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73 Fred. Olsen Europe Cruise Reviews

To celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary and our daughter-in-laws 50th Birthday. We booked this cruise as a group of 4 persons in January 2017. Just prior to leaving the UK my son read an adverse review regarding Braemar on your web ... Read More
To celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary and our daughter-in-laws 50th Birthday. We booked this cruise as a group of 4 persons in January 2017. Just prior to leaving the UK my son read an adverse review regarding Braemar on your web site. As a result I rang our travel agent and asked her to investigate. I informed her that if the allegations were substantiated, then to cancel our contract with Fred Olsen. She informed me that there was no corroborative evidence to support any allegation. We flew has independent travelers on February 8th 2018 and stayed in a villa at Enterprise Drive, near Oustins, Barbados. We joined Braemar on Thursday 15th February 2018 at Sugar Berth, Barbados harbour. Embarkation could not have gone better, we were allowed on the ship at 1200 hours whilst the disembarkation passengers were still on board. We were shown to our cabins 6036 and 6034 respectively. The cabins were spacious, clean, tidy and functional. We had an excellent two weeks on board Braemar. I fully agreed with the Captains decision not to visit Jamaica. I had read numerous reports of armed criminal gangs roaming the streets and 'no go areas' being declared by the local police. We had read complaints about dining experiences on Braemar. We dined first sitting in the Grampian Restaurant. The food and service were excellent, personally attended by Rashan (maitre'd). We had lobster (pictures taken to prove if required), and a wide variety of dishes every night. We had an evening in 'The Grill' and it was worth every penny. My wife and I had sirloins and our son and daughter-in-law had fillet steaks, which they described as large and delicious. I was so impressed with the quality of the food I requested to speak to the Executive Chef Mr Robert Swann. My family have cruised with the more upmarket cruise ships e.g. Azamara Quest & Journey and we all agreed that the food served up to us on Braemar was on a par with the Azamara ships. In our opinion Braemar should be upgraded from a 3 star ship to 4 star. We left the ship in Barbados on 28th February 2018 to fly home independently to a very cold and snow covered Manchester. We will continue to cruise with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
My partner bought us two tickets for a 12 day cruise beginning April 1st 2017; to visit the Canary Islands, Madeira and Lisbon; he paid a year in advance ie oer £3,400 with extra £160 each for unlimited drinks if we wanted them. Near the ... Read More
My partner bought us two tickets for a 12 day cruise beginning April 1st 2017; to visit the Canary Islands, Madeira and Lisbon; he paid a year in advance ie oer £3,400 with extra £160 each for unlimited drinks if we wanted them. Near the beginning of the cruise we found out that our fellow diners had been to the Captain's Cocktail Party but we had not had the relevant leaflet put in our room so we did not go. During our stay onboard we received around half of the leaflets we were meant to ie ie the pieces of paper which list what activities will be happening that day/week (we missed out on a few chocolates also that went with the leaflet but that was ok of course:)) We were very grateful to cabin staff and even did things ourselves incase we bothered them too much eg pushing two single beds together to make a double (they were not easy to move!). I only once asked for assistance from the cabin staff and that was when I needed a safety pin for my dress but the woman I asked was very impplite and just said 'NO' as if I had asked her to cook a swan for breakfast. The food was ok and most waiters and waitresses were nice with just one or two being bad tempered for no reason. On the last day of the cruise my partner went to pay our onboard bill in cash; he was told it has already been paid!! We were very puzzled and wondered how this had happened! The morning we got off the ship; we found that everyone's cases had been left outside of their cabins the night before to be carried to shore by staff etc. My partner had a very very painful knee but had to carry his suitcase across a very rickety metal temporary stair to the shore and I had to carry a heavy case also which was dangerous given the wobbly stairs etc and also very tiring as it was a long walk. We had not been given the appropriate paperwork telling us to leave our lluggage outside the cabin etc. When we got home we received more than one threatening letter about the onboard bill - it had not been paid of course an d we were treated as criminals until it was paid soon after. When I reported the missing paperwork we were told that this would not have happened and that (surprise surprise) the staff member denied it. I also found an item of jewellery missing on my return which i had left in the room and that also was ignored by Customer Services as were one or two other missing items. I was asked if a dress they found in the room was mine but that only happened because I contacted Customer Services ie I would not have got that back if I had it seems. This cruise was not cheap so the Customer Service we received was really a shock. So I am writring this to warn others that paying a lot of money is no guarantee of good customer service. We have travellled a lot so were not expecting VIP treatment but just some normal care and respect. The captain seemed nice but we did not get to meet him as I said; the entertainment was very amateurish we found and some was more Holiday Camp perhaps than Cruise Ship (one male crooner miming to a recording and so on and lots of young brightly coloured people jumping around but enthusiasm is not the same as talent (although we appreciated the work they did). Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Taste of Iceland (and Faroes). Third F.O cruise. We have gradually moved up decks each cruise and travelled paying near top-price for a suite this time. Four negative experiences took the edge of an otherwise excellent cruise. ... Read More
Taste of Iceland (and Faroes). Third F.O cruise. We have gradually moved up decks each cruise and travelled paying near top-price for a suite this time. Four negative experiences took the edge of an otherwise excellent cruise. They were: 1. F.O's paper map (and website) detailed the approach to the Rosyth port as via the town from the north. Like others including taxi drivers we found this was out of date - a barbed wire perimeter fence is erected across F.O's map! Actual port access is two miles to the east via a new flyover and roundabout (much closer to the M90/Forth bridge in fact). Should have trusted the car's GPS and ignored the cruise operator's information. Admittedly the basic nature of Rosyth as a cruise terminal was described in advance but the bomb site-like nature of the long stay car park was not. We unloaded our luggage like all the others in the open and left it there with a promise it would be collected. We hoped so. A bus to the terminal and another bus to the ship worked reasonably well though. It would have been soaked if it had been raining on embarkation or disembarkation. 2. Two examples of really snappy and rude catering staff this time, unlike before. We pad the extra for the Afternoon Tea but were greeted by someone in charge who clearly was rattled by not being ready for us/tea. We sat in an overcrowded lounge with other non-tea taking passengers who not unreasonably wanted to enjoy the views of leaving the Faroes. They/he was just not ready to serve tea. The scones are a minuscule mouthful by the way, someone saving half a penny per passenger? Second was a disbelieving steward in the Orchid Room restaurant (a rather pointless annex off the main dining room we thought) who demanded to see the paper proof we were entitled to eat in there in front of the guests and left us standing while he checked up on someone's error. We were right, settings had to then be provided. Did he say sorry? Fortunately our table partners were excellent company for the nine days. 3. Service in the Orchid Room came nowhere near the high standards we enjoyed on the previous two cruises: indifferent, error-prone, lacking any meaningful contact with the guests, what a difference. No extra tip this time. 4. Shore tours. In summary, these were rushed, time at advertised destinations minimal and in one case not as advertised. We booked for five, one at each port. The first one to the Skalanes Nature reserve (tour D), was advertised with a half page picture of running reindeer and a description including the 45 types of bird on the reserve. When we eventually got there after an unnecessary tour of the port town and a forced change of buses (to a fwd one), we saw ten domesticated ducks and a labrador dog. No host in sight, no wildlife, no information to hand - a case of riding the Icelandic tourism boom? Take the money and…The refreshments were pleasant but slight and it seemed somewhat comical having 35 people wandering around a domestic house and grounds looking for a toilet…Our local tour guide was otherwise very good though. (£88 each). Second tours fault - rushed - we had a bare 45 minutes in the hot volcanic spring pools at two locations, spent hours getting there on the coach and could easily have set off earlier with proper planning. A mere 45 minutes in the Blue Lagoon after allowing for the rigorous changing room procedures out of a port stay of over nine hours just isn't good enough. (£72 each). Similarly, a visit to an interesting botanical garden (not the oldest one as the F.O guide says, we discovered), was honed down to 20 minutes out of three hours, and eight of those minutes were taken up walking to/from the separate coach park. Pretty poor really. One cruise highlight. The captain stopping (near enough) in the fjord leaving Akureyri to watch for whales, who duly obliged, one Ridgeback surfacing right alongside the ship just below us on the open boat deck. Fantastic. Saved £70 each on a whale-watching boat trip. Of the elderly ship, all is spotless and one would be hard-pressed to find a single dent, scrape or paint blemish. Imagine having to mildly grumble about the smell of polish on the handrails. The ship's company show was again the best feature of the organised evening entertainment we thought. Unlike the previous two cruises, the photographer made noticeably less effort to be creative/take money off us! Not even one attempt to sell us some expensive picture frames! The coffee shop inserted into the library lounge on this and the other ships provided excellent coffees at not unreasonable prices with exquisite attention to detail from the staff. Good while it lasts. This ship had suffered a fire and lost a cruise earlier this summer. One wishes the F.O formula will go on forever but maybe the supply of retired Brits will diminish as the four old or ageing ships reach withdrawal dates? We booked another cruise while on board. Make the most of it while it lasts. