21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
We have just returned from our first ever cruise. We went to the Caribbean on the Braemar and I had no idea what to expect but I am very impressed with Fred.Olsen cruises and we had a great time. The cabin was small but well designed and ... Read More
We have just returned from our first ever cruise. We went to the Caribbean on the Braemar and I had no idea what to expect but I am very impressed with Fred.Olsen cruises and we had a great time. The cabin was small but well designed and the space was maximised. A lifeboat blocked the view from the picture window but I was advised about this prior to booking. The mattress was comfortable and the room was serviced twice a day and towels were changed twice daily. The room was surprisingly quiet at night and I was never disturbed by noise from the ship or neighbouring passengers. The service was outstanding, the staff without exception are helpful, polite and friendly and there was not a single instance in the two weeks on board when a member of staff was anything less than helpful. The food is also outstanding, along with the service in the restaurant with two dedicated waiters who knew our names serving us every night, I would describe the service as exceptional. We were served lobster, venison and Beef Wellington. The breakfasts were buffet style but also with a menu choice and champagne was served on formal days. Lunch was a choice of buffet or a four course meal from the menu. Against my expectations I loved the formal nights but if you do not wish to participate there is the option to dine in The Palms buffet. I enjoyed the entertainment too, the Braemar Show Company gave very good performances as did the singer, comedian and magician and the In Tune Band was good with a particularly good lead guitarist. The cruise line appears to attract a loyal clientele mainly aged 50 + who regularly cruise with Fred Olsen, though there are a few younger passengers. This might be why I did not find many of the day time activities on board of interest, but that did not matter as I like to leave the ship when in port and the itinerary was excellent. I have to say that fellow passengers were very pleasant and friendly, the whole cruise had a bit of a 'family feel' to it. There was a wide choice of day trips which in my opinion were reasonably priced and were in the main very good. Braemar is a medium sized flat bottomed cruise ship. This brings many benefits such as being able to access more ports (ie Havana), less people on board means easier embarkation/ disembarkation. It also makes the cruise a more friendly and personal experience. The one downside is that if like me you are prone to seasickness you feel the movement of the ship more when the sea is rough. However, I still think it I probably better than travelling on a huge cruise ship, that does not appeal to me at all. Overall we had a great time, the itinerary was fantastic and the staff, food and the service was exceptional and I would recommend Fred. Olsen cruises to any apprehensive first time cruiser. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: August 2015
Having worked for four years in P&Os iconic ss Canberra, including her farewell cruise in 1998 prior to her being decommissioned, I have always avoided the temptation of a cruise holiday; party because I had 'been there and done ... Read More
Having worked for four years in P&Os iconic ss Canberra, including her farewell cruise in 1998 prior to her being decommissioned, I have always avoided the temptation of a cruise holiday; party because I had 'been there and done that' albeit from a different perspective, and also because I feared I would spend too much time complaining that 'it isn't like it used to be...' However a partner keen to cruise, a twenty year time gap and a curiosity to see how things had changed, combined to weaken my resolve. What I thought they did well: Firstly, the crew. I know it's a cliché, but the mainly Indian, Filipino and Thai crew could not have worked harder or done more to make our cruise enjoyable. They were friendly, engaging, always appeared happy and managed to remember our names and our favourite drinks. I really could not fault them. Our cabin: we booked a modest deck 2 outside cabin, which was surprisingly spacious and well appointed, though slightly dated decor-wise. The cabin was clean and our cabin steward(ess) (Kitty) was a delight. Even a severe flood requiring a cabin change on the last night was well-handled, with housekeeping staff appointed to help us pack and move. A letter of apology and a £50 credit to our on-board account to apologise for the inconvenience was a nice way to defuse any irritation we may have felt. Food: I thought the food was absolutely first rate. Every day I ordered breakfast from the menu rather than the buffet, and I could not fault it if I tried. The galley even made a slight adjustment to their kedgeree recipe to suit my spicier palate. Lunch as usually taken in the buffet or shore-side when alongside. The buffet was good with plenty of choice. Afternoon Tea (only taken twice) was perhaps the weakest offer - sandwiches were tasty but a but clunky and unrefined, the cake selection was limited, the scones were not the best (a bit dry) and served with UHT whipped cream, which as a shame given we were in port six of ten days so obtaining fresh stores should not have been a problem. Dinner, however, was the highlight of the day; we were lucky to have 4 great table companions whose company we enjoyed and who each added a different perspective to the conversation. Our Head Waiter (Xavier) and the Commis Waiter (Ryan) were efficient, charming and friendly. Each