We were on board Braemar from the 7th November until the 8th December 2016 on back to back cruises. Embarkation at Southampton was swift (we are gold members and had booked freedom fare, so had priority. Also the sea was kind to us ... Read More
We were on board Braemar from the 7th November until the 8th December 2016 on back to back cruises. Embarkation at Southampton was swift (we are gold members and had booked freedom fare, so had priority. Also the sea was kind to us throughout. We love Braemar and have travelled on her a lot over the last couple of years and on each occasion there were no problems with fumes. However, this time there was a lot of very problematic fumes around the ship.
Parts of the ship, including our first cabin, (6071) became uninhabitable as the cruise progressed. We did inform the guest relations lady, Geraldine, when it became particularly bad, and she was very kindly able to transfer us to a cabin which was much better (6051). It was still obvious that the fumes were present in various parts of the ship though, including the corridor by our first cabin and some staff did say that it had got worse over the last few months. Fred has done a lot to improve the appearance of his ships over the last year or two, so we just do not understand why something like this is being ignored, when it should clearly be repaired. We had been given various excuses for the fumes by senior staff, including that the inlet for the mid ship air con is by the inlet for fuel when bunkering. If this was the case it should be moved, though we do not see this can be the problem as the fumes appeared at different times, even when at sea for a couple of days, so not just when bunkering. Also, we had been on the ship previously (23 nights late 2014, 28 nights late 2015 and 8 nights in May 2016) and it was not noticeable on any of those occasions.
Regards the other aspects of the ship and the staff on board the cruise was a good as ever. Esel, Victor and Patrick were as usual very personable and highly efficient at managing their respective restaurants, indeed all restaurant staff were excellent. The food was also very good throughout the cruise, (though I do wonder if I should be complaining to the chef because of my weight gain).
At this stage I cannot remember the names of our cabin stewards, but both were extremely pleasant and helpful as well as being highly efficient. Apart from the problem with fumes, both cabins we were in were very good with quite a decent view out of the “fully obstructed” windows as the cabins were by the end of the respective lifeboats, so there was diagonal view as well as over the top of the lifeboats.
We do not go to the shows and other entertainment/activities often, though we were fairly happy with the ones we did attend. My main complaint regards entertainment is that there was a classical musician on board for much of the cruise, but he/she was always scheduled for very late afternoon. These performances are something I would have loved to attend, but as we were on first dinner, starting at 6.15pm it was never possible for me to do so. There were no musicians on in the show lounges at night, which was a great shame, as we have previously enjoyed musicians billed as cabaret artists, (flautists etc.). Sadly there is no longer a Rosario Trio on this ship, which left the Bookmark café area really quiet and almost eerie in the evenings. There was a pianist in the observation lounge who was OK, but the guitarist in the Morning Light Pub, Luke Palmer, was nothing short of appalling and we were not the only people to comment on that. Out of the Cabaret artists I would say that Geoff Taylor stood out as being much better than the others over both cruises. There was a speaker, David Parkin, who did some talks about birds and was very good, but sadly his number of talks were cut down, so he did not have time to give a double session talk on migration which he had planned and prepared. My husband was particularly annoyed about that and I would have liked to hear those talks as well. Not sure what replaced his missing lecture slot(s), but it was nothing that interested us.
From our point of view, the best entertainers, on board were undoubtedly “The Revolverlites” who played in the Coral Club. They did a really good selection of more modern music and performed far better than we would normally expect on a cruise ship. They were also very pleasant people when seen around the ship. I took a particular liking to Natasha, who was the singer with that band.
The ports were good, which is largely why we choose Fred Cruises at times and we were particularly pleased to be able to visit El Hierro this time. We hired a car there (from CICAR), which we booked on the internet before the cruise and the day went very well, despite the weather, which sadly was not the best on that day.
The return flight to Manchester was badly delayed. We were kept on the ship longer to allow for part of that delay, but Fred got us to the airport far too late for the revised flight time, (I suspect they did not want to pay for coaches to wait a long time at the airport for the new arrivals). Hence we were being called to the gate as we cleared security, so there was no time to have a drink in an airport café as we were not sure when we would be called to board. However, there was quite a delay at the gate, which was fine for us as we just sat down. However, some people decided to stand in a queue at the gate, even before being called to board and chose to complain about having to stand later. There were plenty of empty seats to sit on by the gate so it was just silly to stand in a queue at that stage. The flight did take a long time to embark the people who needed assistance (not surprising considering Fred's age demographic), but once premium were called they boarded very quickly and likewise when the rest of the passengers were called. Unfortunately there was a further delay after we boarded for a technical reason, which meant we arrived in Manchester more than three hours late. This was the second time we have used Fred’s flights and the second time there had been problems, which is not a good track record.
Overall, the cruise still had a number of plus points, but the fumes were such a bad problem to the extent that we feel it spoilt the whole cruise and would not book this ship again unless we understood the problem to have been fully repaired. Read Less