200 Fred. Olsen Braemar Cruise Reviews

for those of you considering a cruise with Fred Olsen, i can definately recommend it. I wasnt sure whether I would enjoy it or not - hence a mini cruise. The boat is not too big, but has plenty to do. The cabins are lovely and the one ... Read More
for those of you considering a cruise with Fred Olsen, i can definately recommend it. I wasnt sure whether I would enjoy it or not - hence a mini cruise. The boat is not too big, but has plenty to do. The cabins are lovely and the one we stayed in had Lots of storage space and kept beautifully clean. We dined in the Grampian and waitors there were so welcoming. The food was lovely with plenty of choice and the service was extremely good - best we have ever had to be honest. We had lunch in the palm cafe restaurant which is self serve, and enjoyed food from mussels to roast leg of pork, with cinnamon rice pudding, bread and butter pudding and peach cobbler to enjoy for dessert. Breakfast had everything you would wish for,and the cakes at afternoon tea were fantastic, although we only tried this once as we werent hungry after the first day. We didnt sample the late night supper but i am sure that would have been as good as the other meals. We dont normally go to the evening entertainment, but the start time of 10.30 meant we were able to get a seat ln both evenings and enjoyed some singing and dancing from musicals for the first night and then a really funny comedian the second night. We wanted to stay up and the watch a tribute to the jersey boys, but were just too tired, as it didnt start until 11.45. So if you are thinking of trying Fred Olsen - give it a go and I hope you enjoy it as much as we did. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
This was my first cruise on a Fred Olsen vessel. I usually cruise with Royal Caribbean and P&O. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised, as have previously read negative reviews about this ship. I can only compare with my previous ... Read More
This was my first cruise on a Fred Olsen vessel. I usually cruise with Royal Caribbean and P&O. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised, as have previously read negative reviews about this ship. I can only compare with my previous experiences, but although small, this ship exceeded my expectations. The food is excellent and the best I have had on a cruise. The staff are welcoming and so friendly and give 5 star service 24/7. Great onboard activities and entertainers, especially the Braemar Show Company who were the most talented bunch of singers and dancers I have come across. The ship is kept spotlessly clean, with great attention given to hygene. Embarkation was super speedy and luggage was waiting for us upon reaching our cabin. Quite a good mixture of age ranges onboard including some families with children. The only thing the ship lacks in my opinion is a proper theatre, as the main show lounge isn't really big enough to accommodate everyone at peak times. Restaurants onboard were excellent, we were in the Grampian on Deck 8 which is light and airy with large porthole windows all the way round. The self service Palms Cafe is superb, with tables laid properly with starched white cloths and waiters allocating you a table, which is better than other ships I have travelled on. Sadly, there was one big downside for me, the fact the ship is small and flat bottomed, there is a lot of movement which was a problem to me as I am not a good traveller. I spent two sea days feeling unwell, which was a shame. For that reason alone, I would probably not choose to cruise on Braemar again, but for those who travel well, I highly recommend it. Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Went on Braemar to the fjords from 23 to 30 May 2015 My husband and I love cruising been on twenty two been with all the big hitters you may says his was first time with Fred Olsen we were a little doubtful after reading some of the ... Read More
Went on Braemar to the fjords from 23 to 30 May 2015 My husband and I love cruising been on twenty two been with all the big hitters you may says his was first time with Fred Olsen we were a little doubtful after reading some of the reviews about this cruise line how wrong we were we have never had such a good cruise The staff were excellent food superb the choice was unbelievable cabin great we had an inside we found it good ten metres from the stairs and lifts so accessible but no noise from them We were on deck four room 4067 room maid excellent she replenished tea coffee every day Bed comfy and two wardrobes 30hangers which was adequate the only minute problem was safe was not big enough to put husbands lap top in Smallish ship but we found observatory good Neptune bar good coral club good morning light pub good in fact the age group approx sixty years upwards wasn't a problem we found all passengers charming friendly and wanting to have a good cruise The attention to detail as far as the food was concerned was excellent beautifully presented And what a choice from beef en croute smoked salmon steaks shepherds pie to fish and chips so there was something for everyone We had a marvellous cruise best ever would we go with Fred Olsen again definitely Not p & o or royal Caribbean or princess the cuts are obvious on these lines try Fred you will not be disappointed Read Less
Sail Date May 2015
Embarkation couldn't have been any easier..our first time on a cruise I was a nerves reck but once on board and unpacked cases I was fine the ship is very stable nothing like I thought it would be..this was a special 80th birthday ... Read More
Embarkation couldn't have been any easier..our first time on a cruise I was a nerves reck but once on board and unpacked cases I was fine the ship is very stable nothing like I thought it would be..this was a special 80th birthday ELVIS CRUISE..!!! And what great fun..there were two acts on board plus the ships singers dancers band and comedian.quiz nights film shows and talks by the two Elvis E T A'S dance lessons bingo ..there was a coffee and a cocktail of the day every day..we were lead to believed drinks were very pricey on board..NO they are not..a beer was about £3-80p and a cocktail £5 or £6 it did very a little but you could pay more in your local pub at home..cabins are not huge but they are OK.you have tea and coffee in there all the time and a hair dryer..beds are very comfy..the ship is kept spotlessly clean all staff a so sweet and very attentive..the food is fabulous very very tasty each night the them of the menu was changed..again the entertainment was fantastic..we had a couple of tours one to Randers Graceland..not a copy of Memphis Graceland ..the out side is the inside is a shop cafe' and museum and there is a huge room upstairs which is used for talks and concerts..the food in the cafe is great..and the owner Henrik is such an amazing man so down to earth a real people person..our only let down was because of the nature of the cruise the entertainment lounges just weren't really big enough..and left people having to stand through the shows..at different times through the cruise photos were taken at £5 each we felt this was not a bad price..you can also buy frames if you wish to..there is duty free shops on board but you can not buy ciggys or alcohol ..and so I went from being scared stiff of getting on board to NOT wanting to get off..!!!! Thank you so much Fred Olsen and you amazing staff on the Braemar....hope if our pennies allow to be back on board in the future.. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Embarkation couldn't have been any easier..our first time on a cruise I was a nerves reck but once on board and unpacked cases I was fine the ship is very stable nothing like I thought it would be..this was a special 80th birthday ... Read More
Embarkation couldn't have been any easier..our first time on a cruise I was a nerves reck but once on board and unpacked cases I was fine the ship is very stable nothing like I thought it would be..this was a special 80th birthday ELVIS CRUISE..!!! And what great fun..there were two acts on board plus the ships singers dancers band and comedian.quiz nights film shows and talks by the two Elvis E T A'S dance lessons bingo ..there was a coffee and a cocktail of the day every day..we were lead to believed drinks were very pricey on board..NO they are not..a beer was about £3-80p and a cocktail £5 or £6 it did very a little but you could pay more in your local pub at home..cabins are not huge but they are OK.you have tea and coffee in there all the time and a hair dryer..beds are very comfy..the ship is kept spotlessly clean all staff a so sweet and very attentive..the food is fabulous very very tasty each night the them of the menu was changed..again the entertainment was fantastic..we had a couple of tours one to Randers Graceland..not a copy of Memphis Graceland ..the out side is the inside is a shop cafe' and museum and there is a huge room upstairs which is used for talks and concerts..the food in the cafe is great..and the owner Henrik is such an amazing man so down to earth a real people person..our only let down was because of the nature of the cruise the entertainment lounges just weren't really big enough..and left people having to stand through the shows..at different times through the cruise photos were taken at £5 each we felt this was not a bad price..you can also buy frames if you wish to..there is duty free shops on board but you can not buy ciggys or alcohol ..and so I went from being scared stiff of getting on board to NOT wanting to get off..!!!! Thank you so much Fred Olsen and you amazing staff on the Braemar....hope if our pennies allow to be back on board in the future.. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
