck in for another 24 hours for no sound medical reason. Some holiday!

 

So sorry to hear this and hope things are back to normal for you really quickly now. As you say, it seems to be luck of the draw. I've been on several P&O cruises where there has been a significant outbreak and walked past many cabins near mine that are receiving isolation treatment but so far 🤞🏻 I've not been struck down with it.

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3 hours ago, Eglesbrech said:

Well I was supposed to be out of isolation early this morning. The isolation letter I have clearly stated that and I had been repeatedly assured by the medical team this was the case. No one called this morning. At just before 11am, hours later than promised, I was informed isolation was now 48 hours.

 

I am now stuck in for another 24 hours which has nothing to do with my health, I am perfectly fine now. The German port authorities require 48 hours isolation after the last symptom so I am stuck in a claustrophobic little cabin for another 24 hours so that others can get into Warnamude. If it was actually to do with “health” it would have been implemented days ago as there have certainly been many cases, so clearly it is not. It’s purely commercial in my opinion as they received an email from the Port of Rostock at 7 pm last night (someone was indiscreet enough to tell me that).

 

Add to that the fact that I didn’t order breakfast or lunch as I thought I would free. The menu is extremely limited anyway, papp really as I’m not allowed to order from the normal menu. As I now feel perfectly fine I am really hungry so add starvation to the list of complaints.

 

I don’t feel well treated by Fred Olsen at all and feel that I have been locked in for another 24 hours just so they can enter a port. I also feel that I am being punished for doing the right thing, those like me who are responsible and report the issue get locked down and those who are not get to actually enjoy their cruise once they feel better, they just wander back out and about.

 

So I am bored rigid, hungry and stuck in for another 24 hours for no sound medical reason. Some holiday!

 

Tough luck - maybe honesty is not always the best policy! 

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4 hours ago, Eglesbrech said:

Well I was supposed to be out of isolation early this morning. The isolation letter I have clearly stated that and I had been repeatedly assured by the medical team this was the case. No one called this morning. At just before 11am, hours later than promised, I was informed isolation was now 48 hours.

 

I am now stuck in for another 24 hours which has nothing to do with my health, I am perfectly fine now. The German port authorities require 48 hours isolation after the last symptom so I am stuck in a claustrophobic little cabin for another 24 hours so that others can get into Warnamude. If it was actually to do with “health” it would have been implemented days ago as there have certainly been many cases, so clearly it is not. It’s purely commercial in my opinion as they received an email from the Port of Rostock at 7 pm last night (someone was indiscreet enough to tell me that).

 

Add to that the fact that I didn’t order breakfast or lunch as I thought I would free. The menu is extremely limited anyway, papp really as I’m not allowed to order from the normal menu. As I now feel perfectly fine I am really hungry so add starvation to the list of complaints.

 

I don’t feel well treated by Fred Olsen at all and feel that I have been locked in for another 24 hours just so they can enter a port. I also feel that I am being punished for doing the right thing, those like me who are responsible and report the issue get locked down and those who are not get to actually enjoy their cruise once they feel better, they just wander back out and about.

 

So I am bored rigid, hungry and stuck in for another 24 hours for no sound medical reason. Some holiday!

 

I thought 48 hours was the standard isolation period for gastrointestinal infections. I know schools insist on 48 hours since last 'incident' before kids are allowed back into the classroom. Bugs responsible for such troubles certainly can survive for more than 24 hours. Some miscommunication going on there certainly. 

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18 minutes ago, FangedRose said:

I thought 48 hours was the standard isolation period for gastrointestinal infections. I know schools insist on 48 hours since last 'incident' before kids are allowed back into the classroom. Bugs responsible for such troubles certainly can survive for more than 24 hours. Some miscommunication going on there certainly. 

No it was definitely 24 hours and I have that in writing on my isolation letter, there in black and white.

 

It is also clearly 24 hours on the leaflet in the folder in the room. 

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On 6/25/2023 at 5:49 PM, Eglesbrech said:

I was perfectly healthy when I came on here but then so were all of the others who are now incapacitated. In spite of the delayed embarkation and deep clean it’s still here and the Captain comes on every day to provide an update, encourage hand washing etc.

 

5 hours ago, Eglesbrech said:

I am now stuck in for another 24 hours which has nothing to do with my health, I am perfectly fine now. The German port authorities require 48 hours isolation after the last symptom so I am stuck in a claustrophobic little cabin for another 24 hours so that others can get into Warnamude. If it was actually to do with “health” it would have been implemented days ago as there have certainly been many cases, so clearly it is not. It’s purely commercial in my opinion as they received an email from the Port of Rostock at 7 pm last night (someone was indiscreet enough to tell me that).

 

Really sorry to read this and very much hope that things get better for you as soon as possible so that you can enjoy the rest of the holiday.

 

Frustration is perfectly understandable. Way back in 2015 FOCL's lost a court case for damages after a number of people claimed that, because of a failure to take reasonable steps to manage the risk of norovirus on a number of cruises in 2011, this had materially contributed to their illnesses. FOCLs appealed against the judgement in the Court of Appeal in 2016... and lost.

 

Whatever the cause of these repeated illnesses now... FOCLs need to identify it, remove it and spend enough time and trouble on deep cleaning make sure that folk can be confident that they're no more likely to catch the "dreaded" on board than they are at home. (A few years ago a FOCLs deep clean took days... not hours.)

 

Very much hope that FOCLs somehow make it up to passengers for the loss of those days of well-earned holiday. A bit of "spoiling" as soon as folks are out of isolation wouldn't go amiss... and that's just for starters!

 

One amusing thing is, if Radio Times Travel are to be believed, that the experience of a similar FOCLs cruise from Southampton in April of this year must have been awesome... because the Balmoral was to make the journey between the North Sea and the Baltic "Cities of Germany via the Kiel Tunnel!"

 

Best Wishes.

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7 hours ago, Eglesbrech said:

Well I was supposed to be out of isolation early this morning. The isolation letter I have clearly stated that and I had been repeatedly assured by the medical team this was the case. No one called this morning. At just before 11am, hours later than promised, I was informed isolation was now 48 hours.

 

I am now stuck in for another 24 hours which has nothing to do with my health, I am perfectly fine now. The German port authorities require 48 hours isolation after the last symptom so I am stuck in a claustrophobic little cabin for another 24 hours so that others can get into Warnamude. If it was actually to do with “health” it would have been implemented days ago as there have certainly been many cases, so clearly it is not. It’s purely commercial in my opinion as they received an email from the Port of Rostock at 7 pm last night (someone was indiscreet enough to tell me that).

 

Add to that the fact that I didn’t order breakfast or lunch as I thought I would free. The menu is extremely limited anyway, papp really as I’m not allowed to order from the normal menu. As I now feel perfectly fine I am really hungry so add starvation to the list of complaints.

 

I don’t feel well treated by Fred Olsen at all and feel that I have been locked in for another 24 hours just so they can enter a port. I also feel that I am being punished for doing the right thing, those like me who are responsible and report the issue get locked down and those who are not get to actually enjoy their cruise once they feel better, they just wander back out and about.

 

So I am bored rigid, hungry and stuck in for another 24 hours for no sound medical reason. Some holiday!

 

 

Well that certainly does not sound good and after you had such problems with a cancellation not that long ago.  That cruise always appealed to us and you seem to have missed the main point of the cruise IMO.  I would certainly expect recompense to be considerable - you have a good case, though nothing will really make up for what has happened.

 

I have only just seen your thread as I have been away for a fair while and still getting sorted, but hope you are out, well and enjoying yourself by early tomorrow.

 

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