199 Fred. Olsen Braemar Cruise Reviews

My partner were on our first cruise. The car parking and check-in at Dover were excellent; we were given clear directions to the car-park, porters took our luggage from the car and it next turned up outside our cabin. We had a forward ... Read More
My partner were on our first cruise. The car parking and check-in at Dover were excellent; we were given clear directions to the car-park, porters took our luggage from the car and it next turned up outside our cabin. We had a forward cabin on deck 4 (picture window, not portholes); comfortable beds, plenty of hanging space, a little short of drawer space. Decent size towels and changed as required; hand and shower wash toiletries supplied. Duvet covers changed daily. A full tea/coffee making tray provided. We had failed to noet that. although it is a UK ship, the electrics are continental 2 pin! Reception loaned us 2 adaptors for the trip, for a small returnable deposit. The structure of the cabin creaked and groaned a bit on the two nights when the sea was a bit rough but were excellently sound proofed The staff were all cheerful, polite and competent - dining-room, bar, reception and cabin. There are two sittings for dinner 6.15 and 8.15 pm with tables for 2,4,6, or 8. Choose time and number when you book. There are three restaurants where one can have breakfast and lunch but the menu is the same in each. The food was excellent with a wide selection; good food, nicely cooked and presented,,on hot plates and as good as you would eat in any up market holiday hotel. Drinks prices were on a par with UK bar/hotel prices, but we found that the £8 per person/day All Inclusive package represented good value and, even at the £10 it has gone up to it is still worth doing. A gin and tonic and a pint of draught bitter is about £8.60 and wine is around £4 a glass so spending your daily allowance involves normal holiday drinking and nothing excessive! There was an outbreak of noro-virus, almost as soon as we sailed. Strict health precautions were enforced which basically meant that whenever you entered or left a public room you were required to sanitise your hands with an alcohol based gel. People who got the virus were treated free by the ship's doctor and anyone who accepted the request to stay in their cabin for 48 hours was give a pro-rata 2 day refund on their fare.. There was a huge range of onboard activities including talks, demonstrations of art and craft, dancing, bridge, truly something for almost everyone.. We did not attend any of the evening entertainments but heard good reports of them from those who did. The shores excursions in Nantes, La Rochelle, and Bordeaux were excellent but seemed a bit pricy at £49 per person for a 1/2 day. There were about 8 excursions offered at each port and the full range can be seen on the Fred Olsen website. The arrangements of getting on and off the boat for these tours was poor, bordering on shambolic! Many passengers had a range of mobility issues which made them a bit slow, the gangways were steep and at one time there were 300 passengers who had got off tour buses, trying to get back on board via a one-way gangway with 300 passengers trying to get off and board the coaches! Disembarking and baggage collection were speedy enough and efficient. Overall, my idea of a good cruise, Braemar was full but did not seem to be (900+ passengers) and I was sufficiently impressed that I booked a cruise on the same boat for next year, while I was on-board! 5% discount too! Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
This was the maiden voyage down the Loire followed by a further river trip down the Garonne to Bordeaux. Someone came on board with the dreaded Norovirus which meant that on 4 of the 7 days cruise we were in lockdown which spoiled the ... Read More
This was the maiden voyage down the Loire followed by a further river trip down the Garonne to Bordeaux. Someone came on board with the dreaded Norovirus which meant that on 4 of the 7 days cruise we were in lockdown which spoiled the trip. No quibble with the captains decision, but the restrictions took most of the pleasure out of the cruise and the constant handwashing and antibac. 'squirters' resulted in a nasty dose of eczema of the hands. Recommend the tour of Green Venice in Bordeaux though, very serene and relaxing. Beware disembarkation at both Nantes and Bordeaux, very very steep gangway from level 5 to quayside due to local conditions/tides which created long delays getting both on and off the ship and would be very taxing to anyone with disabilities although help was on hand - heart conditions would be a bit worrying. Cannot comment on fitness facilities, gym was closed for most of the trip. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Right from the start this inaugural river cruise was beset with problems. From the second day we had the Norovirus which wiped out a lot of on-board activities and amenities including any self-service restaurant meals and closed all the ... Read More
Right from the start this inaugural river cruise was beset with problems. From the second day we had the Norovirus which wiped out a lot of on-board activities and amenities including any self-service restaurant meals and closed all the public toilets, so there was a lot of toing and froing back to the cabin. Our cabin was on the No. 2 deck and was just on the water-line along with the cabins of some of the crew. Given a choice I would rather not take a cruise again at such a low level and would rather book another ship. The cabin itself was looking rather worse for wear and I do wonder if it is usually used by the crew. Also we found the cabin cold and could not warm it up with the heating control. The ports of call were also problematic with Nantes being the worst. Our pre-booked city tour on a road train was a disaster as the commentary was French! The coach to take us back to the ship was over half an hour late and then there was the delay in getting back on the ship as the tide affected the gang way and it had to be fixed to another deck. Because of the delays we missed the Readers Offers cocktail party that we had invitations to. La Pallice (for La Rochelle) was just an industrial port and some distance from La Rochelle which was somewhere we have been and enjoyed several times before. The only problem here was the same as Nante - the only view was of the concrete dock side - so we would have been better off with an inside cabin at a cheaper price. Beautiful Bordeaux was slightly better as we did start of with having a view out of the port holes, but later on we sank again below the parapet! Again our vineyard excursion was a disappointment with thimble size tastings and nowhere to sit which certainly did not provide value for money. We did receive some compensation for the road train commentary, but overall the whole cruise was very shambolic and poor value for money. Surely as an inaugural River Cruise, you would have thought that all elements would have been out to impress and that everything had been checked and double-checked thoroughly. My next problem is that we have already booked River Cruise No. 2 to Germany next June also on the Braemar. I do hope that lessons have been learned and that the Germans are far better prepared. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Hubby and I made he long journey to Dover for this cruise. We've done a few before including one on the Balmoral. We thought we'd give this one a go. The initial impression was quite good although it went on a downhill slope ... Read More
Hubby and I made he long journey to Dover for this cruise. We've done a few before including one on the Balmoral. We thought we'd give this one a go. The initial impression was quite good although it went on a downhill slope after the first few days. I must say scenery was beautiful along the Baltic, with Talinn, St Petersberg and wonderful Helsinki. All too brief in reality though, would have liked more time to explore, but maybe by other means in the future. One to consider. The Kiel Passage was also interesting and very different to what we expected. Food on board was passable with nothing to write home about, really. Missed my balm cakes, I think, although as they say 'when in Rome!' Cabin was not very spacious and felt a bit hemmed in if I'm honest. Did use a few of the facilities on board which were ok. I felt that parts of the ship lacked a bit of sparkle and appeared tired; a bit like some of the entertainment. Saw some of the entertainment people on and off ship and I know they are away from home, but there was an uncomfortable immature arrogance with some, particularly one of the singers; an air of complacent 'cut above the rest' which was certainly not the case. I did wonder at one point, who the actual guests were in the party! So we'll put that Cruise down in the 'no returns' list and maybe look at another Line. Thanks anyway. Read Less
