62 Southampton Fred. Olsen Braemar Cruise Reviews

We had really been looking forward to this cruise since we had booked it for a small fortune on a special loyalty members’ booking day almost two years earlier! Fred’s promo promised “some of the most unique and authentic sights ... Read More
We had really been looking forward to this cruise since we had booked it for a small fortune on a special loyalty members’ booking day almost two years earlier! Fred’s promo promised “some of the most unique and authentic sights and experiences Greece has to offer, this outstanding itinerary features an extensive array of highlights. Cultural gems, ancient archaeological treasures, postcard-perfect scenery and much more” including “fabulous food – all day, every day,” “dining with sophistication and style” on a ship where “timeless style flows throughout the interior,” a “tour to picturesque Alhambra Palace from Malaga” and lots, lots more! But Fred overpromised, overcharged and underdelivered. It was a real pity that our first experience on board this cruise was the poor service in the Thistle Restaurant for lunch. Although there weren’t many people seated and a large area of the restaurant was “mothballed”, there was just too few waiters. They just couldn’t cope with filling water glasses, clearing plates or laying tables. Sadly it was the same in every restaurant, every day at breakfast and lunch. The service at dinner was sometimes excruciatingly slow with second sitting queueing through the ship and up the stairs because restaurants just didn’t open on time. While the “Fred Olsen Difference” is supposed to be “service with a smile,” we saw one waiter running about serving dinner wiping the sweat from his brow on the sleeve of his jacket. The service in the bars was slow as well. The staff in the line-up at the captain’s farewell drinks looked frightened. The “tour to picturesque Alhambra Palace from Malaga” didn’t happen because we were late into Malaga. The excuse was ‘headwinds, currents, etc.” So many disappointed people! We were at first pleasantly impressed by the food offering and sirloin steak was really pretty good for mass catering on an Olsen ship but as the cruise went on, the food offering became pretty mundane. While there’s nothing wrong with bangers and mash, fishcakes, or “spag. boll” for a quick mid-week supper, it’s not what we had paid thousands and thousands of pounds for. We could have used the “speciality dining area” of the grill on the outside aft deck, at times when the weather wasn’t too cold, too windy, too wet or the sea was too rough but we couldn’t see why we should pay and extra £40 for something that’s included in the price of Fred’s competitors. The entertainment, including the show company, guest entertainers and lounge musicians was pretty good. Although, we did sit next to one chap who had seen a comedian so many times that he was able to tell his wife almost every single punch-line before the “comedian” was able to utter it. The real problem with entertainment is the lack of decent seating in the Neptune Lounge and in the Coral Club. Higher chairs are put in front of lower couches, and so many chairs have been crammed in that these areas have become painfully uncomfortable. The least movement is really difficult, sight-lines are seriously affected by pillars and despite having a thrust stage with the majority of the audience to the far left and far right the entertainers have to perform to a camera in the very front. We wouldn’t pay for uncomfortable seating, obstructed views and being seated almost behind performers in any venue on land. Excursions were often eye-wateringly expensive and sometimes the arrangements seemed to take us further and further away from the excursion bus. First it was a long walk along the length of the ship to pick up a sticker in the Neptune Lounge and then back again the length of the ship to the gangway and then back along the quay the length of the ship and… then a bit more to get to the bus. It seems so pointless to make passengers walk back and forward and back again when Fred’s competitors issue excursion passes at the top of the gangway and busses are often located at the foot of the same gangway. We’d paid a pretty high price for our cruise and for the same daily rate we could have booked into a decent country house and enjoyed far, far better accommodation, a fabulous dinner every night with a bottle of decent wine. In fact we could also have afforded theatre tickets for shows of the standard that Fred put on. On the other hand, we could also have travelled with one for Fred’s closest rivals in a far superior cabin, enjoyed immensely better food and been able to watch stunning shows in comfortable seats with unrestricted views in a proper theatre. Fred’s ticket price for this cruise was just the start. Hefty “Gratuities” are automatically added to cabin accounts... at the end of the first week about £280 was added to our bill and more was to come. WIFI would have cost another £300. On other ships ice-cream is included but Fred even changes extra for that. Spa treatments are in the region of £1 a minute. The drinks package offered onboard would have cost another £1,450. Fred’s “all inclusive” drinks package isn’t all-inclusive… I mean coffee is extra, branded spirits are extra, decent beers are extra, cocktails are extra, all bar one of the ciders are extra and even most of the modest wines on the list are all extra. A lasting memory of the Corinth Canal…. Being offered a couple glasses of champagne as we stepped back from the ship’s rail at the end of the transit. It was a very nice gesture we thought… but then, after we had sipped half of the bubbles, we were handed the bill. It was well over £20. Fred doesn’t miss a trick! Even my local posh gastro-pub doesn’t charge that much for proper champers! After having enjoyed so many cruises with Fred in years past, it is so, so sad and disappointing to now see that he’s charging so much more for so much less. Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
it's my first cruise, due to i am a solo traveler. Cruise line who provided solo cabin not many choose: Fred Olsen, P & O and Cunard- Queen Mary 2. I choose Fred Olsen finally because i saw comment with Fred overall is better ... Read More
it's my first cruise, due to i am a solo traveler. Cruise line who provided solo cabin not many choose: Fred Olsen, P & O and Cunard- Queen Mary 2. I choose Fred Olsen finally because i saw comment with Fred overall is better than another two company. Lucky i have made a right choice. i am satisfied my cruise trip. Itinerary: Day 1 : Embarkation at Southampton. I am arrived the QE II Terminal around 14:00, check in and security check process was smooth, it took around 20 minutes.The Palms Cafe and Thistle Restaurant provided lunch. Day 2: Sea Day (formal night) Day 3: Aviles, Spain Day 4: Sea Day Day 5: Bordeaux, France Day 6: Sea Day (British Night) Day 7: Falmouth, UK Day 8: Disembarkation Dining: Thistle Restaurant: Main dining room. Server and manager are friendly. They knew i was suffer in sea sick, they pay attention to assistance me and talking with me. Concern and humor is a good medicine^^ Al de carte menu or set menu during lunch time. 5 course fine dining in dinner. Great foods and good services (server details mind, good manner) Main course have 5-6 choices, usually is fish, beef, british cuisine, local cuisine(the port that you visit), pasta...etc sometimes have theme buffet / cuisine. have a seafood gala buffet: crab, mussel, lobster, sushi, cheese cake, opera cake, chocolate fountain. Supervise that have a ice engraved decoration, and the water melon was engraved as a rose. Palms Cafe: cozy atmosphere. Beverage self service, have cold brewer tea and Red tea, black tea, blend (sleep ) tea. But i did not find mint tea( i thought would provided on cruise ). A chef would make omelette in the morning. Bookmark Cafe: enjoy coffee and chocolate. Shop: Due to it's a small ship, i am not expect have a lot of products. They sell Fine jewelry, costume jewelry, watch, bags , ties, causal clothes and smart causal clothes, skin care and make up products. If you forgot bring clothes you could find essential items. Entertainment: they have live music and show daily. Sometime have magic show too. I am recommend the music show- One Vision. If you love Queen- the greatest rock band in UK. You should not miss the show. Activities: Have quiz, Fit ball, pilates, Nintendo WII bowling, jewelry making course...etc. I was join the jewelry making course. Use gemstone to made a pendant. (cost ten pounds) Shore excursions: I was join a shore excursions in Bordeaux. It's a half day tour(cost 40 pounds), one hour drive to Saint- Emilion. The tour guide introduce and bring us to visit the Great wall and the Cordeliers Cloister, than have 45 minutes to explore yourself. Afterward drive back to the port at 14:00. No complaint about the tour, i wish i could stay longer time would definitely perfect. Tips: Passenger and crew are friendly, it's a small ship and not too much people. You would easily to meet people on the ship. Passenger age from 50-80, they are enjoy and insist the cruise traditional norms: to dress up at night. I am sure you would enjoy and come out the night life with Fred Olsen. Moreover, they have dance host, that's mean if you a solo traveler, don't worry about to find a partner. conclusion: Fred Olsen is a traditional cruise ship, simple stage, a few dancers and singer. BUT they do in great performance. If you like live music , i am sure you would like it. Simple is the best! Read Less
Sail Date September 2019
Out of Southampton near me. However on 12 day cruise there were only 4 port visits. The visit to Lisbon being only half day. The last 3 days at sea were purgatory. Although the weather was beyond Freds control entertaining their guests ... Read More
Out of Southampton near me. However on 12 day cruise there were only 4 port visits. The visit to Lisbon being only half day. The last 3 days at sea were purgatory. Although the weather was beyond Freds control entertaining their guests was not. All outside decks were locked. There were four entertainment staff apart from Braemar singers and dancers. They could and should have made more effort. A film could have been shown, indoor games organised. Additional karioke or mr mrs type games the list is endless yet we were left to the library or bars. Presumably Fred is cutting back, service very poor lack of waiters very apparent. Also lack of port calls. We were at times almost at standstill waiting for time slot to dock. Have done similar cruise on CMV where staff always going extra mile. Finally the quality of food in Thistle. Very poor, with evidence of lunch menu items appearing in the evening menu. No disguising the representation of dishes in different guise. I went with Fred on Boudicca last Xmas and loved everything. Unfortunately had already Booked Braemar for this Christmas before going on this one. Read Less
Sail Date August 2019