night we had a five course menu, with three to six choices of each. In total we had ten meals on board and I don't think I once left the restaurant unhappy. Full marks and thank you to all concerned. Guest entertainers: we had some super guest entertainers, including Leo Shavers (musician) whose impromptu jazz session was superb. The classical pianist was good, though I would like to have heard more of him, as was the Welsh baritone singer - both of whose names have slipped my mind (sorry). I also greatly appreciated the bridge lessons, which has whetted my appetite for the game. The Braemar Orchestra and the cocktail pianist were also super. Disembarkation: this morning we woke at 7am, were showered and packed by 7.45am and we're in our car on the way home by 8.45am. It could not have gone better. What I didn't like: Having been effusive in my praise for what I felt was done well, I will be equally honest in highlighting what I didn't like. Braemar Show Company: in fairness, a few of them put their heart and soul into the shows, but generally I thought their productions were uninspiring and badly choreographed and the team were very young and lacked believe-ability. Sadly I felt most of them didn't really want to be there and made little effort to hide the fact. Reception (Purser's Desk): I had little dealing with the front desk, apart from towards the end of the cruise when I noticed a billing error. We had upgraded to the 'all inclusive' drinks package for an additional £10 per person per night, this allowed complimentary 'house' drinks and 50% discount on branded drinks, cocktails and wine. When I checked my account on day 8 I noticed they had charged for all drinks. I raised this with the front desk, and rather than apologising and promising to investigate the error, I was asked if I could 'prove' we had paid for the all-inclusive package. I informed the receptionist that I was able to do so as I had just checked my online bank statement and I could see the £200 additional payment leaving my account. Having insulted me once by asking me to prove my case, she then insulted me again by asking how I was able to access my account as the ship's satellite wasn't working (for the record I had international data roaming and was able to access via my Blackberry). Having convinced her I was telling the truth I was then told that they would have to re-enter all our purchases with the relevant discount and we shouldn't order any drinks until this was done. Given this was an error wholly of the company's making, to have a member of staff twice infer I was lying and then to cause me further inconvenience whilst they sorted out an error of their own making, was a poor show. I honestly do not think they could have handled the situation more badly than they did. Show timings: it was also a slightly irritating that passengers on second sitting (8.30pm) had to watch the cabaret at 7.30pm (before dinner) with first sitting passengers watching the cabaret at 8.30pm. Personally, I like to relax with a glass of champagne or a cocktail and chat with my partner/friends pre-dinner - which I couldn't do unless I missed the cabaret. Nor did I particularly want to watch a jazz show or a comedian at 7.30pm before eating. I understand second sitting passengers usually watch a later show and it had been changed for this cruise. If so, I don't think it worked very well. Visibility of Senior Officers; my final gripe was the total lack of visibility of the 4 stripe officers on board. This might be a throw-back to my P&O days, but I would have expected to see the ship's senior management out and about in public areas most evenings, even if only for an hour pre-dinner. Apart from the welcome aboard Cocktail Party I didn't see the Captain, First Officer or Purser once during the whole cruise, which I thought was surprising and disappointing. Overall, despite the above complaints we had a super time. Would I cruise again? Much to my surprise, the answer is yes. And I would also happily cruise with Fred. Olsen in Braemar again. However the bar tenders, the stewards and the waiters were far better ambassadors for the company than the ships' officers and deserve to be acknowledged as such. Read Less
3 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: June 2015
The ship was fantastic, small but very friendly as you got to know lots of people. The food the entertainment and all the staff were fantastic. This was my first cruise and I worried that there may not be enough to do.What a joke we ended ... Read More
The ship was fantastic, small but very friendly as you got to know lots of people. The food the entertainment and all the staff were fantastic. This was my first cruise and I worried that there may not be enough to do.What a joke we ended up running from deck to deck in order to do all the quizzes, table tennis and every thing else we wanted to do. The out door pool even though we were in the Arctic was 30 degrees so we swam nearly every day. The cabin was amazing but we did have a suite. Some of the information was incorrect. We were told we could get on the ship early due to our suite.We got to Dover early and that information is wrong you have to wait like every body else.We took priority disembarkation and this was excellent we got off the boat at least 2 hours before everybody else. The cruise was excellent except we never knew exactly where we were. The day sheet for all the on board entertainment was great but we needed one to tell us where we were passing and where we were. We took the drinks package. For me that was fine but for my sister it was a waste of money. Strongbow cider was included but Kopperberg cider which cost 5 pence more was excluded