199 Fred. Olsen Braemar Cruise Reviews

The entertainment was excellent on board, especially the Braemar entertainment team with their amazing new " queen" tribute, stunning harmonies from the singers and fast strong dancers, really a highlife of our trip. The team ... Read More
The entertainment was excellent on board, especially the Braemar entertainment team with their amazing new " queen" tribute, stunning harmonies from the singers and fast strong dancers, really a highlife of our trip. The team could also be seen throughout the day chatting and helping passengers, VERY PROFESSIONAL. All staff on board friendly and helpful, what a brilliant short break we had. The food was excellent. A lovely touch to have the hand made chocolate shop available to take delicious gifts back home. The tour to Monet's garden was worth every penny, the guide was also very good on our coach, leaving us to explore the gardens after a very good speech first. The cruise line had organised a brilliant coach shuttle into Rouen which ran every half hour making our exploration of the town relaxed knowing we could come and go as we pleased. Our cabin was bigger than we expected, comfortable beds and everything we needed including tea and coffee facilities. Having a large picture window did make the trip more enjoyable as we could relax with a cuppa and enjoy the views with our feet up when we wanted to. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
Braemar is a very happy, friendly ship. Being smaller, it's much easier and quicker getting on and off the ship - didn't have to queue once for anything during the whole cruise. Embarkation and disembarkation was slick and very ... Read More
Braemar is a very happy, friendly ship. Being smaller, it's much easier and quicker getting on and off the ship - didn't have to queue once for anything during the whole cruise. Embarkation and disembarkation was slick and very quick with plenty of helpful crew members around to help. Our luggage was outside our cabin when we got on board and the whole experience was trouble free and relaxing. We are seasoned cruisers but this was our first time with Fred Olsen and first time on a smaller ship. Fantastic! We wish we had discovered Fred Olsen before; there are no hidden extras and they are not trying to fleece us at every turn like some cruise lines do. The food is excellent and far better quality than most of the cruise lines sailing from UK. Everything seems to be 'upmarket' in an understated way; even the self-service 'Palms Cafe' has linen napkins and tablecloths. Drinks are reasonably priced in ALL of the bars and the tours are not as expensive as we expected. No gimmicks or 'tackyness'. Cabins are very comfortable and SPOTLESSLY clean. Entertainment was very good. Don't think we will be cruising with anyone else from now on. We chose this cruise as it was an unusual destination for a cruise ship sailing from the UK: River Seine all the way up to Rouen, which was very nice. Would recommend this itinerary for a change from the usual short hops to Zeebrugge, Rotterdam etc. We were docked close enough to Rouen to walk into town (about 35 minutes walk along the riverside walkway) but Fred Olsen put on a shuttle bus as well. The crossing from Southampton was a bit choppy but it was nice to feel you are at sea. All in all, a very pleasant experience and we would highly recommend a cruise on Braemar. Read Less
Sail Date September 2017
This was our first experience with FOCL and the Braemar. The cruise was 10 nights around the UK from Southampton; up to the first port of Leith for an overnight, then Dundee, Invergordon, Scrabster, Oban and Belfast. The first and last ... Read More
This was our first experience with FOCL and the Braemar. The cruise was 10 nights around the UK from Southampton; up to the first port of Leith for an overnight, then Dundee, Invergordon, Scrabster, Oban and Belfast. The first and last full days were days at sea and the cruise had two formal nights. The Ship The Braemar was slightly smaller than we're used to. We've sailed most often with Thomson on their smaller ships (Spirit and Celebration), we've sailed on much larger ships but small ships are our preference. The ship is well laid out. The side-wards on theatre fore is a first for us but the seas were kind enough that we didn't have many problems with this. Space was never an issue, getting seats in restaurants, bars or the theatre wasn't ever a problem. There's plenty of choice of seating areas during the day and when at sea. Decor is pleasant and areas are well lit. Activities We're active DIY port visitors so we didn't spend that much time on daytime activities. Quizzes seemed good, although we missed most of them as we were out in the daytime and the evening quizzes clashed with our late dining timing. Service The service from all staff was excellent throughout the cruise. Cabin stewards, waiters and bar-waiters, entertainers, reception staff, ships crew - can't fault anyone and would commend Fred for the work ethic and approach of the whole ship's staff. We rarely have to compalin about anything, but did as a neighbouring cabin was waking up with very loud TV for the first few days at 6:30 (we're on holiday, I don't want to be woken up early every day!), we complained at reception not expecting anything and the issue was somehow resolved, and the same member of the team asked us next time he saw us if it was better! This attention to service was very noticeable - staff bothered to remember who they had spoken to and to follow up where appropriate. Ports and excursions We always have to book last minute due to work constraints, so booking excursions can be problematic. On a cruise like this with 'signature' excursions (Braemar games, visits to Glamis and Cawdor castles) we were not surprised but still slightly disappointed not to have any availability on those obviously very popular trips. As mentioned we prefer to 'walk ashore' and do our own thing and this itinerary was good for that - only Oban was a tender port, Belfast had free shuttle buses to get into the city centre. Although we rarely do ships excursions on cruises anyway we were shocked at how expensive Fred's excursions are, they really were pricey compared to any other line we've been with - some eye-wateringly so (£200+pp for the dearest!). The port selection was excellent, we saw a wide variety of places and much of the beauty of Scotlands dramatic coastlines. There was the temptation at Scrabster or Oban to get a local ferry to one of the islands but the time in port didn't mesh well with ferry transit times and schedules so we didn't risk it. The overnight in Edingburgh was great, we got to meet friends who live there, and even had time to walk from Leith to the Parliament area and back (and up Arthur's Seat while there!), Dundee's dock area and centre were well worth walking around, the docks are actively being developed with restaurants and bars, there's a few very good sights in the centre worth a look including the McManus museum. Invergordon is tiny but the murals are nice to look at and the surrounding area is pretty. Scrabster was a low point, mainly because that was our one awful-weather day. We took the free shuttle into Thurso and walked around a bit, had a coffee and cake in a nice café but that was the limits of our patience with the downpour. We stayed in Oban to walk around, good vistas from the hill behind the town! Belfast we did a walking tour with a local guide and it was fascinating (though took up 2 hours)! My only recommendation to FOCL would be to amend the itinerary to call at at least one island as they are tantalisingly close as you sail around. Transfers We made our own way to Southampton before the cruise and back from it afterwards. Nothing to comment on here. Embarkation itself and disembarkation afterwards was quick and easy - no fuss. Cabin Our inside cabin was an anchor fare - so no choice over what cabin we had. It was at the front on deck 4, so some trepidation over seasickness if we had rough seas. The weather was kind, we only had bad seas on one night in the end despite all the storms brewing in the Atlantic. The first half of the trip up the east coast of the UK couldn't have been smoother. The cabin was spacious enough for our needs with a good amount of storage. Bathroom was standard for this class of cabin. We had a twin cabin and the steward made it into a double on our request, another stress of booking so last minute, we'd have been annoyed if the beds were fixed as separate. Dining We were very impressed with the food standard throughout the cruise. We ate on late service (8:30) in the Grampian. Excellent service from our two waiters and very good food throughout the cruise. We ate in the Palms buffet for breakfast and lunch as we normally do on a cruise. Interesting that on the Braemar staff seat you according to how busy the restaurant is - if it's busy you might be sharing, otherwise they find you a table of your own. Never had that in a buffet restaurant before - it makes for less chaos and 'running to grab a table'. Food was good in Palms for both times as well, very impressed with the lunch options overall. As with CMV, FOCL meal times are quite restricted - food isn't available mid afternoon. That's a bit annoying if you come back from an excursion or shore visit a bit late - we barely made lunch twice although the staff were very good about allowing us to grab a plate before they cleared. Unlike CMV, Fred do at least have a supper club - though eating this late we didn't need to use it. Normally we'd chose first sitting as we find it easier to organise our evenings when dining earlier but then the temptation for midnight snacks is always there! Alcoholic drinks seemed very reasonably priced, although the attempts at pushing cocktails of the day (which were not discounted?) was a bit annoying in the bars. Entertainment Very good shows from the company on board, they danced and sang very well. A more segmented show team than were used to - not gender balanced (no male dancers?) and the dancers didn't sing at all. Musicians were good overall in the bars, we listened to the pianist and the guitar/singer a few times each. The ship's orchestra were very, very good as well - it's nice to have live music for the shows. We weren't as impressed with the comedian/impressionist but then we weren't the target audience for the cruise perhaps (well below the average age...). Summary This cruise made a very positive first impression on us. Overall the cruise was good value and the ship and crew were welcoming and professional. The intinerary was interesting, though we were a bit frustrated by missing the castles. Food onboard was excellent, and the drinks selection was good. Would recommend! Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