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
WE had very loud engine noise below us on the first night . Had no sleep ,so had to move decks. Restaurant at night noisy also,we could not hear the people on the opposite side of the table.Had no explanation for this which continued ... Read More
WE had very loud engine noise below us on the first night . Had no sleep ,so had to move decks. Restaurant at night noisy also,we could not hear the people on the opposite side of the table.Had no explanation for this which continued the entire cruise. although we complained every time.The food was excellent and our cabin clean all staff polite and friendly. Will not travel on this ship again which needs updating. Shore excursions expensive,entertainment very good.Had a previous cruise on Balmoral which was excellent so we were really looking forward to this one .Itinerary was good getting in to the center of large cities. Disembarkation was delayed and at a different terminal to embarkation which ment finding our car difficult.We had to keep going back to the reception area about moving and trying to get compensation. This made our first 3 days of the cruise very stressful. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Cabin 7020 is a large cabin that has been created by joining two cabins. Cabin 7022 is missing from the deck plan. Though big there is a lot of waste space. The cabin that would be the original 7020 has no window but an angled outer wall ... Read More
Cabin 7020 is a large cabin that has been created by joining two cabins. Cabin 7022 is missing from the deck plan. Though big there is a lot of waste space. The cabin that would be the original 7020 has no window but an angled outer wall leaving a recess that is unfurnished and of no use. Though there was a lot of space to use the design is unimaginative and the bathroom that juts into the cabin between the two original ones is minute even though there was enough to create something more appropriate for the suite that would also improve the layout of the room. In the bathroom you have to breath in to close the door. That is not quite true but toweling yourself dry after a shower is a restrained exercise. There is no bath. There were no loose amenities but soap and body lotion by Cole and Lewis, London, (no, me neither) are in bottles fixed to the wall and in the shower there is also some shampoo. There is a very large balcony that has an interesting shape and is furnished with recliners, chairs and a table. It is an attractive feature. The deck above overhangs the whole of the balcony so it will be shaded for much of the day. The room is silent and free of all engine noise and vibration. Very few sounds are heard from elsewhere. It was a northern cruise in cool weather so the open deck above with pools and loungers,was not used but occasional footfalls were heard and they could be more persistent in warm weather. The beds were comfortable though the pillows are very soft without much bulk. Loads of electrical outlets are scattered about. Storage is generous with plenty of drawer and hanging space and more hangers than could be used. The TV is wall mounted quite high up alongside the bed. It is a small screen, about 23" though not measured, and viewed from the opposite side of the double cabin the distance is too great for really comfortable viewing. Though the design is unimaginative and the bathroom pokey it is a comfortable room and we would be happy to use it again. FOOD The menus are attractively put together and you can eat well but not entirely consistently. The variability reduces the best grade to four star. The chef's strong point is soups and meats and we enjoyed good Beef Wellington, duck, lamb shank and liver cooked Berlin style, as well as steak sandwiches. These were up to five star cruise standard. Fish was not so successful and on the two occasions I tried it was overcooked. Salads were excellent, crisp, bright and interesting with well made dressings. Vegetables were variable and often overcooked, broccoli which seemed to feature on most main dishes, was cooked until it had lost its colour and become limp and tasteless. Mashed potato was a mystery that shouldn't be allowed. It was part of many evening main courses and was consistently left untouched without any of the staff asking why. The baker produced wonderful croissants and good breads. The scones get only a 3/10. Maybe a only British housewife who makes just a small batch at a time can make the perfect one. On board, they were over mixed, dense and leaden, smooth and shiny buns and to make matters worse were served with jam and a white substitute cream. My best guess is that it was made with milk powder and a little water frothed up with nitrous oxide gas.Dreadful. Pastries were rather hit and miss. We enjoyed some fine tarts for desserts but the Sherry Trifle served on British Night was disowned by all the Brits on the table. The pastry lid for the rather fine steak and Guiness pie was an under cooked dough. Tea during breakfast and after the other meals was served from flasks. Refills were frequent and were always hot. The tea served was Twinings made with tea bags. There was a good selection of tea bags if you preferred to make your own. We did not purchase a drinks package but bought wine by the glass from the list. The list was a five star creation of wines by the bottle or by the glass and the prices were modest. We had some good stuff. People on the drinks package could purchase wine from the list at half price. LIFTS There were two lifts forward and two aft. A total of four in all. One or other lift was frequently out of service and very occasionally both lifts forward or aft were out together. PASSENGERS The cruise out of Dover to the German Hanseatic Ports was sold as an Adults Only one. The ship seemed fully booked and most if not all the passengers were from Britain. They were also quite elderly and I spotted maybe four or so who might have been under forty. Most were well over that and mobility aids were in good use. They put a high demand on the available lifts. CREW The hotel staff is 80% Filipino and without exception the ones we met in the room, restaurants and bars were as pleasant and accommodating as any we have met on any other cruise. LECTURES I missed the first two lectures on the ports that were to be first on our itinerary. They were in the morning about 10am. We had two full sea days before the first port and with the clock going forward soon after sailing I though it was an opportunity to take things easy. Also, even though it was not stormy, the North Sea was lumpy and the ship's motion on day one was unpleasant. I heard that the first lecture was delivered seated. I preferred a more horizontal position myself with a late breakfast in the room but nevertheless the theater was full for the lectures. No bio of the lecturer was published in the ship's daily programme so I have no idea who he was. The talks had good practical information including help for those who were inclined towards DIY visits avoiding the organised tours. PA ANNOUNCEMENTS At sea these were limited to the Captain's noon report. A very good arrangement that some other companies might take note of. SAFETY DRILL DOT sports, the muster drill, was briefed in detail on how to enter the lifeboats and what to expect. There would be 150 on board each and they would be crowded but there would be a seat for all. Soon after launching a seasick pill would be issued to all on board. Once one person threw up it would be followed by more. The briefer was asked what the pills were but was not able to answer. Some of the older passengers said that they were unlikely to take unknown medication, presumably because they were on a complex regime already. PORTS The cruise began with two sea days and dinner was formal on the second night. In the Grampian Restaurant (the smaller of the two restaurants) at the second sitting almost all the men were in black tie. The first port was Flensburg which sits on the border between Germany and Denmark. The berth was about 3k from the town centre and two shuttle buses were laid on (fee). Boarding cards for the bus departing the ship were issued and passengers were called when theirs was loading. It took about an hour for us to get away after we were ready. Flensburg is a