so she had to pay 50% of the price every time but she could drink rum and brandy until she fell over. Read the small print before you pay. DO NOT BOOK ANY TRIPS WITH THE CRUISE COMPANY. They are a total rip off. Example in Bergen a trip to the Funicular including price up and down £40. Distance from ship a slow 5 mins walk. Return trip £10 on the Funicular. Do the maths yourself. And this was a cheap trip most were at least £90 each and you did not get the right time off the ship and you had no time at the attraction. The Atlantic Road was fully booked up price £80 each. We got a taxi and did it alone for less than £50 for the 2 of us. The ship photos are good but expensive choose carefully but the video is great. All the services on the ship were amazing nothing was too much trouble. I would do another Fred Olsen Cruise but not book any trips. Research them before you go and do it yourself. Would recommend the Braemar to anyone it is a first class ship with a great crew and Captain. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2015
Embarkation couldn't have been any easier..our first time on a cruise I was a nerves reck but once on board and unpacked cases I was fine the ship is very stable nothing like I thought it would be..this was a special 80th birthday ... Read More
Embarkation couldn't have been any easier..our first time on a cruise I was a nerves reck but once on board and unpacked cases I was fine the ship is very stable nothing like I thought it would be..this was a special 80th birthday ELVIS CRUISE..!!! And what great fun..there were two acts on board plus the ships singers dancers band and comedian.quiz nights film shows and talks by the two Elvis E T A'S dance lessons bingo ..there was a coffee and a cocktail of the day every day..we were lead to believed drinks were very pricey on board..NO they are not..a beer was about £3-80p and a cocktail £5 or £6 it did very a little but you could pay more in your local pub at home..cabins are not huge but they are OK.you have tea and coffee in there all the time and a hair dryer..beds are very comfy..the ship is kept spotlessly clean all staff a so sweet and very attentive..the food is fabulous very very tasty each night the them of the menu was changed..again the entertainment was fantastic..we had a couple of tours one to Randers Graceland..not a copy of Memphis Graceland ..the out side is the inside is a shop cafe' and museum and there is a huge room upstairs which is used for talks and concerts..the food in the cafe is great..and the owner Henrik is such an amazing man so down to earth a real people person..our only let down was because of the nature of the cruise the entertainment lounges just weren't really big enough..and left people having to stand through the shows..at different times through the cruise photos were taken at £5 each we felt this was not a bad price..you can also buy frames if you wish to..there is duty free shops on board but you can not buy ciggys or alcohol ..and so I went from being scared stiff of getting on board to NOT wanting to get off..!!!! Thank you so much Fred Olsen and you amazing staff on the Braemar....hope if our pennies allow to be back on board in the future.. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2015
Embarkation couldn't have been any easier..our first time on a cruise I was a nerves reck but once on board and unpacked cases I was fine the ship is very stable nothing like I thought it would be..this was a special 80th birthday ... Read More
Embarkation couldn't have been any easier..our first time on a cruise I was a nerves reck but once on board and unpacked cases I was fine the ship is very stable nothing like I thought it would be..this was a special 80th birthday ELVIS CRUISE..!!! And what great fun..there were two acts on board plus the ships singers dancers band and comedian.quiz nights film shows and talks by the two Elvis E T A'S dance lessons bingo ..there was a coffee and a cocktail of the day every day..we were lead to believed drinks were very pricey on board..NO they are not..a beer was about £3-80p and a cocktail £5 or £6 it did very a little but you could pay more in your local pub at home..cabins are not huge but they are OK.you have tea and coffee in there all the time and a hair dryer..beds are very comfy..the ship is kept spotlessly clean all staff a so sweet and very attentive..the food is fabulous very very tasty each night the them of the menu was changed..again the entertainment was fantastic..we had a couple of tours one to Randers Graceland..not a copy of Memphis Graceland ..the out side is the inside is a shop cafe' and museum and there is a huge room upstairs which is used for talks and concerts..the food in the cafe is great..and the owner Henrik is such an amazing man so down to earth a real people person..our only let down was because of the nature of the cruise the entertainment lounges just weren't really big enough..and left people having to stand through the shows..at different times through the cruise photos were taken at £5 each we felt this was not a bad price..you can also buy frames if you wish to..there is duty free shops on board but you can not buy ciggys or alcohol ..and so I went from being scared stiff of getting on board to NOT wanting to get off..!!!! Thank you so much Fred Olsen and you amazing staff on the Braemar....hope if our pennies allow to be back on board in the future.. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2013
First ever cruise and we were very happy overall. We selected Fred Olsen as the passengers seemed to be of the age group that suited us best. I would say the best way to describe the cruise would be "comfortable with a little splash ... Read More