Sail Date August 2014
Object of the cruise was to get as far north as possible and this was achieved - having said that there were several negatives. The entertainment was good but the pressure on the main shows in the Neptune Lounge was so bad that it was ... Read More
Object of the cruise was to get as far north as possible and this was achieved - having said that there were several negatives. The entertainment was good but the pressure on the main shows in the Neptune Lounge was so bad that it was impossible many times over the 15 nights to get a seat with a view of the stage - in fact for one of the main shows we were forced to take the only free seats which were situated next to the band - ears covered when ever they played prevented ear damage! (The quality of the performers were perfect when possible to see them) It was obvious that with the extra section of the ship installed the extra passengers were 'Surplus to facilities' Meals were of high standard but at breakfast and lunch people were shoe horned into anywhere that there were vacant chairs (for example a table for six would have as many people passed through it as possible even at the risk of not being able to push your chair back to collect food) The main booked meal in the evening was good and well conducted but had to be hurried at the end to get some sort of seat in the Neptune show site. Excursions taken were to Gripp Island and at Bergan Grieg s' home - we were unable to board the coach which was full with only the odd seat for a single person - it was so hot and uncomfortable that the supervising staff were standing outside the coach where it was cool and they then gave me an immediate refund stating there should have been two coaches. I was very disappointed as this was the high point of the Bergan visit for me. Due to the long sea journey our port times were short and precious to us. The last point was having paid just under £30 for the DVD's of the cruise and on arriving home we found it was a mixture of other peoples cruises with very little about the one we were on. A letter pointing out this in a polite manner to Fred Olsen has resulted in no acknowledgement what so ever. The DVDs were a real shambles. Having said all the above the staff on the ship WERE GREAT and made every effort to make the cruise good - it was just far too many people on a ship that was designed before it was extended for far less people. I am a regular (Silver) user of Fred Olsen but I came home with the feeling I had spent 15 nights at a well known and also overcrowded adult hotel group. It was such a shame as I have pointed many of my friends in the direction of Fred Olsen cruises. The ship before having a middle section added worked far better at all levels. Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
We cruised on the Braemar for the first time in July/August 2014 to Svalbard and were very pleasantly surprised by the facilities on board, the friendly efficient crew, and the quality of the entertainment and the high standard of the ... Read More
We cruised on the Braemar for the first time in July/August 2014 to Svalbard and were very pleasantly surprised by the facilities on board, the friendly efficient crew, and the quality of the entertainment and the high standard of the food. The Braemar is small enough to be friendly and big enough to offer good facilities. We liked best the spacious promenade deck where we were able to walk around the entire ship, the big foredeck open to the public which was excellent for looking out for wildlife, the really nice observation lounge, the cosy and intimate cabaret space of the Neptune Lounge and the open and airy feel of both of the main restaurants. We’ve cruised on the bigger Balmoral several times and are used to the ocean giants of the Queen Victoria, the Oceana and the Azura but the small, compact Braemar had a charm all of her own and in many ways the interior seems to be more spacious and more airy that many bigger ships. Even in the restaurants, there is space to circulate and those few people with mobility aids were able to move around in relative ease. We we're less impressed by the internet access on board but we don't suppose that we should be so picky at the far corners of the globe. The food throughout was of a high standard. We enjoyed rack of lamb, sirloin steak and lobster at dinners. There was a very good choice at lunch and similarly at breakfast. On some occasions there was even glass of buck’s fizz or sparkling wine to wash down the smoked salmon and scrambled eggs.... decadence is defiantly not dead! The entertainment was a series of excellent cabarets in the Neptune lounge or in the Coral Club. We tried both but preferred the more traditional and intimate Neptune lounge. There was always lots of seating available after second sitting dinner. The Show Company was super high energy and performed exhilarating and exciting routines only inches away from the audience. They were complemented by the wit and stunning guitar music of Les Bryan, the songs of Jane Beaumont, the virtuoso classical/pop violin of Tom Suha and the brilliance of Mark Shortland’s magic and comedy. The Neptune Lounge is not a theatre, does not boast a balcony or private boxes like Cunard’s Queens but it does, in our opinion, offer a much higher standard of fresh and enjoyable entertainment in an intimate and comfortable setting. We were less impressed by the lounge entertainment offered by the Rosario Trio which was often off-key to our ears but were really impressed by the excellent piano playing of Enrique Cabiluna in the Observation Lounge. The ports of call were excellent. From Kristiansund we went out to Grip Island by a small boat, which left the quay only a few minutes walk from the ship. We enjoyed the wonderful spectacle of kittiwakes nesting in the harbour, a flock of oyster-catchers and a whole colony of black guillemots… as well as a wonderful stave church… so much so that we didn’t have time for the pancakes and coffee which were included if we wanted them. In Tromso, where we’ve already been twice in the last year, we took a short taxi out to the amazing Botanic Gardens and jumped on a local bus to take us back to town and wandered through Tromso in the most spectacular weather... people lying out sunbathing in the public parks. At Honningsvag we went out to a bird watching safari, saw a herd of reindeer and then spent some time looking out for wildflowers by the ship. We found... to our absolute delight… a spotted orchid by the side off the access road to the quay! At Ny-Ålesund we had a wonderful experience watching barnacle, and Canadian geese, terns with chicks and snow bunting with fledglings…. all surrounded but stupendous mountain ranges an awe-inspiring glaciers... add to that some of the most historic buildings in Norway and the remains of a steam engine. As an added extra we cruised north to Magdalena Fjord… a truly sensational experience and as we left… an entire herd of walrus emerged from the water right in front of the ship and swam either side of the bows… every one on deck was jumping for joy and screaming with excitement… it was the most wonderful experience and beyond our wildest dreams. Yet more was to come… Captain Bent Ivar Gangdal received special permission to turn North and head towards the North Pole… he only stopped when he had reached well over 80 degrees North and we were faced with the Arctic sea ice stretching six hundred miles away in front of us to the most Northerly point on earth. The Braemar was most probably the most Northerly passenger ship on the planet… it was an immensely emotionally moment for many of us passengers and… as we