We arrived at the airport very exited and then wondered what we had done. The age of the waiting passengers appeared much older than us. But our fears were unfounded there was a mixed age range on the ship from a few young children through a couple of teenagers all the way up to the very elderly. The flights were dreadful it ended up with a 3 hour delay and a very cramped and uncomfortable seat and we were in premium.
However transfer to the Braemar was good straight from the plane to the ship no need to collect bags or do immigration it was all taken care of by Fred Olsen. The wait for ships card was very short and we were all given a cool drink by a smiling waitress. Our cabin was a balcony suite which was quite spacious clean and comfortable with a double bed but be aware they give you 2 single duvets as is the Norwegian style, we asked for a double and were given it by the time we had finished dinner.Our cabin stewardess introduced herself and escorted us to our cabin which I thought was a nice touch, on other cruises we have had to find our own way.
We were assigned to the grampian restaurant which is by far the best restaurant on the ship our wine waiter was great and always had our wine ready for when we arrived for dinner you can order via the interactive TV or just tell him the night before. The service in the restaurant was a little slow our table was always the last served but then I guess someone has to be last and we were a very chatty table as we all got on very well. We had an officer on our table for formal night which was great as we didn't have to pay for wine or liqueurs on any of our 3 formal nights and the conversation was interesting. The Thistle restaurant is much larger and apparently hotter although the same food is served many people opted for the Grampian for breakfast and lunch as it has greater ambiance. The Palms cafe is OK buffet for all meals we only tried it once as we prefer table service but you can eat outside for lunch and breakfast Sunday lunch of roast beef was served there every Sunday and afternoon tea everyday although we only made it once as we always seem to be busy. If you wanted it there was plenty to do all day quizzes, bowls, bridge lessons, health classes, Pilate's and exercise. The only think I thing they could do with is some sort of cinema for sea days they did plan one film showing under the stars but this was cancelled due to this being scheduled for the only day it rained.There was a small casino but due to Norovirus this was cancelled which was a shame as I do like to have one go every time I cruise this is the only time I ever gamble and I won't win masses as I only ever spend £10 but I do enjoy it.
I had a couple of spa treatments but I won't go back it wasn't bad but simply not up to the standard I have had in Asia and they gave you no time to relax afterwards all part of being pampered to me also she was very quick to point out how I could pay a gratuity never had that before the spa lady was the only person that mentioned this.
There were 2 shows every night for each sitting the crew shows were the best although the others were OK but not stunning they also had a singer playing in one of the bar who wasn't great but didn't hurt your ears music I think could do with being updated a little. There was a steel drum player on the outside areas for most nights and a piano player/singer in the observatory bar each evening. This was our favorite bar for after dinner drinks it was peaceful with a great view. They also had a young group who were pretty awful however I think it was more to do with the old fashioned music they played 20 somethings playing Matt Monroe just didn't go together at all. We had sail away parties at 4 ports which were very enjoyable the first time I have experienced this as our previous cruises just didn't do it.
The itinerary was great this is what attracted us to the cruise in the first instance. Grenada; We did the ships rhum runner trip it was a laugh and the crew were great they had us all up limbo dancing reasonably priced as well. Santiago De Cuba' This was interesting we did a city tour with the ship there were some inconsistencies with which bus you were on as some buss es stopped where we didn't but a worthwhile experience I have never seem so many people happily doing nothing but chat and play music, although the poverty was evident. We again did a trip with the ship in Turks and Caicos we went snorkeling and played with stingrays it was fabulous they are such gentle creatures again good value for money. St Lucia was not so enjoyable people trying to sell you something every few feet we did this one independently not a place I would rush back to but glad I've seen it. Barbados still my favorite Island we did the farewell trip here as we didn't want to stay on the ship waiting for the flight home, we are glad we did it as we visited the plantation house something I have always wanted to do but never managed to when I have stayed there. St Maarten was a big disappointment very commercialised not a place I would recommend although the shops are on the beachfront its all Jewelry but most shops have the same stock and it didn't look great quality but each to his own.
All in all we thoroughly enjoyed our cruise and have no hesitation to recommend it to others it was so relaxing the ship for us was the perfect size not too big and not too small we had no complaints about food or service. In fact we enjoyed it so much we have booked for a different itinerary next year.