We booked this cruise mainly because of the ports of call, which we hadn't been to before, and because of there being some river cruising involved. Embarkation at Southampton was stress free and our cases were outside our cabin by the ... Read More
We booked this cruise mainly because of the ports of call, which we hadn't been to before, and because of there being some river cruising involved. Embarkation at Southampton was stress free and our cases were outside our cabin by the time we got on the ship. We were very impressed by the quality of the food on board and had two excellent waiters. The company show group had just joined the ship and they were enthusiastic and extremely professional. We really enjoyed their shows. The ship is small and very easy to get around, but one lift was out of action for the whole cruise and this did cause problems for people with mobility limitations. We had a wet day at sea and it was difficult to find somewhere to sit in the public lounges. We sometimes found it difficult to find a chair on the promenade deck in the shade, but there were plenty of loungers on the sun deck. Unlike many ships there is not a theatre on board. Shows took place in the Neptune Lounge where the seating is not ideal for a good view. We did 3 shore excursions, and although expensive, they were well organised and interesting. Our only complaint on the Bordeaux wine tour to Graves and Sauternes was that we were not given a 'nibble' to go with the wine - not even a slice of French baguette! Disembarkation was very organised and our car was waiting for us as we got off the ship. We really enjoyed the Fred Olsen experience and will certainly use them again. Read Less
Sail Date August 2017
We chose this cruise because of the river features. It was more expensive but we wanted a luxury cruise. We found out from this site it was a flat bottom boat. We would never have booked as my husband is a poor sailor. He was sick for 2 ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the river features. It was more expensive but we wanted a luxury cruise. We found out from this site it was a flat bottom boat. We would never have booked as my husband is a poor sailor. He was sick for 2 days and drugged (sea sick tabs make him very sleepy) for a few more. Many people were unwell for first few days. Embarkation was quite smooth even though a man employed by southampton dock yard was very rude. Unwashed in dirty clothes unshaven. Shouting at us with out telling us what we were doing wrong. We heard him being equally rude to other passangers. Porters were apologetic. The ship is tierd past its best alot of noise from engins while dinning. Sometimes we couldn't hear other passanges on same table.engin noise bad in cabins. Others struggled as well. Ship broke down on way home. With engin trouble. But we still arrived back on time.WIFI VERY EXPENSIVE £13 for half hour this is just daylight robbery. Fred olsen should be ashamed. Is this even legal. The cakes and puddings were amazing. The rest of the food ranged from lovely to uneatable. Palms cafe not very good breakfast was difficult to get anything hot. Afternoon tea best meal. Alot of penny pinching small amounts ie half a quails egg. Having to buy coffee if not in restaurants or in room. Could not understand three formal nights one would have been more than enough. As the only reason for them seemed to be selling you photos. We did not go to the entertainment as we looked at it on telly and it looked very low key. Also we weren't interested in talks about 2nd world war. Husband enjoyed table tennis. Trips were good. Most expensive same on all cruises. All staff very good very egar to please. YaYa our cabin stewardess was very thorough. The best thing about the cruise was the other passengers. Really friendly and chatty. No bad language or drunkenness. Majority were quite a bit older. But had to admire the determination to have holidays dispite health issues. No children and this is not a cruise for them or really anyone under 40. Overall this cruise was not for us we were bored. Its put us off cruising. Many people loved it. They were very faithfull to the Fred lable. We thought fred olsen were taking advantage of their loyal customer base. This was not a luxury cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
Been on a couple of Fred Olsen cruises before on the Balmoral & was expecting the same kind of treatment ,sadly I couldn't have been more wrong !. the ship looked shabby & dated .The ship is not disabled friendly . there ... Read More
Been on a couple of Fred Olsen cruises before on the Balmoral & was expecting the same kind of treatment ,sadly I couldn't have been more wrong !. the ship looked shabby & dated .The ship is not disabled friendly . there are only two sets of lifts which are small & you have to walk down very long corridors to get to cabins which are cramped and not well fitted. There were only two smoking areas on board which can only be accessed by climbing stairs ,when I asked they had failed to offer a smoking area with level access I was quite rudely told that this was the wish of the owners & basically told hard luck . the entertainment is abysmal !.the excursions are an overpriced rip-off and they do not provide provide free shuttles out of the ports they charge you five pounds per day . Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
First we found out after boarding the ship that she was flat bottomed which of coarse meant there was much more movement in when cruising. Poor sailors beware. The cabins were very clean, the size adequate. The food varied from good ... Read More
First we found out after boarding the ship that she was flat bottomed which of coarse meant there was much more movement in when cruising. Poor sailors beware. The cabins were very clean, the size adequate. The food varied from good to excellent. The staff were brilliant, very hard working and very polite. The entertainment varied from poor to excellent depending on ones taste. We never used the Shore excursions because they seemed expensive compared with what one could organize for oneself. That applies to ALL cruise lines. There was only one thing that I would complain about and that is the WiFi. It was a complete RIP OFF. It costs £13 for 30 minutes and was SO SLOW. I only managed to view my bank account twice within the 30 minutes. Fred you should be ashamed, even Virgin Trains only charge £5 for 24 hours. I don't think I would sail with Fred again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
We had travelled on Balmoral and thought this was a good cruise company and we needed a break. The cabin was adequate but very tired. The bathroom facilities very basic, and this was a Superior Suite, £5k plus!!.. The food on board was ... Read More
We had travelled on Balmoral and thought this was a good cruise company and we needed a break. The cabin was adequate but very tired. The bathroom facilities very basic, and this was a Superior Suite, £5k plus!!.. The food on board was adequate, buffets were varied but nothing out of the ordinary offered. Very little fresh fruit, lots of tinned, and very few vegetables with plated meals. The restaurant staff and service were good good. It was a scramble to get seats in the Neptune lounge for evening entertainment. The floors in the toilets next to the Neptune Lounge were filthy. The announcements were often inaccurate. The ports visited were, on 3 out of 4 visits, building sites which needed to be negotiated on leaving the ship. The Observatory during this trip, was used as a napping area, with no atmosphere, nowhere to sit because of the sleepers. We are regular cruisers with several companies and this was the worst...ever. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
To celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary and our daughter-in-laws 50th Birthday. We booked this cruise as a group of 4 persons in January 2017. Just prior to leaving the UK my son read an adverse review regarding Braemar on your web ... Read More
To celebrate our 50th Wedding Anniversary and our daughter-in-laws 50th Birthday. We booked this cruise as a group of 4 persons in January 2017. Just prior to leaving the UK my son read an adverse review regarding Braemar on your web site. As a result I rang our travel agent and asked her to investigate. I informed her that if the allegations were substantiated, then to cancel our contract with Fred Olsen. She informed me that there was no corroborative evidence to support any allegation. We flew has independent travelers on February 8th 2018 and stayed in a villa at Enterprise Drive, near Oustins, Barbados. We joined Braemar on Thursday 15th February 2018 at Sugar Berth, Barbados harbour. Embarkation could not have gone better, we were allowed on the ship at 1200 hours whilst the disembarkation passengers were still on board. We were shown to our cabins 6036 and 6034 respectively. The cabins were spacious, clean, tidy and functional. We had an excellent two weeks on board Braemar. I fully agreed with the Captains decision not to visit Jamaica. I had read numerous reports of armed criminal gangs roaming the streets and 'no go areas' being declared by the local police. We had read complaints about dining experiences on Braemar. We dined first sitting in the Grampian Restaurant. The food and service were excellent, personally attended by Rashan (maitre'd). We had lobster (pictures taken to prove if required), and a wide variety of dishes every night. We had an evening in 'The Grill' and it was worth every penny. My wife and I had sirloins and our son and daughter-in-law had fillet steaks, which they described as large and delicious. I was so impressed with the quality of the food I requested to speak to the Executive Chef Mr Robert Swann. My family have cruised with the more upmarket cruise ships e.g. Azamara Quest & Journey and we all agreed that the food served up to us on Braemar was on a par with the Azamara ships. In our opinion Braemar should be upgraded from a 3 star ship to 4 star. We left the ship in Barbados on 28th February 2018 to fly home independently to a very cold and snow covered Manchester. We will continue to cruise with Fred Olsen Cruise Lines. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