First ever cruise and we were very happy overall. We selected Fred Olsen as the passengers seemed to be of the age group that suited us best. I would say the best way to describe the cruise would be "comfortable with a little splash of luxury". It was amusing to be in the library and hear the daily symphony of snoring, or see that false teeth were not an obstacle to eating, sadly worrying was that it was like looking at your future. There was a slight air of nursing home. All that said it was clean and with good staff. Plenty to do all day long, and generally well organised. Highlight for me was seeing Des O`Connor, an excellent entertainer. I did find that you go on a cruise to cruise. I really don`t think you can honestly say you see much of the places you visit, with shore excursions being a bit expensive. The one sad thing was at the end of the cruise the organising did appear to break down a little. One passengers wife was taken to hospital in Tenerife and he appeared to have had little help from the port agent and minimum from Fred Olsen at the time we spoke to him. I did not like this, especially as ever noon the captains broadcast reminded us "to take care of one another" , and these are overall elderly passengers. Be warned, shop around to get the best price for any cruise. The old sea dogs we spoke to bagged the same cruise as us in a better cabin, paying 50% less for a drinks package for half what we paid for the cruise, transfers and return journey!! No wonder they slept so contentedly. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
We hadn't cruised before, being under 50 we really thought that cruising was for older people. That's certainly true for the Braemar but many guests told us about other cruise lines who cater for a younger audience so I'm ... Read More
We hadn't cruised before, being under 50 we really thought that cruising was for older people. That's certainly true for the Braemar but many guests told us about other cruise lines who cater for a younger audience so I'm happy to stand corrected. My husband is terrified of water and to get him to go I had to book a cabin with a balcony above a lifeboat! Within a couple of days he was quite comfortable with being at sea, not seeing land and his constant fear of drowning so if anyone reading this has a reluctant partner - be reassured, it's worth the effort of getting on board. I have a gluten free diet and really struggle to get food when I go on holiday unless I cook everything myself. This cruise was an absolute godsend to me - I've never had so much choice before, the food and the waiters were amazing. I can't praise them enough. The Braemar is a relatively small ship with around 950 passengers and 350 crew which meant we were quickly recognised by staff and guests, making for a very welcoming atmosphere. The staff couldn't be faulted - we started off in the Grampian Restaurant but weren't keen on the atmosphere there and were quickly moved to the Thistle Restaurant which was much more vibrant and where guests wanted to talk to you.The cabaret acts were pretty average and targeted at the older audience. The Braemar Show Team on the other hand were outstanding, particularly James, Jane and Kirsty and worked incredibly hard putting on 9 different shows in 11 nights and popping up doing all sorts of unexpected duties throughout the day from serving cake at the Tea Dance to dolphin racing. Not having been on a cruise before I didn't have anything to compare them with but I lost count of the number of other guests who said they were by far the best show group they had seen on a cruise and many of the guests had been on over 30 cruises. Ricky the Cruise Director was great, I think he could do with a day off though - he seemed to work from early in the morning to very late at night with few gaps in between and always with a smile on his face. We met some lovely guests on board although we also met a significant number of pretentious people they they were usually older and from a certain part of the country. The staff were incredible and I found the latter guests clicking fingers at waiters distasteful to say the least, however the few guests that spoiled things were hugely outnumbered by the lovely guests we met. Our cruise was for 11 nights and by the 9th I have to confess we'd had enough of getting dressed up for every evening meal, we could have opted out and dined more casually in the Palms Restaurant but we didn't feel it was fair in the staff to keep moving about when I had special dietary needs. Others did use this option and it seemed to be appreciated.We called at Dakkar Senegal, Banjul Gambia, Praia Cape Verde and Mindelo Cape Verde. If you want winter sun and are not bothered about ports this is great, if you don't mind third world countries and a bit of hassle from locals it's fine otherwise leave these ports for a few years until they become more developed. Mindelo was the best port and even that was basic with no toilets on a 4hr tour. The weather was great though and staff on board were phenomenal. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: August 2011
SWMBO had been pestering me to go on a cruise for years. She has been on several without me due to various work commitments. However she pinned me down to this one. What was i expecting, not to sure tbh. Embarkation was steady and ... Read More