later discovered, a first for the Captain and the crew! Talk about Fred Olsen “going the extra mile!” We celebrated that evening with drinks chilled with ice from the glaciers of Magdalena Fjord. The ice had been collected by the Braemar’s tender earlier that day. How to make passengers feel a wee bit special! Longyearbyen was fascinating… once a massive coal mine, now a thriving and somewhat bleak Norwegian outpost… that only those with rose tinted glasses could describe as "pretty." Great birdlife… terns, long tailed arctic skuas teaching their chicks how to fly and thousands of little auks as well as puffins on the water. Stupendous landscapes both on the cruise in and out…. and a minke whale along-side the ship On sea days we wrapped up well and we saw fin whales, humpbacks flaking, sei whales blowing and lots of dolphins. White tailed sea eagles flew only meters in front of the bows. At one point three golden eagles soared over 1000 feet above our heads and the birdwatchers on board got really excited by lots of other sightings as well. In Bergen we went out on an organised excursion to Greig’s House and were treated… to a sensational classical concert by Professor Tor Espen Aspaas of Oslo University. On our last formal evening… the thrill of the baked Alaska on parade when the entire dining room staff put on a stunning show was greeted by a standing ovation…. And then the wonderful cruise show and… a Gala Buffet at midnight. We cruise five or six times a year. This cruise was, in our opinion, … simply outstanding. We've booked a similar one for a month next year!   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
BACKGROUND INFORMATION This was an unusual cruise – 8 nights away, but never getting more than 175 miles from the home port, with overnight stays at all three of the ports visited and spending a significant amount of time sailing up and ... Read More
BACKGROUND INFORMATION This was an unusual cruise – 8 nights away, but never getting more than 175 miles from the home port, with overnight stays at all three of the ports visited and spending a significant amount of time sailing up and down rivers on a sea-going ship. Our main reason for choosing it was that we have never visited Amsterdam, Antwerp or Rouen and thought that a travelling hotel would be a good way of seeing them, and it achieved our objectives very well indeed. We found it a bit odd that excursions from Antwerp to Brussels and from Rouen to Paris were featured quite strongly, when Brussels and Paris are so easy to get to from the UK by Eurostar, and Antwerp and Rouen are such worthwhile destinations in their own right, but we’re all different, aren’t we? SHIP INFORMATION Braemar is a modest ship. It lacks many of the attractions of larger and newer ships, but suits people who like a more relaxed, low-key cruising experience We had travelled on it before it was stretched, and found that very good use has been made of the extra 32 metres, including an additional swimming pool, a very attractive observation lounge and a pleasant new restaurant as well as several new cabins. Being an older, screw-driven ship, there is quite a bit of mechanical noise and vibration, especially on the lower decks aft. Some forward cabins are also uncomfortably close to the bow thruster units which can lead to early awakenings, so midships cabins may be advisable if you are sensitive to such things. Braemar is also not the steadiest of ships, so open-water cruises on it are best avoided by people prone to seasickness. Internally, furnishings are pleasing and interiors are light, bright and airy. Braemar does not have a proper theatre, though, and the main Neptune Lounge is far from ideal as a venue for shows, with inadequate tiering, poorly arranged seating and some columns restricting views of what is going on on the stage. Talking about tiering, the tiered stern is magnificent, fully accessible to all passengers rather than just to those with aft-facing balconies as on most modern cruise ships. There is also plenty of sunbathing space on the upper decks, a full wrap-round promenade deck and access to the tip of the bow for Kate Winslet and Leonardo di Caprio impressions – just don’t stand on the rail to do them. EMBARKATION We parked our car on the pier at Dover, which was a very easy process with a short walk (or courtesy minibus ride) to the cruise terminal. The terminal does not have many facilities but the cafeteria is adequate and there is plenty of comfortable seating. Check-in was painless, with no noticeable queues, but embarkation did not start until 2pm which meant that most people had a significant wait in the departure lounge. ACTIVITIES There was only one “proper” sea day on this cruise, which limited the need to resort to activities as such. We normally go to series of talks, but only went to one talk on this cruise, which was all right but not outstanding, trying to cover eight centuries of Anglo-French history in one hour. A second day of cruising was spent navigating down the River Seine, which was delightfully scenic, so we had no need of organised activities. SERVICE Staff and crew were friendly and helpful. People who cruise regularly with Fred noticed cutbacks in staff, notably in the elimination of wine waiters, but we found the level of service in all areas to be at least adequate and often better than that. CABIN Although most cabins are small by modern standards, they do not seem cramped or claustrophobic. Ours only had portholes but was still light and airy. There is plenty of hanging space, but not much drawer or shelf space. Equipment is good, with a flat-screen television, a safe and an adequate supply of toiletries – oh, and the essential (for Brits) tea and coffee facilities. Everything worked, after we had tightened up light bulbs that had been shaken loose. The design of shower curtain made it very difficult to avoid flooding the bathroom when showering. There are no British-style sockets, so plug adapters are vital. DINING No for-fee speciality restaurants here, just the MDRs and the buffet restaurant and fish-and-chips-type meals from the open deck Marquee Bar in fine weather. We used the buffet for breakfast and lunch and our assigned MDR for dinner and were happy with the quality and choice in both locations. Our table companions disappeared off to the buffet for the Asian theme evening and pronounced it to be very good. There was a late-night chocoholics’ buffet on one evening, which looked good but not as lavish as we have seen on previous cruises. ENTERTAINMENT The song-and-dance performances by the Braemar Show Company were good, especially the singers who were definitely better than most in this kind of company. Other entertainment by hired-in performers was not brilliant, but the crew shows were excellent. PORTS OF CALL I will put more details into individual port reviews, but it was the itinerary that sold this cruise to us and we were not disappointed. We do not like the way that Fred describes times in port in advance publicity, just referring to early or late am or pm rather than giving times. This caught out several people who were expecting one and a half days in Rouen and elected to visit Paris on the first day in the expectation of a couple of hours in Rouen the next morning, but the “late am” departure turned out to be 10.15, too early for a look round the city when it is two miles from the cruise terminal. Our departures from Amsterdam and Antwerp were at 16.00 and 17.00 respectively, giving us almost two days in each of those cities. The cruise terminals in Amsterdam and Antwerp are close to the city centres and no shuttle buses were laid on, though in Amsterdam we resorted to a couple of short tram rides to get to the heart of the city because we knew we had a hard day’s walking ahead of us exploring the city’s canal rings. One of the canal bus routes stops very close to the cruise terminal. In Antwerp the ship docked within a few yards of the cathedral and the historic core of this fine city. In Rouen a shuttle bus service was provided for the first day, at a modest £5 for unlimited journeys. It was originally stated that it would finish at 7pm, but this was revised to 1am when the management were made aware of the late night son-et-lumiere at the cathedral. There were some major hiccups with the shuttle arrangements, but we were still glad we went to this fantastic free show. DISEMBARKATION We had a cabin on one of the lower decks and were travelling independently so we were some of the last to leave the ship, but we were still back at our car for 9am after a smooth disembarkation process. SUMMARY We enjoyed our cruise very much. Braemar has some shortcomings, but also some nice features that you don’t find on newer and larger ships, and made a perfectly adequate base for what was effectively three city breaks stuck together with no packing and unpacking to do between them.   Read Less