We cruised in April in a 'Superior Outside Cabin' which was anything but. If you want to sleep at night on this ship, or at any other time come to that, do not book cabins 4141 or 4143 as the roaring from the deck above is ... Read More
We cruised in April in a 'Superior Outside Cabin' which was anything but. If you want to sleep at night on this ship, or at any other time come to that, do not book cabins 4141 or 4143 as the roaring from the deck above is unbearable. There may be other cabins that suffer from this noise nuisance and it would be worth your while to enquire when booking. We asked to be moved but, unfortunately, all other cabins were occupied as there had been a pipe fault on a lower deck, evidenced by a lack of water and toilet flushing in the cabins, and the occupants had to be moved to other cabins. We were told by Customer Services on the ship that they had heard this complaint about these particular cabins before. All they could suggest were ear plugs! When we arrived home we contacted Fred Olsen to let them know of our disappointment. They offered us approx. 10% of the money paid to be used on a future cruise. They also admitted that they had had this complaint before but had not told us of this nuisance when we booked. As we could have obtained a discount on board, added to our cruise club points, this was no discount at all and we had to book another cruise with Fred Olsen to use it! We have cruised exclusively with Fred Olsen for over 9 years but doubt that we will be sailing with them again. We had to spend the time snatching sleep in the public lounges which were quieter than the cabins. We are exceedingly disappointed that this noise nuisance is not pointed out to potential customers so that they are given the option of choosing another cabin. The staff, as usual, were first class. The cabin was spotless and the waiter service efficient and friendly. The excursions were, as usual, overpriced but enjoyable and Norway is a beautiful country. The captain pointed out several amazing sights over the loud speaker system. The photograph prices were extortionate and no discount was given, no matter how many photographs were purchased. This could have been a wonderful cruise if we had been able to get any sleep. As it was, it was ruined. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
One of our bucket list items was a cruise to the Fjords of Norway. Our first ever cruise was booked in December 2016 via Thomson and we booked on the Braemar - Fred Olsen. This was definitely the right choice. The ship was exactly right ... Read More
One of our bucket list items was a cruise to the Fjords of Norway. Our first ever cruise was booked in December 2016 via Thomson and we booked on the Braemar - Fred Olsen. This was definitely the right choice. The ship was exactly right for us. Everything was so well organised from arriving at the terminal in Southampton to getting off again. The ship itself was spotlessly clean. The cabin, an inside one on deck 6, was sufficient for our needs. Cleaned every morning and the beds turned down every night with chocolates on the pillows. The staff were all so friendly and helpful. The waiter and waitresses in the observatory lounge made sitting in there a pleasure. Our two waiters in the Thistle Lounge, Jonathan and Larry became like friends and I was very sad to leave. The size of ship was perfect for us and was very homely. Very comfortable. Entertainment was excellent. Although we had never cruised before and had nothing to compare this to, it was one of the best experiences we have had and I really want to go on another one. I would most certainly stick with Fred Olsen and I can't thank the Captain and crew enough for a most wonderful 30th Wedding anniversary holiday. Read Less
Sail Date April 2017
Lovely cruise from Tenerife to the Caribbean, everything excellent apart from:- The engines on the boat are extremely smokey, particularly noticeable at night, also leaving a layer of soot on the pool deck at one point one of the pools ... Read More
Lovely cruise from Tenerife to the Caribbean, everything excellent apart from:- The engines on the boat are extremely smokey, particularly noticeable at night, also leaving a layer of soot on the pool deck at one point one of the pools was closed for a day as it had soot on the bottom. As an asthma sufferer I am pretty aware of this health hazard and I think this needs immediate attention. Also whoever was at the helm when we docked in Bridgetown, very scary, we were coming in quite fast and the bow just missed the two dock cranes. I watched the safety officer shout at the people standing on the deck at the bow to get back, he thought we were going to hit the cranes I watched him brace for the impact. A lovely holiday, food was varied but superb, We ate mainly in the buffet restaurant on deck 6 which suited our needs, we twice had steak in the evening grill restaurant outside on deck six, this was also superb. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We were on board Braemar from the 7th November until the 8th December 2016 on back to back cruises. Embarkation at Southampton was swift (we are gold members and had booked freedom fare, so had priority. Also the sea was kind to us ... Read More
We were on board Braemar from the 7th November until the 8th December 2016 on back to back cruises. Embarkation at Southampton was swift (we are gold members and had booked freedom fare, so had priority. Also the sea was kind to us throughout. We love Braemar and have travelled on her a lot over the last couple of years and on each occasion there were no problems with fumes. However, this time there was a lot of very problematic fumes around the ship. Parts of the ship, including our first cabin, (6071) became uninhabitable as the cruise progressed. We did inform the guest relations lady, Geraldine, when it became particularly bad, and she was very kindly able to transfer us to a cabin which was much better (6051). It was still obvious that the fumes were present in various parts of the ship though, including the corridor by our first cabin and some staff did say that it had got worse over the last few months. Fred has done a lot to improve the appearance of his ships over the last year or two, so we just do not understand why something like this is being ignored, when it should clearly be repaired. We had been given various excuses for the fumes by senior staff, including that the inlet for the mid ship air con is by the inlet for fuel when bunkering. If this was the case it should be moved, though we do not see this can be the problem as the fumes appeared at different times, even when at sea for a couple of days, so not just when bunkering. Also, we had been on the ship previously (23 nights late 2014, 28 nights late 2015 and 8 nights in May 2016) and it was not noticeable on any of those occasions. Regards the other aspects of the ship and the staff on board the cruise was a good as ever. Esel, Victor and Patrick were as usual very personable and highly efficient at managing their respective restaurants, indeed all restaurant staff were excellent. The food was also very good throughout the cruise, (though I do wonder if I should be complaining to the chef because of my weight gain). At this stage I cannot remember the names of our cabin stewards, but both were extremely pleasant and helpful as well as being highly efficient. Apart from the problem with fumes, both cabins we were in were very good with quite a decent view out of the “fully obstructed” windows as the cabins were by the end of the respective lifeboats, so there was diagonal view as well as over the top of the lifeboats. We do not go to the shows and other entertainment/activities often, though we were fairly happy with the ones we did attend. My main complaint regards entertainment is that there was a classical musician on board for much of the cruise, but he/she was always scheduled for very late afternoon. These performances are something I would have loved to attend, but as we were on first dinner, starting at 6.15pm it was never possible for me to do so. There were no musicians on in the show lounges at night, which was a great shame, as we have previously enjoyed musicians billed as cabaret artists, (flautists etc.). Sadly there is no longer a Rosario Trio on this ship, which left the Bookmark café area really quiet and almost eerie in the evenings. There was a pianist in the observation lounge who was OK, but the guitarist in the Morning Light Pub, Luke Palmer, was nothing short of appalling and we were not the only people to comment on that. Out of the Cabaret artists I would say that Geoff Taylor stood out as being much better than the others over both cruises. There was a speaker, David Parkin, who did some talks about birds and was very good, but sadly his number of talks were cut down, so he did not have time to give a double session talk on migration which he had planned and prepared. My husband was particularly annoyed about that and I would