My husband and I are veteran cruisers and this was our second time on FOCL's Braemar. We have been on all the 'Fred' ships and the Braemar is my own personal favourite as she is just the right size to make a more personal experience.
We were allocated balcony cabin 7050 and this was perfectly fine. Clean, comfortable and quiet, with twin beds and two chairs, a sunlounger and a table on the balcony. Wardrobe space was adequate but we could have done with more drawers.
We ate each evening in the Thistle Restaurant and, as we've found on all FOCL cruises, the food and service were excellent. During the day we tended to go to the self-service Palms Café or, if the weather was good, to the Marquee Bar on the pool deck, which served 'pub style' meals al fresco.
We enjoyed the entertainment very much; both the orchestra and the Braemar Show Company as well as the featured entertainers (including Martin Daniels, son of Paul) were excellent. In fact we were able to enjoy two performances because there was always an alternative show (later on) in the Coral Club, where we also used to adjourn every night for the quiz. The evening always ended with the resident band (the M.I.T. Band) followed by a disco and most nights we went to bed well after 1.00am!
I do agree with other reviewers, however, that the Neptune Lounge does not have enough seats for all the passengers on each dinner sitting; in fact the whole room could do with a complete redesign as a lot of potential space is wasted due to the configuration of the settees and chairs.
Another pleasant place to pass the time was the Morning Light pub, where there were daily quizzes as well as background musical entertainment. We were travelling on the "all-inclusive" drinks package and this is well worth the money; even the drinks that aren't included in the package (such as cocktails) are half price.
The ports of call were: Mindelo (Cape Verde), Praia (Cape Verde), Banjul (Gambia), Dakar (Senegal), Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and back to Tenerife. We should have been visiting Porto Novo in Cape Verde which was an anchor port, but the sea was too rough and the weather too windy to launch the tenders, so this port of call was cancelled. Can't help the weather though!
I loved Cape Verde; it is still developing its tourism trade and so is understated, natural and undeveloped, which is its charm. Santiago Island (Praia) is absolutely stunning; all jagged peaks, green valleys, rugged coastline and sandy beaches, with little farms dotted here and there. I'd hate to return in 20 years' time and find it full of high-rise buildings and glitzy hotels.
So all in all, we had a fantastic time - unusual ports of call, excellent food, service and entertainment, a friendly crowd of passengers and crew and a clean and comfortable cabin. Viva Braemar!