PRE CRUISE. I saw this deal and thought it might be nice to do. I was on this ship in 1994 on my very 1st cruise then known as "CROWN DYNASTY" Running for CUNARD LINE, I went to ALASKA. I booked a single inside guarantee ... Read More
PRE CRUISE. I saw this deal and thought it might be nice to do. I was on this ship in 1994 on my very 1st cruise then known as "CROWN DYNASTY" Running for CUNARD LINE, I went to ALASKA. I booked a single inside guarantee cabin and paid £210. I got my e ticket and documents a week before the cruise. Then I heard from others going on cruise the Embarkation time had changed! I never got the email and, then got a letter by post explaining they had a GASTRIC VIRUS on the previous cruise. So had to do MAJOR CLEAN of the ship, So embarkation was 1630hrs. I got train from my local station to STRATFORD but had to wait ages to buy a ticket/. So had to catch a later train to HARWICH INTERNATIONAL PORT. EMBARKATION. I entered the TERMINAL to CHECK-IN it took ages to get through to check in. Gave me my CRUISE CARD and showed my Card to use to pay the bill. Had my picture taken and board the ship. I was not shown my cabin but found it myself I had been given the number when I got my ticket 2079 on deck 2. CABIN. It was a single cabin not a twin that I had on my 1st cruise. 1 SINGLE BED, a chair, safe,small tv. The bathroom was good with cabinets to put things as well as the sink. Also a shower. Lots of drawer space and wardrobes. DINING. I had booked 1st sitting which I prefer but had got GRAMPIAN RESTAURANT which is a newer one. I had found a few people on the cruise but they had 2nd sitting. I did try to change sittings but this cost £4 and as there were no seat left I didn't bother. I changed restaurant to the THISTLE RESTAURANT which I had on my 1st CRUISE and was at a singles table. DINNER was good a good selection of dishes and wine list was good too. SERVICE was quick too and were out by 8pm. Had breakfast here as well but waiters had to put the buffet food on our plate which took a while. Afternoon tea was really disorganised as it took so long and long queues. ENTERTAINMENT. Saw 2shows "MICKY ZANY" the comedian who was very good. 2nd night was SWING with singers and dancers who were good as well. PORT OF CALL. AMSTERDAM in Holland was our only port of call I had done ANNE FRANK'S house and canal before. So I walked off the ship and asked where the MARITIME MUSEUM was. It was quite a walk but well worth it. Went onboard a sailing ship and 4 floors of maritime stuff. An interesting idea was you couldn't take any backpacks around but had to put them into a locker. This was very easy to do. DISEMBARKATION. This was very quick despite me not get any info on when we could disembark and had to ask for one. I used my old label and put my suitcase outside my room. Next morning after breakfast we left the ship at 8am and found my luggage and made my way home. PHOTOS. I always like buying pictures so got quite a few including the same view I did on my 1st CRUISE. They had a dvd of AMSTERDAM and the ship as well and quite reasonable. SHOPS. Quite a few shops but usually like the souvenir one. They had hats,t shirts but none with the ship on. No special key rings either. I bought a ship model which was good and a dvd of "MICKY ZANY". SUMMARY. A good cruise and enjoyed it despite it being hard work with not touching any plates which did make it hard. Would love to do it again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
After cruising with Royal Caribbean, Cunard & P & O (never had any problems) some "acquaintances" persuaded us to give Fred Olsen a try. So we thought, a quick 7 day "Easter Getaway", across the North Sea & ... Read More
After cruising with Royal Caribbean, Cunard & P & O (never had any problems) some "acquaintances" persuaded us to give Fred Olsen a try. So we thought, a quick 7 day "Easter Getaway", across the North Sea & up a couple of rivers, what could go wrong ! A letter arrived just before departure stating; "Some F/O Braemar passengers have been affected by mild Gastric Flu, therefore there will be a delay in departing". I phoned their office and was told "some people had taken on-board viral gastric flu from grandchildren, but no one had been positive tested for noro-virus". Fred O Ipswich told us that no Car Park booking paperwork was required as APNR was in place at Harwich, I queried this, as we needed it when sailing from Harwich before and were told we were incorrect. We arrived at the car park - no ANPR was ever in place, this caused additional delay as well as embarkation due to fumigation. Finally on board, access to our cabin was prohibited as we had to carry our hand luggage & wear the lifejackets for the Evacuation Drill. Breakfast & lunch were taken from the cordoned off open buffet containers by serving, non fluent waiters. Food requested and quantities misunderstood. At all meals salt & pepper packets, butter, sugar etc. had to be repeatedly requested. The waiters were overwhelmed and often did not return with the requested items before the food, tea/coffee was cold. All this took a considerable time, with no additional time allowed for consumption. We were regularly rushed to leave the restaurants, closing at, say 9.30 a.m. didn't mean last orders - they wanted you out the door by then. No fresh milk whatsoever available through out the cruise. Inclusive draught mixers were always flat; bottles & tins were available at additional cost. Despite the heighted hygiene measures with all the disinfectant spray (causing rough & swollen hands) menus were handed from passenger to passenger, and with each drink order a signature was required - using the same, possibly infected pen (we used our own). Identical food (under another description) was served from buffet lunch to dinner. All guests were forced to sit very close together yet dozens of tables were empty (with less guests each time as the "Gastric Flu" clearly spread). When asked by us where their "partner" was, we were regularly told "they're got a cold or flu", one guest (with a straight face) said her husband got sunstroke (in cold, 5 degree Hamburg the previous day!). Maybe the Ships Doctor had told them not to admit to any possible Gastro Problems. Often when noticed a new red sticker over an open door, we could see the poor patient laying in bed, no bunk beds in there - the reason for a red sticker often used to denote additional beds.. There were large red bins marked "Gastro" parked in the corridors, the cabin On the only sunny afternoon, we could not sit in certain deck areas because of "cleansing protection, for our passengers wellbeing". The Captain updated the situation every day, blaming the passengers, but they were fine for the first couple of days. His final comment was always "Look after each other". We purchased hand wipes, for use each time we touched door handles etc. I saw no Male public toilets with urinals, consequently queues of men formed to use the single WC, toilet rolls rolled around the floor. After two days the Captain requested everybody to return to their cabin if they needed the toilet. When berthing the ship's bow thrustors shuddered & rattled so much that decorations fell over. The Captain often chose this time to make his announcements, and his comments were drowned out and any useful information lost. Two days in Amsterdam consisted of arriving very late afternoon (dinner at 6.15pm) and leaving next day at 3pm. After arriving at the Church in Hamburg on Easter Monday, access was not possible as it was restricted to the regular Worshippers. The entry to Hamburg miniature railway world was delayed because F/O did not purchase the entry tickets in advance or advise the tour operator the numbers. The cruise was so stressful & rushed, upon returning home we are paranoid and still won't touch anything & are constantly washing our hands. I went to put my hand on the bannister and quickly recoiled, before I realised I was home. In contrast, my only reasonable experience were the evening meals served in the Grampian Restaurant. All in all a complete waste of money and a wasted week of our lives. Read Less
Sail Date April 2015
Our first cruise with Fred Olsen for many years, the last was in 2006 (Boudicca) and before that 2004 (Black Prince), we enjoyed travelling on Braemar. The ship has a compact cosy feel about it and if like us you regard a cruise as a means ... Read More