have liked to hear those talks as well. Not sure what replaced his missing lecture slot(s), but it was nothing that interested us. From our point of view, the best entertainers, on board were undoubtedly “The Revolverlites” who played in the Coral Club. They did a really good selection of more modern music and performed far better than we would normally expect on a cruise ship. They were also very pleasant people when seen around the ship. I took a particular liking to Natasha, who was the singer with that band. The ports were good, which is largely why we choose Fred Cruises at times and we were particularly pleased to be able to visit El Hierro this time. We hired a car there (from CICAR), which we booked on the internet before the cruise and the day went very well, despite the weather, which sadly was not the best on that day. The return flight to Manchester was badly delayed. We were kept on the ship longer to allow for part of that delay, but Fred got us to the airport far too late for the revised flight time, (I suspect they did not want to pay for coaches to wait a long time at the airport for the new arrivals). Hence we were being called to the gate as we cleared security, so there was no time to have a drink in an airport café as we were not sure when we would be called to board. However, there was quite a delay at the gate, which was fine for us as we just sat down. However, some people decided to stand in a queue at the gate, even before being called to board and chose to complain about having to stand later. There were plenty of empty seats to sit on by the gate so it was just silly to stand in a queue at that stage. The flight did take a long time to embark the people who needed assistance (not surprising considering Fred's age demographic), but once premium were called they boarded very quickly and likewise when the rest of the passengers were called. Unfortunately there was a further delay after we boarded for a technical reason, which meant we arrived in Manchester more than three hours late. This was the second time we have used Fred’s flights and the second time there had been problems, which is not a good track record. Overall, the cruise still had a number of plus points, but the fumes were such a bad problem to the extent that we feel it spoilt the whole cruise and would not book this ship again unless we understood the problem to have been fully repaired. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
Only the second time on this ship. Checking in and embarkation very good. Muster was quick and efficient, sailed on time. Our cabin 7054 on bridge deck was adequate, although storage room was not the best we have had on other Fred Olsen ... Read More
Only the second time on this ship. Checking in and embarkation very good. Muster was quick and efficient, sailed on time. Our cabin 7054 on bridge deck was adequate, although storage room was not the best we have had on other Fred Olsen ships. Our cabin stewardess was superb, efficient without going over the top. Adaptors were already in our cabin for use of the tea/coffee facility. The public lounges were always clean and tidy as was the Grampian restaurant where we had our meals. All of the waiters were excellent and nothing was to much trouble. On our first night I filled in a wine request form at around 1800hrs and our chosen wine was waiting on our table when we arrived at 2030hrs. Food at all meals was very good with plenty of choice, quite a few dishes for vegetarians and we did not here any complaints from our fellow cruisers. Good selection of tours ashore, we did about four, all varied and enjoyed them all. What really made the cruise was the crew including the hosts and show company, we knew the deputy cruise director and cruise director from other ships so it was like catching up with old friends. I did read a previous review from Deck Cargo and the poor comments. In answer, the crew were great on our ship, he said the cruise was to the Baltic Sea, I think it was a Seine river cruise to Rouen. Lastly, in the brochure it states that a bottle of sparkling wine is provided in your balcony suite cabin not champagne, I cannot speak for the TV advert as I do not spend my cruise watching television, particularly when the cruise is so short. Read Less
Sail Date September 2016
Once and Once Only My wife and I have over the years taken many cruises with many different lines, but had never been with Fred Olsen before and won’t be going again. We had heard mixed reviews about Fred, with some friends liking it ... Read More
Once and Once Only My wife and I have over the years taken many cruises with many different lines, but had never been with Fred Olsen before and won’t be going again. We had heard mixed reviews about Fred, with some friends liking it and others hating it. So we decided to try a short cruise to see for ourselves before booking anything longer. The conclusion was once and once only, there was something about this ship we did not like. Overall the crew did not come across as a happy one, they looked very tired, it was a lot of what I could call British Airways smiles. I know crews do not like short cruises as it means turn around days are close together. Embarkation and Disembarkation The check in went smoothly and by the time we got on board our luggage was already outside our cabin, disembarkation also went well, but these are about the only positives about this cruise. Shore Excursions We did not take any shore excursions, there were only two offered on the first day in port and none on the second day, thought this was rather poor. Our Cabin 7008 this is classed as a balcony suite, I would only class it as a mini suite, we had been informed that on average Fred's cabins were on the small side and we can confirm that appears to be correct. There was a settee and armchair, these were smaller than normal size and very low, it might be that these were purchased this size to make the cabin look bigger? The bathroom was very small, the only bathroom on a ship or boat that I can remember which was smaller than this one was thirty plus years ago on a Russian river cruiser. When having a shower the water temperature goes up and down, presumably because other passengers on the same water circuit are using theirs? The cabin was supplied with tea and coffee making facilities, unfortunately the kettle was fitted with an English type three pin plug but all the sockets were of the continental type. So we asked our stewardess how to plug the kettle in, and were informed that we had to go to reception and ask for an adaptor as she was not allowed to do that. So we went to reception and asked for an adaptor, the receptionist immediately gave a note to another member of staff and informed us that an adaptor would be delivered to our cabin straight away. About a hour and half later we returned to our cabin and guess what, no adaptor, so we telephoned reception and a few minutes later an adaptor actually arrived. The only plus points about this cabin is that it is located in a quiet position towards one end of a corridor and the balcony is a useful shape, fairly deep back to front. The Stewardess wanted to come early and do the turndown service before we went to diner each night as we were on the late sitting at 8.30, we said no as we both like to have a shower and change our clothes before diner. On all other ships, we have always left the makeup room card on the door when going to dinner and any turndown service happened whist we were out. Dining The main dining room was very noisy, didn't appear to be enough waiters, they have to almost run between tables to try and keep up, Fred Olsen expects too much of the staff, it makes the restaurant look and sound like a fast food place. One night I ordered a baked potato with my main course, but instead received a single boiled potato, obviously someone thought I should go on a diet. On the First night waiter came to take my order, but I hadn't had a menu yet, other tables had been laid out with menus, also when the main courses arrived my wife was still short of a fork. Thought the overall food choice was rather poor, on the gala night menu there was not the usual lobster or beef Wellington, but there was shepherd’s pie. Also I believe Fred should be awarded a prize for the worst beard rolls at sea. Wine Service Information in the cabin suggested it was best to preorder wine for dinner as things could get a little busy, so in the afternoon we did this by filling out one of the little order forms just outside the dining room and placed it in the box provided. This was a complete waste of time, when we went to diner we thought the wine would be brought to our table, not so, other tables who had not preordered were managing to get drinks or wine. When I finally managed to attract a waiters attention he knew nothing about preordered wine, but he did manage to retake our order and only half a hour after we had sat down it arrived. It appears that there are no actual wine waiters; it's the waiters who serve the wine. One of the onboard TV presentations re the 'suite dreams' package the presenter stated that you would receive a bottle of champagne in your cabin; this is not quite the case as it is actually sparkling wine. Onboard information stated we would receive a customer questionnaire at the end of the cruise but we never did, after we returned home we did receive an online questionnaire but this was only about what we thought about Rouen and if we had taken a shore excursion, nothing else. No questions regarding what we thought of the cruise. Certainly my wife and I will not be booking any future cruises with Fred; there are many far far better lines available. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
The Sounds and Smells of a Superior Suite This short cruise on Braemar (August 19th to 27th 2016) to the Norwegian Fjords was our second Fred. Olsen cruise of the year, having previously sailed on Boudicca. The Braemar compares ... Read More