Sail Date July 2014
Disappointed that had to park away from previous on site parking. Cabin small but had all needed. Had packed way too much stuff as there were two small wardrobes, three drawers in desk and two very small drawers in each bedside table. ... Read More
Disappointed that had to park away from previous on site parking. Cabin small but had all needed. Had packed way too much stuff as there were two small wardrobes, three drawers in desk and two very small drawers in each bedside table. Shower about 85 by 65 cm. First stop Stavanger, weather glorious.Just had a walk around town and lake and visited old town to see the wooden houses. Next stop Flam. We didn't book trip till week before and by then morning trips were sold out so booked pm. Once on board very few slots available and three ships in port so people trying to book independently were mostly disappointed. Enjoyed the train trip and the waffles at hotel were delicious, also free WiFi available. Rather a long wait for return train and we only just got the train at 12.20 as the tendering was taking so long. Eidford was third stop and weather was not kind. Had intended to do 90 minute walk, map available from tourist info, but was too wet. If you buy something at tourist info, even a postcard, can use free WiFi. Thought the food was rather uninspiring but the drinks package was excellent. The two crew shows were excellent and the only other show I saw was OK. Disembarkation was fine until got ashore. The port parking was an absolute shambles with mini buses taking drivers to collect their seagull excrement covered cars from the parking area. There was no information about the system and many elderly people were left standing for a long time. Would I cruise with Fred again? Only with a £10 a day (or less) drinks package. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
I had never been to the Baltics before and wanted to see what I had been missing, especially cities like St Petersburg in Russia which I had heard so much about from friends. Having sailed from Dover we were able to pass through the Kiel ... Read More
I had never been to the Baltics before and wanted to see what I had been missing, especially cities like St Petersburg in Russia which I had heard so much about from friends. Having sailed from Dover we were able to pass through the Kiel Canal in Germany, firstly at night time and then during the day on the way back, which was only possible due to the relatively small size of our ship, the Braemar. We called at Kiel and Travemunde in Germany and Stockholm in Sweden on the way to St Petersburg in Russia, and then Tallinn, in Estonia, and finally Denmark's Copenhagen on the return to Dover. We were able to dock really centrally in the ports, especially in Kiel and Copenhagen where the ship was in the heart of the cities so no time was wasted going ashore to explore. We also chose this particular cruise as it deliberately coincided with a number of festivals in the places we visited, including the amazing Tall Ships parade in Kiel and the wonderful Song and Dance Festival which only takes place in Tallinn every five years. Undoubtedly Tallin proved to be one of the main highlights of the cruise. The city is rightly a UNESCO world heritage site with the medieval walled town boasting fairy-tale turreted towers and lots of nooks and crannies to explore. But St Petersburg is also amazing, particularly the palaces of the tsars such as Peterhof, which is described as the Russian Versailles, and the Hermitage Museum. We were also able to enjoy a tour of Lubeck in Germany, which is also a UNESCO site, where a music festival was taking place in the medieval old town. Other interesting places to visit included Stockholm's Vasa Museum which was built to store an almost completely intact 17th century ship recovered from the Baltic in 1965. And while in Copenhagen we went to a Viking ship museum as well as Roskilde Cathedral, the traditional burial place of Danish kings and queens. There was always plenty to do during days at sea, either relaxing on the sun decks - weather permitting - or attending guest lectures on places we would be visiting, dance classes, a crafts room, library, and even a golf driving cage. Read Less
Sail Date June 2014
On the positive side, the cruise was very enjoyable, with the more unusual Canary Islands being visited - La Palma & La Gomera and also Madeira, Lisbon & Oporto, all very interesting venues. The size of the Braemar helped in being ... Read More
On the positive side, the cruise was very enjoyable, with the more unusual Canary Islands being visited - La Palma & La Gomera and also Madeira, Lisbon & Oporto, all very interesting venues. The size of the Braemar helped in being able to get into the smaller ports. Oporto berth (port Lexioes) was quite a distance from Oporto itself, about 30-40 minutes by train. The entertainment for a small ship was very good too. The Braemar is a little bit older than many of the cruise lines we have tried so the cabins were somewhat smaller than we are used to but for 10 days we could cope, although it would put us off doing a longer trip on this ship. Our biggest winge was not so much the food, as it's availablity. When being out in port all day, returning some time after 2.30pm, there was no food until dinner time - even the pool bar stopped their limited service at 2.30pm. On another night, one lady came late to dinner and was refused service, being told to go to the special Indian buffet as she was too late for the earliest sitting service - she couldn't eat spicy food and was given no alternative! Come on Fred Olsen - this is meant to be a holiday not a borstal. Personally speaking, although we enjoyed this cruise, I wouldn't use the Braemar again unless the itinerary was unique. We just prefer a slightly larger ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2014
We have done 23 cruises in all but this was the first with Fred Olsen. We enjoyed the cruise very much but we think this was more due to the friendliness of the crew and passengers than any other feature of the cruise. The ship has very ... Read More
We have done 23 cruises in all but this was the first with Fred Olsen. We enjoyed the cruise very much but we think this was more due to the friendliness of the crew and passengers than any other feature of the cruise. The ship has very limited facilities. It was clean and well run and there was a good variety of food. They did have a midnight buffet, which some other cruise lines no longer have, and it was of good quality. The entertainment crew were lovely, friendly and enthusiastic. They tried their very best and worked hard. But if you are looking for west end style shows, there is nothing like that with Fred Olsen. The entertainers we saw we had unfortunately seen before on previous cruises and had been around for quite some years without changing their acts. But they were likeable and enjoyable nonetheless. We didn't go on any of the excursions so cannot comment on these but we simply disembarked and had a wander around the ports, which were all very similar. Our favourite was Madeira as all the flowers were out at this time of year and there was a beautiful fragrance in the air. We spent most of our nights in the Coral lounge where several of us joined in the fun of the quiz and then listened to the In Tune band and watched the passengers enjoying dancing on the small but adequate dance floor. The all inclusive at £10 per night was great value as my husband likes his pint of Boddingtons beer and this was always a good standard. Most of the men seemed to be drinking this beer. I didn't like the wines on offer but had a couple of glasses of Cava with the evening