Our first cruise with Fred Olsen for many years, the last was in 2006 (Boudicca) and before that 2004 (Black Prince), we enjoyed travelling on Braemar. The ship has a compact cosy feel about it and if like us you regard a cruise as a means of transport rather than a vacation in itself then we found it a pleasurable experience and recommendable. As for the cruise experience itself, we hardly spoke to other passengers and nobody made any effort to speak with us to start the ball rolling, so cannot comment on whether most people were friendly. Some people have what it takes to launch into conversation with total strangers only to create the impression within minutes of having known one another for years, we don't. Perhaps it's that we appear younger than we are, or as I joked with my wife maybe we were thought to be newly-weds so best left well alone! Anyway, after our experience in 2006 of sharing a table in the restaurant, we opted for sitting by ourselves and doing our own thing. The crew, apart from a few waiters in whom we detected facetiousness, were charming, friendly and obliging. A special mention well-deserved for the excellent service to the staff in the Observatory who made our customised Afternoon Teas extremely enjoyable. Unlike previous cruises, we weren't inspired to attend any of the shows, instead after second-sitting evening meal in the Grampian restaurant we retired to our cabin; early to bed early to rise maketh man healthy, wealthy and slim! As discerning vegetarians, our dietary requirements are specific and Braemar catered for us adequately, no complaints there. Otherwise, the bottled water we found unpalatable and at £1.50 a bottle a rip-off. Since we don't mix with others on a daily basis, it was a real eye-opener just how many people start their day with a cup of coffee and continuing drinking stimulants thereafter; still, no accounting for taste, different people and all that. My wife had a massage in the spa which she found thoroughly enjoyable and relaxing. I relaxed by going to the gym a few times for weightlifting. Of the 4 tours we'd pre-booked, one was cancelled. We went on tours in La Rochelle and Isle de Re, Briere National Park & Guerande, and in Rouen. For reasons that I won't go into, the French-speaking guide for Guerande took up my wife's suggestion the tour make a detour to visit the salt marshes which from the sound of some people in the coach was a real treat for the twitchers in the group. We chose the tours carefully by reading reviews, etc and were pleased they proved good value and stimulating, all guides making a real effort to impart information. Where Braemar went wrong for us was Norovirus. A few days before the end of the cruise, the captain announced an outbreak. We'd not experienced norovirus before and were unprepared for how it's tackled. Sanitising went into over-drive. It was on Boudicca that we'd first experienced having to rub sanitising fluid on our hands before entering a restaurant so it was no big deal to do that on Braemar, but there's a difference between the volume of liquid that one rubs on one's own hands for oneself, and the powerful lingering acrid putrid smell that pervades the corridors from a mass disinfectant. I guess it was left to us to find out more about norovirus if we wanted; all that the captain told us was to step up our use of the sanitising fluid and wash hands before eating, also that the self-service buffets at breakfast and lunch would become waiter service only. The Daily Times mentioned two symptoms, diarrhoea and vomiting, so I decided that whatever I was suffering was not norovirus and no need to say anything. Since I rarely get ill, my diagnosis based on a feeling of nausea (not sea-sickness) was a mild food poisoning from something I'd eaten off ship or possibly a bottle of water that I'd bought on board which tasted off when I opened it. I treated it with homoeopathy, reduced my food intake, kept away from the restaurant for evening meals, avoided public rooms wherever possible, and got plenty of sleep and rest. On the penultimate day of the cruise, I felt a sore throat in the making, hardly surprising given the stale air in our cabin (Deck 6), the fumes from the crew re-painting cabin doors nearby, carpet sealant, and the smell of diesel outside on deck. My wife's eyes were watering and feeling prickly. Having shaken off the worst before returning home, I am now, some 2 weeks later, almost getting over a dry cough and cold. What amazed us was just how protective Fred Olsen was of the crew at the expense of the passengers. Why weren't passengers offered face-masks and gloves? Why did we have to breathe fumes unnecessarily? Packing up and unloading the ship came over as a sorry affair and within hours of disembarkation at Dover, Braemar sailed to Harwich where it was deep cleansed and got ready to greet the new group of passengers embarking for the next cruise. Norovirus we have since discovered is rife and not only on cruise ships, but how Fred Olsen managed the situation did not impress us. Not knowing the procedure I assumed Fred Olsen would alert the authorities, but to be on the safe side I did too. The several organisations I contacted were all very helpful and forwarding my email to the right department. I received a reply from a Food and Health and Safety adviser at Tendring District Council who said they take outbreaks on board very seriously and do everything they can to assist the ship. It wasn’t that I thought Fred Olsen would have hushed anything up, but I wanted to notify the authorities that we weren’t impressed with the standard of cleanliness of some of the glassware, cutlery and plates given to us, with grubbiness and fingermarks galore. Also, it concerned me that whereas some foods were covered up, most weren't, particularly bread. Of all the foodstuffs on display, bread has probably been handled and touched by any number of people before it reaches your hands. We heard others say their holiday had been ruined. It didn't ruin our holiday, we achieved our objective, namely to revisit France, but Fred Olsen spoiled their cruise, reminding us too just how challenging it can be to share travelling arrangements with old people. Since we were in good health before the holiday, having to remedy ourselves as a consequence of a virus on a cruise ship is not my idea of fun. I've read that regular cruisers are philosophic about norovirus but a cruise ship is not an experience we want to repeat. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
We (2 couples) chose this cruise due to the itinerary - Northern Lights, Eclipse etc - all interested in astronomy, and also keen to see scenic Norwegian cruising. We saw 'the lights' and experienced much of the eclipse, though ... Read More
We (2 couples) chose this cruise due to the itinerary - Northern Lights, Eclipse etc - all interested in astronomy, and also keen to see scenic Norwegian cruising. We saw 'the lights' and experienced much of the eclipse, though we missed the corona due to a cloudy sky - a little disappointing, but hardly the ship's fault as the Captain and crew tried hard to manoeuvre us to the optimum position. What we saw was memorable nevertheless. None of us had sailed with Fred.Olsen, though we had all had been on several cruises before with other lines including Cunard, Princess, Celebrity, Disney, Royal Caribbean etc. We were a little apprehensive due to some negative reviews, but I have to say we enjoyed the cruise immensely. The Braemar is a lovely and attractive smaller/medium sized ship with a great staff, very comfortable and well furnished public rooms, choice of restaurants, good food, and efficient friendly service. The cabins (standard outside) are a little on the small size, especially the bathrooms - so if cabin size and specification matters to you this may not be the ship for you. To us, a cabin is somewhere to sleep - beds and bedding were comfortable, clean and the cabins had enough storage space for cold weather, casual and formal wear clothing. The itinerary was great. The lectures were informative and varied. The entertainment was not Disney or Celebrity standard - taking place in a cabaret lounge rather than a theatre, but the singers, dancers etc were excellent and fun and gave their all. If the aim of entertainment is to entertain, they did it! Throughout the day there were quizzes, bingo (not our scene), darts, deck quoits, golf etc. If you preferred to relax and read quietly the library was well furnished and spacious. The 'Pub' was great as was the coffee & chocolate lounge. You could always get a comfortable seat and the service and company of other passengers was very pleasant. We particularly enjoyed cocktails in the Observatory each evening - an elegant bar with wonderful views and a tinkling grand piano. The service in here was so friendly - waitresses always ready to chat about the day, remembering your name and your drink of choice. After hours (11.00 - 2.00) there was generally a supper buffet (we were always too full) and entertaining cabaret or music in the Coral Lounge. We enjoyed every meal in the Cambrian Restaurant - choice of 2 starters, 2 soups, 2 salads, 5 or 6 mains, and 3 or 4 desserts. Not too fussy, always well cooked and served promptly. Wine was very reasonably priced - starting about £15 for the 'house', but only £24 for a Puilly Fume, not bad for a restaurant - and well chosen. Drinks in the bars were also reasonably priced. I enjoy a pint of beer and well kept Boddingtons on draft was £3.25 - cheaper than my local! Cocktail of the day was approx. £4.50 and always arrived with fruit, olives, umbrellas etc - cheaper than London or Manchester prices. We were in cabin 2061 - about the worst on the ship in some eyes - bottom deck! On our previous cruise with Disney we had an aft suite with a wraparound rear balcony. OK - no comparison, but we enjoyed Braemar just as much to be honest. I think their brochures say it's more like a country house hotel than a Las Vegas experience - well, we enjoy both! 2061 gets the waves lashing at the double port holes and some noise, so go higher if you want to avoid that - did not bother us. On the other hand it is mid-ship and does not roll as much as the front and back of the ship (which does rock and roll a bit more than others we have been on). In summary I would say great smaller ship for good sailors not after a deluxe experience. You will meet friendly people and staff, have good food and drink and a memorable holiday in very pleasant surroundings. Our group was aged 55-65 and we were among the younger passengers, so if you want an 18-30s crowd it may not be for you. Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