compact Northern German town that could be explored easily in two or three hours. From its time as one of the important Hanseatic ports it is proud of its association with rum from the West Indies. Most of the restaurants serving lunch seemed to be cafes and fast food outlets so it would have been a good idea to have done some research beforehand if something more formal or German was preferred. Travemunde is a small seaside town at the mouth of the River Trave and is now a suburb of Lubeck. The ship moored in the centre of town and it was a ten minute walk to the rail station. There was an hourly train into Lubeck (22 mins) but alternatively there was a half hourly bus (40 mins). The Old Town of Lubeck is a UN World Heritage site. It sits on an island in the river and is a ten minute walk from the station and the bus terminal. When Germany was divided into East and West the line ran through the Old Town. The pedestrian signals at various traffic lights were still a mix of former East or West German styles and give the visitor some idea what the town was like before reunification. The town is renowned for Marzipan and Niederegger's shop in the Market Place is a must-see. The marzipan is a paler shade than the more yellow paste seen in the UK and has a less intense almond flavour. The Marienkirsch , also in the same area, is one of the most beautifully impressive medieval churches in Europe. The Ratskeller, below the Town Hall, is a warren of cubicles where you can get a good, if simple, lunch. They had an English menu and the big thing was schnitzels and also asparagus. No sausages nor saurkraut of any description on this menu and nor were they seen on any in Flensburg. I thought sausages were a staple of all German restaurants. Lubeck has a community-wide free WiFi service with a good signal in most places (Not in the Ratskellar) Thirty hours in Hamburg saw us alongside at the Cruise Terminal that is well served by a U-Bahn station and two bus routes. The full day was on a Sunday that was also May Day and the City was quieter than usual. The final port was Bremen which is several hours cruise up river from Bremerhaven. The berth was in an industrial area about twenty minutes by frequent tram from the Old Town. A shuttle bus connected the berth to the tram. Lubeck (from Travemunde) followed closely by Bremen were our two best ports. The long stopover in Hamburg coincided with a Sunday that was also a Public Holiday so lacked some of the buzz of a working city and put extra pressure on the attractions that were open. Flensburg is very compact and it was the one port where we might have benefitted from an organised tour. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Overall a good cruise, but we will not be tempted to sail anywhere from Dover in the future! It's access and the lack of decent hotels and taxis in the area is an absolute nightmare. As we were travelling down by train the day before ... Read More
Overall a good cruise, but we will not be tempted to sail anywhere from Dover in the future! It's access and the lack of decent hotels and taxis in the area is an absolute nightmare. As we were travelling down by train the day before the cruise we wanted a hotel in Dover, and we booked a sea view room at the Best Western as it was the only way we could be assured that we would not have a trail of lorries outside our window all night. We did not have the lorries but we did have a cars wizzing along the promenade every few minutes (presumably to avoid the busy road to the rear of our hotel). The hotel was also very hot with no air conditioning, so we had to endure either the noise or the extreme heat, so I only got about 4 hours sleep. Our express train to London on the return had people standing from Ashford as there were not enough seats. Also, we had to get a rail replacement bus between Dover and Folkestone and the only way we knew about that is because it was announced on Fred's website - our tickets gave times and journeys to/from Dover with no mention of a bus and different times! The replacement busses were chaotic, being overcrowded with no proper storage space for luggage and there were no directions from the station to the bus stop (and vice versa), yet the bus did not stop outside the station in Folkestone so was very difficult to find. We got a taxi to the port and embarkation worked efficiently as we were prioritised as gold oceans members on freedom fare, so we were soon on board. We have travelled on this ship a number of times before and it is our favourite Fred ship. Luckily the seas were calm as this ship it is not very stable in rough seas, though we had booked a very central cabin in case of that. The staff were excellent as usual and it was good to be back on board what we always find to be a very happy ship, as the staff just continue to work hard and remain happy and pleasant at all times. I would like to particularly mention Somkhit, our cabin stewardess, who kept the cabin spotless and worked very hard throughout the cruise. I would also like to mention Chaider, from the Palms restaurant who is always working hard whenever we saw him on this and previous cruises, yet he always has a friendly smile and greeting for us. Unfortunately we could not book the Grampian for dinner this time, but we were well served in the main restaurant by the staff, many of whom we have met previously and they remembered us. Rommel runs a well organised restaurant service. The public areas of this ship are well maintained and it has a lighter more airy feel than the other Fred Olsen ships as it is slightly more modern. We had booked an inside cabin on deck 4 for this cruise, which I will review below though it was hotter than we would have liked most of the time. There were quizzes and other daytime activities, but we did not partake. We do not often go to the shows either, but we saw part of one by the comedian/magician (Aidan Murphy) on our cabin TV and were not impressed. There was a pianist in the observation lounge and musician in the Morning Light Pub, yet the large seating space in the Bookmark cafe was eerily silent because the Rosario Trio who used to be there is sadly no longer present on this ship. They were always our favourite musicians on board so they were sadly missed by us. The young band, called ‘The Revolverlites’ who played in the Coral were extremely good and were happy for us to use that dancefloor for ‘disco’ style dancing whilst they were playing, so all venues were not taken over purely by the Ballroom dancers as often happens on Fred’s ships. The hot food was disappointing this time, especially compared to what we have previously experienced on Fred’s ships, although the cold buffets for breakfast and lunch were still pretty good. We were on early sitting, but we wanted to eat later on two days because of port times and unfortunately those days were the ones when the Asian and Indian buffets were being served in the Palms restaurant. This meant we had to book ahead for the set time of 8.30pm to eat there rather than just go in as we wished. The food for those special buffets could only be described as bad – we have never had such poor offerings for Indian and Oriental food and it bore no resemblance to food we have eaten either in those countries, or in restaurants in the UK. The only saving grace was the papadoms and the sweets, (apart from the banana fritters which would have been better called Banana soggys). We had taken the AI package this time which, despite the limitations, we found to be adequate for us. We thought the bar service may have been slow as the ship was very full for that cruise, but found it was quite promt, so were pleased about that. There were problems getting served in some areas out on deck, but we have found that to be the case on all Fred Olsen cruises. This was a Maiden Port Mystery Cruise and we had booked because the ports were all maiden calls. I had done a lot of searching the internet and thought I had got all ports identified, but I only got two, which were Wismar and Fredericia. The only ship’s excursion we did was a seal watching boat trip from Lysekil and that was excellent. I got 'seeking seals' right but not the port! The set up was that the ports had always been referred to as "mystery port 1-6" and the trips were known as "mystery trip A to M". We were given a daily sheet as usual the night before, which gave "mystery port x" or a sea day. The trip departures and their meeting times were denoted as "mystery trip x". As we arrived in port, it was either the captain or the cruise director who announced the port name and usually the country, although we had to wait a bit longer for the country one day. The trips were still referred to as "mystery trip x" and we were not told we were looking for seals on our trip until they were sighted – a real mystery trip! A sat nav used on the open decks to determine co ordinates before retiring to bed and a photocopy taken from our atlas of the area around Denmark was also useful from our point of view! I was fairly certain we were going to that area, given the 'clues' we had been given regarding number of countries, UNESCO sites, trip descriptions and Fred's brochures for the next two years showing ports to be visited subsequently. We were obviously heading for Sweden from Fredericia for the last port as we still needed our fourth country and we were going north. We also knew we were in port the next day, with the final day being a sea day . As the ports were all maiden calls for Fred and most were rarely, if at all done by other cruise companies, I will review each port here in detail:- Larvik, Norway This was a bit of a a problem as Fred sent their shuttle busses to the centre of town, which was a shopping area, rather than the sea front which was