meal instead. It was just OK but still worth it and a couple of times I had a cocktail which you could get at half price with the all inclusive deal. Other passengers were making the most of being able to get a decent quality of brandy, but I don't really drink shorts. We certainly had our money's worth and can recommend this deal. One word of warning though. During our cruise the Daily Times encourages you to book your future cruise while on the ship, so saving 10% and guaranteeing your cabin number and the drinks package. This sounded great and we did just that. However, the cruise we booked is supposed to be a river cruise and is entitled the German Waterways. On speaking to other passengers we discovered that this is not a true river cruise as we thought it to be. We tried to cancel it immediately but could not. We felt we had been misled as the cruise specialist did not advise us otherwise that this was not a true river cruise and could not tell us how far down the rivers the ship was able to sail. We still do not know after enquiring with Fred Olsen on our return home. So beware you are sure of the full itinerary before making a booking and don't make the same mistake as we did. Also, it seems you can get better deals by waiting for special offers, as they are cheaper than booking early. Would we sail with Fred Olsen again. Well we have already booked so we will be. But I don't think we will be booking any more cruises as there are so many cruise lines offering so much more for your money. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Just got back from west Africa cruise on the Fred Olsen Braemar, What a fantastic cruise experience it was.We have cruised with many cruise lines including P&O, Celebrity, Princess, Thomsons, NCL,The service was excellent, nothing is ... Read More
Just got back from west Africa cruise on the Fred Olsen Braemar, What a fantastic cruise experience it was.We have cruised with many cruise lines including P&O, Celebrity, Princess, Thomsons, NCL,The service was excellent, nothing is ever too much trouble for any of the crew, really friendly, wonderful people,THE Waiters we had in the Grampian restaurant were fantastic, we were on table 31, and the food was superb,always a large mouthwatering variety,The entertainment was good and something to suit all tastes.Lounge areas were comfortable,and bar service excellent, always served with a smile.Pool area was good, with lots of sunbeds and again an excellent bar service. The ports we visited were different, but not like the Mediterranean ports, but we did an excursion in the Gambia and Senegal which we enjoyed and very well organised.We had only one gripe, which was the cabin was very small, but we spend so little time in it, it wasn"t a problem to us.Embarkation and disembarkation was well organised, and went very smoothly. We had a fantastic time and would definitely be cruising with Fred Olsen again. Read Less
Sail Date April 2014
Being from Canada, this was our first British style cruise. We are British ex-pats. The itinerary was not the most exciting compared to some of the cruises we have taken, but we took the cruise to meet up with friends from England. The ... Read More
Being from Canada, this was our first British style cruise. We are British ex-pats. The itinerary was not the most exciting compared to some of the cruises we have taken, but we took the cruise to meet up with friends from England. The ship was smaller than the ones we are used to taking but we enjoyed the intimacy of being able to meet a lot more people. We really enjoyed the humour and friendliness of the British people. The ship was not as fancy nor did it have as many amenities as the larger ships, but that did not bother us, we just enjoyed the company. We got the all inclusive booze package for 7 pounds per person per day, which was a great deal and not a big shock at the end of the cruise when we got our final invoice! The food was excellent, lots of variety and plentiful. A big thank you to our servers Ganesh and Mengan, you were first class. The dancers, singers, entertainers and entertainment team of Simon, Jamie, Scott, Rusty, Elmer and Dong really worked very hard to keep us happy and entertained. Big thank you to Inthina, our room steward, our room was always spotless and well stocked. Thank you also to Carmen and Louis at Customer Service. A few of the ports were not very interesting, can't understand why when there are three ships in port, they still shut up shop for 2-3 hours siesta! Most of the islands were interesting and we either used taxis or found or own way around. The ship tours were quite expensive. All in all we had a great time, great food and drink, excellent staff and service and lots of friendly fellow cruisers. Getting on and off the ship was a breeze compared to the larger ships. Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
We have just returned home from a lovely cruise on Fred Olsen's Braemar to Cape Verde, The Gambia and Senegal and fully understand why people travel more than once on this ship. We certainly will! Having previously travelled on P and ... Read More
We have just returned home from a lovely cruise on Fred Olsen's Braemar to Cape Verde, The Gambia and Senegal and fully understand why people travel more than once on this ship. We certainly will! Having previously travelled on P and O, Princess cruises, Holland and America, Ocean Village and Thomson we found that "Fred" comes up trumps! Our cabin was an outside cabin on deck 4 with a picture window. It was kept immaculately clean by our stewardess. There was no fridge in the cabin but there were tea and coffee making facilities, which is a rare treat on cruise ships and we did not have to pay for the use of the safe either as we often had to before! The only criticism re the cabin was that drawer space was somewhat limited. We managed for eleven nights but a longer cruise would certainly be more difficult. Embarkation and disembarkation at Santa Cruz were very well organised and went very smoothly indeed. Cases arrived quickly at the cabins and we had no sight of our luggage at the end of the holiday until we took them off the carousel at Manchester airport. The ship was spotless throughout. We ate dinner in the Thistle restaurant in the evening at second sitting and usually had breakfast and lunch in the Grampian restaurant. We occasionally ate in the Palms cafe. All were excellent and even the self service Palms cafe had crisp white tablecloths and napkins. We have not seen this on many other ships! The quality of food and variety was first rate and the service very good. My husband and I are mid sixties in age and we found that the older clientele on Fred Olsen makes for a very civilised cruise. Announcements were made over the loud speakers only when necessary, unlike the Butlins at sea approach of many ships! We found all the public rooms delightful and enjoyed the shows of the Braemar dancers and singers. There was a superb band called The In Tune Band whom we enjoyed tremendously. There were three formal nights and three theme nights during the cruise ( Tropical, British and Rock and Roll ). Not everyone participated in the theme nights but quite a few did and we were among them! It proved great fun! There were five days at sea and I never had any problems finding a sun bed out on deck. When music was played, it was never intrusive.   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
I have just come back from cruising to Cape Verde, Gambia and Senegal on the Braemar and had a wonderful cruise. As a solo cruiser on my first cruise I was apprehensive but I need'nt have been as from day one everyone was so friendly, ... Read More
I have just come back from cruising to Cape Verde, Gambia and Senegal on the Braemar and had a wonderful cruise. As a solo cruiser on my first cruise I was apprehensive but I need'nt have been as from day one everyone was so friendly, the staff are very helpful and the ship is small enough so you see the same people as you wander around. My cabin was a single balcony and had adequate space but the shower was tiny! It was kept spotless by my lovely stewardess. I ate on second sitting with other single people in the Grampian which was nice and the waiters were very good. As for the ports, there were plenty of excursions, a word of warning Gambia's city tour was awful as the place is filthy and we had to walk through roads with open sewers and loads of flies which I and others found horrible. the entertainment was good and varied and there was something to do every day plus plenty of space to sunbathe on the deck. All in all a superb cruise especially for a person travelling alone, I have already booked another one! Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