Every thing was so easy. Arrived at Queen Elizabeth terminal and cases were collected from us and car taken to be parked. Walked straight into arrivals with no queue. Quick check in, told cabin was ready for us and lunch was been served in ... Read More
Every thing was so easy. Arrived at Queen Elizabeth terminal and cases were collected from us and car taken to be parked. Walked straight into arrivals with no queue. Quick check in, told cabin was ready for us and lunch was been served in Grampian restaurant. The food throughout the cruise was excellent. Portions are not huge in the restaurant but meal is 5 courses so you are never hungry. Buffet style restaurant also available and you can get as much as you like. The whole ship was so clean and all the staff were attentive and friendly. There was a range of onboard activities. The library was popular and had a good selection of books and board games. The age range of the cruisers varied. We are early 50’s and were certainly not the youngest. Yes there are some older people onboard but it was no means a care home. If you are looking for disco type entertainment and casino setting this isn’t the ship for you. 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 so no coach or tender needed which was so easy) then this is the ship for you. We travelled with our 13 year old son. There were 25 children on board who had designated staff to entertain them throughout the sea days. This was more for the younger children 4 to 10 years. If you are looking for crèche/children’s area this is not available on this ship but all the children appeared happy and our son said he would definitely cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2019
We choose this cruise for the destination and size of ship, it was a very special occasion for our friends, their golden wedding anniversary we are all fast approaching 70, young at heart and outgoing but this was like a care home for the ... Read More
We choose this cruise for the destination and size of ship, it was a very special occasion for our friends, their golden wedding anniversary we are all fast approaching 70, young at heart and outgoing but this was like a care home for the eighties, and we were all treated likewise, in fact we felt like cargo. The ammount of maintenance work going on was unbelievable the continuous smell of paint was awful, we were woken before 8.00 one-morning to the sound of a drill above our cabins. The keys to our cabin door did not work and we had to change this 3 times, but couldn’t get anyone to come and look at the lock. Towards the end of holiday we were due to cruise through the Fjords but due to windy weather the previous day and not being able to get out of port we had to come straight back to Southampton, we didn’t get to see the scenery we really went for We would all agree that the food was very good, as were the staff in dinning room. We have been on many other cruise ships before and have never had to complain, this is the worst ever. We would not recommend Fred Olsen cruises to anyone unless of course you need a care home.. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
Saturday, embarkation Upon arrival in Southampton by car ABP parking met us right by the ship. The porters who unloaded us were very slick and in no time we were at arrivals then straight on board. Very efficient. We had no idea ... Read More
Saturday, embarkation Upon arrival in Southampton by car ABP parking met us right by the ship. The porters who unloaded us were very slick and in no time we were at arrivals then straight on board. Very efficient. We had no idea where to go for muster so when we heard the call asked a member of staff who pointed us in the right direction. Until then we didn’t even know what time muster would be. Whilst at muster in the Grampian dining room we saw quite a bit of food on the carpet by the wall where we were sitting. Not a good first impression. Our cabin was fine. We sailed on Black Watch a couple of years back so knew what to expect. People often moan about the plastic shower curtains on Olsen but at least you get flexible hose shower-heads, essential if you have a stoma. Only negative being our air-conditioning was extremely loud and for some reason our double bed was made up with two separate sets of sheets and duvets. Bizarre. This was rectified after the first night so no problem. Tip: If cases won’t fit under the bed ask your cabin steward to put in storage. We went to the theatre where the house performers were excellent. The house coke is not great and there was no prosecco on the all-inclusive list of drinks but the waiters / waitresses were excellent, especially considering the obstacle course of tables and chairs they have to negotiate. The stage is to the side of the ship with too slight a gradient for the seating. To a man everyone was commenting on the incredibly poor layout and two blatantly obvious problems. The revolving seats were higher than the fixed ‘sofa’ seating behind them on each level and at the very back of the theatre Olsen have crammed in extra chairs making it virtually impossible for people to walk behind trying to get further round in the theatre, and if they do they nudge people all the way around totally distracting you from the show. 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). Sunday, at sea Lunchtime in the Grampian the ‘daily special station’ had roast sirloin and Yorkshires. The sirloin was to die for, absolutely superb, but many people were asking where were the roast potatoes? 95% of passengers British and no roast spuds. Spent the afternoon on sunbeds which would have been fantastic but for the constant grinding and smell of paint. We had all this previously on Black Watch, Olsen do their maintenance throughout the voyage. It was this night we returned to our room to be met with a note saying our Tuesday tour (through Olsen) was cancelled. Absolutely gutted. The ‘Oyster Route’ in Vigo was the tour I was seriously looking forward to. Upon enquiry it was cancelled because the tour is operated by an outside contractor so if they are a couple of people short – tough. Not impressed. Monday, Aviles ‘Daily Times’ informs us docking times have changed and we leave 1pm NOT 4pm. This turned out to be a recurring theme. So if you had booked your own tours outside Olsen that ended after 12:30pm you were stuffed. We had chosen a trip (with Olsen) to Luanco then a free walking tour of Aviles. Leaving on a coach to Luanco led us through an industrial area but Luanco was a pleasant harbour town. It was brought up many times the fact that there just wasn’t anybody around in the mornings. Literally one woman and her dog. Apparently there is a small flurry of activity in the mornings when what children there are catch their school buses but that’s about it. The young have moved away to the big towns and cities. Sad really but this ghost town has a beautiful church by the coast. We all felt a bit rushed on this trip, no fault of the tour guide, but was enjoyable. No time to shop as promised in the brochure but most places were shut in the mornings anyway. Tip: One member of our party had specific needs for toilet facilities. The only toilet was back at the bus station. There are no public toilets and most bars etc. are closed in the mornings. The local Free Walking Tour that we took on our return to Aviles was very good indeed. Tour guide being excellent. Bit of a tip for the evening. Each day in the Daily Times there is a ‘cocktail of the day’ available within the all-inclusive deal. Directly underneath that there is the days ‘after dinner drink’. Don’t get sucked in, the day’s after dinner drink is NOT included in the all included package. Misleading. Andy and Alit in the Morning Light bar were absolutely superb. The lunch ‘special’ in the Thistle was Indian themed. The food was absolutely excellent. At dinner in the evening we finally had roast potatoes. The food is generally superb but it’s a mainly British passenger ship and they cannot cook roast potatoes. Soft / soggy with a bit of brown on the outside. Really is my and many others only gripe. The food overall is first class. The ‘International Memory Man’ with his Rubik’s cubes was highly entertaining. I didn’t hear anybody that did not enjoy his shows. Tuesday, Vigo As already written our tour was cancelled so we free-styled. Explored the old quarter including the church then onto Oyster Street which I’d been looking forward to so much. Oyster Street still has the old world charm about it but unfortunately now completely commercialised. I ordered my half dozen oysters and was ushered to a table opposite belonging to a restaurant. They obviously wanted you to order drinks for the privilege of sitting there whilst the old woman who sold the oysters came over holding a stretched out 10 euro note asking for her money. The oysters are advertised as 9 euro so watch out for this ploy. Having sat down you are plagued by peddlers and gypsies. Has to be said I was sadly disappointed with taste of said oysters. They were very fresh but nowhere near as tasty compared to what is available in the UK. I since learnt from a couple of sources that these oysters do have a completely different taste, are a bit smaller and not regarded as anywhere near the best worldwide. Shame but at least I tried them and they were super fresh. We climbed the big mound which was steep but well worth it for the view and exercise. Reasonable café and toilets at the top. My wife bought quite a few items on the way back to the ship. A nice place but quite a lot of graffiti. On our return to the ship, to rub salt into the wounds there was a ‘Shore Tour Survey’ left on our bed to review our cancelled shore tour. Not a good move. Wednesday, at sea The lunch special today was pasta. Now I am not big into pasta but the whole thing was absolutely superb. Chilled out on the loungers in the afternoon but grab a towel from the changing room to lay on your lounger because of all the sweat and suntan lotion that has gone before you. Loungers are very comfortable though. Cocktail of the day much the same as yesterday’s pina colada – chi chi. Coconut and pineapple (always wedged on the glass rim) were prevalent throughout the cruises cocktails of the day. Thursday, Seville day 1 Needed an early start so went for breakfast in cabin. Need a bit more choice i.e. boiled eggs, porridge or even toast. There was nothing cooked available. We walked a couple of miles to a huge flea market. If you enjoy flea markets you’ll love this one. Thursdays only though. Followed up with a bit of shopping therapy then lunch back on board. This was a Spanish buffet on the swimming pool deck. Later that day we had booked a walking tour of Santa Cruz. What an amazing area – a must see. Friday, Seville day 2 Got up early to meet for early pre-booked tour however the ship had moved docks during the night due to forecast high winds and the narrow bridge we had to go back through. So we were first off the ship and had to wait 30 minutes for a police escort to take us to the gates which, having found someone with keys were then unlocked. We