the tourist area. We also we had no useful tourist information. The sea front area was very pleasant for people who could walk down the steep hill to the sea front and back up to the shuttle bus point as there were things of tourist interest and a couple of bars/restaurants there. There was also a view point and lovely woodland area nearer to the shuttle drop. When we returned to the town centre there was a band playing in the square, so we bought an ice cream from a kiosk and sat in the sun for a while. We enjoyed the port a lot once we found our way round - but we are able bodied, unlike many of Fred’s passengers. If the ship’s shuttle bus had stopped at the sea front and if we had been given good tourist information, I believe many people would have liked this port, but with the circumstances as they were, many people were not happy. It was also a couple of weeks prior to the main tourist season, so a number of tourist facilities were not open, though we liked that as it meant the town was quiet and peaceful. Hundested, Denmark The people of Hundested have to be given 10/10 for trying. They put on displays of Viking fighters and gave us a really good send off with singing, a cannon firing and lots of waving. It was just a shame the facilities are not there to accommodate 800+ cruise passengers at one time. The small local shuttle bus was not easily accessible because there were too many people wanting to use it, and there were no taxis available in the town if you could not get on the shuttle bus. There was also a lack of good bars/cafes, (or even drinks kiosks), were they were needed, (particularly by Knud Rasmussen’s house). Ramussen was an explorer and we paid entrance to the house, but felt there was very little there for the price paid and what information boards were available were mainly in Danish. We had eventually been able to get the shuttle bus to there and after our visit, we walked on to Kikhavn, (an old fishing village), where one of the residents had kindly opened their garden to provide tea and cakes for the Braemar passengers with just a contribution box present. The walk was along a pleasant coastal path and indeed a few people had walked there from the cruise dock. Had we known facilities would have been so limited we would have taken a lot of water or other drinks/snacks with us, but we found our small bottles of water were not enough and there were not even any shops to buy drinks – even at Ramussens house, though there were toilets. Hence we spent much of the day feeling incredibly thirsty as it was a hot day. The immediate port area was an old industrial location which had been developed with craft workshops, a micro brewery and a couple of restaurants. It was heaving with people, which was worse because it was a sunny Sunday with lots of Danish day trippers as well as our ship mates from Braemar. Hence we did not linger in that area. We were the first cruise ship to dock in the new cruise dock, so I expect things will improve in the future, but meanwhile the port is not really suitable for a ship full of cruise passengers – even a small one like Braemar. There was nothing in the town at all for tourists. Nyborg, Denmark This was an exceptionally good port and in our opinion the best of the cruise. It was a beautiful historic town, with many characteristic buildings and also a lovely moat and lake that could easily be accessed from the town by walking through a tunnel under a grass mound by the castle. There was a path along the moat and also plenty of seats so we bought some food from a local shop and returned with a picnic lunch to this lovely area. We also had a couple of drinks in local cafes, all of which were very pleasant. The people in the city had really gone out of their way to make us welcome by opening attractions that are normally closed on the day we visited and letting us have free entry to them. There was a Castle, Water Tower and a really interesting museum. The normal entry charges to those places were not high, so even with payment I would suggest a visit to all or at least some of them would be worthwhile. A special program was printed for us with details of the city and the places I have mentioned. It also had details of walking tours of the city and/or the Castle which we could use if we wanted. Instead we chose to use the comprehensive walking guides which had been made available to us and just stroll around. So there were lots of things to do in the city and it was compact, so it was easy to relax and just enjoy that day, which we did immensely. The people in this city were also very friendly and helpful at all times and there was even free wifi by the tourist information office. I can see it becoming a very popular cruise port in the future, so it was nice to visit now before it gets over run. Wismar, Germany This was quite a touristy, old, Hanseatic city, with a large central square and numerous historic buildings. It was busier and more touristy than Nyborg, but none the less it was a very pleasant place and we had an enjoyable day there. It was easy to pick up tourist information and we visited a couple of churches, which are the main tourist attractions. One old church, which was largely a shell, had a lift to the top of the tower, (which we accessed for a small fee), to get views of the city and the area around. One church had been demolished as the city was in East Germany before the wall came down, so funding had not been available to maintain and renovate it. Despite that recent history, the city as a whole was in very good condition and buildings well maintained now. We visited the ‘Alter Schwede’ bar/restaurant in the square, (which dated from a time when the city was Swedish), and it was impressive. We also went to the ‘Brauhaus am Lohberg zu Wismar’, which is a micro-brewery, not far from the port. As we were due to sail out of the port we were serenaded by a local male choir, (I think with sea shanties), and then a display of soldiers in old costumes firing of a mini cannon. Fredericia, Denmark This was a maiden call for Fred Olsen, but has been visited by some fairly large ships previously. Again a pleasant town, though more a mix of old and new. We followed the walking route we had been given of the town, which also involved walking along some of the grass mounds and along part of the moat which originally formed defences for the city. Hence it was again a chance to be in a city, yet enjoy some pleasant natural areas around. We climbed the White Water Tower for a small charge to get views around, then returned to the town for a drink before returning to the ship. This port was walkable from the ship, so no shuttles needed. Another good send off with an even smaller miniature cannon being fired by soldiers in costume and lots of waving. Lysekil, Sweden This was the port were we went on the excursion which had been billed as a ‘boat trip searching for curious marine mammals’. We were fairly sure it was seals as they are reputed to be curious, (about things), so we went armed with binoculars and a good camera. It was well worth having the binoculars as we got some really good detailed views of the seals. They would still have been visible by eye alone, but not in detail. The boat trip was very good indeed with small, picturesque, rocky islands all around and the captain gave a good commentary both as we were going and quietly when we were within view of the seals. After a quick lunch on board Braemar, we caught the shuttle bus into the town, which was a very pleasant, small town in a picturesque location. Disembarkation was earlier than usual as the ship was then sailing on to Southampton to pick up passengers for the next cruise, so we had to vacate cabins by 7am. As we were so early and there were queues for taxis, we walked back into the town and had a second light breakfast in a café to the side of the Best Western Hotel, before strolling up through the town of Dover to the train station. So overall the cruise was very good and we were pleased with the choice and variety of ports which included a selection of towns, but also quieter, scenic locations. The main reason we sail is for the ports and we do like this ship, so we will undoubtedly sail on her again. We just hope the disappointments, such as the food will regain some of it's previous quality. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Fred's cruises offer a lot of what I want, selection of ports from UK, friendly small ships with interesting itineries. This was a well paced cruise, with overnight in the three ports, Hamburg, Copenhagen and Oslo. The selection of ... Read More
Fred's cruises offer a lot of what I want, selection of ports from UK, friendly small ships with interesting itineries. This was a well paced cruise, with overnight in the three ports, Hamburg, Copenhagen and Oslo. The selection of tours was comprehensive, if expensive. However, the only reason I have a suite is to get what is usual on other ships, ie a fridge and balcony! Fred is no cheaper than other newer ships, and the time has come to invest in new ships. Although on the surface to passengers they look reasonably attractive and clean and cheerful, behind the scenes, the air con doesn't work effectively, the plumbing is past its sell by date, having to be switched off for a couple of hours for maintenance, there is a constant smell of fuel in various places, and the communication is dreadful. To make people pay for an Internet connection which rarely works, and is only available in certain parts of the ship, when it is supposedly working, is unforgivable in the 21st century. The televisions are small and old, and the variety of programmes are small, the satellite off for more times that it is on. With the Norovirus being a problem for all cruise ships, I would hate to be trapped in my cabin, with such limitations. It is also very annoying with constant major maintenance taking place during all of the cruise. Fred has a very loyal following, but they are all getting very old, and will eventually change into a younger group, who will not put up with such antiquated ships. Fred has a good niche programme to offer, just get newer ships please. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We were unable to specify a cabin as Olsens allocated this under their terms of the booking, The cabin allocated on deck four was to the rear of the ship and was noisy from the off in Southampton. The noise and vibration increased as the ... Read More
