I've sailed with Fred Olsen a number of times before (as well as with other more glitzy cruise lines) but this was my first time on Braemar and it's now my favourite ship of the Olsen fleet. The gloom of a UK autumn had prompted me to book what a very reasonably priced getaway at the end of November and spending my 65th birthday on the cruise was an added bonus.
Although the weather wasn't quite what you can normally expect of the Canaries, I had a really wonderful time and unlike one of the other reviewers I thought it very refreshing to visit some of the lesser known island like El Hierro which IMO has a lot to offer - especially if you hire a car for the day as I did and actually get to see the dramatic scenery on offer.
Fred's food is always good and quite hot, unlike some other cruise lines I could mention but I do agree with another reviewer that the opening times of the Palms buffet, especially for afternoon tea are too short. On a sea day, I had the choice of having afternoon tea or doing the quiz (because of clashing timings) whereas I'd really liked to have done both.
I'd booked a superior single balcony cabin which I thought didn't have much superior about it but because the ship wasn't full, on the second day I was able to upgrade to a better cabin at a very reasonable price. As I always have a balcony, the availability of space in the public rooms and on deck wasn't a problem but nowhere ever seemed to be crowded.
I had a better experience than some on the Monarch flight because I'd been able to book extra leg room seats by phone much more cheaply than they were being sold at the airport.
I had such a good time in fact that I've booked again on Braemar but this time to do the cruise which goes to W.Africa and Cape Verde.