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We are contemplating booking a Caribbean cruise next February on Balmoral having enjoyed both Bolette and Borealis previously.

Does anyone have experience of how Balmoral handles in rougher seas with her flat keel?

We have been very impressed with the handling of the other ships, just a bit reticent of Balmoral on the high seas.

Thanks in advance

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, penport said:

We are contemplating booking a Caribbean cruise next February on Balmoral having enjoyed both Bolette and Borealis previously.

Does anyone have experience of how Balmoral handles in rougher seas with her flat keel?

We have been very impressed with the handling of the other ships, just a bit reticent of Balmoral on the high seas.

Thanks in advance

 

Braemar had a reputation of problems in rough seas because she had a flat keel, but I had never heard that said about Balmoral.  We have not had any problems with her, though have not been on bad seas when on her since COVID. We do find the other ships much less stable, (even in just slightly choppy seas), than Balmoral, Boudicca and Black Watch from Fred's previous fleet.  

 

Of course all Fred's ships are smaller than some modern cruise ships, but we do not travel on the bigger ships, so cannot comment on those.  We do definitely though, find Aurora much more stable than Borealis and Bolette and have travelled quite a bit on all three of those ships.

 

Others may have different views and of course, need to remember no ship will handle really rough seas that well, which is why itineraries are often changed if really bad weather is forecast.  On a trans Atlantic to the Caribbean late last year, we sailed further south than normal, before heading in a more westerly direction to avoid a really bad storm area.  There were a lot of incredibly bad seas at that time nearer home as well.  Weather is always a risk.

 

Edited by tring
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Many thanks Tring - yes weather is always the ultimate arbiter although having also sailed on QM2 it affects her less than others obviously.

I was under the impression Balmoral has a flat keel - the reason for her shallow draught - is that not correct?

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, penport said:

Many thanks Tring - yes weather is always the ultimate arbiter although having also sailed on QM2 it affects her less than others obviously.

I was under the impression Balmoral has a flat keel - the reason for her shallow draught - is that not correct?

 

I do not know relative draught of Balmoral and other ships of her size, nor exactly how a specific difference in draught will affect an individual ship, though as you say the QM2 will be far more stable as an ocean liner.  She will presumably have a very deep draught for her size as well as being a ***** ship as well.  The draught of a ship can be obtained by searching the net though.

 

Certainly ships with a very shallow draught are known to be less stable, but I presume that is all relative to the size of the ship and probably other factors as well - I am not a sailor or anyone with knowledge of such things.  I am not sure if stabilisers vary and are hence more effective on some ships, for instance.   

 

My views above have purely been based on our own personal experience when sailing on the ships I had mentioned.  We certainly noticed very soon on Borealis and Bolette that even relatively calm, but not completely calm, seas caused them to move, sometimes in rather strange ways, which we had never previously encountered on Fred ships pre COVID, apart from Braemar, which was notably less stable.  We did love Braemar though and would accept her problems, albeit making sure we chose a mid ship position for our cabin, as we do for the majority of our cruises anyway

 

It is likely there will be other posters who will give you their view of Balmoral, which may be of help to you.

 

 

 

Edited by tring
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19 hours ago, penport said:

Many thanks Tring - yes weather is always the ultimate arbiter although having also sailed on QM2 it affects her less than others obviously.

I was under the impression Balmoral has a flat keel - the reason for her shallow draught - is that not correct?

 

No idea why those asterisks appeared in my previous post, but they replace the word bigger (or perhaps larger).

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I sailed on the Titanic Memorial Cruise in 2012 across the North Atlantic so a northerly route compared to what you would take.  It was Force 8 for two days, and then Force 7 for a further day and then dropped (alhtough it did go back up to Force 6 on one day), so I do have experience of the Balmoral in rough seas.   I remember sitting in the Observatory Lounge and the spray of the waves coming right over the bow of the ship.  I could elaborate more, I kept a diary at the time which I have retrieved as I made some notes about how the ship was handling which I can summarise for you?

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I was in a cabin down on 4-deck, so low down and in the centre of the ship (one in the section that was added in the 2007 lengthening). Just to say, still to this date it has been the roughest seas i've sailed in, so I don't have any context for how any other ships would behave, so this is just my experience.  This was in April, so similar time to when you would be going.

 

When it was Force 8 winds the pitching (bow to stern) was okay, and whilst I felt nervous I didn't feel scared all the time.  I didn't like the pitching and rolling (side to side) at night as it kept me awake but during the day when it was daylight it was fine.  There was only one pitch/roll that made my heart skip a beat but it was during the night.  As I said in my previous post, the spray from the big waves would go right over the top of the Observatory Lounge, which was quite an impressive sight.  But she coped with the seas fine for a small ship.  I noticed the movement more when on higher decks, but you get that on any ship.  There was creaking from the ship and in the cabin at night but it was very rough, so expected I guess.

 

I didn't get seasick, quite a few did but they weren't in the majority by any means.  One thing I wrote about was the slamming of waves on the bow as a shudder would go through the entire ship, which was most noticeable at night.  But I had that on the Queen Anne's maiden voyage in the Bay of Biscay in much calmer conditions.

 

I did sail on Balmoral again up to Norway and have other cruises booked on her so I wasn't discouraged.  The only inconvenience for me was interrupted sleep and I don't recall anyone being injured and the worst anyone experienced was seasickness.  Normal activities continued during the day even during the worst weather (except for being able to go out on deck).  She got us safely to New York in horrible condiitons so I will also be fond of her.

 

I hope I haven't put you off but wanted to share my honest experience.

 

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Thank you 🤔 your experience sounds similar to a trip we did across the bay of Biscay many years ago on a P&O ship (can't remember which one) with lots of pitching, rolling and creaking.

Spray going right over the top of a ship is however something we have not experienced 😲

Certainly food for thought and your extensive explanation is much appreciated

 

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Glad to help, as others have said a centrally located cabin might be best to minimise the motion of the ship.  I certainly felt less movement in my cabin as opposed to other parts of the ship, but then 4 deck is quite low down so wouldn't have a balcony if that was a key requirement for you.

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We sailed over the Atlantic on the Balmoral in a Force 13 in 2012 and there was no problem at all.  The waves were coming over our deck 4 window which made it seem quite exciting,  but the ship was very stable.  

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14 hours ago, Coravel said:

We sailed over the Atlantic on the Balmoral in a Force 13 in 2012 and there was no problem at all.  The waves were coming over our deck 4 window which made it seem quite exciting,  but the ship was very stable.  

Thanks that's reassuring (ish!!)

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