SWMBO had been pestering me to go on a cruise for years. She has been on several without me due to various work commitments. However she pinned me down to this one. What was i expecting, not to sure tbh. Embarkation was steady and organised, and the meet and greet was good. In fact, for me the highlight of the trip was the level of service we received from the staff, which was top rate. Food came a close second, with a variety of excellent meals available in the evening, breakfast and lunch were mainly a buffet/as much as you can eat arrangement, but still good. The ship itself had all the restaurants at the stern, which meant a long trek for the Father-in-law from the cabin for every meal, and the Ship got kicked about quite badly in the North Sea, so much so that some travellers elected to fly home rather than face it again. The night time entertainment was good, with a variety of acts from a world class cellist to an easy listening trio. The on-board drinks were reasonably priced (certainly compared to Norway). I was a bit disappointed with the 'buy this photo or DVD' at nearly every turn, but as a no frills deal, it was only to be expected. Overall, would i go again? possibly not as it's not my thing, however SWMBO was happy and that's what counts. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
This was the 1st time my husband and myself had been on a cruise. So we thought we would enjoy a smaller ship, but that was a mistake. Small and friendly to us after we had done the cruise represented cramped and forced to speak to ... Read More
This was the 1st time my husband and myself had been on a cruise. So we thought we would enjoy a smaller ship, but that was a mistake. Small and friendly to us after we had done the cruise represented cramped and forced to speak to people. The experience of boarding the ship at Dover, which has been repeated on many of your reviews, was without doubt a very good experience. We had an alloted time to check in and everything went smooth. The taxi dropped us off, the porter took our cases, and we didnt see them again until we boarded the ship and they were in our cabin. The 1st few days the weather was poor and there were insufficient seats inside without squashing on tables with people. When the sun came out it was not quite so bad, but you still sometimes had to share. I think this is where I realise perhaps cruising is not for me. I like to read my book, but that was impossible as the minute someone sat at your table they felt they had to talk incessently which got on my nerves. At breakfast in the Thistle restaurant two people could not sit alone, you always had to share, and always had to sit opposite you were not allowed to sit side by side. I do mean not allowed, when I expressed that I did not want to sit in the middle of a table of 10 the waiter shrugged his shoulders and beckoned the next couple over, leaving us no choice but to go to another restaurant for breakfast. Not a treatment expected as they bill themselves as a 5star country house hotel style. As other people have pointed out the drinks were reasonably priced, the choice of wines was excellent Read Less
Sail Date: October 2010
We chose to cruise on the Braemar for our first ever cruise as the dates suited, we loiked the idea of no flying and I thought the weather would be kind!!! Embarkation at Dover was a breeze, as suite customers we walked straight into ... Read More
We chose to cruise on the Braemar for our first ever cruise as the dates suited, we loiked the idea of no flying and I thought the weather would be kind!!! Embarkation at Dover was a breeze, as suite customers we walked straight into lunch in the Thistle restaurant then up to our suite. Loved 7043, the suite is L shaped and you can partition off the sleeping area with a curtain. Large balcony and being mid to rear seemed well placed. Lots of wardrobe space. Bathroom small but excellent shower and efficient loo! Friends had 7010 which was lovely and bright but just one room and their balcony was smaller. They were very near the front of the ship and you could feel the difference. As other posts say the first three days were rough! We did not realise how bad it was until more seasoned travellers and the crew put us right. Our friend was very poorly. At this time I thought the ship was really spacious but soon realised everyone was in bed! Gym small but good equipment. when we finally got to dry land it rained, the first week was a washout but the second week was lovely and I can see why people cruise.The sailaways were great but short and a free drink would not have gone amiss! The Braemar is a lovely ship, small but we liked that. We ate in the Grampian restaurant, 2nd sitting and were very impressed with the quality of the food and the service. Drinks reasonably priced too Entertainment was good, resident band and show company were excellent but by the end of the fortnight had heard some of the songs a few too many times...Knock three times anyone? I am nearly 50 and I doubt if there were ten people younger than me on the cruise so maybe the entertainment was set accordingly. We won a few bottles of fizz at the evening quizzes, there was a lot going on during the day as well but this seemed geared for the older element. The mobility of a lot of passengers was impaired - this was not a problem for us but there was always a queue for the lifts. In an emergency people would not be able to get out. We ended up helping quite a few people up and down steps etc as well. We explored the ports independently but friends did the tours and thought they were good. Will definitely cruise again but not for a while...would love to do the Fjords and cruisers I know say this is Fred's forte Read Less
Braemar Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 3.8
Dining 4.0 4.3
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 5.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.7
Family 2.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 3.8

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