5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We sailed with Fred Olsen on the Braemar. We are not usual Olsen guests, probably slightly too young in our early fifties! we prefer more modern vessels. There are a number of issues; The ship is tired, built in 1968 she shows her age, ... Read More
We sailed with Fred Olsen on the Braemar. We are not usual Olsen guests, probably slightly too young in our early fifties! we prefer more modern vessels. There are a number of issues; The ship is tired, built in 1968 she shows her age, no amount of tinkering or refits will hide this. Loyal customers talk about how friendly it is, how they love the smaller ships, but they don't have the refinements of the larger more modern vessels. Staff; Hard working, but mostly chaotic service, our Head waiter apologised in the grampian restaurant almost every night bout the poor service as he had more tables to serve, the wine waiter had gone, so he had to double up for that also. Food was poor to adequate, not really the fine dining Fed Olsen goes on about, we had one meal at what I would call cruise standard, and that was when we paid an extra 40 pounds to dine in the "Grill", beautiful scallops, steak and desert served very well by an attentive waiter as he only had 4 tables to look after. Lunch and Breakfast was a joke, waiters spent more time chatting to themselves than serving and if you were there towards the end of service, most of them stared laying up for lunch. Fred Olsen appear to be on a cost cutting mission, no Baked Alaska parade, no Fish n chip friday's, no curry night, on the last night, it was decided to host a BBQ and dancing on the back end at 10:30, right after second sitting guests had finished dinner?! the only people who ate anything were the crew. The cabin was OK, but again the age of the ship is evident with small shower with shower curtain, instead of a modern glass door and chipped sink unit. For some reason during the last docking period, a decision had been made to take all the shelves out of the wardrobes? so we were left with 3 small drawers to fit everything in. We suffered noise almost every night and early morning, our cabin was, unfortunately, right under the Marquee deck furniture which the crew put away and put out very morning, I think by throwing it across the deck, complaints were listened to and apologies given, but it didn't stop it happening time and time again. I don't know what the future holds for Fred Olsen, their price point does not match what is offered and many other cruise lines offer better quality experience at a much lower price. The show team were very good, but the magician and the comedian on this cruise were awful, tired old magic and jokes, although it appealed to some of the passengers. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
30th anniversary .spoilt by inferior cabin.not reaching Jamaica.there was unrest but the captain said Ochoa Rios safe but weather was poor this was not the case ,we then had 3 days at sea doing nothing. Santiago unsafe and polluted, ... Read More
30th anniversary .spoilt by inferior cabin.not reaching Jamaica.there was unrest but the captain said Ochoa Rios safe but weather was poor this was not the case ,we then had 3 days at sea doing nothing. Santiago unsafe and polluted, Tortola devastated should not of gone very upsetting . Continually being disturbed by captain announcements whilst resting(unimportant announcements.just like butlins 1970. Jakuzzi not working 3 days no info from guest services after enquiringly several times permanent repairs at sea ,decks closed. Pool closed 2 days . No more Fred Olsen your not on holiday your just bossed around. Could not get a free cup of only on 1 deck and and we were inclusive but nice food and entertainment. Shore excursions very poor no imagination ship left most ports early lack of shuttle buses. Had to have mixers separate as drinks were drowned in cheap post mix. Casino inadequate two tables in a corridor Read Less
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
I chose this cruise for the Caribbean itinerary and also because I expected to experience the fine dining boasted about in the brochures and on the internet. The public spaces and our cabin were immaculately clean. With one or two ... Read More