We were unable to specify a cabin as Olsens allocated this under their terms of the booking, The cabin allocated on deck four was to the rear of the ship and was noisy from the off in Southampton. The noise and vibration increased as the speed of the engine did and as the ship sailed all night this was a disaster in terms of trying to sleep. The noise went away of course when the ship stopped in port, but you don't want to sleep then and want to explore the destination. It went on every night and at times the vibration was so intense that things fell off the shelf and the wardrobe door fell off! You need some sleep even on a six day cruise and this cruise gave the normal sleeper no opportunity for that. Having cruised with Olsen for 5 years now the service and facilities have got progressively worse. Entertainment was weak and sparse during the days at sea, as were on board activities. Many clients just seem to want to sleep of play bridge. Service of the working staff on catering and cabin welfare remains excellent however although the officers on this voyage were aloof and the captains reception little more than an occasion for a free drink. The new chairs in the library and Morning Light bar are too low and uncomfortable compared to those previous when you could lounge at leisure. Read Less
Sail Date October 2015
Having travelled on over 40 different cruise ships since the 1980s and having been on two cruises this year already and not having tried Fred Olsen thought we would give it ago. First impressions were that the ship was very well ... Read More
Having travelled on over 40 different cruise ships since the 1980s and having been on two cruises this year already and not having tried Fred Olsen thought we would give it ago. First impressions were that the ship was very well maintained ,the crew were delightful and we liked the size of the deck 7 suite we had booked but were amazed that instead of a range of toiletries we were supposed to use shampoo etc from bottles screwed to the wall , very 2 star standard. However we did find that the food throughout was excellent and compared favourably with 5 star ships we regularly travel with Entertainment was not "our cup of tea" and the so called classic piano recital was "classics for the masses"and we missed a quiet corner to relax particularly when at sea all day and the lounges were all well occupied The only tour we booked on was spoilt by a thoughtless couple getting back late to the coach and so not giving us enough time at the next location Organisation throughout was flawless and the pre cruise literature was much more helpful than other cruise lines put out as they instead expect to read and print out online Read Less
Sail Date September 2015
This was our second cruise with Fred. Olsen, our first was aboard Boudicca last year. Braemar's friendly staff and quality of cuisine lived up to the high standard we experienced on Boudicca. We chose the smaller Grampian Restaurant ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Fred. Olsen, our first was aboard Boudicca last year. Braemar's friendly staff and quality of cuisine lived up to the high standard we experienced on Boudicca. We chose the smaller Grampian Restaurant on Deck 8. With exemplary waiters and large areas of glass, it offered stunning evening sunsets that provided an unforgettable ambiance. There were a range of activities and entertainment to suit most people’s tastes. In the evenings, we alternated between The Observatory Lounge on Deck 8, with the very talented pianist Enrique Cabilina playing our choice of relaxing music, and the Morning Light Pub on Deck 5 with Kieron Cox providing a livelier selection of guitar music and song. Our only visit to the Neptune Show Lounge on Deck 5 was to Braemar’s Crew Show…and what a show the crew put on. The girls (all amateur) dancing dressed in their national costumes from the Philippines and Tailand were exquisite. They were followed by the lads, dressed in naval costumes…they had a ball; their versions of In the Navy, and YMCA, had us in tears. You could see on their faces how much they genuinely enjoyed entertaining us. Finally, tears of a different kind could easily be shed in Gerard’s moving sand animation using sand and music to illustrate a story on a projected screen that ended with the scheme of the crucifixion. A massive brownie point for the cruise was the beautiful city of Bordeaux. A number of regular Fred. Olsen cruisers told us the organised shore trips were a waste of time and money; it was far better to arrange something yourself…fine, if you were offered a free shuttle bus, otherwise try to share a taxi between four of you, and see how much money you’d save…how right they were! FortunatelyBordeaux made up for the disappointment we experienced in our two shore trips costing us £174.00. There was so much to enjoy here. A delightful city in daylight, with majestic fountains and immaculate gardens was transformed after sunset. A breathtaking panorama of coloured lights along four kilometres of waterfront led the eye to distant mystical lights along Napolean’s Pont de pierre bridge. It was lovely to see families sat in the park alongside Braemar giving us a wave as they enjoyed their picnics. We were tempted to join them. No wonder the city is described: Little Paris. Our first tour: The River Erdre – Gateway to the Loire Valley. We circumnavigated Nantes’ city centre on at least three occasions, past the fortress walls and Giggs Irish Pub, our ears being bombarded with a constant flow of uninteresting names and dates by our French tour guide. One early stop to take photographs was so uninspiring half the passengers stayed aboard the coach. The second at the Cathedral, I’ll agree was worthwhile, allowing us to light a couple of candles and offer a silent prayer then crane our necks to wonder at the height and majesty of the arched roof. After two hours on the coach, and a visit to the WC, we boarded our boat. The lower deck was full; the passengers on the upper deck with the odd vacant seat here and there were packed together like sardines on plastic garden chairs. I spent the whole of the cruise three rows behind my wife who was sitting alongside two stony faced women who ignored her for the whole cruise. We were later told that the second boat that followed us was only half full. Yes, the river was beautiful, but the tour brochure states: Several castles and elegant manors. There were several elegant manors...but I cannot remember any castles. When we commenced the cruise, we immediately passed a sign prohibiting creating waves and advising an 8 kph speed limit. Reaching the limit of the cruise the sign was a distant memory as the charge for home began with the second boat in hot pursuit. To me, the most memorable sight was the countless number of low flying cormorants that crisscrossed the boat or flew past on either side. I was surprised by the elegance of their flight and beautiful lines of their bodies. Returning to Braemar after another circuit of Nantes, we were forced to queue for over half an hour while the crew assisted a large number of elderly passengers aboard up a very steep ramp. Eventually, someone must have read my mind, when with about thirty or so passengers remaining, a second ramp was provided. I dread imagining the mood of the passengers if it had been raining. Surely, with a tide table to hand this problem could have been foreseen beforehand and a second ramp provided on arrival. With due respect to some lovely people we befriended – each with heart-rending problems – Braemar attracts a large number of infirm passengers, so be prepared for similar delays. Also I wouldn’t recommend it to families with young children. Our second tour: The ‘Must Do Green Venice Tour. This was equally disappointing. Yes, it was a tranquil experience, but the waterways passed uninteresting fields, the most notable event, one duck and a number of cattle; the only burst of colour: the flowers and shrubs in the gardens of an occasional fishermen’s cottage. Disembarking, the appalling WC facility was an experience! At least the coach journey to and from the main event was pleasurable passing fields of sunflowers and variety of other crops. Think very carefully before you book any tour. I’d advise you to consult seasoned passengers on board before you do so. I recall somewhere a mention that Braemar had a degree of refurbishment in 2014…this obviously didn’t include our cabin. The power sockets were archaic; I cannot remember when I last needed adaptors for our toothbrushes and hair styling equipment. Furthermore, there was some kind of junction box attached to the dressing table with a conglomeration of dangling cables that served the kettle and hair drier. Returning to our cabin after an enjoyable evening in the Observatory Lounge, I was annoyed to read the following note left on our bed: Dear Guest, As part of our commitment to improve the standard of our cabins onboard the MS Braemar, we courteously advise you that we will be changing the wash basin drain in your cabin tomorrow…between 1300h and 1600h. If you have any objections, please contact the Reception desk. Thank you in advance for your kind understanding… I rang early the following morning and refused them access. Later, I was told other passengers had had an identical request and had agreed for them to carry out the work. I accept access dealing with an emergency must be allowed… however, it appears that Fred. Olsen was (at the expense of their guest's comfort) adopting a regime to upgrade the vessel while at sea. We spent our last day at sea sunbathing with alfresco lunch and dolphins on our port side bidding us ‘‘au revoir.’’ Bliss... The on board All-Inclusive Drinks Package was a real value for money. Without overindulging yourself, it was very easy to overtake the £10.00 per day levy. With a total of 68 miles sailing along the uninspiring River Loire to and from Nantes, I feel the cruise would be greatly enhanced if this was removed from the itinerary and a third night spent in Bordeaux. I would be interested to learn comments from fellow passengers to this suggestion. Finally, Eavesway Travel’s coaches need special mention. The coaches were so comfortable, with unbelievable leg room, reclining leather seats and for anyone needing relief between comfort stops, an onboard WC. Read Less
