First of all, I must reiterate what many folks have mentioned in regards to the crew onboard the Braemar who were all very friendly. I must say in addition that all of the folks from Fred Olsen with whom I was in contact with on the telephone or via email prior to our cruise were also tremendously helpful, professional and friendly. I sure hope that the powers-that-be from Fred Olsen Cruise Lines read this review and see that all persons involved receive the promotion or recognition that they so deserve.
Embarkation was a breeze. We arrived to the cruise terminal in Dover around 12:30 p.m, and were allowed to start in line for the embarkation process very shortly upon arrival. There was also a nice little snack bar area and tables where you could get a bite to eat and a beverage. Once we completed the initial embarkation process, we went on into the waiting area of the terminal for boarding. Our numbers for boarding were called right around 2:00 in the afternoon. We got to our cabin, and our luggage had already arrived.
We found our cabin to be very clean and average size as far as cruise cabins are concerned. Jeneth was our cabin steward, and she did an amazing job keeping things so clean and inviting. Our bottle of wine which I had previously ordered was waiting for us upon arrival.
Meals were fabulous. We had the first dinner seating, and thoroughly enjoyed our dear sweet table mates Jane and Ted. I really can't complain one iota about the quality of the meals,either. I felt like the portions were reasonable, particularly if you wanted to be able to enjoy all five courses and not feel miserable after doing so. I also felt like there was a nice variation of different foods offered which would appeal to every taste.
The entertainers onboard the Braemar have a lot of talent. The singers and dancers all did a nice selection of shows including showtunes, pop, oldies, big band. There are some great musicians on that ship! The comedians onboard were also hilarious. My husband and I still catch ourselves repeating some of their lines for a little extra chuckle.
The ports of call were actually what drew our interest to this particular cruise. I will go into more detail as to what we did in each port down below. If I have to criticize anything on this cruise, the tendering service was one thing that seemed to disappoint a number of folks and consequently receive a bit of complaints. There were only two ports where we had to tender, and we were fortunate to be able to get off on the earlier tenders to shore both times. However, they probably would have benefited from running more tenders two and from shore. We, as well as many other folks, ended up having to wait a good while in line to get back to the ship. We also heard a number of folks complaining that they were not able to tender to shore until about noon in one or both of the ports, and therefore unfortunately did not have a better part of the scheduled time in the port of call.
We enjoyed the afternoon tea time. Since we yanks are not normally accustomed to that nice little time-out period during the day that the British routinely enjoy, it was a nice little treat to relax with some tea or coffee and delicious little sandwiches or sweet cakes. We did not pay the extra fare for the white-glove service -- maybe another time.
One thing that we had to get used to on this particular cruise was that not being a EU citizen, we had to surrender our passports to the reception desk just about every evening before arriving in the next port of call. The folks at reception were very patient with us, and were very understanding of our lack of comfort with this particular policy. We eventually got used to it, though, and it certainly did not hamper our ability to have a good time.