We are regular Fred. Olsen cruisers and this was one of the best experiences we’ve had with them. Let’s get the negative out of the way first – charter flights with Monarch are never good news! So little leg room. We had a late ... Read More
We are regular Fred. Olsen cruisers and this was one of the best experiences we’ve had with them. Let’s get the negative out of the way first – charter flights with Monarch are never good news! So little leg room. We had a late flight, arriving at the Braemar in Tenerife at about 9.00 p.m., and we had to load our own luggage onto the coach and off at the other end. Not a good start. Our late flight home was much better handled. We were checked in on board by Fred’s and cases were taken from the ship directly to the plane. We were allowed to stay on board until 4.15 p.m. but still did not arrive at Gatwick till about 2.00 a.m. Now the cruise itself. Food was superb, always plenty of choice, hot and the waiter service in the main restaurant was brilliant too. Bar service could be slow at times, especially in the Neptune Lounge, but not really a problem. Our inclusive drinks package worked well and the wine served with dinners was topped up without asking and was of an acceptable quality. As always the staff members were incredible, so friendly and helpful. We really did feel like friends rather than customers. There were always plenty of sun beds available, and the pools were hot not warm. Entertainment was good given the limitations of a small ship, the resident production company were excellent as was comedian Micky Zany, who we’ve seen several times before but he still had everyone laughing. Shore tours worked well, especially in Dakar and Banjul, although not cheap. You really do need to book tours in these places to avoid hassle and begging. Cape Verde Islands were fine for independent travellers. However the person who gave the shore talks on board was so boring we could not listen. This really should be a task for someone who can inspire!   Read Less
Sail Date March 2014
We have cruised 20 plus times before on both small and larger ships but I have to say Fred Olsen is our least favourite Cruise Line to date. There were many people on board who have never sailed with any other cruise line, had done many ... Read More
We have cruised 20 plus times before on both small and larger ships but I have to say Fred Olsen is our least favourite Cruise Line to date. There were many people on board who have never sailed with any other cruise line, had done many cruises with Fred Olsen and were very happy but everyone has different expectations and opinions. Firstly the good points, our cabin attendant was brilliant and kept our cabin very clean. Our waiters at dinner in the Grampian restaurant were also first class. The Braemar Singers and Dancers were excellent with their display of talent and enthusiasm and we enjoyed all their shows. The food, particularly at dinner was well cooked and presented and was of a good standard. We were aware it is an old ship but that did not bother us. We were not expecting it to be glitzy. Now for the things we were not happy with. Our cabin on deck 4 forward was small and very noisy. The pool deck could at times be very grubby with piles of soot blown into corners. One day after walking on the pool deck the soles of my feet were black. The sun beds were also dirty and had seen better days. Many times when we decided to walk on the promenade deck parts of it were closed off for maintenance. Painting was also carried out at various times within a foot of people sunbathing on the pool deck, thus causing a very unpleasant smell.This happened on a sea day when the deck was busy. The meal times in the buffet seemed to be shorter than we have previously experienced and it was closed at various times. There was not enough seating if the weather was bad particularly at teatime which only lasted for 45 minutes. On one occasion we ended up eating tea outside in a chilly high wind barely able to keep the food on the plate as there were no vacant seats inside. Not an experience I would wish to repeat. The problem of seating inside on a bad weather day was ongoing. Although this is a small ship there just seemed to be too many people on it. On larger ships there seems to be less crowding and it is usually possible to find a quiet corner. This seemed impossible to do on the Braemar. We decided against eating Breakfast or Lunch in The Palms Buffet as whenever we looked there always seemed to be a queue waiting to be seated. Most days we ate lunch in The Grampian Restaurant. The choices from the menu always seemed good and we rarely used the buffet section. The problem with this and The Thistle Restaurant was that as both buffet and al la carte meals were being served at the same time. That coupled with the fact that you could be seated at a table with people who were at different stages of their meal made life very difficult for the waiters who were all working very hard. We also could not make out why there would not be a menu for each person supplied at breakfast or lunch. These had to be passed around the table and looked well thumbed. We have not encountered these things on any other ship. Also, sometimes at breakfast or lunch the milk jugs did not look very clean, with a line of congealed stale milk around the rim. This was a off putting. Our main reason for taking this cruise was a short break away from the atrocious U.K. weather and this one fitted the bill. We did our own thing at all the ports of call and enjoyed the places we visited apart from El Heirro which seemed to have little to offer. We would have preferred to have visited Gran Canaria instead. We did think the £5 charge for shuttle buses at various ports a little steep. Especially at Lanzarote as basically it just took you to the outside of the dock area. We did not use it ourselves but thought that taking into account the age a physical capabilities of some of their passengers Fred Olsen could have supplied buses free of charge to all cabin grades as many other cruise lines do. Fred Olsen obviously has a very loyal following but I am afraid it is not for us. In our opinion we found Braemar to be very noisy, crowded and not very relaxing.   Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
We booked "cruise only" as we live too far from Manchester or Gatwick to book flights with indeterminate timings. Flew from Heathrow to N. Tenerife which also gave us chance to stay a couple of nights either side of the cruise in ... Read More
We booked "cruise only" as we live too far from Manchester or Gatwick to book flights with indeterminate timings. Flew from Heathrow to N. Tenerife which also gave us chance to stay a couple of nights either side of the cruise in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. We wanted to go on a smaller ship and Braemar was just right. We booked a balcony cabin and were upgraded for very little more to a De-Luxe which totally spoiled us for next time as having looked around other decks, the ordinary cabins looked a bit small. It was nice to have a balcony for a bit of private space as the sun deck we christened "sardines deck", better to sit on the after-decks - much pleasanter. We cannot praise the staff enough. What a friendly hard-working bunch they are - nothing is too much trouble. Our cabin stewardess was exemplary, waiters were courteous and efficient and bar staff so attentive. The food was just superb. We were in the Grampian restaurant and had as requested a table for 2 but used the Palm's Cafe on formal nights as I'm afraid we don't pay lots of money to be told what to wear although we'd never dream of attending a meal other than in smart clothing - but comfortably casual. Congratulations to the Chefs for the special seafood and Asian buffets on the day we were at sea. The former was