Sail Date August 2015
My wife and I having celebrated two special birthdays this year decided to culminate the year with a cruise. Unfortunately we chose not to go on one of our tried and trusted cruise lines. We chose to go with Fred Olsen for 14 days on ... Read More
My wife and I having celebrated two special birthdays this year decided to culminate the year with a cruise. Unfortunately we chose not to go on one of our tried and trusted cruise lines. We chose to go with Fred Olsen for 14 days on board Black Watch. What a disaster We were not aware that a feature of their cruises is extensive maintenance program . Virtually on a daily basis one or more public areas were closed off for repair or decoration Outer decks were on occasion strewn with hoses electric cables and machinery, on three days we had to suffer paint varnish and staining odours. W were advised on a daily basis by the Captain always to use the handrails when moving around - what does one do when the rails were being stained. Thinking it was a one off matter we wrote to customer services only to be told that all Fred Olsen ships cruised throughout the whole year which means that all maintenance has to be carried out during cruises. One last thing if you are blind or partially sighted (like me) F O is not for as you are not welcome. All in all we wasted £4000 Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We could not dock at the Faroes as the Braemar was in and no room for us, pilot not able to manage to get us in, rough sea, so another day at sea organized. We have had 5 Balmoral cruises (very good) 1 Bouddica (ok) but would not recommend ... Read More
We could not dock at the Faroes as the Braemar was in and no room for us, pilot not able to manage to get us in, rough sea, so another day at sea organized. We have had 5 Balmoral cruises (very good) 1 Bouddica (ok) but would not recommend or go on the Black Watch, avoid deck 7 lido deck. We had a large deluxe junior suite. Woken at 1am by deck crew pulling chairs along and then most of the other days at 5.30 onwards by deck hands banging, washing the deck down, others complained about them talking loud, we reported it twice. Moved cabin to equivalent as strong smell of diesel in bedroom, this seemed to be all round the ship. Restaurant like a canteen, and never had any moans before, but waiters not as quick and friendly as the Balmoral, never offered tea or coffee with dessert at lunch time, food good but breakfast often cold, good variety. Brenda Collins comedienne was fantastic and the male singer, team shows were good, dancers seem snobby. Special thanks to Chandra the Mater D who got us into the Orchid Room for dinner. Quizzes good with Olly, Jonny and Liam, not as good in the day with the dance team (one in particular). Met some nice people, but seemed a lot of snobs on board. Back on Balmoral Sept and trying Braemar in October. Never saw our cabin maid in 2nd cabin, name tag was not even in room. On other cruises they have gone out of their way to meet you." Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
We had requested a disabled room with a walk in shower, We could not fault the room, lovely bedding ( quite a few people had commented on this to us also) everything we wanted, lovely balcony we were on floor 7 and did not have any ... Read More
We had requested a disabled room with a walk in shower, We could not fault the room, lovely bedding ( quite a few people had commented on this to us also) everything we wanted, lovely balcony we were on floor 7 and did not have any problems. Yes a little noise from the shipmates but they have to clean the decks before everyone is up. We did not get into The Faroe Islands this was because of rough weather but I would rather be safe than risking docking, the captain explained the reason correctly and it wasnt because another ship was in our place. The food was amazing and so much, we are younger travelers in our fifties and found the fellow travellers we spoke to were lovely. It was so nice to be on holiday and everyone said hello and always chatted ( yes there were a few moaners but most people avoided them) I would definately reccomend the Black Watch if you want a smaller ship and lots to do. The organised trips were excellent and again we found them very disabled friendly if you needed extra help always there (reserved space on a coach or a taxi if required). We went on the flight ICE AND FIRE GLACIERS AND VOLCANOES yes more expensive but if like me you cannot walk to see these places just an unforgettable experience. The pilot made sure you got to see everything. The Spa dept were very good Elise organised a personal physio session for me to help with my mobility. She was truely wonderful and wrote it all down for me to continue when I got home. If you want a holiday were you lose track of time visit amazing places with lovely company, with great talks, shows as good as The West End singers and dancers who were so approachable and seemed to have lots of other activities they helped with and ( it was nice that the a lot of the main staff ate in the buffet restaurant so you were able to chat to them over lunch or afternoon tea. Also if you had any food allergies they went out of their way to assist. A VERY ENJOYABLE HOLIDAY Read Less
Sail Date July 2015
This is my experience. Everybody has a different experience so these are my opinions on what i found onboard this cruise. I booked 2 weeks prior to departure and booked a balcony cabin. Fred Olsen kindly gave me a free upgrade to a ... Read More
This is my experience. Everybody has a different experience so these are my opinions on what i found onboard this cruise. I booked 2 weeks prior to departure and booked a balcony cabin. Fred Olsen kindly gave me a free upgrade to a suite. Boarding at Liverpool was great, far more comfortable than Sounthampton. Very pleased with the cabin, all comforts and nice fresh flowers, sparkling wine, canapes, fluffy bath robe and free slippers. Also use of binoculars and umbrella if needed. Lovely bathroom, and great for smokers as you can smoke on the balcony. Unlike other cruise lines where you have to trek around the decks to find a smoking area. Bravo to FO for their smoking policy. The ship is looking its age. Sun deck tired and decor very low key and dull. All staff friendly and polite. Lifts very small and always a wait for one to arrive. The Glentaner dining room was one of the worst i have ever been in on a ship. A large version of a nursing home dining room. Very harsh lighting and too bright. Food was a let down. On Boudicca and Balmoral it was fine but not on this cruise. Were they on rations ? I ordered shrimps to start with which i know means prawns. I was served 3 prawns on a plate !!! gone in seconds. Then an Italian tomato salad. One tomato cut in slices drizzled with oil !!! useless. Main course was poor and also long waits in between courses. Not impressed. The garden cafe is lovely and food is far better and nicer surroundings. Mini cruises attract a totally different type of passenger than a proper cruise would so i seen a wedding party was onboard. Bad news ! By evening the females were drunk and swearing and bawling walking around the ship, drinks in hand. Horrendous language. FO need to curb this fast. Next day i heard other passengers say they were kept awake all night due to the noise in the cabins from these women. This is really bad that people like this spoil peoples cruises because of their drinking and bad behaviour. Half day trip to Dublin was enjoyable, only 27 on the trip. Rather bossy tour guide but it was a good trip. I would not travel on Black Watch again. She is near retirement now and her age shows. Entertainment was poor. Comedian who was not funny, a weak choir and the ships singers and dancers very amateur. I do wish people who want to sit and talk would not come in to see a show as they do not watch the show, just loud voices non stop. Go to one of the lounges if you want to talk. Its bad manners to the acts who are trying to entertain. Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
We are very recently retired couple, and due to sensible investments we have acquired the funds we will need to ensure that our retirement is as enriching as our both extensive working lives have been. Our closest friends of the past ... Read More