had chosen Amigo Tours for this joint early entrance Alcazar tour followed by the Gothic cathedral. Bucket list stuff. Tour guide was excellent and WELL worth the early start. Alcazar was a fabulous building full of history (a game of thrones venue as well). Having done a lot of research I knew that by doing the cathedral tour straight after there would not be a lot of time to spend in the Alcazar gardens. This proved to be the case but the tours were excellent, worth the trade-off for getting in before the crowds. Alcazar – a must do. Louisa Park opposite docking area is a nice place to chill. Leaving Seville you go back through a lock. On deck you can get right to the front of the Braemar, the perfect viewing platform but . . . going through the lock there was no visible difference between the water levels when opening the gates which caused much mirth amongst fellow shipmates. I’m guessing the tides must have something to do with this. Tried the cheeseboard again at lunchtime but exactly the same boring cheeses. Come on Olsen let’s have some variety. A big disappointment was the lack of local entertainment on board i.e. Flamenco dancers. Big problem with Olsen is if you are doing an activity and are late back missing dinner you have to wait until the Supper Club begins at 11pm. No food available between times. Saturday Cadiz We had booked a free walking tour with Cadizfornia. An excellent tour and the host Pedro couldn’t have been better. An entertaining local who knew all the history and gave great shopping / restaurant advice. Thoroughly recommended. Really liked Cadiz. The fish market has to be seen to be believed and there is a good general market. We found a very good cheap supermarket in a backstreet behind the market square. Eg. Bottles of water .15 cents each. Coming out of the port nobody initially knew which way to go, it would have been useful for a member of staff to be positioned at the exit to help people. Tip: There are colour coded lines on the roads / paths which take you different routes. We bought our duty free tobacco to take home from the duty free here. About 50 euro’s for 10 x 50gm pouches of Golden Virginia but when we were here it was cash only. A criticism from several passengers was that leaving at 3pm was too early because if you were on a tour there was not enough time for shopping or trying out the local tapas (Cadiz being the home of tapas). It also meant missing lunch. The Thistle closed at 2pm which meant a rush to the buffet which closed at 3pm. Particularly annoying because a lot of people would have liked to try the ‘Asian special’ at lunchtime. Come on Olsen, if you leave at 3pm keep the Thistle open the extra hour to feed all the people that have been rushing around trying to max the short time available in Cadiz before leaving so early. Sunday at sea Lunchtime saw roast at the ‘station’ in the restaurant. Perfect roast, Yorkshires . . . but no roast spuds. Just Cajun something or other and new potatoes. Need more veg. options was the general criticism. Lovely afternoon spent lounging on deck 8. Wind kept most away from sunbeds but there is nearly always a sheltered spot, and there was today. Tip: Good idea to put towels on the very comfy sunbeds as some were showing signs of days of sun cream and sweat. There are plenty of spares in the changing rooms near the pool. Then leave in ‘bins’ in same area when finished with. Saves carrying up and down from cabin. And drink plenty of water with your cocktails on the sunbeds. Dinnertime saw more frantic activity on the curtain front in the Thistle. Apparently since day one waiting staff have wrestled with pegs and all sorts to stop diners by the windows being blinded by the sun. It took several attempts to hold the non-drawing curtains across most of the window. Our waiters confirmed this is an ongoing and very annoying problem that could easily be resolved. Monday at sea Very unusually second day of slow service. Something amiss in kitchen apparently. The Moonlight bar is an excellent chill out / meeting area with 2 outstanding characters, Andy and Alit. AKA Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Entertainment wise ‘Memory Man’ was most excellent. A £12 laundry offer appeared tonight. Actually a very good deal. Tuesday Bordeaux A very nice vibrant city with Braemar in the perfect parking spot. Again, NOT ENOUGH TIME here. Overnight should give you 2 full days, you really need them here. Leaving early morning the second day before the shops even opened was just a waste. Very hot! Again, no local French entertainment on board. Not even an accordion player. No food available on board, even the buffet was shut when we came back to drop shopping off and grab something to eat before heading out again. We had to hang around an extra hour and a half before we could eat. Wife’s note: why have only grapes with seeds and where are the strawberries and raspberries? We were treated to a spectacular natural light show from the deck early evening. Continual forked lightning flickering all around Bordeaux for a good half hour scattering all the students who meet up on the riverbanks. There was an incredibly bad reverberating noise in our cabin which continued down the corridor at night. We were forced to ring reception who obviously knew of the problem as they immediately offered an inside cabin but on the same deck so no use at all. Turns out according to bar tender the noise is caused when the (tidal) river level in Bordeaux lowers, the engine noise bounces back off the riverbank walls we are moored against. Big gripe. We had no time to do anything in morning as ship left at 9am NOT 10.30am as advised. The man at reception tried to tell me we supposed to have left at midnight! The young lady there however blamed the early departure on the tide. Tides are known years in advance. I had all the port arrival and departure times direct from Olsen HQ before we left specifically to double check private tour timings. Time in port was cut a few times. Call me sceptical but would reduced time in port equate to less expense? I only have experience of Celebrity and their advised port times were spot on every time. With Olsen if you have booked a tour using their arrival / departure times issued from HQ you could lose your tour fee if time was cut short or miss the ship. Wednesday at sea Really pleasant cruise back up river to the sea passing through a fascinating vertical lift bridge. The crew show was excellent. Barkeeper Andy’s number 2 in the Moonlight bar had an incredibly good voice but the poor guy had to sing twice, returning straight to the bar after each performance. Thursday at sea Found a lovely sheltered sunbed spot again. The Grand Gala lunch and seafood buffet was excellent as was the Cockleshell Heroes talk. Retrieved our suitcases from storage and sadly began packing. I do wonder what will happen when the current crop of septuagenarians and octogenarians who choose Fred Olsen fade away. Will the younger cruisers currently used to ‘modern luxury’ lines such as Celebrity choose Fred Olsen’s ‘traditional’ cruising on older ships as they get on in years or the more modern ‘boutique’ cruisers such as Saga? (Whose smaller ships can reach the same destinations as Olsen). Don’t get me wrong we enjoy Olsen but it is tiresome getting the smell of paint up your nose every day on the sundeck along with continuous drilling, grinding and sanding somewhere on the ship most of the time. Exactly the same experience as we had on Blackwatch. Read Less
Sail Date June 2019
I chose this cruise because it went from the port of Southampton, I could get a cabin for single use and it went to the countries I wanted to see, which were all wonderful and very clean. Some difficulty getting off the ship if you could ... Read More
I chose this cruise because it went from the port of Southampton, I could get a cabin for single use and it went to the countries I wanted to see, which were all wonderful and very clean. Some difficulty getting off the ship if you could not walk too far, quite a walk to get out of the docks and onto coaches if you have booked trips. The drinks package I purchased worked out at £19 per day bought online at point of booking. One of my dining companions purchased a drinks package onboard and said she paid £29 per day. I have cruised before on other ships and the drinks package covered everywhere on the ship but not on the Braemar. I am sorry to say I found it to be a rip-off. Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly and all staff and crew at Fred Olsen were very helpful and professional. I had to use the outdated computer in the outdated library to send an urgent email, which costs £26 per hour. I was unable to get any reception on my mobile at the time. The computer was so slow and I had to send two emails that ending up costing me £52. Dining was okay, but the portions were really so small. Similar to the size of meal you would receive if you were in a care home. The crew were fantastic but everything else on board was poor. The entertainment was average and the activities were like those found in care and retirement homes. A kind of lets make do and mend mentality. I personally felt it was old fashioned and outdated. Every time the sea was a bit rough you were tossed around. I felt the ship was not that stable, specially if you were elderly and most people were using walkers, mobility scooters, sticks and wheelchairs. A few people suffered from sea sickness because of the movement of the ship. The Braemar was not the ship for me but I might enjoy it better if it is still sailing when I am in my eighties. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Isn't It Good? Day One, 18 May 2019. This cruise is to Norway, hence the cryptic title. Brilliant arrangements for boarding the Braemar. We arrived at noon, were met and greeted by the car parkers and porters, strolled straight ... Read More