in the Thistle restaurant which we believe served all inclusive guests and the atmosphere seemed a little less friendly than the Grampian. We preferred the Palm's Cafe buffet for lunch as you can pick the light salad choices. Lunch and breakfast could be a bit frantic at busy times. The ports of call were all great and had their own character. We didn't do shore tours. We find walking around and visiting a local bar gives you more of a taste of the character of the island/port although it was a long walk on El Hierro! Some guests found it uninteresting but it was unique in its tranquillity and calm and we enjoyed our walk and the lovely little bar in the town. We weren't looking forward to Agadir but thoroughly enjoyed a walk through the fishing port and boat building yards and a cheap and enjoyable lunch in a small cafe behind the beach front area. People were cheerful and friendly and I think respectful dress including headscarf were appreciated in the traditional areas. In all were were impressed with Fred Olsen's service although we have no other experience for comparison. A future cruise will depend on the ease of flying to the departure point or we would go from Southampton given interesting destinations. Minor niggles include the closure of our "local" bar on our deck 8 - the "Observatory" for a private party while entering the port of Funchal. Closing a public facility for whatever reason for the benefit of a few is not fair - we paid a lot of money for our cabin and don't expect to be denied a service. We think that the idea of some staff working for tips is unfair. We paid the standard sum as it would be difficult to single out individuals for reward as they are all so good and we visited so many areas on board. Why not pay all staff fairly and charge accordingly? Charging extra for shuttle buses to port was a bit unfair on the less mobile guests. We are used to long walks so we didn't need them but I can't remember mention of any charge at the time of booking or on the web site. The wifi service was dire and ridiculously expensive. We found service ashore most times but when at sea all day reluctantly paid £5 for 25 mins but due to the lack of speed hardly got anything done. People who work from home or are club volunteers monitoring their organisation's web site need better than this. Most of the time we couldn't get Ch5 on the cabin TV where the information videos on ports of call were. We found it strange not to be able to bring back a bottle of local wine to drink in our cabin; it felt like we were returning to England each day. We felt a bit like captive customers here but would never go all inclusive as the choices available were not to our taste (why go all the way to Spanish Islands to drink Boddington's!) The cabin shopping was useful as a decent bottle of gin was quite reasonable. Overall we had a memorable experience and cruising is an ideal way to see lots of different places. Despite the niggles mentioned we would go with Fred again without hesitation. We aren't attracted by larger ships despite having conversations with other guests regarding the merits or otherwise. The lack of sun deck or pool space is no bother - pointless getting an all-over tan when you have to wear winter woollies on return home. We are restricted to winter months for travel because our summer is taken up by other activities but a cruise provides a welcome break from the misery of English weather. We were impressed by our first ever cruise and life on Braemar. Read Less
Sail Date February 2014
Fred Olsen flew us to Tenerife via Monarch from Manchester. We couldn't book seats in advance as there was some kind of tension between Monarch and Fred Olsen. The Monarch plane was appalling. Extra seats had been installed and there ... Read More
Fred Olsen flew us to Tenerife via Monarch from Manchester. We couldn't book seats in advance as there was some kind of tension between Monarch and Fred Olsen. The Monarch plane was appalling. Extra seats had been installed and there was no leg room and no air supply for some seats as they were out of sync with the new seating. You could book extra leg room on a few rows on check-in for £30 each way! After a very claustrophobic flight, the cabin accommodation was very comfortable and the meals throughout the cruise were of a very high standard as was the service throughout. The ship will shortly be refitted and it needs it, but our main concern is that since it was 'stretched' adding more cabins, the publiic rooms cannot cope on bad sea days. The supply of chairs on the decks was good, but in the lounges with all the passengers within the ship, it was impossible to find a seat, especially for the shows in the Neptune lounge. The ship purports to accommodate 929 passengers but on our cruise log from the company there were 1090 which would account for the lack of room. The shore visits in the Canary Islands were well up to standard and those in the Cape Verde Island, Senegal and the Gambia very chaotic due to the developing nature of those countries although extremely interesting and memorable. There was a problem sometimes with guests not taking note of advice that tours were not for those with walking difficulties but that was not the fault of the company. However, it did seem that the Cruise Director might not have researched some of the African tours enough to ensure they returned to the ship on time to sail - we arrived back one hour late for sailing in Senegal where a seven hour tour turned into a ten hour marathon (with no toilet stops planned), and a half hour late in another port - but that was mainly a problem for the captain. Overall we are glad we took the cruise - to avoid the weather back home - and we couldn't hold the company responsible that the weather kept us inboard for much of the cruise - but we wouldn't go on this ship again as the lack of space spoilt what could have been a much more positive experience. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
Back again after 2 years attracted by intinerary which included Panama and Colombia. First mistake was not to book cruise only and fly out BA. The Monarch charter was poor to say the least even in the premium cabin. Old, scruffy planes, ... Read More
Back again after 2 years attracted by intinerary which included Panama and Colombia. First mistake was not to book cruise only and fly out BA. The Monarch charter was poor to say the least even in the premium cabin. Old, scruffy planes, poor food, no movies ...... no surprise that they are retiring the A330s and focussing on short haul. Cabin ok although a/c was tempremental. Probably the oldest fellow passengers yet and as they were determined to enjoy at all costs Fred was able to get away with reduced standards in all areas except dinner in the Grampian. We had second sitting, the food was very good and nothing too much for our waiters. Thankfully they let us mix the choices and on the nights where the standard options were limited stil managed to get a good result. Breakfast ok although buffet was the same every day - including tinned peaches (why?) Hey Fred we are in the Caribbean so where were the local fruits that grow in abundance on every island we visited? Very English menu most nights with the occasional Indian or Cajun option. I guess this caters for the over 75s who predominate. New Venus Coffee Shop - excellent Observatory Bar and Coral Club good service and atmosphere but forget the pub and Neptune Lounge (apart from Crew Show). Featured acts apart from the violin man were very poor especially the out dated comedian Bob Taylor who had the same routine as 4 years ago. We gave him the benefit if the doubt but to no avail - again the old folks must really like him. Best entertainment was Enrique in the Observatory (as always) and In Tune in the Coral witheir talented kead guitarist Lee who saved the day for us. Regarding the bar, total confusion about the all-inclusive option. Why limit it to house brands? Why have different charges depending on when you book? Come on Fred do the right thing add an extra £100 per week and have proper premium brand all-inclusive charging extra only for wine by the bottle and water in the room. After all the clientele hardly fits the profile of those that will drink themselves stupid every night. Paid for some shore excursions in advance. The Panama Railway was £95 and an absolute shambles. No literature, no pa in our railway carriage, poor description of the trip that did not highlight the amount if time soent looking at vegetation or the visit to the run down marina. We complained and got a £10 refund? Cartagena again was hit and miss with a visit to a lowcgrade shopping mall taking up 20% of the trip. In Santa Marta our coach did not have a crew member to shepherd the party resulting in a confused and beligerent passenger somewhat unfairly loudly berating our guide. Disembarkation is always a nightmare wasted day. We were actively dissuaded from making our own transfer plans in case we got lost and delayed the flight - please!! 