My thoughts on MS Braemar. Cabin 3116 The cabin was quite small by modern standards and the air con was woefully inadequate so the temperature varied from warm to hot regardless of how the thermostat was set. The bed was narrow but very ... Read More
My thoughts on MS Braemar. Cabin 3116 The cabin was quite small by modern standards and the air con was woefully inadequate so the temperature varied from warm to hot regardless of how the thermostat was set. The bed was narrow but very comfortable and it was nice to have the facility to make a cup of coffee. The public rooms The Braemar Room, Morning Light Pub, Corel Club and Thistle Restaurant were nicely decorated but the Neptune Lounge was in need of a refit and some new carpets. The Palms Café was nice but too small for the number of people trying to use it. Food Breakfast and lunch were ok but nothing special and the choice was quite limited. The buffet lunch included chips and rice every day. The puddings were much of a muchness and very basic. Most of the dinners were very good and I must give special mention to the beef wellington which was fantastic. The entertainment in the Neptune Lounge was excellent including the singers an dancers of the show company. The level of service in the bars and at dinner was very good and all of the staff were friendly and helpful. Although the ship was quite well maintained there were cracks in the steelwork at the corners of many of the windows on deck 5. This was quite off putting. Braemar has recently undergone a refit where the Card Room and some of the ships were moved. However, for reasons best known to Fred Olsen, they did not bother to change the signs around the ship to reflect the changes. To me this is just incomprehensible.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2015
This was a a relocation cruise back from winter in the Caribbean to Dover. The first week was a cruise round the islands. The flight out from Gatwick on a Monarch Airbus was cramped and we were in the premium seats!. The hot meal was ... Read More
This was a a relocation cruise back from winter in the Caribbean to Dover. The first week was a cruise round the islands. The flight out from Gatwick on a Monarch Airbus was cramped and we were in the premium seats!. The hot meal was inedible tasteless rubber chicken. Just hand out some good sandwiches! At least we were on time but the Manchester passengers were four hours late and were plunged straight into the emergency drill. The crew were excellent but passenger tempers and nerves were frayed. Balcony cabin on deck 8 was comfortable though cramped. Everything worked and the cabin was kept immaculate by the friendly stewardess. Meals were very good with meat and fish excellent. Decent cheese too but dreary overcooked veg. Please, no more broccoli. Certainly not fresh but mainly out of a big packet. Waiter service in the Grampian was fine but Captain Waiter not good at keeping an eye on things. If I order an expensive bottle of red wine in advance I expect it to be opened and St room temperature. I did not appreciate his attempt to divert the blame onto the over stretched table waiters. Tours were uniform ally good and the tours people lacked the arrogance that is sometimes seen on Balmoral. Good value for money, too. Cruise Director Ricky Jermy excellent and a good comedian and excellent RAF Red Arrows chap gave nine talks. Pat in the Fitness a Centre also engaging and helpful. Captain Bamberg is lightening up and conveys a calm confidence and a sense of humour. Thanks to all of them. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
My wife and I have cruised with a number of different companies before and had decided to try a cruise with Fred. Olsen lines - what a mistake!! Never again!! Nearly 4,000 pounds wasted in my opinion in hindsight !!! From start to finish ... Read More
My wife and I have cruised with a number of different companies before and had decided to try a cruise with Fred. Olsen lines - what a mistake!! Never again!! Nearly 4,000 pounds wasted in my opinion in hindsight !!! From start to finish we encountered both good and extremely poor treatment whilst cruising on the Braemar during our last trip just finished. First off we turned up at Manchester Airport in plenty of time for our scheduled departure on Monarch Airlines. Now when your handed a letter from Monarch whilst waiting to book in doesn't exactly bode well for the start of your cruise experience. The letter stated that the original plane had developed a technical fault but that another airplane had been found and that our 11.00 am boarding time would still be going ahead - great. However at the appointed departure time we were still waiting o board the aircraft. No announcements were made to tell us why and eventually, when we did board the aircraft, we found ourselves on a Hi-Fly ? chartered plane with a mixed origin crew who looked anything like professionals. What followed then beggared belief as we were then subjected to a wait of over two and a half hours delay on the ground whilst they sorted out provisioning the plane with food and drink. Why they didn't do this when they already knew they had to change planes three hours previously at check in, I don't know. They shouldn't have bothered!!! Not only were rationed to what food we got (some people had ordered vegetarian food and were told " no we don't have anything over than chicken - take it or leave it" ) but also we were only given a quarter of a cup of wine (a third of a small bottle) to boot with the first of two meal breaks. Then to top it all they ran out of food and drink during the second meal serving - and my wife and I and others in our immediate seating area suffered the same fate - absolutely amazing!! Still things had to improve surely to goodness!! Then just when we thought things couldn't get any worse - they did!! When we did eventually touch down in Barbados - now nearly 3 hours behind schedule and a might puckish and thirsty, we were told to wait on the apron - not the arrivals lounge as we thought safest - till transport arrived. This did not happen till nearly 50 mins after disembarking from the aircraft and we were shuffled around from place to place whilst avoiding airport ground vehicles, until eventually some small 18 seater coaches did arrive. Now considering there were over 300 passengers to transport from the airport to the port, this did seem to me to smack of a bit of a logistical cockup. Whilst waiting patiently to get from airport to port we were offered nothing in the way of water and were told that we would not be allowed to visit the toilets in the main arrivals lounge - the excuse being "your transport will be here directly and we don't want you to delay the other passengers now do we". Yes folks the story does get worse when the small bus we were on developed a puncture - and more delays ensued whilst another coach was sourced. Needless to say that when we did arrive at the ship we not in the best of moods only to then find out that the scheduled departure drinks had been cancelled and that we also had run out of any time to see Barbados as the ship was now departing for its next port of call. Now you could say that some delays are inevitable, but when they happen to you, that there has been little or no apologies given as to why you've been delayed, that clearly some people were distressed and inconvenienced and prevented from visiting the toilets, that you've been left standing on the runway aprons for almost an hour without any water in the heat, and then subjected to transport on unsuitable vehicles for the size of the party - well that to me smacks of unprofessionalism on the part of Fred.Olsen to ensure any delays are minimized and that people caught up in these are looked after during them. When we did eventually arrive at our cabin - which we had paid to have upgraded, we found that the cabin was both very cramped and that there were two single beds made up rather than the double we'd requested. I know that the ship was not the largest afloat but this cabin was the smallest we've ever had the pleasure of sleeping in. To be fair the rest of the cruise went off without too many other hitches that certainly are not worth mentioning here. Suffice to say that we had taken the opportunity to avail ourselves of the 10 pound a day drinks package before the start of the cruise, knowing how expensive some refreshments can be during the hot weather, and can recommend this action to anyone not wanting a mega bill at the end of the cruise. Most drinks seemed okay. the limited choice of drinks (beers ? wines / spirits etc.) wasn't a problem and we managed to get our money worth - just. As for the rest of the ship - and the Braemar is a small cruise ship - make no mistake - the décor looked faded, the on board entertainment was so so, the acts a bit dated and the two "pools" (and I use that term lightly) - small and dingy. The ship is extremely noisy when arriving at its ports of call and due to its small size any movement of the ship is greatly amplified. All in all - the ships company were pleasant enough, the serving attendants were somewhat efficient, the cruise locations were reasonable - albeit the stays a little too short for my liking - however I would not travel on this ship again. After note - having written to Fred. Olsen lines on our return to complain about the delays / changes in a positive manner - we received a nice apologetic letter basically telling us how good their transport arrangements / companies normally are and oh yes tough titty, no we don't see any reason to give you anything in the way of something more for your trouble. THANKS FRED !! Guess we will vote with our feet and spend our money with someone else next time!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