The Sounds and Smells of a Superior Suite This short cruise on Braemar (August 19th to 27th 2016) to the Norwegian Fjords was our second Fred. Olsen cruise of the year, having previously sailed on Boudicca. The Braemar compares favourably with the Boudicca – although both of these ships have a dated appearance and lack the design features of more modern ships, the Braemar did not have the tired look of the Boudicca. Refurbishments to these ships can do little to hide the fact that the basic structure and their fittings are old. The main attraction of the Fred. Olsen fleet to us is the size of the ships, the age profile of the passengers, and the excellent service provided by a friendly staff. The time of our travel meant that there were more children than usual on this cruise, but in general we enjoyed excellent service from the crew. Our cabin on Bridge Deck (7046) was designated a ‘Superior Suite’ and this appeared to be the highest category of cabin on the Braemar. The most desirable features of a suite should be the degree of comfort provided and the amount of space available. Cabin 7046 was very comfortable and extremely spacious with a good-sized double bed; a very large balcony (equipped with a table and two chairs, plus two sun loungers; however, the deck above prevented us obtaining good upward views in the fjords); plenty of storage space; a desk; and a table with two easy chairs and a settee. The kettle and fridge were very useful and some features of the ‘Suite Dreams’ package were much appreciated: bottled water, fruit, sparkling wine on arrival, a laundry allowance, and a pressing service. The bathroom was on the small size, but was adequate, with a good shower. The hot water was dangerously hot, and there were a number of signs warning passengers to test the temperature before use. The deck plan for the Bridge Deck shows a winding corridor, not the usual straight design. And, in the case of cabin 7046, the corridor takes a curve near the door to the suite. This curve is also apparent in the cabin itself, and behind this curve is a swimming pool – access to which is on the deck above. Consequently there was a sound of water being constantly pumped in the pool. This was generally not too intrusive, but some passengers may benefit from taking ear plugs for use at night. However, on two occasions during the night (once at 3:30am, once at 11:30pm) a terribly loud noise awoke us, that may have been the pump working under some considerable stress. We never received a satisfactory answer to what had caused the noise – one explanation being that the pool was being refilled prior to being available to passengers at 8am (this was at 3:30am!) and that it would cease in twenty minutes; however, the noise went on for an hour. To be awakened at such an hour by a very loud, unidentifiable noise was very frightening, and although some minor compensation was made, it ruined a night’s sleep. At the same time as reporting the first incident of the ‘noise in the night’ to Guest Relations, we also complained regarding a strong smell of urine in the corridor outside the cabin. The response to this was the use of air freshener, but this only relieved the problem somewhat. Eventually the problem was found to be emanating from a wall hatch immediately outside the door to the suite. Apparently this hatch gives access to the pool’s plumbing and the ‘urine’ smell was being caused by the pool’s chlorine. Overall, a very enjoyable trip, but we felt that Guest Relations should have taken a more pro-active response to complaints from passengers Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
Southampton is convenient as a departure point,we wanted a less stressful experience than airports and wanted to see the Norwegian Fjords. This cruise ticked all those boxes for us. Embarkation was hassle-free, the ABP parking a bit dear ... Read More
Southampton is convenient as a departure point,we wanted a less stressful experience than airports and wanted to see the Norwegian Fjords. This cruise ticked all those boxes for us. Embarkation was hassle-free, the ABP parking a bit dear but very efficient, as it was for disembarkation. The Braemar is a well run ship, hand cleanliness very obvious and emphasised as it should be. The crew are very helpful, always available and unobtrusive.We had an outside cabin with porthole Windows, a good size and very well maintained. The food- brilliant, plentiful, imaginative and well presented.There were plenty of activities on sailing days, the library is one of the best places to sit in. When it's warm enough, the sun deck is well supplied with loungers and chairs. Entertainment was professional and varied, worth seeing. We would definetly return. The Braemars strength is its crew who make everything so easy and enjoyable. Read Less
Sail Date August 2016
We wanted to do the German Rivers Cruise and this lived up to our expectations with the towns visited. We have now cruised on Braema twice and find this ship is 'homely' and has a good atmosphere. As always the crew are ... Read More
We wanted to do the German Rivers Cruise and this lived up to our expectations with the towns visited. We have now cruised on Braema twice and find this ship is 'homely' and has a good atmosphere. As always the crew are brilliant, the food good. Our frustration surrounds the fact that the ship was extended and more cabins added, which was clearly a commercial decision to improve the cost effectiveness of running this ship. The fact that the Neptune Lounge was not redesigned/ extended is a major weakness. Port Talks on sea days are a nightmare as you have to be up very early to get a seat in the lounge. Watching these in the cabin on the television is a VERY POOR substitute. We are not saying NEVER AGAIN - but we will be considering it very carefully and the itinerary will have to be very good. Over and Out Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
WE had very loud engine noise below us on the first night . Had no sleep ,so had to move decks. Restaurant at night noisy also,we could not hear the people on the opposite side of the table.Had no explanation for this which continued ... Read More
WE had very loud engine noise below us on the first night . Had no sleep ,so had to move decks. Restaurant at night noisy also,we could not hear the people on the opposite side of the table.Had no explanation for this which continued the entire cruise. although we complained every time.The food was excellent and our cabin clean all staff polite and friendly. Will not travel on this ship again which needs updating. Shore excursions expensive,entertainment very good.Had a previous cruise on Balmoral which was excellent so we were really looking forward to this one .Itinerary was good getting in to the center of large cities. Disembarkation was delayed and at a different terminal to embarkation which ment finding our car difficult.We had to keep going back to the reception area about moving and trying to get compensation. This made our first 3 days of the cruise very stressful. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
Because my friend and I wanted to go to the places this cruise visited. I have cruised a few times and this is the first Fred Olsen and best one I've been on. Everyone was very friendly and helpful, I particularly liked the way you ... Read More
Because my friend and I wanted to go to the places this cruise visited. I have cruised a few times and this is the first Fred Olsen and best one I've been on. Everyone was very friendly and helpful, I particularly liked the way you were given a table at lunch time, the food was presented and cooked well and a good variety. The ship was smaller than I been on before and I felt it was much better and more friendly. The entertainment was superb, also the activities. The night where the staff entertained us was brilliant it was good to see the different customs and dances. I went on a number of excursions which were brilliant with the exception of St Petersburg city visit which I think you need to go on foot (I couldn't walk well that's why I chose this excursion) The whole of the holiday from embarkation to disembarkation went like a dream and most enjoyable. (Thank you Braemar for a lovely cruise) Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Cabin 7020 is a large cabin that has been created by joining two cabins. Cabin 7022 is missing from the deck plan. Though big there is a lot of waste space. The cabin that would be the original 7020 has no window but an angled outer wall ... Read More
Cabin 7020 is a large cabin that has been created by joining two cabins. Cabin 7022 is missing from the deck plan. Though big there is a lot of waste space. The cabin that would be the original 7020 has no window but an angled outer wall leaving a recess that is unfurnished and of no use. Though there was a lot of space to use the design is unimaginative and the bathroom that juts into the cabin between the two original ones is minute even though there was enough to create something more appropriate for the suite that would also improve the layout of the room. In the bathroom you have to breath in to close the door. That is not quite true but toweling yourself dry after a shower is a restrained exercise. There is no bath. There were no loose amenities but soap and body lotion by Cole and Lewis, London, (no, me neither) are in bottles fixed to the wall and in the shower there is also some shampoo. There is a very large balcony that has an interesting shape and is furnished with recliners, chairs and a table. It is an attractive feature. The deck above overhangs the whole of the balcony so it will be shaded for much of the day. The room is silent and free of all engine noise and vibration. Very few sounds are heard from elsewhere. It was a northern cruise in cool weather so the open deck above with pools and loungers,was not used but occasional footfalls were heard and they could be more persistent in warm weather. The beds were comfortable though the pillows are very soft without much bulk. Loads of electrical outlets