I chose this cruise for the Caribbean itinerary and also because I expected to experience the fine dining boasted about in the brochures and on the internet. The public spaces and our cabin were immaculately clean. With one or two rather surly exceptions, members of staff were pleasant, friendly, approachable and helpful. Excursions and transfers were very efficiently organised. The ports were an excellent choice. The Braemar Show Company was exceptionally good. Other entertainers ranged from poor, through average to good. The traditional Crew Show was good but fewer crew seem to be willing to give up their spare time to perform. The Cruise Director, Elliot Taylor, sometimes just didn’t know what day it was. He sent out a note to cabins to change their clocks… but on the wrong night… and failed to send out a note on the night that clocks did have to be changed. A farewell BBQ was to coincide with second sitting guests leaving the dining room after dinner! Like many second sitting guests, we were unhappy that we were being charged for food that we couldn’t eat. The Cruise Director kept on saying night after night… how fabulous the food was… despite the rather desultory response from guests. The food was well below what we have experienced on many of the 15 previous cruises with Fred Olsen in the course of the last 5 years. On his website, Fred promises “expertly prepared, five-course a la carte dinner at the Thistle and Grampian Restaurants” but nothing could have been further from the truth. Service in the restaurant was the slowest that we’ve experience in the 20 years that we have cruised with Fred. The 8.30 pm second sitting guests frequently weren’t able to leave the table until almost 10.30 pm. On our second evening on board we, and almost everyone else, waited 35 minutes for a simple appetizer to be served. Menus on this cruise were bland, boring and banal. We saw not a single “five star” dish in over two weeks. The “Gala Manu” had little or nothing to distinguish it from any other of the second rate menus on board. Chocolates on Gala evenings seems to have for the most part been replaced with mini meringues… (Diabetics also beware…. we are now being charged for Fred to leave boiled sugar sweets on the pillow!) The amount of Turkey and yellow/grey, wet, overcooked Brussels Sprouts on offer gave the impression that we were being offered the Christmas leftovers. The Chef’s concoction one evening of a bit of pork, a bit of beef all mixed together with prawns gave us that idea that Chef was cleaning out the bottom of the freezer. Almost all meat was served in identical mechanically rectangular slices. Starters were tiny scraps that looked as if the latest trainee recruit had thrown them onto the plate. An “Oslo Platter” contained what seemed to be one quarter of one small rollmop. Soups frequently seemed to be just over-salted, boiled potatoes flavoured and processed until they were a glutinous gunge with all of the charm of wallpaper paste. “Chilled tomato soup with fresh basil” seemed to be carton tomato juice blitzed with woody basil stems leaving the “soup” full of fibers. “Chilled coconut soup” seemed to have been poured straight from a can taken from the fridge and a pinch of nutmeg sprinkled on top. Salads were roughly torn shreds of bitter lettuce with tiny fragments of tomato and cucumber. A single olive and two flakes of cheap canned tuna do not make a “Salad Nicoise”. These are, of course, part of the “five course a la cart dinner” that guests are charged for. “Classic Dishes” were often suggested by the menu but the evidence on the plate was very different. Classic “Wiener Schnitzel” had been replace on the plate with a thin, dry slice of fried pork; classic “Chateaubriand” looked like “boil in the bag” tenderloin with gungy “Béarnaise sauce” and “Classic” (Fred seems to like that word… he uses it a lot) “Roast Duck” was a dry, emaciated scrap that left us wondering where the missing duck meat would turn up in the following days. Main courses were often abysmally poor; mechanically sliced, bland, preformed turkey in a gluey “gravy” accompanied by a plug of bready stodge that was described as “stuffing”; “Venison Stew” with dire “dumplings” made out of reconstituted bread; paper thin slices of “Beef Wellington” welded to the plate by a film of dehydrated “gravy”; “Pasta” so dry that the sauce didn’t even touch the bottom of the plate… and no parmesan on offer. “Roast Potatoes” that varied from so crisp that they could have been newly fried to so rubbery and dehydrated that they could have been left-overs from a previous sitting… both on the same plate! Never have we seen so many meals being sent back to the Galley or so many meals being left unfinished. It was really embarrassing to see staff apologizing so much for the quality of food that they were being asked to serve. Desserts were often appallingly inconsistent… one “Crème Brulee” had a pool of sugar syrup rather than a caramalised topping, Pear and Apple Pudding with Calvados that was bland, stodgy and totally unappealing… selections of “British and International cheeses” (are there any others?) made up of minute portions of processed plastic unidentifiable cheese a single dried apricot, three grapes an eighth of a small radish and a match-stich sized portion of celery. Gone are the Lobsters, gone are the Racks of Lamb, and gone