As a birthday present to ourselves, my husband and I booked our very first cruise experience with Fred.OLSEN departing on 23 February for 16 nights. The voyage was a plane journey from London Gatwick to Bridgetown Barbados where we joined ... Read More
As a birthday present to ourselves, my husband and I booked our very first cruise experience with Fred.OLSEN departing on 23 February for 16 nights. The voyage was a plane journey from London Gatwick to Bridgetown Barbados where we joined the MS Braemar. After visiting St Lucia, Antigua, St Kitts and St Maarten, followed by six days cruising, we'd arrive in Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, Azores, Portugal before heading home for the port of Dover. With a full daily programme whilst at sea, from the minute we rose till going to bed time, there was little opportunity of being bored. I indulged in beginners' dance classes with Mike & Jan, read numerous books, either brought on board, or borrowed from the Braemar library. This holiday, was after all, an occasion of not only celebration of a significant life landmark, but also a chance to wind down and recharge our batteries. Learning seafaring terminology ie aft, stern, port and starboard, monkey fists, and enjoying the ship's captain's daily bulletin over the tannoy at 12.00 noon, became part and parcel of our daily conversations, as my husband has sailed for many years, and shared this part of his hobby with me. Our fears of being seated with fellow passengers at dinner with whom we had nothing in common were totally unfounded - we enjoyed tales of previous cruises taken by our fellow diners, and a whole host of amusing life tales. True, we were a motley 'crew' but diversity of lives contributed to a 'festival' of true stories in glorious technicolor. The Braemar's chef produced a feast for the eyes, with daily lunch time salad buffets and hot meals (including fish, meat, pasta choices and roast), as well as afternoon tea, and late night suppers - too much for us to manage, but which other fellow passengers eagerly feasted upon. All were supervised and served by friendly Thai and Philippine crew, who also turned their hands to a joyful rendition of 'Happy Birthday to You' or 'Congratulations' when the occasion demanded! Our visits ashore offered a taster of the particular island when we arrived in port - my particular favourites were St Maarten and Sao Miguel - whether I'll return at some future point is unclear - but a sense of their past, culture, beauty and people will abide with me for ever. On board the beauty salon offered daily 'specials' and I must admit, my first ever reflexology session was a revelation. Deck games, art and craft lessons, napkin folding, an impressive fitness room which my husband visited daily, lectures and of course, chats with fellow passengers made our 16 nights on MS Braemar a holiday to remember. As 'first-timers' our experience was surpassed by the many people we met who were cruising for the umpteenth time. Janet was about to complete her 24th! One of my fears had been crossing the Atlantic, but as it happened, we had a superb crossing, with a force 3-5 on most days. I didn't even have to reach for sea/motion sickness tablets once. We cruised an average 15 knots per hour, but made such good progress that our speed slowed down in the English Channel so we wouldn't arrive too early in Dover. Will we cruise again? Yes, most probably, and almost certainly with Fred.Olsen. Read Less
Sail Date February 2015
Just completed a Car'bean cruise on the Braemar, the flights both ways were pretty good with Monarch but have flown charter with F/O before and think Tui was much better particularly the in flight food. The cruise itself was great, ... Read More
Just completed a Car'bean cruise on the Braemar, the flights both ways were pretty good with Monarch but have flown charter with F/O before and think Tui was much better particularly the in flight food. The cruise itself was great, embarkation at Manchester and Barbados very good, ports good but Cuba a little dissapointing not being at Havana, but not a major issue. The food excellent and service good on most occasions but if eating in the Palms cafe at night (outside) the new "Grill " section which has taken over most of the outside of that area seems to take priority over outside Palms Cafe. The extra £20 you pay for "The Grill" seems to over ride the Palms outside service. (nothing effected inside). Many of us like to eat outside at night in the warm. We had to clear our own tables as plates etc were mounting up., go and find waiters for various needs, was a bit of a continuous theme. We know its self service but normal Palms service it was not. There didn't seem to many takers for the grill and waiters and chefs were stood about on the occasions we were outside. Service generally very good. Cabin cleanliness excellent, staff always pleasant and helpful. The entertainment was the best we've seen for years, (both artists and show group ) Having been a F/O cruiser for many years you do tend to see the company eat away at the edges of what they provide, yes I know times are hard but simple things like the Port maps and info were awful, pretty u/s, with little info like the old style, any info such as it was, in the Daily Times making passengers take two documents instead of one. No cabin TV/Film schedule, no port itinerary. The little things sometimes make a difference to passengers and Fred is eating away at it. The Oceans bags for members are getting poor, last time we got items out of sell by date, this time a a bag of olives among the items which were punctured. Loyalty seems to mean less and less, note I don't say nothing. We have booked a Christmas cruise with F/O last year but I think we might start to look around . Sorry Fred!   Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Once we had got over our shock at the age profile of the clientele (first impression was that we had entered a floating retirement home) we were surprised how much fun we had. The all inclusive package for which we paid £6.99 a day each ... Read More
Once we had got over our shock at the age profile of the clientele (first impression was that we had entered a floating retirement home) we were surprised how much fun we had. The all inclusive package for which we paid £6.99 a day each was excellent - Stella Artois and Boddingtons on draught, cans of Strongbow, Carlsberg Export and Heineken etc. etc. , house wines including sparkling, local spirits and a vast array of soft drinks were all "free". You did have to pay half price for cocktails, premium spirits and bottled wine but this still worked out to be a relatively modest charge. In spite of this we saw very little evidence of inebriation. We enjoyed all the ports of call including Panama and Colombia and were impressed with the organisation of the shore tours. Further plus points were the truly fabulous staff and of course 14 glorious days of hot sunshine whilst Britain suffered from ice and snow. Food was generally good especially the buffet lunches. We weren't impressed with the Monarch charter flights. Their planes are old and the entertainment was dire (no choice of films or seatback TV screens). We are not surprised that they are pulling out of long haul. Entertainment was just OK even though a couple of the performers were very talented. The Neptune Lounge in particular is badly designed and no longer fit for purpose. There is no designated venue for entertainment on deck and on a couple of occasions when this was attempted it was curtailed as it was too windy or too hot! Would we book again? Yes probably if the itinerary was right. Judging by the number of people on board booking two and three cruises for next year Fred Olsen will continue to be a very popular brand. There is a very loyal band of followers who regard the ships as a home from home. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
I have enjoyed very special times on the good ship that is the Braemar but my last cruise was such a big disappointment in so many ways, the company to me has changed so much and I have to say not for the better. The Fred Olsen policy to ... Read More
I have enjoyed very special times on the good ship that is the Braemar but my last cruise was such a big disappointment in so many ways, the company to me has changed so much and I have to say not for the better. The Fred Olsen policy to me now seems pack em' in and get as much money as possible from each and every one. The present management that has taken over has changed the Fred Olsen company to one that does not in anyway compare to the one I enjoyed when I started cruising. The whole staff ethics to me has changed and I will never travel with Fred Olsen cruise Line ever again. Yes the ship is smart most things were indeed ship shape, but seemed to me over crowded, the food was good in the Grampian restaurant but, the staff were so over worked the service they were giving was extremely poor which is such a shame as they have to work so very hard. The Braemar used to be for me so very special I will remember for ever the past happy times on board ......... but sadly no more. Read Less