are scattered about. Storage is generous with plenty of drawer and hanging space and more hangers than could be used. The TV is wall mounted quite high up alongside the bed. It is a small screen, about 23" though not measured, and viewed from the opposite side of the double cabin the distance is too great for really comfortable viewing. Though the design is unimaginative and the bathroom pokey it is a comfortable room and we would be happy to use it again. FOOD The menus are attractively put together and you can eat well but not entirely consistently. The variability reduces the best grade to four star. The chef's strong point is soups and meats and we enjoyed good Beef Wellington, duck, lamb shank and liver cooked Berlin style, as well as steak sandwiches. These were up to five star cruise standard. Fish was not so successful and on the two occasions I tried it was overcooked. Salads were excellent, crisp, bright and interesting with well made dressings. Vegetables were variable and often overcooked, broccoli which seemed to feature on most main dishes, was cooked until it had lost its colour and become limp and tasteless. Mashed potato was a mystery that shouldn't be allowed. It was part of many evening main courses and was consistently left untouched without any of the staff asking why. The baker produced wonderful croissants and good breads. The scones get only a 3/10. Maybe a only British housewife who makes just a small batch at a time can make the perfect one. On board, they were over mixed, dense and leaden, smooth and shiny buns and to make matters worse were served with jam and a white substitute cream. My best guess is that it was made with milk powder and a little water frothed up with nitrous oxide gas.Dreadful. Pastries were rather hit and miss. We enjoyed some fine tarts for desserts but the Sherry Trifle served on British Night was disowned by all the Brits on the table. The pastry lid for the rather fine steak and Guiness pie was an under cooked dough. Tea during breakfast and after the other meals was served from flasks. Refills were frequent and were always hot. The tea served was Twinings made with tea bags. There was a good selection of tea bags if you preferred to make your own. We did not purchase a drinks package but bought wine by the glass from the list. The list was a five star creation of wines by the bottle or by the glass and the prices were modest. We had some good stuff. People on the drinks package could purchase wine from the list at half price. LIFTS There were two lifts forward and two aft. A total of four in all. One or other lift was frequently out of service and very occasionally both lifts forward or aft were out together. PASSENGERS The cruise out of Dover to the German Hanseatic Ports was sold as an Adults Only one. The ship seemed fully booked and most if not all the passengers were from Britain. They were also quite elderly and I spotted maybe four or so who might have been under forty. Most were well over that and mobility aids were in good use. They put a high demand on the available lifts. CREW The hotel staff is 80% Filipino and without exception the ones we met in the room, restaurants and bars were as pleasant and accommodating as any we have met on any other cruise. LECTURES I missed the first two lectures on the ports that were to be first on our itinerary. They were in the morning about 10am. We had two full sea days before the first port and with the clock going forward soon after sailing I though it was an opportunity to take things easy. Also, even though it was not stormy, the North Sea was lumpy and the ship's motion on day one was unpleasant. I heard that the first lecture was delivered seated. I preferred a more horizontal position myself with a late breakfast in the room but nevertheless the theater was full for the lectures. No bio of the lecturer was published in the ship's daily programme so I have no idea who he was. The talks had good practical information including help for those who were inclined towards DIY visits avoiding the organised tours. PA ANNOUNCEMENTS At sea these were limited to the Captain's noon report. A very good arrangement that some other companies might take note of. SAFETY DRILL DOT sports, the muster drill, was briefed in detail on how to enter the lifeboats and what to expect. There would be 150 on board each and they would be crowded but there would be a seat for all. Soon after launching a seasick pill would be issued to all on board. Once one person threw up it would be followed by more. The briefer was asked what the pills were but was not able to answer. Some of the older passengers said that they were unlikely to take unknown medication, presumably because they were on a complex regime already. PORTS The cruise began with two sea days and dinner was formal on the second night. In the Grampian Restaurant (the smaller of the two restaurants) at the second sitting almost all the men were in black tie. The first port was Flensburg which sits on the border between Germany and Denmark. The berth was about 3k from the town centre and two shuttle buses were laid on (fee). Boarding cards for the bus departing the ship were issued and passengers were called when theirs was loading. It took about an hour for us to get away after we were ready. Flensburg is a compact Northern German town that could be explored easily in two or three hours. From its time as one of the important Hanseatic ports it is proud of its association with rum from the West Indies. Most of the restaurants serving lunch seemed to be cafes and fast food outlets so it would have been a good idea to have done some research beforehand if something more formal or German was preferred. Travemunde is a small seaside town at the mouth of the River Trave and is now a suburb of Lubeck. The ship moored in the centre of town and it was a ten minute walk to the rail station. There was an hourly train into Lubeck (22 mins) but alternatively there was a half hourly bus (40 mins). The Old Town of Lubeck is a UN World Heritage site. It sits on an island in the river and is a ten minute walk from the station and the bus terminal. When Germany was divided into East and West the line ran through the Old Town. The pedestrian signals at various traffic lights were still a mix of former East or West German styles and give the visitor some idea what the town was like before reunification. The town is renowned for Marzipan and Niederegger's shop in the Market Place is a must-see. The marzipan is a paler shade than the more yellow paste seen in the UK and has a less intense almond flavour. The Marienkirsch , also in the same area, is one of the most beautifully impressive medieval churches in Europe. The Ratskeller, below the Town Hall, is a warren of cubicles where you can get a good, if simple, lunch. They had an English menu and the big thing was schnitzels and also asparagus. No sausages nor saurkraut of any description on this menu and nor were they seen on any in Flensburg. I thought sausages were a staple of all German restaurants. Lubeck has a community-wide free WiFi service with a good signal in most places (Not in the Ratskellar) Thirty hours in Hamburg saw us alongside at the Cruise Terminal that is well served by a U-Bahn station and two bus routes. The full day was on a Sunday that was also May Day and the City was quieter than usual. The final port was Bremen which is several hours cruise up river from Bremerhaven. The berth was in an industrial area about twenty minutes by frequent tram from the Old Town. A shuttle bus connected the berth to the tram. Lubeck (from Travemunde) followed closely by Bremen were our two best ports. The long stopover in Hamburg coincided with a Sunday that was also a Public Holiday so lacked some of the buzz of a working city and put extra pressure on the attractions that were open. Flensburg is very compact and it was the one port where we might have benefitted from an organised tour. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
Overall a good cruise, but we will not be tempted to sail anywhere from Dover in the future! It's access and the lack of decent hotels and taxis in the area is an absolute nightmare. As we were travelling down by train the day before ... Read More
Overall a good cruise, but we will not be tempted to sail anywhere from Dover in the future! It's access and the lack of decent hotels and taxis in the area is an absolute nightmare. As we were travelling down by train the day before the cruise we wanted a hotel in Dover, and we booked a sea view room at the Best Western as it was the only way we could be assured that we would not have a trail of lorries outside our window all night. We did not have the lorries but we did have a cars wizzing along the promenade every few minutes (presumably to avoid the busy road to the rear of our hotel). The hotel was also very hot with no air conditioning, so we had to endure either the noise or the extreme heat, so I only got about 4 hours sleep. Our express train to London on the return had people standing from Ashford as there were not enough seats. Also, we had to get a rail replacement bus between Dover and Folkestone and the only way we knew about that is because it was announced on Fred's website - our tickets gave times and journeys to/from Dover with no mention of a bus and different times! The replacement busses were chaotic, being overcrowded with no proper storage space for luggage and there were no directions from the station to the bus stop (and vice versa), yet the bus did not stop outside the station in Folkestone so was very difficult to find. We got a taxi to the port and embarkation worked efficiently as we were prioritised as gold oceans members on freedom fare, so we were soon on board. We have travelled on this ship a number of times before and it is our favourite Fred ship. Luckily the seas were calm as this ship it is not very stable in rough seas, though we had booked a very central cabin in case of that. The staff were excellent as usual and it was good to