is the Fillet of Beef Mignon (except on the advertised sample Gala menu). Gone too is the Baked Alaska on parade and gone too is the Gala Buffet… (Now replaced with a choice of a Hot Dog or a Burger… immediately after second sitting dinner!) Gone too are Fish and Chips on Fridays! Gone too are the American steaks in the Grill… replaced by a cheaper alterative! Gone too are the popular Curry nights! Gone too… it would seem… are many of the skilled posts in the galley The “Late Night Buffet” offering is now a truly dismal affair. We looked in one night halfway through the cruise and only one guest had chosen to sample the mean and uninspired offering. The Cruise Director, announced at one evening show late in the cruise, “And ladies and gentlemen… the good news is that food costs are down on this cruise!” Fred’s promise in his brochure that “Dining on board is sure to be the highlight of your holiday… with a range of mouthwatering options all planned to perfection (and) sumptuous dishes” was not kept. We felt that Fred’s Chef and Cruise Director on the Braemar had simply lost the plot. It was clear that despite the guests having paid a hefty premium for what was promised to be an “award winning” “sumptuous” “five star” “dining experience” that the Cruise Director was were prepared to publically celebrate that guests on board had been subjected by the Chef to a well below average, mean, penny-pinching boring, bland diet… and that Fred was able to pocket the savings! If Fred won’t provide the food or the service in his restaurants that he promises and that we have paid for, he can’t compete with the stunning facilities and more economic prices of the bigger ships! Top Tip. The Maître d’hôtel has to write a report each day. It is emailed to the Chef, the Hotel Manager and the powers that be in Fred’s HQ. If the food is not as good as it should be… based on the brochure and Internet advertising… send it back to the kitchen and explain why. The message will slowly filter through! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
Well I had a wonderful cruise aboard this fine old lady of a ship! I expected a friendly well run ship and that's exactly what I got. Really wonderful cabin - large and kept spotlessly clean by Nim who couldn't do enough for me (and ... Read More
Well I had a wonderful cruise aboard this fine old lady of a ship! I expected a friendly well run ship and that's exactly what I got. Really wonderful cabin - large and kept spotlessly clean by Nim who couldn't do enough for me (and reocmmend the wash and fold service at the end of the cruise, done so well didn't need to iron anything!) I'm used to eating out in London several times a week (oh my waistline!) as part of my job and I found the food to be absoloutely fine. No it wasn't fine dining and yes I could have picked up some points (the only one I DID mind was the packet mash used for the duchesse potatoes but did raise this at the time) but I was there to enjoy myself with my new found friends at my table and I definitely did that. I also ate in the Grill one evening and the food WAS really superb and would definitely recommend. I thought Elliot the Cruise Director was very good - very natural and whilst he did make a couple of mistakes, he was a genuine and lovely guy. The Christian service he gave on the first Sunday was truly heartfelt and appreciated by the quite large audience. His commentary on the tug of war contest on our extra sea day was really fabulous (in fact that was a real highlight of the day!) Entertainment was okay - I've been spoilt by the fabulous shows on the larger cruise ships so not overally impressed. Like another reviewer I noticed the same people in the crew show donning different costumes and doing several dances (from differnt countries/cultures). The costumes were definitely NOT home made/original and had many yards of fluorescent nylon and ruffles. In fact it was so disappointing and 'false' I left after 30 mins. The service from all the staff was very good - couple of exceptions but you'd get that anywhere. Our waiting staff in the dining room were excellent. Service was relaxed but not so much you felt you were waiting an overlylong time and after all - you're on holiday! So to sum up, a fabulous cruise - I've booked for Christmas this year and am already counting the days! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2018
We had not been to the Caribbean before and this cruise made it simple to visit nine destinations which were all different and gave as an insight into those islands we would like to return to. Despite initial reservations we were ... Read More