We are very recently retired couple, and due to sensible investments we have acquired the funds we will need to ensure that our retirement is as enriching as our both extensive working lives have been. Our closest friends of the past 36 years 4 couples have insisted that we cruise with them on Fred Olsen Line! My wife and myself have cruised for the past 29 years and are very experience destination worldwide cruisers - and often we belong to the highest membership "tier" of several Cruiselines loyalty ( return cruisers club) We have never fancied Fred olsen before as we adore Silversea and crystal and celebrity and most of All Hal (Holland & America) However, our great friends wanted to cruise with us together as 3 coup,E'S! We thought this might be fun, - but we were still trepidation so regarding Fred Olsen!!!!??? The cabin was superb as was our cabin steward exceptional service ( suitably rewarded) The bar staff and Restaurant waiters and Maitre-D! Superb! We tried 5 excursions no problems even though other repeat cruisers told us that this was rare waitng for Northern lights! A particular nice touch was an official ( keepsake) certificate stating , the correct longitude and latitude crossing the "Artic Circle" However , and this MUST BE SAID !!!!!! the absolute HIGHLIGHT of this cruise was the visiting guest Cabaret act! First there was an old fashioned type comedian Barnaby - but then we were treated to the sublime talent's of the comedy impressionist CHRIS GEE! He was so brilliant my wife's ulcer kicked off as she was holding her stomach by laughing so much!!! And yet, not a bit of "smut" , The ENTIRE SHIP was talking about him- with the rather disappointing result that not enough people could get in for his second show!!! (which we were thrilled to witness was completely different to his initial show) Then the funniest spectacle on the entire cruise Chris Gee then did adaptive show with the executive chef " CAN'T COOK - WON'T COOK n what an amazing hysterical shambles!!!! Also, two of our ladies in our party were not able to dance as their husband's had recent knee surgeries etc, but this wonderful guy also turned out to be a very good (and keen) ballroom dancer so he danced with our gals. EVERY DAY ,which really added to the whole cruise experience. Suffice to say we are NOW!!! FRED OLSEN converts!!!! And are telling everyone at our cruise club! We are hoping to get a group booking as Chris Gee said he will be back next year with a wee bit of luck! Love the tea making facilities in the cabins too!!! Great, scenic cruising Can highly recommend!!!! Book it - we guarantee you WON'T regret it!!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2015
This was our first cruise so we did not know what to expect. Fred Olsen customer service is terrible, I booked by 'phone, they got my name wrong and it took four telephone calls to get it corrected, their on line service ... Read More
This was our first cruise so we did not know what to expect. Fred Olsen customer service is terrible, I booked by 'phone, they got my name wrong and it took four telephone calls to get it corrected, their on line service didn't work and what ever you do don't give them an e mail address you cannot print from because they then insist on using it for everything including the tickets even if you ask them not to. The ship is lovely and the staff cannot do enough to help you, the only problem is the other passengers we dubbed "The Black Tie Ya-Yas" although if you eat in the Secret Garden and use that lounge where the dress code is always casual you can usually avoid them. If you want to dress up like a penguin don't prance around belittling those who don't want to take part in the pantomime. I tried the main restaurant for lunch on the first day but found the staff attitude very poor, probably because I was a woman eating alone so we used the Secret Garden after that where the staff were much more accommodating. One tip on this, make sure that the compulsory £4.00 per couple per night tip for the waiting staff is paid to the restaurant you dine in or it will automatically be allocated to the main restaurant. Don't pay for any excursions unless it is something you really want to do as you can do the same trips when you get there for a quarter of the price. When you get back to Dover take a taxi from the taxi rank rather that booking thru F/O again much cheaper. Bar prices are very reasonable and the all inclusive package is definately worth doing, we didn't see anybody take advantage. We were very pleased with our cabin, the maid service' entertainment on board, everything was good once we got on board so we will know what to expect next time although the stress caused by the poor customer service prior to the start of the holiday could have so easily been avoided if the promised new cruise passengers pack had been sent as promised. On board info wasn't that good either, the speaker on our radio was turned off so we missed the safety and lifeboat drill and it was Thursday before we found out that you could have sandwiches in the Lido Lounge and "short orders" in The Grill at lunchtime if you preferred. All in all a good experience and we will definitely be doing it again Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
We travelled from Liverpool to Ireland on Friday 8th May 2015 and had cabin number 9912. The room was very clean and everything that had been promised in the brochure, but the quality of the mattress and the pillows was very poor, both ... Read More
We travelled from Liverpool to Ireland on Friday 8th May 2015 and had cabin number 9912. The room was very clean and everything that had been promised in the brochure, but the quality of the mattress and the pillows was very poor, both being hard and lumpy. We found the indoor areas of the ship to be clean and bright, the standard of the food was very high and could not be faulted, and the staff were very friendly and eager to please. However, we encountered quite a few problems with our room. When returning to our room after dinner on the first night we found the wind howling around and under the door, making such a loud noise that sleep was impossible. We had to wait over one hour and make two calls to reception before maintenance attended our room. Only a temporary fix could be effected and this was only by placing a towel along the door bottom, but we were happy to accept this as we wanted to retire and were told that a permanent repair would be done the next day. After going to bed we were woken about 2.00a.m. by a loud intermittent clanging. It turned out that the metal balcony divider had come loose in the very wet and windy weather and this was swinging back and forth. After trying to fix it twice ourselves it still worked loose again after 10 minutes so it meant another phone call to reception and a visit from the maintenance man. We would expect that these type of items should have been checked as part of general maintenance before the room was allocated. We went off the ship on the Saturday and were very disappointed on our return at 5.00 p.m. to find that the howling noise under the door had not been attended to, so we called out the Customer Service Manager to explain how very disappointed we were with our experience so far. She apologised and offered to move us to another cabin but we were loathe to do that as it involved moving our belongings ourselves. She then called out the senior maintenance man who said he had listened outside our door earlier in the day but as he could not hear anything he did not think there was still a problem! He came back an hour later and effected a repair involving duct tape. On Sunday I went to use the hairdryer and it would not work, so this meant another visit from a maintenance man and the problem was found to be an electrical one in the razor point in the bathroom - yet again another item not checked to be in working order. In the newsletter we received we were told that on the last evening we would receive a questionnaire for completion - we did not, I wonder why? There a many good things to be said about Fred Olsen cruising, the embarkation and disembarkation was handled well and efficiently, the standard of hygiene is very high too. It may have just been our bad luck to have so many problems with our room but it did mar our enjoyment of the trip to a large extent. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Just returned from a 3 nighter to Dublin booked last minute. Went years ago on Black Prince and found it good, but haven't been with Fred since. Our premium twin cabin was spacious and everything worked well. The food was ... Read More
Just returned from a 3 nighter to Dublin booked last minute. Went years ago on Black Prince and found it good, but haven't been with Fred since. Our premium twin cabin was spacious and everything worked well. The food was excellent; better than I have eaten on more expensive cruise lines, and served with a smile. Passenger age mix was wider than we have experienced before. You don't usually get hen parties on Fred Olsen. They were a lovely bunch of girls who enjoyed themselves but respected other passengers. Nice to see children as well. All in all a lovely two full days in Dublin on a comfortable ship. We will travel with the company again. Embarkation was quick and efficient, and disembarkation was amazing! We were asked to vacate the cabin by 8 a.m and we're off the ship by 8.10. Incredibly efficient. Didn't go to the shows but others seemed to enjoy them. Only slight negative was limited choice of T.V channels. No problem for us; we don't go on holiday to watch T.V, but if you want to relax in your cabin there's not a lot except world news to look at. There's a nice little cinema with decent films though. Good experience which we hope to repeat. Read Less
Sail Date May 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 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 April 2015