Sail Date January 2015
Got off Braemar 30th December doing Cape Verdi Islands. After 20+ cruises have to say this was the worse cruise we have had. At 64 years old I felt like a teenager there was no atmosphere bars were empty all day and after the mediocre ... Read More
Got off Braemar 30th December doing Cape Verdi Islands. After 20+ cruises have to say this was the worse cruise we have had. At 64 years old I felt like a teenager there was no atmosphere bars were empty all day and after the mediocre entertainment everyone went to bed. Beware if you book an inside double cabin. Our cabin had double bed with Pullman beds overhead which meant it was basically a family room with an extra wardrobe but meant that the bed is not accessible one side and I had to crawl in and out of bed. The HOTEL MANAGER came to look tried to blame travel agent but basically wasn't interested. It wasn't even a full ship but didn't offer to move us. One couple was given the wrong restaurant sitting so they changed them from 2nd sitting to 1st sitting for a cost of £56. Any problem you had you were told to contact Fred Olsen customer services on your return and we all know you won't get anywhere once the cruise was over. The last thing I wanted was money off another cruise. The restaurants were far from full at either sitting so there was no reason to charge the unfortunate couple anything. PENNY PINCHERS. So all in all rubbish customer service. Food good as was waiting staff. Cape Verdi Islands are a dive absolutely nothing at all in one of them not even a cafe but we had three days there and only a few hours in la Palma it was obviously cheap to dock in Cape Verdi. If you want any fun on your cruise then don't bother with Fred Olsen. We were not the only unhappy people lost count of people that said first and last time. Only other good point was the weather. NEVER AGAIN. Also after 2.30 lunch time there is nowhere to get food until your evening meal apart from afternoon tea so if u are on second sitting as we were there was no food available So if you embark or go ashore and return after 2.30 no food available. Same for breakfast after 10.30am nothing available only a tray of biscuits. Tea and coffee only available on deck six so if you sleep in you get nothing until 12.30. Oh forgot to say first morning a tannoy system came into the cabin telling you we had docked, outside temperature etc AT 8AM. I complained about this and they stopped doing it after a couple of days. It was like hi de hi campers. Will stick to the larger and better ships from now on very disappointed. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
I went on this cruise with quite low expectations but would cruise with Fred again. In fact, already booked next January on Braemar from Jamaica to Barbados. The ship was beautiful, the staff very friendly and efficient, and the food, in ... Read More
I went on this cruise with quite low expectations but would cruise with Fred again. In fact, already booked next January on Braemar from Jamaica to Barbados. The ship was beautiful, the staff very friendly and efficient, and the food, in Grampian, ranged from good to excellent. We enjoyed playing Bridge on sea days and met lots of very nice people, sharing a large table with a pleasant and entertaining group. The weather was mixed, but after all, it was December! The shows weren't great - some were ok - but the performers were enthusiastic and the late show rounded off our evenings well. We thought the drinks package was good value, but would have preferred more variety. We tend to do our own thing when we get into port. In S. Antao in the Cape Verde Islands, we shared a taxi with an English speaking guide whom I can highly recommend. He was called John and does very interesting tours in a comfortable car at a fraction of the cruise tour price if you find someone to share with. His email address is jnevesza@gmail.com Our taxi in Praia was also very good value. He took us to the fort and old town and waited for us. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
Having done a similar cruise last year on the braemar and had a really lovely time, I decided to book a similar one which also took in the Cape Verde Islands. This turned out to be a mistake, largely because of a vile sewage stench which ... Read More
Having done a similar cruise last year on the braemar and had a really lovely time, I decided to book a similar one which also took in the Cape Verde Islands. This turned out to be a mistake, largely because of a vile sewage stench which pervaded my superior suite cabin on and off throughout most of the cruise and which was never resolved. On the next to the last night, the sewage smell was replaced by fuel fumes which were so strong that I could taste them and had to stay out of my cabin for several hours until they cleared. Add to this disappointment with my cabin in comparison to the one I had last year, quite a poor standard of entertainment (except for the show team who were consistently good) and a general feeling of cost cutting. I paid £40 for 24 hours of wifi which I never got chance to use up because it was rarely working or was up and down so often it was so frustrating you just gave up. On embarkation day, after an early start from the UK, we arrived on board about 4pm to find no food available until the evening dinner and for those of us on late sitting at 8.30pm that was a long time to wait. In one of the Cape Verde Islands and against my better judgement, I'd booked a full day ships excursion.it was a tender port and the transfer from ship to shore was truly awful because of the big swell. Had our tender not been full of people going on an excursion I don't think it would have run because the rise and fall of the tender was huge and it kept being bashed against the ship's side. People were being sick or getting hurt from being thrown around by the movement and it was dreadful. I don't usually find tender transfers a problem but this was the pits. And the second half of the excursion wasn't good either. 45 minutes sat in a petrol station and a visit to a completely deserted school were among the afternoon's highlights. What was very evident this year was the huge push to sell future cruises. Too much of a push I thought and judging by the quotes I got at the beginning of the cruise, the prices have been inflated to take account of the the discounts being offered. I could go on but I'm sure you get the picture. To be completely fair to Fred Olsen I ought to say that I've done several cruises with them and that this one is the first time I've ever had cause for complaint. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
This was our first cruise with Fred Olsen and we booked it because of the itinerary and because it got us away from the madness that is Christmas in the U.K. The initial itinerary was changed and the Gambia and Senegal were dropped from ... Read More
This was our first cruise with Fred Olsen and we booked it because of the itinerary and because it got us away from the madness that is Christmas in the U.K. The initial itinerary was changed and the Gambia and Senegal were dropped from our original ports of call due to worries about the Ebola virus. This is quite understandable but the replacement ports of call, in particular Proto Novo in Cape Verde, were a great disappointment and beg the question as to why Fred Olsen thought anyone would want to visit there in the first place. The "town" was like something from the third world and the local shops didn't even accept euros, should you have ben fortunate to see anything you wished to buy. We had paid £29.95 per person, per night for the all inclusive drinks package, However, it turned out to be anything but all inclusive, with many exceptions including tea and coffee at the pool deck and even bottled water in the cabin. In reality, what you got for nothing was half a glass of wine in most bars and local spirits, which with regard to the white rum, tasted nothing like Bacardi. With the exception of the pool bar staff, whom I found to be surly and uncommunicative, the general standard of service was high and I must compliment our dinner waiter, Frederick, who treated us so well for the duration of our voyage. Likewise Lesley, the waiter in the oral Club, who also looked after us extremely well. The food on the ship, whilst not exceptional, was generally good and unlike some other cruise lines I have sailed with, was almost always served piping hot. We had a balcony cabin on deck 7 which, whilst not as large as we would have hoped for, was adequate. The bathroom was huge with a separate toilet and I couldn't help but think that had it been a little smaller, the cabin could have been enlarged to accommodate more than the one tub chair provided. The balcony was adequate but I fail to understand why, in addition to two chairs and a table, FO cluttered it up with two sunbeds which we never used and continually had to move to get access to the sun. I found the position of the telephone, right next to the electric outlet for the kettle, particularly irritating and fails to see why the 'phone couldn't have been installed on one of the bedside tables. The Braemar is a smallish (900 passengers) ship which is comfortable and unpretentious. The entertainment left a little to be