We had not been to the Caribbean before and this cruise made it simple to visit nine destinations which were all different and gave as an insight into those islands we would like to return to. Despite initial reservations we were impressed with the chartered Thomas Cook flight and the smoothness of the disembarkation from the plane - it was lovely not to see our luggage from Gatwick until it arrived outside our cabin. The staff were friendly and polite and there was a good ratio of staff to passengers. The itinerary had promised ten destinations but a strong (force 5) headwind reduced our speed so the captain changed our route and we missed our Tortola stop. We were very disappointed to miss Tortola, particularly as the Braemar was one of the few cruise ships due to dock there following last year's hurricane. We assumed a Force 5 wind is fairly common in the Caribbean and wondered whether Fred was trying to include too many islands in the itinerary. If this is the case we would suggest omitting Jamaica and keeping Tortola. The Braemar Show company were excellent as were the two crew performances. The resident live music acts were also good but the visiting entertainers were a mixed bag - a brilliant comic/magician who I thought I would not like, a mediocre multi-instrumentalist and a very poor comic who was really past his use by date (although some people loved him). Shore excursions were good - we chose to explore the islands rather than just visit beaches but were disappointed that two of our excursions were cancelled one (cycling in Grenada) due to poor equipment and complaints from earlier cruises and one due to heavy rain (rafting in Jamaica). The food was good and there were plenty of public spaces to sit and relax in. Read Less
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
This was without doubt the worst "Holiday" I have ever had - sadly it was my first cruise. We were kept hanging about at Southampton until 4pm (no reason of the delay given). Straight to Cabin and to use the Loo - NOT ... Read More
This was without doubt the worst "Holiday" I have ever had - sadly it was my first cruise. We were kept hanging about at Southampton until 4pm (no reason of the delay given). Straight to Cabin and to use the Loo - NOT WORKING! This was just the very start of all the problems this "CRUISE SHIP" was having... Lifts were out of order or being used by workmen and all their Clobber. Walk and Gangways blocked again by workmen ,ladders, paint, tools ,cables and the most disgusting smell of CELLULOSE THINNERS everywhere, inside outside where ever you went. Awful smells of Diesel on some decks and toilet smells on others. Complaints made to onboard customer services were met with "WE will inform maintenance". Wifi and some television packages not working. Deck 8 out of action as it was filled with Boxes and Packaging plus NO POOL FACILITIES. Tried to get to the Observatory but NO - workmen were taking Sun beds from the deck and stacking them in the numerous empty cabins on Deck 8 - they were blocking/cluttering the walk ways and exits (fire Hazard) We are given a £75 on board credit re loss of pool on a use it or lose it basic - this i feel was totally immoral we paid cash for our holidays and therefore it should have been re credited to our accounts. These points were put to Fred Olsen's On Board Customer Complaints - she assured all would be well when we got to Madeira....Well absolutely nothing changed - even the Comedians were making jokes about the toilets smells etc etc . We now have one pool in action - Great but who wants to sunbath/swim with all these workmen plodding about with Tiles, Cement, noise of tile cutters cables cellulose thinners paint - How in heavens name can you relax with all that going on around you??? By the end of this "Cruise "many people were ill with sore throats, chesty coughs etc. - I wonder why??? Final day whilst waiting to be transported to the airport we were on Deck 8 with people who were continuing the Cruise Sunbathing and swimming- STILL many workmen there including one using an OXY ACETYLENE TORCH -THIS SURELY HAD TO BE A BREACH OF HEALTH AND SAFETY??? This ship should never have left Dry Dock. We the passengers ( or perhaps we were just Cargo??) should have been refunded our money or the cruise re scheduled - the £75 was an INSULT FOR WHAT WE HAD TO PUT UP WITH ON THIS MOCKERY OF A CRUISE!! Yes I and many others have complained to Fred Olsen. But I have been told Good Luck - they are really not interested in complaints - they are a law unto themselves!! The flight back to Gatwick was like a sick bay with a great quantity of people coughing sneezing and snivelling after their so called "Healthy Holiday" Read Less
11 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
The ship had been in dry dock prior to the cruise. The work had not been completed on time and the swimming pools were out of operation for most of the cruise. Lifts were not working for a large part of the cruise and areas were cordoned ... Read More