be back on board what we always find to be a very happy ship, as the staff just continue to work hard and remain happy and pleasant at all times. I would like to particularly mention Somkhit, our cabin stewardess, who kept the cabin spotless and worked very hard throughout the cruise. I would also like to mention Chaider, from the Palms restaurant who is always working hard whenever we saw him on this and previous cruises, yet he always has a friendly smile and greeting for us. Unfortunately we could not book the Grampian for dinner this time, but we were well served in the main restaurant by the staff, many of whom we have met previously and they remembered us. Rommel runs a well organised restaurant service. The public areas of this ship are well maintained and it has a lighter more airy feel than the other Fred Olsen ships as it is slightly more modern. We had booked an inside cabin on deck 4 for this cruise, which I will review below though it was hotter than we would have liked most of the time. There were quizzes and other daytime activities, but we did not partake. We do not often go to the shows either, but we saw part of one by the comedian/magician (Aidan Murphy) on our cabin TV and were not impressed. There was a pianist in the observation lounge and musician in the Morning Light Pub, yet the large seating space in the Bookmark cafe was eerily silent because the Rosario Trio who used to be there is sadly no longer present on this ship. They were always our favourite musicians on board so they were sadly missed by us. The young band, called ‘The Revolverlites’ who played in the Coral were extremely good and were happy for us to use that dancefloor for ‘disco’ style dancing whilst they were playing, so all venues were not taken over purely by the Ballroom dancers as often happens on Fred’s ships. The hot food was disappointing this time, especially compared to what we have previously experienced on Fred’s ships, although the cold buffets for breakfast and lunch were still pretty good. We were on early sitting, but we wanted to eat later on two days because of port times and unfortunately those days were the ones when the Asian and Indian buffets were being served in the Palms restaurant. This meant we had to book ahead for the set time of 8.30pm to eat there rather than just go in as we wished. The food for those special buffets could only be described as bad – we have never had such poor offerings for Indian and Oriental food and it bore no resemblance to food we have eaten either in those countries, or in restaurants in the UK. The only saving grace was the papadoms and the sweets, (apart from the banana fritters which would have been better called Banana soggys). We had taken the AI package this time which, despite the limitations, we found to be adequate for us. We thought the bar service may have been slow as the ship was very full for that cruise, but found it was quite promt, so were pleased about that. There were problems getting served in some areas out on deck, but we have found that to be the case on all Fred Olsen cruises. This was a Maiden Port Mystery Cruise and we had booked because the ports were all maiden calls. I had done a lot of searching the internet and thought I had got all ports identified, but I only got two, which were Wismar and Fredericia. The only ship’s excursion we did was a seal watching boat trip from Lysekil and that was excellent. I got 'seeking seals' right but not the port! The set up was that the ports had always been referred to as "mystery port 1-6" and the trips were known as "mystery trip A to M". We were given a daily sheet as usual the night before, which gave "mystery port x" or a sea day. The trip departures and their meeting times were denoted as "mystery trip x". As we arrived in port, it was either the captain or the cruise director who announced the port name and usually the country, although we had to wait a bit longer for the country one day. The trips were still referred to as "mystery trip x" and we were not told we were looking for seals on our trip until they were sighted – a real mystery trip! A sat nav used on the open decks to determine co ordinates before retiring to bed and a photocopy taken from our atlas of the area around Denmark was also useful from our point of view! I was fairly certain we were going to that area, given the 'clues' we had been given regarding number of countries, UNESCO sites, trip descriptions and Fred's brochures for the next two years showing ports to be visited subsequently. We were obviously heading for Sweden from Fredericia for the last port as we still needed our fourth country and we were going north. We also knew we were in port the next day, with the final day being a sea day . As the ports were all maiden calls for Fred and most were rarely, if at all done by other cruise companies, I will review each port here in detail:- Larvik, Norway This was a bit of a a problem as Fred sent their shuttle busses to the centre of town, which was a shopping area, rather than the sea front which was the tourist area. We also we had no useful tourist information. The sea front area was very pleasant for people who could walk down the steep hill to the sea front and back up to the shuttle bus point as there were things of tourist interest and a couple of bars/restaurants there. There was also a view point and lovely woodland area nearer to the shuttle drop. When we returned to the town centre there was a band playing in the square, so we bought an ice cream from a kiosk and sat in the sun for a while. We enjoyed the port a lot once we found our way round - but we are able bodied, unlike many of Fred’s passengers. If the ship’s shuttle bus had stopped at the sea front and if we had been given good tourist information, I believe many people would have liked this port, but with the circumstances as they were, many people were not happy. It was also a couple of weeks prior to the main tourist season, so a number of tourist facilities were not open, though we liked that as it meant the town was quiet and peaceful. Hundested, Denmark The people of Hundested have to be given 10/10 for trying. They put on displays of Viking fighters and gave us a really good send off with singing, a cannon firing and lots of waving. It was just a shame the facilities are not there to accommodate 800+ cruise passengers at one time. The small local shuttle bus was not easily accessible because there were too many people wanting to use it, and there were no taxis available in the town if you could not get on the shuttle bus. There was also a lack of good bars/cafes, (or even drinks kiosks), were they were needed, (particularly by Knud Rasmussen’s house). Ramussen was an explorer and we paid entrance to the house, but felt there was very little there for the price paid and what information boards were available were mainly in Danish. We had eventually been able to get the shuttle bus to there and after our visit, we walked on to Kikhavn, (an old fishing village), where one of the residents had kindly opened their garden to provide tea and cakes for the Braemar passengers with just a contribution box present. The walk was along a pleasant coastal path and indeed a few people had walked there from the cruise dock. Had we known facilities would have been so limited we would have taken a lot of water or other drinks/snacks with us, but we found our small bottles of water were not enough and there were not even any shops to buy drinks – even at Ramussens house, though there were toilets. Hence we spent much of the day feeling incredibly thirsty as it was a hot day. The immediate port area was an old industrial location which had been developed with craft workshops, a micro brewery and a couple of restaurants. It was heaving with people, which was worse because it was a sunny Sunday with lots of Danish day trippers as well as our ship mates from Braemar. Hence we did not linger in that area. We were the first cruise ship to dock in the new cruise dock, so I expect things will improve in the future, but meanwhile the port is not really suitable for a ship full of cruise passengers – even a small one like Braemar. There was nothing in the town at all for tourists. Nyborg, Denmark This was an exceptionally good port and in our opinion the best of the cruise. It was a beautiful historic town, with many characteristic buildings and also a lovely moat and lake that could easily be accessed from the town by walking through a tunnel under a grass mound by the castle. There was a path along the moat and also plenty of seats so we bought some food from a local shop and returned with a picnic lunch to this lovely area. We also had a couple of drinks in local cafes, all of which were very pleasant. The people in the city had really gone out of their way to make us welcome by opening attractions that are normally closed on the day we visited and letting us have free entry to them. There was a Castle, Water Tower and a really interesting museum. The normal entry charges to those places were not high, so even with payment I would suggest a visit to all or at least some of them would be worthwhile. A special program was printed for us with details of the city and the places I have mentioned. It also had details of walking tours of the city and/or the Castle which we could use if we wanted. Instead we chose to use the comprehensive walking guides which had been made available to us and just stroll around. So there were lots of things to do in the city and it was compact, so it was easy to relax and just enjoy that day, which we did immensely. The people in this city were also very friendly and helpful at all times and there was even free wifi by the tourist information office. I can see it becoming a very popular cruise port in the future, so it was nice to visit now before it gets over run. Wismar, Germany This was quite a touristy, old, Hanseatic city, with a large central square and numerous historic buildings. It was busier and more touristy than Nyborg, but none the less