Isn't It Good? Day One, 18 May 2019. This cruise is to Norway, hence the cryptic title. Brilliant arrangements for boarding the Braemar. We arrived at noon, were met and greeted by the car parkers and porters, strolled straight through check in and security, and were eating lunch by 12.15. Cabins were ready for 1 pm, luggage waiting outside. Don't you just hate airports? We spent a leisurely 20 minutes peering over the balcony watching ship's provisions coming off the back of vast lorry and being shuttled about by forklift. Also observing the arrival of passengers who had followed instructions not to get to port before 1.30. The Heavy Brigade were engaged in a valiant charge up the gangplank. Stormed at with shot and shell, boldly they strode and well. They boarded, but not, not the six hundred (Alfred Lord Thomason). One poor soul was borne away in an ambulance, accompanied by concerned companions. Better than cruising around the fjords in the ship's morgue. On Fred Olsen, dinner seating is fixed for the trip. We are on a table for six and if the company is dire, you have the option of taking another roll of the dice by changing restaurants. Fortunately, we deem this to be unnecessary. However, we will not know until tomorrow whether the other four decided that we are dire! Day Two Anthea does not get the cryptic title of this travelogue. Her soul must be made of rubber. Made it to the gym by seven this morning, despite the clocks going forward and a smidgeon of over indulgence on day one. They seem to have added more equipment or maybe my equipment has diminished. We do not arrive in port until tomorrow, so we could go line dancing, listen to a classical concert, or win a quiz. Instead, we opt for a general acclimatisation day, i.e. boozing, snoozing and shmoozing Tonight the dress code is formal in the main restaurant and the overwhelming majority of cruisers are happy to go along with that, leaving the tracksuit two club to order another ten rounds of Newcastle Brown. The Romanian captain quips his way merrily through his welcome cocktail party and introduces his executive team. In matters maritime, Croatia and Bulgaria rule the waves, leaving the Welsh and Scots to boss the galley slaves. I am happy to report that all our dining companions showed up, so we can't be that bad. Day Three Our first stop in Norway is the city of Kristiansand, on the Skagerrak Sea. Its most attractive feature is a 17th Century quarter called Kvadraturen. White clapperboard houses line the grid planned streets, the last survivors of city wide fires which eventually prompted the city authorities to require all new builds to be in brick. The clapperboard houses are roofed with orange tiles from the Netherlands, the trade exchange being one lobster for one tile. We then move on to the Vest Adger County Museum. Here they have re-assembled a 16th century farmstead, complete with turfed roofs. One of the grain stores has a removable section in the wall to enable the storage of bodies of those who died in winter when the ground was too hard to dig. The smoky dark interiors of the houses accommodated up to fifteen people in two rooms, but if you were young and healthy you slept with the pigs and cows. A woman's most attractive feature was considered to be weight lifter calves for lifting buckets. At first sight modern Norwegian living appears to be very functional and politically correct. The Greens call the shots, beer is £12 a pint, 58% of all new cars bought are electric, and income tax is over 50%. Suddenly, those smokey dark interiors with a wood fire and a bucket of mead don't seem so bad, especially with a flash of bulging calf! Day Four We rise early to watch our progress along the 100 kilometre Oslo Fjord, a route which takes us past the house of the Olsen family. Our boat is followed in by the larger Balmoral, the new rigid inflatable boats (RIBS) make up the rest of the flotilla and a special flag is run up in salute of the company founders when we pass the small village they came from in the 1840's. The scenery is very attractive on a sunny morning and crew bustle around with early morning tea, coffee, hot chocolate, Buck's Fizz, pastries and bacon, sausage and mushroom butties. Breakfast comes later. There are just 5.2 million Norwegians but civic pride looms large in the architecture and layout of Oslo. The decision to have a royal family was made by referendum in the early 20th century. A splendid avenue leads up to the palace, bordered by elegant anti terrorist devices consisting of large metal saucers full of flowers. Norway has the largest public reserves in the world derived from its oil revenues, and this is reflected in grand scale building projects such as the 'glacier styled' opera house. But the highlight of the trip so far is a visit to Vigiland Sculpture Park. Gustav Vigiland was commissioned by the city authorities in the late 19th century to produce statues for public spots. He somewhat over-delivered and there are now over 200 groups of these in a beautiful landscape. Made in iron, bronze and granite they are a exhilarating expression of the human form and experience from cradle to grave. Some are in simple repose, contrasting with others which are engaged in extreme contortions. High above the city is the Holmenkollen Ski Centre. A new ski jump and biathlon arena are under construction and testify to the obsession this country has with the sport. What an excellent obsession! The word 'ski' is Norwegian for flat plank. Ancient carvings depict folk on skis, presumably Nords winning the Bedrock Downhill. Day Five The approach to Arendal is reputed to be one of the most scenic in the world, and very pretty it is. We berth close to the town centre adjacent to a steep cliff with houses on top. A footpath zig zags to the top. Along this and in the garden of the house about three dozen school children perform a dance to a piece from 'Frozen'. This has not been announced on board but all the cruisers with starboard cabins or taking a deck stroll give an enthusiastic round of applause when the performance has finished. A great way of showing of the best side of ŷour culture. Norwegiansare still deeply wounded by the massacre of the children by the right wing nutcase in 2011. The guy responsible is never named and is referred to simply as 'the traitor'. We take a small boat ride around channels and skerries of the archipelago. The hills and coastline are covered with beautiful forests and white clapperboard houses. Apparently the place has won the European award for the best maintained properties. Almost every house has a boat and this is a very popular summer resort. Today, the misty waters are very calm and the gulls and cormorants have it to themselves - apart from us! We go along with the suggestion to dress up for British night. Escapist patriotism and mythical identities run riot in the sing song featuring national twaddle songs, and there is no hint of Xenophobia, even though folk are balling "Red, white and blue What does it mean to you Surely you're proud Shout it out loud." Harmless enough. Probably. Day Six Into the fjords proper this morning covering Maurangsfjord, Fureberg Waterfall and Hardangerfjord. Isn't it good, Norwegian Wood, hums Anthea, the Penny having dropped. All very epic. The minimisation of humans and the omnipresence of nature bring on a serious case of pseuds corner, an overload of awe and wonder, and a swelling of the numinous. It is rumoured that some passengers have had to retreat to their cabins and lie down until scenic sickness abates. Not this one. In the afternoon we get up close to the elements by boarding a RIB. We don bright yellow thermal floatation suits, goggles and gloves and wizz around Eijefjord at up to 40 knots. At one end of the water there is a hydro electric power station big enough to power the city of Bergen. Hardly any of it is visible, as the pipes and turbines have been inserted into the cliffs. On a plateau 400 meters high is an old farm, and in former times the children had to go up and down a footpath to school. "Late again Ibsen. What's the excuse this time?" Norway had universal literacy much earlier than the U.K. And it was one of the reasons why the small nation was economically successful even before the discovery of oil. Before we return to the ship our driver takes us close to the bottom of a tumbling waterfall, and we really feel we've earned a tumbler of Bailey's. Day Seven We go into the Lysefjord during the morning, regarded by those who are supposed to know these things to be the ultimate expression of fjord topography. Royal Caribbean would get wedged in the first bend! High vertical cliffs on port and starboard give way to stretches of open water with mountains receding in rows to a vanishing point. Don't try to paint the scene unless you have mastered perspective. We pass the famous Pulpit Rock and the world's longest wooden staircase (4,444 steps ) which has something to do with another hidden power station. It has become a tradition to bring over a Gang of Sherpas once a year to repair and maintain stone footpaths used by hikers. They have celebrity status, which probably means feature articles in 'Hikey Hikey Ho' magazine. The second and final formal night of the trip concludes with the ever popular crew show, which demonstrates that the workers have considerately more talent among them than we would ever guess over the breakfast table. As I have said in a previous report it is an ingenious way of stirring up the feel good factor all round. The status of the crew is elevated, while the guests feel they're making a small contribution to world social mobility. Indeed, during the final song, in the little bubble of suspended reality that is the Neptune Lounge , "We Are The World". Day Eight The day of the gala buffet. Being new to Olsen, our dining companions can't quite believe their taste buds as they range across sumptuous seafood, the finest cold meats and a giant cooked gammon in a shortcrust pastry, an overwhelming display of cakes and pastries, not to mention the chocolate fountain. "Oh the buzzing of the bees, in the cigarette trees...."etc. We have now left Norwegian waters and are churning our way through the North Sea back to Blighty, the land we love, but also the land of blubbing bungling ministers, broken promises, and Brexit Bollocks. That said, would you really want to live in a land of welfare economics, equality of opportunity way beyond the U.K. model, the highest Human Development Index in the world, the top spot in the World Happiness Report, the Better Life Index and the Index of Public Integrity and Democracy? Perhaps not. But we might like to take a closer look at it! Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We booked this cruise at the last minute, we paid a lot for the trip. I was in a single room which was located on deck 2 at the front, the room was very nice being an inside cabin, well equiped and the bed was very comfortable, good shower ... Read More
We booked this cruise at the last minute, we paid a lot for the trip. I was in a single room which was located on deck 2 at the front, the room was very nice being an inside cabin, well equiped and the bed was very comfortable, good shower and plenty of space with loads of storage for clothes. The dowside to this room and I express this to any one looking to travel on any Fred Olsen ship, the room is located above the bow thrusters which means during docking the rooms vibrates and the noise is undiscibable, I you have a heart proplem this is not the room to have. Fred Olsen should warm guests that this room has problems and at 1.00 in the morning being jolted out of a sleep is not good. The rest of the ship is OK for its size, comfotable but limeted. food very good with the down side of only being available at certain times during the day, as on other ships food is on tap 6.00 - 2.00. The entertainmant is OK very well put together. I would thing twice about going with Fred Olsen, you can get better for the same money on other cruise companys. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
Embarkation went very smoothly from 101 berth in Southampton, the cabin was ready when we boarded which was great, so we could leave our things there, explore the ship and have a bite to eat. The cabin was quite spacious and very clean, ... Read More