desired and we found most of the lead female singers to have rather nasal whiny voices. We also got sick to death of hearing "The Rose" which seemed to be performed either vocally or instrumentally, every night, in one venue or the other. Unfortunately, there was a virus outbreak on the ship, which both myself and my partner contracted and having been home now for five days, we are both still coughing! There is some speculation as to whether this started on the outbound flight to Tenerife or whether it lingered from the previous cruise. I visited the ship's doctor - £50 for two packs of Lemsip and a bottle of cough medicine - and was told that he was treating approximately 30 other passengers with the same symptoms. We were very disappointed that the ship only stayed for four hours in La Palma. Our friends, who had never visited there before and whom we had hoped to take to lunch in Las Concajos, were also disappointed and mystified as to why one of the most pleasant ports of call during the whole cruise, was cut so short, especially after three days in Cape Verde where there was nothing to do and on the Sunday stop, very little open in the way of shops. Would I cruise with FO again? It's doubtful. We paid a lot of money for this cruise and feel that we were short changed by a company who to me seem rather penny pinching. Additionally, our cruise director, an Australian whose name I forget (possibly Simon) was so appallingly insincere, I couldn't bear to look at him, let alone speak to him. He walked around with an permanent inane and disingenuous grin on his face saying "g'day" to any one unfortunate to catch his gaze and quite clearly demonstrated his indifference/lack of social and communication skills to anyone with the slightest intelligence or perception. I understand that cruise directors have to present a positive image but really Fred Olsen, do you honestly think that this buffoon impressed anyone? Everyone we spoke to was irritated by his presence and our two friends, having been unfortunate to get caught up in conversation with him, remarked that it was like talking to some kind of inane, pre-programmed robot. Passenger mix mainly elderly - some of whom were very rude and whilst needing mobility assistance at the airport, turned into Olympic sprinters when food was served, walking straight through you if you dared get in their way. One woman actually elbowed her way in between my friend and I, to secure the last apricot flan, one lunch time! Pleasant cruise, but over priced for what was offered and probably our only cruise with FO. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
I booked this cruise almost a year ago to be away for my husband's 80th birthday. We took family members with us making a party of 8. We took the upgrade offered us to the owners suite. We sailed from Tenerife with Monarch. I know now ... Read More
I booked this cruise almost a year ago to be away for my husband's 80th birthday. We took family members with us making a party of 8. We took the upgrade offered us to the owners suite. We sailed from Tenerife with Monarch. I know now how sardines feel as we were packed in very tightly not allowing room for my table to be used. Food was an extra. When we arrived we were taken by bus to the Port and soon shown on board. Our cabin was superb, decorated for Christmas that included a Christmas tree. I had forgotten how attentive all the staff were. Our last cruise on the QM2 was not in the same category for service and food. On the Braemar beautifully laundered table cloths and napkins in all the restaurants as opposed to a Motorway style café on QM2. Far superior quality of food with excellent waiter service at all times. My son-in -law who suffers from Crones was met by the Head Chef given menus in advance and had meals specially cooked for him. Service far above expectations. On the day of our Birthday party the Maître D gave us 2 bottles of Champagne for breakfast and our table was decorated with balloons and a banner. The waiters joined in our celebrations. This is a very happy ship with all the staff very courteous and friendly. P & O and Cunard could learn a lot and improve their image. The prices on board were a fraction of those paid on other ships. Cunard's wine list started at $45. We paid an average of £18.00 for a decent bottle. The Spa charges were less than a third of Cunard and P & O. I know the American's are prepared to pay these ridiculous charges and it is not as though they are any better. I know that we will not again use Cunard or P & O - lovely ships - but 'rip off' prices and 2nd class service. Thank you Fred Olsen for a great cruise with excellent service and food. Thoroughly good value. Read Less
Sail Date December 2014
My friend and I had received letters advising us that Braemar was arriving straight from Hamburg following a refit and that we should adhere to our check-in times (4.30 for me, 6pm for her) as she would not arrive until mid afternoon. As ... Read More
My friend and I had received letters advising us that Braemar was arriving straight from Hamburg following a refit and that we should adhere to our check-in times (4.30 for me, 6pm for her) as she would not arrive until mid afternoon. As we watched her arrive early at noon, we decided that she may start boarding earlier and so set off for the ferry at about 1.30, arriving at the Ocean Terminal at 2.15. Check in was swift but then we had a long wait of about 2 hours before finally being invited to go through security. Knowing how sensitive the security scanners are at Ocean, I was dreading having to take my boots off but thankfully the woman there suggested I try and go through the scanner and see if my boots set it off, in which case I would have to return, take them off and go through again – they didn’t! We finally got on board about 5.30 and set off to our cabins – mine on deck 6, my friend's on deck 2. I had a superior twin for sole occupancy, with obstructed view and best of all – no single supplement! It was a nice welcoming cabin with bed, sofa bed, very large window (with tender outside), twin wardrobe with safe in one half, three drawers and the smallest bedside tables I have ever seen! There was excellent storage in the bathroom with a corner mirrored cupboard and shelf under the basin. The large flat-screen TV was interactive and mounted on an adjustable arm. There was a hairdryer mounted by the dressing table and a tray with tea and coffee making facilities. Caryll’s cabin was not so nice, although it had all the same facilities. It was in the middle section of the stretched ship and had better wardrobe space and coded safe unlike mine which was opened with a key, but required a card to activate the lights etc. The trouble was that there were acres of empty space where they had just taken a bed away to make it a single cabin. Our luggage was there so we unpacked, changed and explored the ship before muster drill at 7.15pm. Dinner had been changed to an open sitting that night, with the restaurant closed while muster drill took place. My muster station was in the Coral Club and it was nice to sit with a drink while it took place! Finally, with all aboard, Braemar set sail as we settled down to dinner in the Thistle Restaurant. We had a table for four on this occasion, with a brother and sister (on her first cruise). After dinner we did a quiz in the Morning Light Pub but didn’t stay up too late as I wanted to be out on deck for the sail up the river Seine the following morning. After breakfast in the Palms Café, I went out to stand on Marquee Deck to watch the river transit. Unfortunately the weather was grey, damp and misty although you could see patches of blue sky above the cloud layer. People ashore and on the ferries waved at us as we sailed past, a few sounding their horns at the ship or stopping to take a photo of us. There were hedgerows and trees laden with mistletoe, half-timbered tumbledown barns and cottages, small towns and ruined abbeys and castles. As we neared the industrial outskirts of Rouen, Braemar was spun 180 degrees and reversed to her berth on the seaward side of the new lifting bridge. Our tour to Honfleur was leaving at 2.15 so we had lunch in the Palms Café before going down to the show lounge to get our tour stickers. It was not long before we were asked to go down to the coaches. Unfortunately it was one of the high-level coaches – great views but very steep stairs and excruciatingly limited legroom, at least on the nearside. I have visited Honfleur once before and loved it so I was happy to return. We followed our guide round from the Salt Warehouse and through the medieval street as far as the church and then had an hour of free time to return to the harbour and take photos of the pretty shops. Unlike my last visit, early in the day with blue skies, this time we were able to watch the sun slowly set over the harbour – a beautiful scene. I bought a bottle of Calvados with raspberries and we explored the shops and streets north of the harbour. It was dark when we set off to return to the coach for the hour and a quarter drive back to Rouen and Braemar. It was our only formal night that evening – a shame since many people were ashore in Paris. In view of this, in lieu of a Captain’s welcome party, free drinks were available in any of the bars for half an hour before our respective dinner sittings. That night we were back to set table dining and we were taken to table 52 – for 8, right at the stern with a view of the wake – perfect (even though we were in port