it was a very pleasant place and we had an enjoyable day there. It was easy to pick up tourist information and we visited a couple of churches, which are the main tourist attractions. One old church, which was largely a shell, had a lift to the top of the tower, (which we accessed for a small fee), to get views of the city and the area around. One church had been demolished as the city was in East Germany before the wall came down, so funding had not been available to maintain and renovate it. Despite that recent history, the city as a whole was in very good condition and buildings well maintained now. We visited the ‘Alter Schwede’ bar/restaurant in the square, (which dated from a time when the city was Swedish), and it was impressive. We also went to the ‘Brauhaus am Lohberg zu Wismar’, which is a micro-brewery, not far from the port. As we were due to sail out of the port we were serenaded by a local male choir, (I think with sea shanties), and then a display of soldiers in old costumes firing of a mini cannon. Fredericia, Denmark This was a maiden call for Fred Olsen, but has been visited by some fairly large ships previously. Again a pleasant town, though more a mix of old and new. We followed the walking route we had been given of the town, which also involved walking along some of the grass mounds and along part of the moat which originally formed defences for the city. Hence it was again a chance to be in a city, yet enjoy some pleasant natural areas around. We climbed the White Water Tower for a small charge to get views around, then returned to the town for a drink before returning to the ship. This port was walkable from the ship, so no shuttles needed. Another good send off with an even smaller miniature cannon being fired by soldiers in costume and lots of waving. Lysekil, Sweden This was the port were we went on the excursion which had been billed as a ‘boat trip searching for curious marine mammals’. We were fairly sure it was seals as they are reputed to be curious, (about things), so we went armed with binoculars and a good camera. It was well worth having the binoculars as we got some really good detailed views of the seals. They would still have been visible by eye alone, but not in detail. The boat trip was very good indeed with small, picturesque, rocky islands all around and the captain gave a good commentary both as we were going and quietly when we were within view of the seals. After a quick lunch on board Braemar, we caught the shuttle bus into the town, which was a very pleasant, small town in a picturesque location. Disembarkation was earlier than usual as the ship was then sailing on to Southampton to pick up passengers for the next cruise, so we had to vacate cabins by 7am. As we were so early and there were queues for taxis, we walked back into the town and had a second light breakfast in a café to the side of the Best Western Hotel, before strolling up through the town of Dover to the train station. So overall the cruise was very good and we were pleased with the choice and variety of ports which included a selection of towns, but also quieter, scenic locations. The main reason we sail is for the ports and we do like this ship, so we will undoubtedly sail on her again. We just hope the disappointments, such as the food will regain some of it's previous quality. Read Less
Sail Date May 2016
We chose the cruise because of the itinerary - German waterways and that was everything we hoped for. Great stops at Flensburg, Travemunde, Hamburg and Bremen and peaceful and scenic cruise down the rivers and Kiel canal. At all ports we ... Read More
We chose the cruise because of the itinerary - German waterways and that was everything we hoped for. Great stops at Flensburg, Travemunde, Hamburg and Bremen and peaceful and scenic cruise down the rivers and Kiel canal. At all ports we did our own thing so cannot comment on excursions. We had a superior suite on deck 7, roomy with sofa, two armchairs, loads of storage space and really large balcony. Bathroom with bath, shore over bath, twin basins and wc. Some might find the bath an wc cubicle a bit narrow and there is a high threshold on the door, very dated compared to more modern ships. The hot water can get very hot and is potentially dangerous. There was a kettle for tea and coffee and a fridge full of the usual high priced mini-bar drinks. Bottled still mineral water supplied free. The suite dream package not really worth having although the cava was nice. Canapés always seemed stale and I do not consider it a perk to have a mini Daily Mail delivered! Continental breakfast disappointing and very limited choice. We just had tea, coffee and orange juice most mornings. Ate breakfast in Palms cafe, good choice at buffet and enjoyed the made to order omelettes. One feature we really liked was the seating arrangements for the buffet, staff found you a table, wish other cruise lines dot the same. Lunch in Palms a good choice, the other restaurants have a different menu each day, the Thistle has a good buffet as well and the Gampian a smaller one. Rather limited afternoon tea service in the Palms and a supper club at 11 pm are the only other food arrangements available apart from room service. Cannot comment on supper club or room service as did not use. Dinner we had second sitting in the Grampian. Had a table for 4 set for 2. Interesting and varied menus each night and we enjoyed the food, especially the soups but would have liked more vegetables and sauces -realised too late we should have asked!. Service was excellent. Did not like the Observatory bar much as difficult to get seat with view as a lot of people like to sit and read. Morning light pub nothing like a pub, more like an hotel lounge with no atmosphere. Liked the Coral club, good band called Revolverites who had a wide repertoire of songs. Some singers from Braemar show company who seemed to go down well. Did not see any of the other entertainment as mostly musical, think there was a comedian but no magician! (I like them) There were two formal nights, not sure what the point of having them is as nothing extra happened. Overall we enjoyed the cruise, cabin good, food ok and drinks package excellent value. That said I would not cruise on Braemar again or consider Fred.Olsen again as the suite experience offered by the larger cruise companies is far superior and much better value. Would also prefer slightly more lively atmosphere that would accompany a wider age range of passengers. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
This was one of the best, most relaxing cruises I have been on. The highlight was cruising along the Seine, to and from Rouen. We also cruised inland to Bordeaux, and that is a beautiful city. Evening entertainment was very good, and we ... Read More
This was one of the best, most relaxing cruises I have been on. The highlight was cruising along the Seine, to and from Rouen. We also cruised inland to Bordeaux, and that is a beautiful city. Evening entertainment was very good, and we were always able to find a seat for the 2nd sitting show. We were seated at a table for 4 and the couple we shared with, Edna and Peter were excellent company. The food was of a very high standard - much better than I experienced on the Queen Mary 2 in October last year. Daytime entertainment for me (57) and my mum (92 but very fit) centred mostly around the quizzes. These were made extra entertaining by the staff who ran them but especially Thomas, who, at the age of 26, was funny and entertaining and really brightened up the day. Only problem was that the quizzes were very popular, and so Fred needs to re-think the venue - the Morning Light pub simply isn't big enough. I also used the gym and was often the only person in the pool - it was a chilly April, but the pools were heated and lovely. Our cabin was lovely and quiet - we were on deck 4 with a picture window. The queues sometimes to get off and on the ship were a bit of a pain, but when when you have several slightly disabled octagenarians it's only to be expected. On the whole our fellow guests were a lively lot and out to have a good time. This cruise was quite expensive, but worth every penny. I'd definitely do the same one again, but it would be even better in the summer! Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
This was our sixteenth cruise and our first with Fred Olsen. What a brilliant find. We thought the whole experience was fantastic from the minute we saw the ship in Bridgetown to when we left Braemar in Dover. It was such a pleasure to ... Read More
This was our sixteenth cruise and our first with Fred Olsen. What a brilliant find. We thought the whole experience was fantastic from the minute we saw the ship in Bridgetown to when we left Braemar in Dover. It was such a pleasure to be on a small, VERY friendly ship, we have tired of the glitzy, enormous floating resorts and have now found a cruise line that treats you as an individual rather than a number. We booked last minute finding an absolute bargain in the national press. Fifteen nights cruise, free drinks package and tips plus £200 cash back. We usually book a balcony or outside cabin but this time decided to try an inside. This was perfectly adequate and was very spacious as it was designed to take 4 people, so loads of wardrobe space. What made the cruise special was the Crew, from Captain down to room steward nothing was too much trouble and you were always greeted with a smile. Food was excellent and the Palm Café was another brilliant find. Entertainment was very good and varied with some excellent guest performers. All in all a great 15 days and one we shall definitely repeat. Well done 'Fred' Read Less
Sail Date March 2016
Braemar Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 3.7
Dining 4.0 4.3
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 5.0 4.0
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.7
Family 2.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 3.8

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