Embarkation went very smoothly from 101 berth in Southampton, the cabin was ready when we boarded which was great, so we could leave our things there, explore the ship and have a bite to eat. The cabin was quite spacious and very clean, comfy bed and a reasonable amount of wardrobe space. The one negative was the size of the bathroom, see cabin review. We were booked in for first sitting in the Thistle restaurant which was light and airy on a table for eight. Lovely company for the cruise and fairly good service though the standard of the food was very variable. Had to send back food that was either overcooked or dried up. The standard of presentation was also lacking at times. We usually cruise with Celebrity whose food and presentation is a whole lot better. They could produce nice meals, both formal nights the food was excellent as was the buffet lunch on the last sea day, which made the 'off' days all the more unexplainable. The entertainment was, on the whole, good. The Braemar troupe were excellent and the shows they put on in the Neptune Lounge were very enjoyable, a couple of the guest entertainers were not to our taste so we avoided them as well as the singer, guitarist in the pub area who made every song sound the same and just sang in a monotone drone, so depressing. Service was excellent on the whole especially in the Coral Club and the Observatory. We had occasion to report a non flushing loo, that was fixed within the hour, very impressed. Good ports of call though the order was different to the advertised cruise due to adverse weather conditions. We did visit them all though, the highlight being Seville. As the Braemar is a shallow draught ship we sailed up the river and docked in the heart of the city, a cruise in itself! Beautiful city and we were there for the last day of the annual fair and the fireworks, very memorable. Add to this Cadiz, lovely Lisbon, Porto and La Coruna, some very interesting destinations. We took two shore excursions, a tour round Seville and a visit to the Alcazar palace which was excellent with a very well informed and interesting guide, worth the money. The other was a coach to Porto from Lexios where we were docked. Total rip off £30 each for what in the end was a lot less than the three hours we were promised. Do not go on this trip, we found out, too late, you could get a local bus there for just a few euros. Check with the local tourist office for details, they are just outside the dock gate and you get a free bus from the ship to the gate! Braemar is a very comfortable small ship, we never had problems finding a seat in the bars or a Sun bed on the pool deck, and the lack of music blaring out there was bliss, so relaxing. Would certainly consider a future cruise on her. Back to Southampton and debarking at 102 which was a tent, not a nice end to a lovely cruise. Felt so sorry for people in wheel chairs and the way they had to get off the ship via a temporary gang way rather than a smooth air bridge. Considering all the money the port gets from cruise passengers this really is not good enough, time to spend some I think, come on Southampton. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We chose Fred's Braemar as a short break and the opportunity to try out a different cruise operator. Braemar is a well laid out ship in good overall condition for its age, they are currently doing an upgrade to install a RIB as have ... Read More
We chose Fred's Braemar as a short break and the opportunity to try out a different cruise operator. Braemar is a well laid out ship in good overall condition for its age, they are currently doing an upgrade to install a RIB as have the other ships in the fleet. This is being done during normal operation of the ship, so one area of deck and exit route from the services desk was out of bounds. The staff, food, lounges and dining areas were all good. Entertainment from the onboard team was good. At the start of the trip there were only 2 dancers but that did not detract from the spectacle. The last show has 4 dancers which for the last show made it a full stage. If staying on deck 2 starboard side window rooms mid ship, you may incur the sound of the steam heating pipes for the swimming pools banging from around 07:00 through to 17:00. The staff are aware of the noise, we were offered a change of room. I believe the steam hammering is caused by either an unsecured pipe or a defective condensate trap (yes I'm an engineer and know what steam hammer is !.) They have not fixed the hammering so if you stay in this area of the ship listen out for it. It will wake you and can become annoying. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We choose this cruise to celebrate our 40th wedding Anniversary and the special offer price was too attractive to turn down. We were let down by Guest Services in Suffolk regarding this but the staff on board more than made up it. Stephen ... Read More
We choose this cruise to celebrate our 40th wedding Anniversary and the special offer price was too attractive to turn down. We were let down by Guest Services in Suffolk regarding this but the staff on board more than made up it. Stephen and Gustie in the Thistle were great. The food was better than expected with lots of choice. Our Cabin stewardess Patti offered service above expected and James in the Observation Lounge remembered our cabin number after the second visit to the bar. Jeffery in guest services sorted out head offices issues! In my opinion the art works left a lot to be desired. The one in our cabin was awful. It would have been useful to know that all the museums but one were closed In Lisbon on a Monday and Cadiz was closed on Sunday (the days we visited). The drinks package was good for adults but for anyone aged between 12-17 years it was a waste of money unless you were prepared to rot your child's teeth with at least 9 fizzy drinks a day. Yet you had to pay adult prices for the children if you had anyone of this age in your cabin. Very unfair Fred Olsen. Read Less
Sail Date April 2019
This was our first Fred. Olsen experience, a repositioning cruise from Southampton to Barbados ending just before Christmas. Perhaps it was for that reason that the ship was only 2/3 full. We had picked just the right time to get caught up ... Read More
This was our first Fred. Olsen experience, a repositioning cruise from Southampton to Barbados ending just before Christmas. Perhaps it was for that reason that the ship was only 2/3 full. We had picked just the right time to get caught up in the Gatwick drone chaos - but we anticipate. Read on for The Case of the Disgruntled Bridegroom. The deck plans for Braemar show no facilities for children or teens. This was rather a plus point as we are both in our early 70s and like a quiet life, but it was a bit startling to discover within a very few hours that the ship was essentially a floating old folks' home. We were well on the youthful end of the spectrum. Interestingly, there was a surprising number of singles. Embarkation was totally painless: 20 minutes after arriving, both we and the cases were in the cabin. This was pretty basic (hand wash dispenser, 2-in-1 in the shower is as much as you get in the bathroom) and at the lower end of the range for space, but clean and perfectly adequate. The food was excellent. We've cruised with half a dozen other lines and this was the best we've ever had. It's fixed time dining only in the Thistle and Grampian restaurants, there is also the Palms buffet which we used infrequently. The service from the staff was as attentive and efficient as we've had anywhere - there was the occasional misunderstanding but you can get that with any line. Another first-class aspect was the ship's song-and-dance team - only 4 singers and 4 dancers, but they had people on their feet applauding with a Queen-themed evening. We took 3 ship's tours and they were a bit of a curate's egg: the basic coach tour of Lisbon was just not particularly interesting; at St Maarten, Someone Had Blundered - it took us an hour to get the mile to a beach bar because the water-taxi we were promised didn't start till noon on Sunday; on the other hand, the St Kitts Scenic Railway was a great experience. Having given the basic facts, let's turn to the overall experience, and it seemed to us that Fred. Olsen inhabit a faintly surreal alternative universe that gave a unique flavour to the cruise: - we found tea-making facilities in the cabin - but they live in the wardrobe; - the cabin TV information system was a delight. When we boarded (Monday) it was showing the activity programme for last Thursday; the ship locator shows either the entire world, a patch of blue about 20 miles across or (apparently) a line of buoys in the Amazon or River Plate. Ship's time and TV time are not always the same thing. - dining in Thistle when the ship is manoeuvring in port is an experience not to be missed: the engines thunder, everything shakes, the glass and cutlery chink and rattle. Shut your eyes and pretend you're Jim Lovell taking off in Apollo 13. - if you want to change table or sitting, they will CHARGE YOU (if you're Anchor class, viz. you've got a cheap deal). - whatever you do, watch the video on how to put disembarkation labels on your cases BEFORE trying to do it yourself. I could go on. The fact remains, we had a thoroughly enjoyable cruise: the weather and seas were good, there were plenty of sunbeds, I put on 6lb ... With disembarkation, they rose to the occasion. Half the guests were due to fly back to Gatwick, but couldn't because the outcoming flight was cancelled thanks to drones. We were given reallocated cabins for an extra night on board. The empty cabin we were allocated had wedding bells and a Do Not Disturb sign ready for the arriving couple. The trouble was, they were already in residence when we tried to get in ... Someone Else Had Blundered. They got us away effectively 24 hours late, and I think they handled it as well as anyone could reasonably expect. Not an enjoyable experience but not their fault. One last point about the flight back: apparently Fred. Olsen charter a Thomas Cook Airbus. As one can, I went on the TC website and paid for extra legroom seats. Apparently they take no notice of this because the boarding passes we were given were for quite different, standard, seats. However, all's well that ends well: we raised this with the cabin staff and they put us in 2 spare Premium seats. Had the flight been full, though ... worth thinking about. A good trip. Would we go again? Definitely. Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
I had only been on one cruise previously. It was on Braemar and I enjoyed it so much that I decided I would go on Braemar again in December. The destination wasn't important. It was the Carribean and it was a wonderful experience. ... Read More
