After having booked our cruise via a travel agent and requested first sitting, we were told that a £2.00 per person per night would apply to the booking to get 1st sitting on Braemar .We were also told that we would have to pay extra monies if our luggage was over a certain weight,which I thought was rather odd for a Dover to Dover Embarkation and Disembarkation.
We are seasonal cruisers and have used this line and this ship on several occassions.We were also asked whether we wanted a drinks package of £10 per person per day only on certain brands which we turned down as we thought in the past Fred Olsen prices were always reasonable.( We discovered to our horror on the ship that nasty rough bottles of wine were being served at the tables for the all inclusives .Even some of the most expensive wines were much to be desired ) !
We then asked to have our car booked into the old railway shed near to the ship at Terminal one with the Dover Port Authority.This was confirmed by our agent and no mention that the shed was under repair at the time of booking and our car would be left on the dock side exposed to the elements at Terminal 2 on our arrival.
As we entered our cabin on arrival it dawned on us that there was not enough space to put our clothes for the 22 night voyage as Braemar is normally only used for a maximum of two weeks duration.This caused some upset from the passengers as clothes had to be left under the beds in suitcases for the duraton of the voyage.
The weather turned out to be fine as the journey progressed until some nasty bug started going around the ship causing a chesty cough requiring antibiotics we so later discovered.The only form of antibiotic at the time was Amoxycillin at 500 mg given to severe cases.One had to deal with a rather curt Afrikaans nurse and a rather abrupt and rude Austrain Doctor later in the Cruise.
The meal on the first night was much to be desired and the drinks rather hefty in price since we had last been with the shipping line.
The food now and then improved ,but on the whole the Swiss Chief on Board quite frankly was serving up mudane food.Gone were the lovely fish dishes and displays at Luncheon time we remembered so well when the father of Fred Olsen Line was in charge of the helm.Since the son had taken over we noticed a vast change for the worst and were warned about this from other seasonal cruisers.
We had been told that certain members of staff including the Captain had to vocate the decks if any of the passengers on board happened to be nearby.This never seemed to happen in port and the Captain was seen along with the Cruise Director sun tanning themselves and their singers and didn't seem to care about the passengers around them.
The only place that seemed to serve a better quality of food was the free for all sitting at breakfast and lunch in The Grampain Restaurant.
At this time we had no knowledge of the remains of hurricane Jude were about to hit Southern England and destroy approx 118 cars belonging to the passengers as they were not left under cover at the railway shed as we had been informed would be the case.She eventually struck and the last week on board was a ruined holiday of anguish and upset due to the lack of communication between the The Dover Port Authority and the Shipping Company.
We eventually got some news and adverse weather conditions seemed to have been blamed for the carnage that occurred.( Unknown to the Cruise Company and The Dover Port Authority were a few passengers on board who mentioned that cars get damaged from the waves on the dock side throughout the year as they could see it happen from their homes in a block of flats on the sea front ).This made the ones who lost their cars blood boil as The Dover Port Authority clearly knew this happened and should have taken action ages ago instead of letting folks pay £170 up front for the priviledge of leaving your car on their private land to be damaged by salt sea water.We also heard that the damage news was not on National TV either ,only in the local news to clearly keep the news to a minimum.
Why is Fred Olsen Line I ask myself advertising that you can leave your car with The Dover Port Authority in their brochure when they must know this goes on and two The Dover Port Authority are doing their utmost to avoid excepting liability for the damage and making our Insurance Companies cushion the blow.
When we arrived back into Dover on our return the walk way broke down and we had to stumble across a walk way on Deck 2 to be ushered in the rain to the arrivals hall to see our appropriate Insurance companies.By that time most of the cars had been cleared to a holding site to avoid detection by passengers family and friends.I feel both parties are to blame for the said anguish and upset and The Dover Port of Authority should cough up for new cars for the passengers that had lost their cars due to their alleged negligence.As before they used to take the keys from you in the railway shed and move them around whilst you were away.If they had done this before the cruise the said cars could have all been put into a safe place before Jude struck to ruin them and The Black Watch passengers cars alongside ours.They will have the same nonsense we had to put up with when they return to the port on 16th November 2003.
We returned by taxi late on Nov 5th and now have no car in which to drive thanks to the said companies.I wish to state that anyone who is asked to leave their cars at The Dover Port Authorities Facilities should not do so because of the said carnage above.
From one of the very many unhappy passengers.