on most of our evening). One of the nicest things about Braemar were the lovely passengers. There was a good mixed age range, which I wasn’t expecting from Fred!, but may have been because of the unusual itinerary. Whenever we sat to eat – open sitting breakfast or lunch, at dinner, we were all soon chatting like old friends, even in the bars. It was certainly a refreshing change from other ships where passengers tend to regard solo women with a degree of suspicion!! After a good night’s sleep (FO beds are wonderful!), it was time to have breakfast and explore Rouen. Once again, we had both been here before but felt the town deserved a further visit. FO operate a slightly complicated shuttle bus system. We first had to get a shuttle pass from reception – these were free for those who had booked Freedom fares (us) or chargeable to those on cheaper fares. Once we had those (a different one for each of the two days we were there), we then had to go get a shuttle ticket from the tours desk once we were ready to depart. This worked exactly like a tender ticket and saved standing around on the quayside for the bus. The shuttle took about 10 minutes and dropped us off beside the river close to the famous Cathedral. We had intended to visit the Cathedral again and then head up towards the clock and explore the side streets off. In fact we came out through a different door in the church and spotted yet more intriguing narrow streets lined with the half-timbered medieval and 17th century houses which fill the central part of Rouen, so that was the way we started off. One street had several small shops selling the striking Faience pottery that is made in Rouen (not dissimilar from that made in the Breton town of Quimper). Nice as it was, the prices were too high to persuade us to take some home. In one of the shops the owner was moving a shelf to make room for some more pieces, when there was a horrible crash and some slid off it to the floor! Thanks goodness we were nowhere near. On the other hand, the home ware stores were filled with temptations, from the natural linen towels with red embroidery to the Christmas decorations filling the shops; pretty glassware with coloured bases to fabulous tapestry cushions with designs of liners and animals. After walking to the end of the old buildings, we headed back and sat with a coffee in a small square in front of the Church of St Maroc. Suitably restored we set off in the direction of our original plan. The pretty Christmas Market was just being set up in front of the Cathedral but would not open for another week. The shops in this direction were more common chain stores – C&A, Manfield, Bata etc. there was a small street market where we stopped to buy some Neufchatel cheese – a bargain at 1 euro 10 cents. The flower stall beside the renowned Gros Horlorge was so beautiful with bunches of Amaryllis in soft pink colours and glass bowls of moss and roses. Once we reached the Joan of Arc church we bought a pastry and found a seat by the Metro station to sit and eat. By then I was walked out so we headed back towards the shuttle stop, via a few shops of course. There was only a short wait before the bus came and took us back to the port. There was still a lot of work being done and a large quantity of glass panels was stashed at the stern ready to be installed – on deck?? The brown rattan deck furniture looked new and very stylish but I still do not like Fred Olsen sun beds – aluminium frame with white plastic strips. The games deck is right in the bow and is a great place to stand and watch a port arrival if not too windy or cold. In fact we stood there for sailaway for a while, until we neared the big grain mill and an ominous cloud started to waft our way. Back on board time was 4.45pm. Then started the announcements for four missing people! Then it was reduced to two missing people. As we were standing in the atrium we could see what was happening and hear the walkie talkies. It appeared that they called the missing couple on their mobiles and were told they were on their way. One youngish couple turned up in a taxi but there was no sign of the others. Just as we feared we might leave without them, they appeared at the far end of the security compound. The security officer sent someone to let them in and they walked up the gangway with no attempt at speed. We can only assume they looked at the sailing time rather than the all aboard time! We eventually left at 5.45, lifting off the berth and starting the six-hour transit back down the Seine. It was a calm crossing again and we arrived back in Southampton at about 6am. Disembarkation was by deck (luggage out by midnight) and we were off the ship at 8.30. All in all a delightful short break on a very attractive ship which restored my faith in Fred Olsen (although I still do not like Balmoral!). I would not hesitate to sail on her again, although maybe not for a long cruise as facilities and entertainment is limited.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
We both enjoyed the cruise despite the change of itinerary due to the very high waves and gale force winds which made it somewhat impossible to dock and explore the Island of Madeira.One must respect Captain Andreas Pooker’s decision ... Read More
We both enjoyed the cruise despite the change of itinerary due to the very high waves and gale force winds which made it somewhat impossible to dock and explore the Island of Madeira.One must respect Captain Andreas Pooker’s decision making process in the interest of safety of both passengers and crew in his endeavour to seek shelter from this peril and exposure to injury whist at sea.The Officers and Crew just continued to smile 25 hours out of 24 hours each day with the tenacity to overcome the difficulties and challenges ahead. In retrospect we can all say if only we stayed in Lisbon longer and not endured two plus days at sea looking for shelter which entailed a number of incidents with minimum resources to feel reassured of our safety as passengers. The fear factor started to grow among some passengers that found comfort to collectively sleep with their life jacket in mid ship deck areas during the severe weather conditions coupled with damage to the ship and minor to serious injury to some passengers. The rumour spread that the crew were on red alert .. most of us have watch the film titanic which made it a little scary. Despite this experience we are planning to cruise again with Fred Olen to celebrate my big 70. Trust you will share our experience with those that can influence future cruises Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
A great cruise - Ship gets you right into the ports, Antwerp, Amsterdam and Rouen. So if you are used to doing your own thing, you are right in the thick of it, or if a first timer, or prefer the security of doing things with Fred Olsens ... Read More
A great cruise - Ship gets you right into the ports, Antwerp, Amsterdam and Rouen. So if you are used to doing your own thing, you are right in the thick of it, or if a first timer, or prefer the security of doing things with Fred Olsens shore tours, you can do either. Love how on smaller ships you get to know everyone and there is never too much of a wait to get on or off. Braemar is a perfect size to make friends, but big enough to avoid the odd passenger you don't hit it off with. We had some really rough weather, which luckily, does not bother me in the slightest, but unfortunately put some first timers on the boat off sailing again. This is my second cruise with Fred Olsens and I can never praise the staff highly enough - their friendliness is outstanding. I have one comment to make about embarkation, which has happened on every cruise I have been on so far, When boarding everyone is asked to fill out a health questionaire to prevent Noro virus on board (why does everything have to have a label nowadays - what is wrong with good old sickness and diarrhoea) we then all use the pen provided thus passing germs to every single other person who will be on the ship?   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
A near perfect 8 night cruise from Southampton. The first time with Fred Olsen to see if smaller ships deliver...and they did this time, pleasantly surprised with the total package...very well done to the FOCL... The whole experience was ... Read More
A near perfect 8 night cruise from Southampton. The first time with Fred Olsen to see if smaller ships deliver...and they did this time, pleasantly surprised with the total package...very well done to the FOCL... The whole experience was brilliant..even though we had to sail through the aftermath of the recent hurricane with gusts to force 12 and not being able to enter Amsterdam port until things calmed down...that was a first. We did roll quite a bit...but we were in hurricane force winds..always take sea sickness tablets on this ship just in case! This traditional ship design reminded me of the QE2 on a smaller scale and style...particularly the aft decks layouts..plenty of deck space to move around too. Have booked 2 more cruises ahead with FOCL...that says a lot...... Very well done FOCL.   Read Less
Sail Date October 2014
Braemar Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 3.7
Dining 4.0 4.2
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 5.0 3.9
Fitness Recreation 5.0 3.7
Family 2.0 3.7
Shore Excursion 5.0 3.5
Enrichment 3.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.0 3.7
Rates 4.0 3.8

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