I had only been on one cruise previously. It was on Braemar and I enjoyed it so much that I decided I would go on Braemar again in December. The destination wasn't important. It was the Carribean and it was a wonderful experience. The most important thing in my opinion was the wonderful staff and the great food on the Braemar. Entertainment was good - but wouldn't be really important to me. The lovely staff and the great people I met on Braemar was amazing. One thing which really impressed me about Fred Olsen was the way they dealt with the problem of Gatwick airport being closed. I took the Farewell Barbados tour on the last day of my holiday, December 20. It left us off at the airport. When it was discovered that Gatwick was closed we were transferred back to the ship, given our original cabins, dinner, breakfast and lunch the next day before being returned to the airport. They could easily have left us at the airport the previous evening. Needless to say we were all so very grateful. So thanks Fred Olsen! Read Less
Sail Date December 2018
Chose this cruise for a last bit of sun before the winter. We had previously been on the Braemar and really liked the fact that it is a small ship with an intimate feel. It was incredibly good value and I wanted to work with the fitness ... Read More
Chose this cruise for a last bit of sun before the winter. We had previously been on the Braemar and really liked the fact that it is a small ship with an intimate feel. It was incredibly good value and I wanted to work with the fitness instructor, Pat who is the best yoga teacher I have encountered again. Having now been on the Boudicca as well, the layout of the Braemar works far better. It is logical and has an intimate feel, although some of the decor is starting to look a little tired. Embarkation was very quick. Picked up key card and walked straight on. Although we arrived quite late the restaurant was still open with hot food available. The general service, activities and port excursions were all good, and the room, though on the small side was comfortable, however I spent very little time in it other than to sleep! There were a few surprises I did not expect that made this the best cruise experience I have had. Firstly Fred Olsen appointed a new executive chef and the same food went from mediocre to superb compared with the previous trip on Braemar I had in August. Secondly my companion and I found friends on board with whom we had a greatest laugh ever. Lastly the quality of the music and humour provided by Brendan Kidulis, the musician in the Morning Light Pub made it a truly enjoyable experience. A shame the shows weren't of the same standard, however. We enjoyed all the port visits. We chose not to do many tours as the Canary stopovers were all to accessible interesting towns. They one we did do was whale watching on Tenerife which was fantastic. The Cape Verde islands were a fascinating snapshot of Africa and very different from the Canaries. Can't imagine why they have 'green' in the name - brown and windy was more accurate. The overall experience was great, the service superb, and I would not hesitate to book another cruise on the Braemar. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
The background for choosing this cruise, was a family bereavement. The purpose was to have a relaxing cruise to somewhere new. The Braemar cruise of "cruising the Seine" to Rouen then down to Honfluer, prior to return to ... Read More
The background for choosing this cruise, was a family bereavement. The purpose was to have a relaxing cruise to somewhere new. The Braemar cruise of "cruising the Seine" to Rouen then down to Honfluer, prior to return to Southampton, we thought would fit the bill. How wrong can you be. We booked via a travel agent, a suite on a guarantee bases at what we thought was a good price, then came the extras, 1st sitting and a drinks package. The requirement of a table for 2 we were told would have to arranged with the Maitre d' once on board. It was only after the booking was made I was informed we were on Anchor grade by Olsen. The luggage labels arrived 2 weeks prior to embarkation day, allocated 7008, port side near the bridge. Then 2 days before the cruise Olsen sent blank luggage labels, with no covering letter to explain why. On the booking in at Southampton we were told our cabin was one of several that were being refurbished in that area. Suite 7002 was our new suite allocation, which turned out to be a large sitting area with a small windowless bedroom. We were moved next door to a cabin with twin beds. But adjacent to the suites [including 7008] being refurbished. Dinner was the 1st sitting in the Grampian restaurant, and this started the nightmare. On entering the Grampian no Maitre d' to show us to a table, so we sat down at a table for 2 , only to be told you can't sit there. After handing my cabin card to the staff four times, I was told we were not on "the manifest". We were then put on a table for 6.The staff were not properly trained. When asked what was the fish of the day, he did not know and came back later to say it was Catfish. The house Pinot wine was corked, and declined and were informed it could not be, as it was a new bottle. After a plain uneaten main dish, we went to the rather nice bar for a nightcap, before we went back to the suite. The suite had a large bedroom come lounge area and what looked like a large balcony. I say looked because possibly of the adjacent refurbishing it was locked. The bathroom was tiny and for me, a 6 footer too small a toilet and shower. The shower was useless no pressure. The mattresses were hard and the pillows too soft, I like it the other was round. Sleep was not forthcoming the hardness of the mattress and poor air quality prevented a relaxed sleep. Next day we asked why we were treated so badly in the Grampian at diner. To be told that as we were on on Anchor fares we were not entitled to have pre-allocated table and that our table number would be in the cabin, but was not. No did we know beforehand this was the procedure. I explained that the reason we declined a large table was my partner did not want to have to go through the questioning of " how many children etc." The main dinning room had a table which we could have for diner for 2. This turned out to be by the entrance with the only outlook onto the table for disabled. Too depressing and declined. Diner for the next 4 nights was in the Palm canteen. At least we had a table for 2. The "Palm" had the worst food of the cruise. The only good point for me was the cheese. We also had to pay extra for a decent wine. The best meals were breakfast, good if you like bacon eggs and potatoes. Not good if you want anything but melon as a healthy start to the day, where was the Strawberries, Raspberries and blueberries etc? We never saw the usual cruise dishes of Lobster, Steak or fresh fish such as Salmon. To provide some interest we would dine in the ports for lunch, the L'Alcyone in Honfluer is worth a visit. To finish the cruise, the sea on way back to Southampton was a little rocky, but what kept us awake was the continual banging of the wardrobe doors swinging open and closing. I have gone into great detail on why it was a very disappointing.. Perhaps I was expecting more and was comparing to the 4,5 and 6* cruises we have enjoyed over the years., but I would grade the ship 2* max. Poor accommodation, uncomfortable bed, poor shower. Poor dinning, cheap and limited menus, making in my judgement a not successful cruise experience, and certainly not worth the over £360 per day for the suite. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We have just returned from a trip with Fred Olsen, I hesitate to call it a cruise because as far as we were concerned (and other passengers) this was not a cruise, we booked this quite late as we had some A/L to use up and this fitted the ... Read More
We have just returned from a trip with Fred Olsen, I hesitate to call it a cruise because as far as we were concerned (and other passengers) this was not a cruise, we booked this quite late as we had some A/L to use up and this fitted the dates, when I booked I was told that we would be getting the 'Anchor fare' and therefore we were getting it cheap, they went on to explain that because of that we could not choose our cabin, dinner sitting and we would be excluded from certain 'perks' to be honest it was only for 5 days so we said fine, I was once again told I was 'getting it cheap', after the 3rd time of being told this I finally managed to book it, all the info was emailed through telling us again that as this was an 'Anchor fare' and we were getting it cheaper we would be excluded from any offers, at this point I was getting a bit sick of hearing this!! Embarkation was smooth and efficient, we had a cabin on the 3rd deck, it was small but served its purpose, we were given first sitting at dinner, bit early for us but we were after all getting it cheap, we had to pay for the shuttle service, which was really required for both ports, a total of £30, we were not invited to meet the Captain, but again we were not to worried, it was rather strange when we were talking to some people about the price of the shuttle service we were told ( by a couple who were passengers) it was our own fault we should have paid full price like they had, anyway back to the 'Cruise' it was titled 'Cruising the Seine' or words to that effect, we left Southampton at 8pm so it was overnight crossing the channel, we arrived at Rouen at mid morning, so we saw very little of the Seine, that was on the Sunday, we left Rouen at 8pm on the Tuesday, and arrived at Honfluer early Wednesday morning, so the actual cruise was mainly in the dark at night, Fred Olsen's cruise Itineraries are very basic, they do not give you times of departure or arrivals it is just early/late am or early/late pm, we felt this trip was just to keep the ship moving and fill an empty time slot, there were no meet the crew or formal night, not port lectures no port maps, no guest speakers, no art/crafts, infact not a lot was going on, we have sailed with Fred Olsen on a few occasions in the past and had a great time, but this for us was our last trip with Fred Olsen, ourselves and other 'Anchor fare' passengers were made to feel like second class passengers, what is even worse we were not looking for a bargain, just a nice break from work. On a scale of 1 to 10 we would say a 4, this would be for the nice staff, nice food and very good couple of shows. Read Less
Sail Date November 2018
We usually cruise on larger ships than Braemar, mainly P and O and Princess, but were attracted by the itinerary and timing of this cruise. We need not have been concerned about the ship being smaller as it turned out to have many ... Read More