PRE CRUISE. I saw this deal and thought it might be nice to do. I was on this ship in 1994 on my very 1st cruise then known as "CROWN DYNASTY" Running for CUNARD LINE, I went to ALASKA. I booked a single inside guarantee ... Read More
PRE CRUISE. I saw this deal and thought it might be nice to do. I was on this ship in 1994 on my very 1st cruise then known as "CROWN DYNASTY" Running for CUNARD LINE, I went to ALASKA. I booked a single inside guarantee cabin and paid £210. I got my e ticket and documents a week before the cruise. Then I heard from others going on cruise the Embarkation time had changed! I never got the email and, then got a letter by post explaining they had a GASTRIC VIRUS on the previous cruise. So had to do MAJOR CLEAN of the ship, So embarkation was 1630hrs. I got train from my local station to STRATFORD but had to wait ages to buy a ticket/. So had to catch a later train to HARWICH INTERNATIONAL PORT. EMBARKATION. I entered the TERMINAL to CHECK-IN it took ages to get through to check in. Gave me my CRUISE CARD and showed my Card to use to pay the bill. Had my picture taken and board the ship. I was not shown my cabin but found it myself I had been given the number when I got my ticket 2079 on deck 2. CABIN. It was a single cabin not a twin that I had on my 1st cruise. 1 SINGLE BED, a chair, safe,small tv. The bathroom was good with cabinets to put things as well as the sink. Also a shower. Lots of drawer space and wardrobes. DINING. I had booked 1st sitting which I prefer but had got GRAMPIAN RESTAURANT which is a newer one. I had found a few people on the cruise but they had 2nd sitting. I did try to change sittings but this cost £4 and as there were no seat left I didn't bother. I changed restaurant to the THISTLE RESTAURANT which I had on my 1st CRUISE and was at a singles table. DINNER was good a good selection of dishes and wine list was good too. SERVICE was quick too and were out by 8pm. Had breakfast here as well but waiters had to put the buffet food on our plate which took a while. Afternoon tea was really disorganised as it took so long and long queues. ENTERTAINMENT. Saw 2shows "MICKY ZANY" the comedian who was very good. 2nd night was SWING with singers and dancers who were good as well. PORT OF CALL. AMSTERDAM in Holland was our only port of call I had done ANNE FRANK'S house and canal before. So I walked off the ship and asked where the MARITIME MUSEUM was. It was quite a walk but well worth it. Went onboard a sailing ship and 4 floors of maritime stuff. An interesting idea was you couldn't take any backpacks around but had to put them into a locker. This was very easy to do. DISEMBARKATION. This was very quick despite me not get any info on when we could disembark and had to ask for one. I used my old label and put my suitcase outside my room. Next morning after breakfast we left the ship at 8am and found my luggage and made my way home. PHOTOS. I always like buying pictures so got quite a few including the same view I did on my 1st CRUISE. They had a dvd of AMSTERDAM and the ship as well and quite reasonable. SHOPS. Quite a few shops but usually like the souvenir one. They had hats,t shirts but none with the ship on. No special key rings either. I bought a ship model which was good and a dvd of "MICKY ZANY". SUMMARY. A good cruise and enjoyed it despite it being hard work with not touching any plates which did make it hard. Would love to do it again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Tried a FO cruise for the first time but won't be back unless it's a very short, cheap cruise to a must see destination. Having cruised with RCI, P&O and Thomson, FO seemed sub-standard and basic. The best thing about this ... Read More
Tried a FO cruise for the first time but won't be back unless it's a very short, cheap cruise to a must see destination. Having cruised with RCI, P&O and Thomson, FO seemed sub-standard and basic. The best thing about this cruise was the suite we occupied which was very nice and the ports of call. The ship is old and past it's sell by date. The meal times were like being at school with set times with nothing open in between. For example, afternoon tea lasted for 45 minutes from 3.45 to 4.30 pm, which meant after arriving back on the ship from a day in port it had usually ended. The only option then was the limited selection off the room service menu. When on holiday one likes to eat when it suits not be driven by a timetable. Missing the afternoon tea means a long wait until second seating at 8.30 pm. The dining room staff always seemed to be in a rush and not up to the standard we have experienced with other cruise lines, they forgot orders, mixed orders up and were not very talkative. The food was ok but nothing more. Lunchtime in the Grill was not very good. They ran out of food too. The ship stopped at La Palice which is a 20 minute bus journey from La Rochelle. There was a shuttle from the ship to the port gate as it is forbidden to walk to the port gate. You can then get the number 1 bus into La Rochelle for €1.30. The bus stops in the bus station and near the harbour. The same for the return journey. However FO were charging the outrageous amount of £25.00 for this return journey, which we did for €2.60 each. Don't fall for it the bus was easy to do even though it was crowded on the outward journey with cruise passengers filling it. The bus runs about every 20 minutes. FO is clearly aimed at an older market but I think they deserve better than what is on offer currently. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
We (2 couples) chose this cruise due to the itinerary - Northern Lights, Eclipse etc - all interested in astronomy, and also keen to see scenic Norwegian cruising. We saw 'the lights' and experienced much of the eclipse, though ... Read More
We (2 couples) chose this cruise due to the itinerary - Northern Lights, Eclipse etc - all interested in astronomy, and also keen to see scenic Norwegian cruising. We saw 'the lights' and experienced much of the eclipse, though we missed the corona due to a cloudy sky - a little disappointing, but hardly the ship's fault as the Captain and crew tried hard to manoeuvre us to the optimum position. What we saw was memorable nevertheless. None of us had sailed with Fred.Olsen, though we had all had been on several cruises before with other lines including Cunard, Princess, Celebrity, Disney, Royal Caribbean etc. We were a little apprehensive due to some negative reviews, but I have to say we enjoyed the cruise immensely. The Braemar is a lovely and attractive smaller/medium sized ship with a great staff, very comfortable and well furnished public rooms, choice of restaurants, good food, and efficient friendly service. The cabins (standard outside) are a little on the small size, especially the bathrooms - so if cabin size and specification matters to you this may not be the ship for you. To us, a cabin is somewhere to sleep - beds and bedding were comfortable, clean and the cabins had enough storage space for cold weather, casual and formal wear clothing. The itinerary was great. The lectures were informative and varied. The entertainment was not Disney or Celebrity standard - taking place in a cabaret lounge rather than a theatre, but the singers, dancers etc were excellent and fun and gave their all. If the aim of entertainment is to entertain, they did it! Throughout the day there were quizzes, bingo (not our scene), darts, deck quoits, golf etc. If you preferred to relax and read quietly the library was well furnished and spacious. The 'Pub' was great as was the coffee & chocolate lounge. You could always get a comfortable seat and the service and company of other passengers was very pleasant. We particularly enjoyed cocktails in the Observatory each evening - an elegant bar with wonderful views and a tinkling grand piano. The service in here was so friendly - waitresses always ready to chat about the day, remembering your name and your drink of choice. After hours (11.00 - 2.00) there was generally a supper buffet (we were always too full) and entertaining cabaret or music in the Coral Lounge. We enjoyed every meal in the Cambrian Restaurant - choice of 2 starters, 2 soups, 2 salads, 5 or 6 mains, and 3 or 4 desserts. Not too fussy, always well cooked and served promptly. Wine was very reasonably priced - starting about £15 for the 'house', but only £24 for a Puilly Fume, not bad for a restaurant - and well chosen. Drinks in the bars were also reasonably priced. I enjoy a pint of beer and well kept Boddingtons on draft was £3.25 - cheaper than my local! Cocktail of the day was approx. £4.50 and always arrived with fruit, olives, umbrellas etc - cheaper than London or Manchester prices. We were in cabin 2061 - about the worst on the ship in some eyes - bottom deck! On our previous cruise with Disney we had an aft suite with a wraparound rear balcony. OK - no comparison, but we enjoyed Braemar just as much to be honest. I think their brochures say it's more like a country house hotel than a Las Vegas experience - well, we enjoy both! 2061 gets the waves lashing at the double port holes and some noise, so go higher if you want to avoid that - did not bother us. On the other hand it is mid-ship and does not roll as much as the front and back of the ship (which does rock and roll a bit more than others we have been on). In summary I would say great smaller ship for good sailors not after a deluxe experience. You will meet friendly people and staff, have good food and drink and a memorable holiday in very pleasant surroundings. Our group was aged 55-65 and we were among the younger passengers, so if you want an 18-30s crowd it may not be for you. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
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