The ship had been in dry dock prior to the cruise. The work had not been completed on time and the swimming pools were out of operation for most of the cruise. Lifts were not working for a large part of the cruise and areas were cordoned off for maintenance and painting works. The cruise should have been cancelled and money returned. £75 compensation was a derisory amount. The food at evening meals was hit and miss. Some excellent meals and some very poor quality ones as well. Coral club staff were very poor and inattentive. The only saving grace of the cruise was the entertainment in the Neptune lounge. Having travelled with fred olsen many times this will be my last cruise with them. Toilet broke 18 times during the cruise another example of the ship being ill prepared for this cruise. I have been on many cruises and this was my worst experience Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
We chose this cruise as a stress less way of crossing to Barbados for a family gathering. The cabin (except it’s location) was excellent, food amazing, good entertainment. The distances from the ship to port gates nearly ... Read More
We chose this cruise as a stress less way of crossing to Barbados for a family gathering. The cabin (except it’s location) was excellent, food amazing, good entertainment. The distances from the ship to port gates nearly finished us off, no shuttles of any kind for poor walkers. Our cabin was mid-ships as far away from elevator as possible even though I had repeatedly asked for easy access. It was very shady being completely overhung by the top deck , a suite with sunbeds but with absolutely no sun! We did however have a full blown medical emergency which was very efficiently dealt with and at reasonable cost ,we also thought that the wine was very reasonably priced. We would go again in a flash but NEVER to an unknown cabin number ad would hope that some sort of shuttle service at the ports would be organised. How do Saga manage this situation? Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2017
I had the misfortune to sail to the Caribbean on Braemar just before Christmas. The ship had been in dry dock and was clearly not fit for guests. There were constant problems with the water and sanitary systems, both swimming pools and ... Read More
I had the misfortune to sail to the Caribbean on Braemar just before Christmas. The ship had been in dry dock and was clearly not fit for guests. There were constant problems with the water and sanitary systems, both swimming pools and the jacuzzis weren't working, the TV system was out of order etc. Workmen were on deck every day painting, tiling and using strong smelling solvents so when we were at sea for 10 of the 16 day's it was hardly relaxing. Decks were dirty and often roped off. Like other commentators, there has been little sympathy shown by Fred Olsen staff and poor recompense for a holiday spoiled. All they are offering is a voucher against a future cruise, so if you don't want to use them again tough luck! Many people were ill on the ship, including myself. Not a good experience and one I don't want to repeat. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2017
It was a cruise for my wife's senior birthday. After forgetting our passports and having to return home after a stay at the Premier Inn the boarding was over in 45 minutes and all cases were unpacked with half an hour of entering the ... Read More
It was a cruise for my wife's senior birthday. After forgetting our passports and having to return home after a stay at the Premier Inn the boarding was over in 45 minutes and all cases were unpacked with half an hour of entering the cabin. We have been on the ship a few time so we knew the layout of it. On our first night dining, I was uncertain of one of the other guest on the table. The second night after he stated that the staff of the ship had an easy life we decided that was a good reason to leave the table. This was the first time we have done it in over 20 cruises. The ship was clean and the ports visited all very nice some we have been to before but this was a chill out cruise. No tours booked. The food was of its normal high standard with plenty of choices. We did not go to any of the lectures so can't comment. What I will prise very highly is the entertainment team. The night shows in both the club and theatre were of a very high standard. The best we have ever had. All in all a great 5-star cruise well done Fred. Read Less
Braemar Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 3.7
Dining 5.0 4.2
Entertainment 5.0 3.8
Public Rooms 5.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.6
Family 2.0 3.6
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 5.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 3.8

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