We usually cruise on larger ships than Braemar, mainly P and O and Princess, but were attracted by the itinerary and timing of this cruise. We need not have been concerned about the ship being smaller as it turned out to have many advantages over the larger ships. Embarkation and disembarkation were swift and efficient, more so than on many larger ships. Our cabin was on a lower deck than we are used to and a little smaller, with portholes, but was spotless with pleasant furnishings and sufficient cupboard space. We had tea making facilities in the cabin which is something we like that some cruise lines do not have. We also had a flat screen smart television with pre- loaded films which made up for the lack of a cinema on board. The screen was placed so that you could sit comfortably and view. My husband has poor eyesight so it was a bonus to see the screen clearly. . You are also able to view your on board account and other information on this screen. Our room stewardess was very efficient and cheerful. The cabin was quiet and we were fortunate to have calm seas throughout the majority of the voyage. The Bay of Biscay was a little rough on the return journey so movement was noticeable but for a smaller ship we were pleasantly surprised by the stability! We were assigned second sitting dining but did not use the restaurant as we preferred to use the buffet for all meals and dine when we wanted too. On many ships we have had difficulty finding a free table in the buffet but not on Braemar. We were impressed with the amount of space available, and with the food. The waiting staff were very friendly and efficient bringing tea / coffee to your table at breakfast which meant no queues to get a drink. The whole ship was kept in a spotless condition by a hardworking crew. The weather was excellent for the majority of the voyage so this meant people were able to eat outside. At lunch time there was an outside menu from which you could order fish and chips, burgers etc. We never had any problem with finding somewhere pleasant to sit outside and really enjoyed a prom deck that you could walk right the way around. Braemar has an excellent gym. For a smaller ship it is large, spacious and has all the equipment you could want. It was never crowded. The sauna and steam room were small but adequate for the number of people using them. There was a variety of entertainment on board to suit different tastes. We didn’t go to many shows but the couple we did were enjoyable. We attended a few lectures. These were interesting. The ship included a dedicated games room which was popular with many and a pleasant, comfortable library / reading room. There is a show lounge with slightly tiered seating rather than a larger theatre. This was fine as long as you sat where pillars did not block your line of site. The Captain during our time on Braemar gave ship / port related information at 12 noon over the address system which was a nice touch. We did not do any ship excursions as we were able to do what we wanted independently. Courtesy shuttle buses were provided in the places where there was a longer walk to the main attractions. Port talks on board were helpful and interesting. Reception Staff were very pleasant and dealt with any queries we had efficiently and cheerfully. We were on an all- inclusive drinks package which included house spirits, wines and soft drinks. This worked out very well for us. There were also managers specials included in this and half price cocktails. Fred’s all- inclusive package is said to be one of the best value of any cruise line. The thing which stood out most for us on this ship was the cheerful and friendly attitude of the staff. It was exceptional. Being a smaller ship has the advantage of staff that remember your name and your preferences. Well done to all the Braemar Crew on such a welcoming, happy and fun attitude. This was a very enjoyable cruise with some superb ports of call on a comfortable and exceptionally friendly smaller ship that has managed to fit a lot of facilities into the space available. We would definitely go on this ship again. Ports of call. We would highly recommend this itinerary especially for people interested in history and historical buildings. Malaga We walked up to the castle. Hard work but worth it. There is a public bus, number 35, to the castle if you need it. On the way down we visited the Alcazaba. We bought a joint ticket for both attractions from the castle. Very good value. Valetta, Malta Only a short distance walking distance to the elevator up to the town. Lots to see and do. We visited the Lascaris War rooms and the Saluting battery. Cannon fired at noon. Venice (overnight) Bought a 24 hour Vaporetti pass on arrival and used this to ride on the Grand Canal and to two of the islands in the Lagoon, Burano and Murano. Also took a ride to the Lido. Good value and with a bit of research fairly easy to find the required stops. Chioggia We were here on a Sunday so many shops closed. Easy to find your way around. We walked through the town to the beach and also took a look at the fish market. Half a day was enough to explore. Kotor This is a beautiful walled city, perfect for an interesting stroll, lots of shops within the walls and lovely town squares. Split Another lovely town. 5 minute walk from ship to Diocletian Palace within the walls. Parts of the palace are free but ticket needed for the Bell tower, Jupiter’s temple and the Cathedral. Can buy a 3 in 1 ticket for these. We did not do this though as we decided to find the small but fascinating Froggy Museum which we found interesting and very unusual if strange. Dubrovnik Lovely day. The ship shuttle bus dropped us at one of the city gates (Pile Gate) and once there we got a ticket to walk the walls. We walked past the crowds near the gate and turned to the left where people show their tickets before entering. The member of the staff there directed us to a ticket office on the left which had no long queues. Initial steps hard work but once on the walls it was easier. Very crowded to start with but crowds thinned out away from the city gates. Hot day, with very little shade. Go prepared. We then walked through the main street in the city (Stradun). Found it quite easy to find our way back to this street when ventured into the narrow side streets. Cartagena Docked right near town. Easy walk turning right along the promenade to shopping streets. We then walked back past the ship towards the free Arquelogia museum. Spent an hour in the museum and then continued right and found the elevator to the castle. Bought a combo ticket for the Elevator, Civil War Shelters museum and Castle. The castle was very interesting with great views over the town. Trapani Shuttle bus took us to the town. Only place we had rain. In fact a thunderstorm so we didn’t spend much time exploring. A lot of the shops were closed for a long lunch. Mainly walked around the edge of the town, near the sea . The salt pans near where the ship was docked looked interesting although as it was so wet we didn’t venture there. Lisbon Not our first visit here so we decided to ride the metro and the trams. Bought a ticket which covered all buses, metro and most trams from the nearest metro station to the ship (Terreiro do Paco). Staff very helpful showing us how to purchase the ticket we wanted. Took metro to Parque. Lovely views from Parque Edwardo VII downhill to the harbour. Then we went to Rossio to catch number 12 tram through Castle Hill. This was certainly an interesting experience even though it was very hot and crowded. Riding through the narrow streets of the old town was slow but different. After this we took a larger, less crowded bendy bus to the Belem area. A fun day if frenetic. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We chose this cruise because the sailing date and the itinerary suited us. The cabin on deck 4 was very small but well designed and the large window was beneficial. The food was excellent and the service also very good. The drinks ... Read More
We chose this cruise because the sailing date and the itinerary suited us. The cabin on deck 4 was very small but well designed and the large window was beneficial. The food was excellent and the service also very good. The drinks package was ok but we were often charged on our account for drinks that we had not had. This did not matter materially as we were not paying but we did wonder what happened to all the drinks on our account which we had not consumed. 10 minutes with the Doctor on board resulted in a bill for £88 which was ridiculous, particularly as he then sold me a mouthwash for sore gums (which I did not have) which was marked at £3.20 yet charged at £5.80! It is good to have medical facilities on board but they should not be at exorbitant prices. Entertainment was generally very good. One superb comedian but he was replaced half way through with the most pathetic comic imaginable. The show company were excellent. However, the Neptune lounge was not fit for purpose. The seating was completely inadequate for the numbers attending. The port speaker's presentations were informative but also inhibited by the dreadful lounge and also by his tedious presentation and frequent errors. The Bridge room was too small, too deep within the ship and there were no adequate duplicate sessions due the room being used for other activities. We were never able to play more than 14 hands. This was our first cruise and we are currently undecided whether it should be our last. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
My wife and I have sailed many times with Fred Olsen but rarely since they ended their Flagship golf package. However, we chose to sail again with them due to the interesting ports of call on the way to Venice and back from Southampton. ... Read More
My wife and I have sailed many times with Fred Olsen but rarely since they ended their Flagship golf package. However, we chose to sail again with them due to the interesting ports of call on the way to Venice and back from Southampton. The Good Points: - Overall good food, excellent waiter service - Superb singing and dancing from the entertainment team - Excellent itinerary - Comfortable balcony cabin - A happy ship - Excellent bridge teacher - Well-informed port lecturer, good slides but marred somewhat by his needing to read his well-prepared script in a rather flat way. The Bad Points: - As keen bridge players we were appalled by the way this activity has been downgraded by Fred Olsen. We were forced to play in a totally inadequate, crowded inside room down in deck three, shared with table tennis players, ukulele players and with staff interrupting activities to collect or return trestle table in an alcove. Meanwhile the company has decided to create a large gymnasium area at the rear of the ship in a prime location on deck 7 which was largely unused. Given that the ship appears to cater for retirees, many of whom have mobility problems, this seems to be a very poor use of limited space resources. - We, and many passengers we spoke to, felt that the music played in both the Neptune and Coral lounges was unnecessarily loud. - The overall standard of visiting entertainers was variable. The comedian, introduced as "the Fred Olsen favourite", was appallingly bad. On the credit side, however, the history lecturer was excellent. - It was surprising that no handouts were given to passengers giving a map and various informative details covering each port of call. This was a serious omission. - The coffee served in the restaurants was pretty dire! - As ever, shore excursions were substantially over-priced. In particular I would mention the apparently unexciting toy-train ride around Cartagena for £50 a head, which was just outrageous profiteering. - Unacceptably high charging for Wifi In summary, a very enjoyable cruise, particularly due to its excellent itinerary. However, as bridge players, we would not return to Braemar unless its bridge room and table tennis facilities were greatly improved. Notwithstanding that, an additional incentive could be the reintroduction of their previous flagship golf packages. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We chose it to see if the small ship experience was to our taste with Fred Olsen having sailed on many other small ship cruises and also for the Ports that we wished to visit. Apart from from the first day there was no afternoon tea and ... Read More
