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Braemar Review

4.0 / 5.0
186 reviews
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Editor Rating
4.0
Very Good
Overall
Ashley Kosciolek
Contributor

Editor's Note: Fred. Olsen announced in November 2022 that Braemar will be sold and will not re-enter service as scheduled. A buyer has yet to be found for the ship, which has been laid-up in Scotland since 2020.

Braemar is one of the most welcoming cruise ships you're likely to experience. Crew greet passengers with friendly smiles and welcome drinks, and wherever you sit -- out on deck, in the lounges or waiting for a cocktail at the bar -- you are guaranteed to be able to turn around and have someone to engage in a pleasant and warm conversation. First impressions are of a beautifully furnished and well-laid-out ship. It also features some truly elegant public rooms, many of which were given a facelift during a 2017 refit. With ongoing refurbishment, it maintains its sparkle, but we did notice small things like dented walls, rusty handrails on outer decks and frayed carpeting that's showing wear in high-traffic areas. We also felt cleanliness was overlooked in some cases.

Originally built in 1993, Braemar joined Fred. Olsen Cruise Line's fleet of four ships in 2001. In 2008, it had a major refurbishment, during which it was "stretched" (cut in half and a new section placed in the middle -- you can spot the join on the outside of the ship), which created extra space for more cabins and large, luxurious public rooms.

Fred. Olsen is well known for having a devoted following of older passengers, but depending on the time of year and destination, you may find it skewed more towards middle age, with a handful of young adults and an even smaller handful of kids. The general atmosphere is informal and friendly, but this doesn't affect the usual programme of formal nights. On a 14-night cruise, expect three formal nights and one British night, on which passengers were invited to dress in red, white and blue and participate in a traditional British sing-along in the show lounge. Non-British cruisers were invited to dress in colours of their own national flag.

There is a range of entertainment for all tastes throughout the day, especially on sea days, but there's always plenty to do on port days, too, for those who don't want to go ashore. The large library, with excellent seating and a wide range of books, is also the Wi-Fi centre for those who don't bring their own device and want to keep in touch with the outside world. There's the age-old tradition of a jigsaw puzzle spread out in the library for passengers to add a few pieces in idle moments. A newsletter of world news is available every day from Guest Services.

Adjoining the library is the Bookmark Cafe, serving a selection of speciality coffees and teas from Taylors of Harrogate, as well as handmade chocolates, in relaxing surroundings.

For more lively entertainment, there's music in various lounges and bars, karaoke at one end of the ship and a cocktail pianist at the other. During the day, there's shuffleboard, deck quoits and quizzes. Of course, also on sunny days, there's the Marquee Deck with plenty of sun loungers, two swimming pools and two hot tubs.

Service is excellent, from a friendly and always-helpful crew. Even on a small ship it's still easy to lose your way for the first day or two, but there's always someone on hand to point you in the right direction.

Pros

Low-key, leisurely onboard activities allow time for genuine relaxation

Cons

Passengers will have trouble finding snacks between lunch and dinnertime

Bottom Line

Braemar offers a great mix of activities and downtime for cruisers of a certain age

About

Passengers: 929
Crew: 371
Passenger to Crew: 2.5:1
Launched: 0

Fellow Passengers

The age range of passengers can vary according to the itinerary; on the whole, it's 60 and older (with an average age of about 70) -- but lively and active. The nationality is predominantly British, but the ship also attracts some American and other nationalities during its more unusual itineraries, including world cruises. Fred. Olsen isn't known for its children's programmes, but depending on the time of year, such as school holidays, there are sometimes families made up of three generations.

Braemar Dress Code

On sailings of five nights or fewer, there are no formal nights. On 14-night cruises, there are three formal nights, and seven-night cruises have one. (Sailings of fewer than seven nights have no formal nights.) On formal nights, men are expected to wear black tie, and the majority of them do, although many also wear dark suits and ties, which is equally acceptable. Ladies are expected to wear cocktail or evening dress, and this could be described as restrained and elegant with a few exceptions.

The remaining nights are Smart Casual, which indicates comfortable attire for both men and women, with "casual elegance". The majority of men went without jackets but with smart shirts, while the women were in general a little more glammed-up. Shorts and swimwear are not appropriate gear during evening mealtimes, nor are they allowed in the restaurants.

On British Night, passengers are encouraged -- but not required -- to dress in red, white and blue.

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Braemar Cruiser Reviews

60th birthday cruise

Unfortunately the end of the cruise was rather messed up by the over reaction of the Dominican Republic but cannot praise the Captain and his crew for how they sorted things out and looked after us.I cant praise Fred Olsen crew and staff for all they did for us.Read More
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Sue0812

couple2-5 Cruises

Age 60s

Western Caribbean & Central America - Air Conditioning too high

The food was excellent with lots of choice and those with dietary requirements catered for.The singers were excellent and had a very wide repertoire, just a pity there was not a stage for them to stand on as they were on the small dance floor area, made it quite tricky when the dancers were also there.Read More
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Cruiser 12

oneFirst Time Cruiser

Age 70s

Baltic cruise 31/7/19

If you want good food, good company, be able to relax read, have a glass or two of wine, chill and visit great ports (Braemar is able to get into smaller ports which means closer to centre of towns soRead More
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nigemarie

couple2-5 Cruises

Age 50s

Great destinations but beware Olsen cutting times in ports by up to 3 hours

Tip: on Braemar you have to get in theatre earlier than you think to get a decent seat. (There are even seats behind the pillars).Read More
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Nitropodder

couple2-5 Cruises

Age 60s

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines Fleet
Braemar
Balmoral

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