We chose it to see if the small ship experience was to our taste with Fred Olsen having sailed on many other small ship cruises and also for the Ports that we wished to visit. Apart from from the first day there was no afternoon tea and cakes etc unless you were prepared to pay for them, and in fact it felt as if you had to pay for everything including the water. The ship itself was in good condition for an aged vessel and as we did not wish to use the shore excursion facilities, perfering to travel on foot, I cannot comment on these. I felt the trip was more expensive than other liners and no doubt if the cabin had been satisfactory I would have been writing a good report, but as mentioned below that cabin should have come with a health warning as the bow thrust is normally used whenever berthing or undocking. This is why I have given it the rating of 2 stars. I'm not sure if I will travel on Braemar again, but might think about another vessel. However the staff, food and entertainment were excellent Read Less
Sail Date September 2018
Here goes, firstly the good points…the food was very good and the waiting staff where on form and attentive. The room was as expected and overall the interior of the ship was good. The entertainment from the guest performers was ... Read More
Here goes, firstly the good points…the food was very good and the waiting staff where on form and attentive. The room was as expected and overall the interior of the ship was good. The entertainment from the guest performers was excellent, Steve V King and Barnaby were fantastic. And then the negatives…I thought the class system was fading out but how wrong, we wished to change our dining time from the later to the earlier sitting which involved one click on the computer, we even had the same table. This we were charged £4 per day, considering there were tables that were not being used for the whole cruise on the first sitting, I found disgusting. It was at this point we discovered ANCHOR CLASS. We had booked the cruise, last minute, and paid £2700 for 11 days of Baltic cruise to be in the bowels of the ship, deck 2. The last cruise we went on we paid £1700 for 7 days in the Mediterranean inc flights on deck 10, so our expectations from Fred Olsen were high. Unfortunately we were wrong, The Braemar was in fact a floating care home for the elderly, which we were under no illusion about, some whose only purpose in life was the daily charge for the restaurant, sorry I was incorrect because when the opportunity arose after food, there was an even bigger the race for the best seats around the ship with the nicest views, which after securing, they promptly fell asleep depriving people the chance to take in the sights. If they want to sleep GO TO YOUR CABIN, selfish gits. So now deprived of the good seats we went for a stroll around the ship, if you like the smell of paint then this is the ship for you, remember despite the 2018 price you paid, this is an old ship (1993) and the rust is appearing all over the place. Back to Anchor class, you would be charged for shuttle buses whereas other floors were not. The subject of upgrades was broached onboard during Captains question time and it is not company policy, we were also told that other cruise lines don’t do this, well Fred Olsen is wrong, all the other cruise lines we have used, do free upgrades. When my other half booked this, she told me we would be going to Sweden, Denmark and Finland,..two out of three wasn’t bad. We went to an obscure little island that belonged to Finland, with two attractions, a museum and an old sailing ship. The ship was shut for renovations….need I say more. I have resisted reviewing the holiday for a while so hopefully I would forget some of the horror. Up until this trip I have thoroughly enjoyed the cruising experience, and recommended others to try, just not maybe with Fred Olsen. There are much better Cruise company’s and cruise ships out there, younger, cheaper and better. Even worse, we sent this review to Fred Olsen and they didn,t bother to respond. A simple apology would be a good start, so even customer services are poor as well. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
We have traveled with a number of cruise lines over 20 years but, Fred Olsen keep on giving the very best in all areas. The ships, food and most important the staff. Wonderful destinations too. We traveled with two children 11 and 13 ... Read More
We have traveled with a number of cruise lines over 20 years but, Fred Olsen keep on giving the very best in all areas. The ships, food and most important the staff. Wonderful destinations too. We traveled with two children 11 and 13 years and they were also looked after so well by the two children's skipper staff. We are going to be back again next year.Thank you Fred Olsen for making us feel so valued as passengers. The last lunch onboard was fantastic all you could ever want. We did talk to a number of passenger that made comment about Fred Olsen after travelling with the big cruise lines. All agreed Fred Olsen was by far the best. Particularly the staff and food. The only thing we did not like is having to get off. The cruise we did was 8 nights which was fantastic but, would like to do longer next time. The only was to see Norway as we did this time is with Fred Olsen. A very easy check in at Southampton and boarded the ship directly which was nice. No waiting around. One onboard we tool a look at our cabin 3033 to find a very warm welcome from our cabin stewardess. Bags had arrived too and were placed on the two lower berths. We then went to the Palms cafe for lunch. A very nice choice of food. Not had a choice before of a hot meal so early upon boarding. In the past it has been a light lunch so this was very enjoyable with two hungry children with us. This ship is so easy to find your way around and if you do have a problem very clear deck plans around the ship. Staff too are never far away. Entertainment across the ship was great. Sail away party as we left Southampton added to the overall enjoyment. Read Less
Sail Date August 2018
This is our second cruise with Fred Olsen absolutely fantastic Staff are brilliant food etc is 5 star plus Staff are always pleasant professional and always willing to help. Food is amazing in all the restaurants there is so much ... Read More
This is our second cruise with Fred Olsen absolutely fantastic Staff are brilliant food etc is 5 star plus Staff are always pleasant professional and always willing to help. Food is amazing in all the restaurants there is so much choice and always available We had the all inclusive the choice of drinks were amazing The bar staff would know what you liked and were on hand at all times. I was impressed that one of the bar staff knew my name from our first cruise which was 2 years ago. The cabin was spotless and the maid was so pleasant The entertainment was very good and also were the guest speakers The ship was immaculate and the crew were always cleaning the decks All the staff on the ship were so hard and always smile. It's a pleasure to sail with Fred Olsen and we will be sailing with them again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
My wife and I chose Fred Olsen, our first time on this line, because it left and returned from England sailing to Iceland at the time we wanted to travel within these locations. The service personnel, maintenance of the ship and quality of ... Read More
My wife and I chose Fred Olsen, our first time on this line, because it left and returned from England sailing to Iceland at the time we wanted to travel within these locations. The service personnel, maintenance of the ship and quality of the food were excellent. Even the song and dance shows were better than expected for a small ship of only 925 passengers. Only one aspect of Fred Olsen's business model holds me back from giving this cruise a high review, and that is, Fred Olsen's policy of withholding the exact arrival and departure times from the ports of call. My wife and I, seasoned cruise travelers by now, usually book small-group shore excursions from local providers when we can. But that can't be done unless the tour companies know the exact cruise ship arrival and departures times for pick up and drop off. Fred Olsen lists only the time of day, as in "early morning" or "late afternoon" in their public itinerary. But we know the company knows the specific times because: (1) docking space must be prescheduled with the ports, and (2), having asked seven customer agents about the docking schedule, two Fred Olsen representatives gave me the exact arrival/departure times they read off their computer screens and five told me they didn't know exact the times, only the approximate part of day. Granted, the cruise route was changed six weeks before we sailed and one arrival time was earlier than I was told, but for all the other ports of call, the exact times in port were the same as I was given by the the two open-information Fred Olsen customer reps. I can only surmise that Fred Olsen wants to discourage passengers from booking independent shore excursions. It took a lot of effort to do that. Most people would give up after the first query. So how were the two Fred Olsen excursions we did book? As expected for large-group, big-bus trips -- okay but nothing memorable or personal. I would recommend Fred Olsen tours for those who don't want surprises within a traditional cruise experience and few children or younger people milling around the ship. Although Fred Olsen promotes itself as a "value" cruise experience, choosing a balcony room with a view make the cruise more expensive than those on larger cruise ships of 2000 passengers or more. PS: My wife said the yoga and exercise sessions were great. And so was the crew. We loved the captain and had two conversations with him. Read Less
Sail Date July 2018
Braemar Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 3.7
Dining 4.0 4.2
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 5.0 3.9
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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