5 hours waiting on board ship, 1 hour on a coach and then 2 hours at the airport. Health and safety is always a priority and while everyone had clean hands (no norovirus thankfully) the same people forgot themselves when it came to coughs and sneezes. Airborne germs had a field day, people who should have been confined to quarters or at least used the box of free tissues in their cabin let the side down. For me never again. Too English (no not British) for my liking. Too many people settling for mediocrity meaning things are unlikely to change.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
Our trip to Cape Verde, Gambia & Senegal...was not as warm and rougher seas than many on board had hoped for, still that's nature and it was a lot better than home!! We had a sleepless experience in cabin 7006 which ruined our ... Read More
Our trip to Cape Verde, Gambia & Senegal...was not as warm and rougher seas than many on board had hoped for, still that's nature and it was a lot better than home!! We had a sleepless experience in cabin 7006 which ruined our trip and a fellow passenger also experienced and was moved from 7020 with unacceptable noise, creaking and loo flushing. Pick pocketed in Dakar as were others, do not go ashore on your own, Banjul was as intimidating, organised security escorts are essential if visiting town. The ships shore tours were well organised and safe, general opinion was good, we really enjoyed our 'lazy day on the river' but rather rickety. It was always a rush for limited seating in the entertainment lounges, but the entertainment was very good and good fun. Dining in the restaurants, buffet and pool bar, was the highlight, with brilliant service and excellent food choices. Finally the staff were friendly, cheerful as were our fellow cruisers. But, our experience will leave 'BRAEMAR' Fred Olsen at the bottom of our recommendations and choice for another cruise.   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
My husband and I are veteran cruisers and this was our second time on FOCL's Braemar. We have been on all the 'Fred' ships and the Braemar is my own personal favourite as she is just the right size to make a more personal ... Read More
My husband and I are veteran cruisers and this was our second time on FOCL's Braemar. We have been on all the 'Fred' ships and the Braemar is my own personal favourite as she is just the right size to make a more personal experience. We were allocated balcony cabin 7050 and this was perfectly fine. Clean, comfortable and quiet, with twin beds and two chairs, a sunlounger and a table on the balcony. Wardrobe space was adequate but we could have done with more drawers. We ate each evening in the Thistle Restaurant and, as we've found on all FOCL cruises, the food and service were excellent. During the day we tended to go to the self-service Palms Café or, if the weather was good, to the Marquee Bar on the pool deck, which served 'pub style' meals al fresco. We enjoyed the entertainment very much; both the orchestra and the Braemar Show Company as well as the featured entertainers (including Martin Daniels, son of Paul) were excellent. In fact we were able to enjoy two performances because there was always an alternative show (later on) in the Coral Club, where we also used to adjourn every night for the quiz. The evening always ended with the resident band (the M.I.T. Band) followed by a disco and most nights we went to bed well after 1.00am! I do agree with other reviewers, however, that the Neptune Lounge does not have enough seats for all the passengers on each dinner sitting; in fact the whole room could do with a complete redesign as a lot of potential space is wasted due to the configuration of the settees and chairs. Another pleasant place to pass the time was the Morning Light pub, where there were daily quizzes as well as background musical entertainment. We were travelling on the "all-inclusive" drinks package and this is well worth the money; even the drinks that aren't included in the package (such as cocktails) are half price. The ports of call were: Mindelo (Cape Verde), Praia (Cape Verde), Banjul (Gambia), Dakar (Senegal), Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura and back to Tenerife. We should have been visiting Porto Novo in Cape Verde which was an anchor port, but the sea was too rough and the weather too windy to launch the tenders, so this port of call was cancelled. Can't help the weather though! I loved Cape Verde; it is still developing its tourism trade and so is understated, natural and undeveloped, which is its charm. Santiago Island (Praia) is absolutely stunning; all jagged peaks, green valleys, rugged coastline and sandy beaches, with little farms dotted here and there. I'd hate to return in 20 years' time and find it full of high-rise buildings and glitzy hotels. So all in all, we had a fantastic time - unusual ports of call, excellent food, service and entertainment, a friendly crowd of passengers and crew and a clean and comfortable cabin. Viva Braemar!   Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
Having just been on a cruise with Fred starting at Tenerife to Cape Verdi and west Africa an back to Gran Canaria and Fuertaventura I am going to give it 5 star rating. The ship is good. It is not as glitzy as some but is neat, tidy and ... Read More
Having just been on a cruise with Fred starting at Tenerife to Cape Verdi and west Africa an back to Gran Canaria and Fuertaventura I am going to give it 5 star rating. The ship is good. It is not as glitzy as some but is neat, tidy and easy to move around. Cabin was clean and comfortable and adequate although not oversized. We were on deck 4 outside with a window and it was very convenient and quiet. All the staff from reception, security, chamber maids, bar staff, restaurant staff were 100%. The entertainment was very good with professional acts, crew acts (which were exceptional), and guest speakers which were very interesting. Facilities on board were good with plenty of space to relax. The top deck was good for sunbathing etc. Cannot comment on the tours as we made our own way. As a summary we found the ship to be a delight, the crew (including the Captain) to be of the highest standard, the hotel staff to be 100%, the meals and menus to be first class, the entertainment to be a joy and the overall experience to be one to encourage a return visit. Read Less
Sail Date January 2014
flew from manchester on monarch to tenerife good flight baggage reclaim about 20 minutes coach journey to santa cruze 45 minutes slight delay checking in due to one coach in front of us 25 minutes later onboard braemar the ship from ... Read More
flew from manchester on monarch to tenerife good flight baggage reclaim about 20 minutes coach journey to santa cruze 45 minutes slight delay checking in due to one coach in front of us 25 minutes later onboard braemar the ship from outside although quite small to modern ships is still impressive our inside cabin was on deck 3 close to lifts/ stairs we went streight to our cabin to find our cases already there cabin was the usual set up two single beds dressing table and plenty of wardrobe space complete with hangers also safe inside wardrobe complete with key (no charge) that a first ... shower and toilet compartment was fine shower good always plenty of very hot water never had any problem with noise in the cabin at night the ship is well layed out and easy to find your way around . the inside of the ship is spotless outside deck are the same. food onboard was some of the best my wife a i have in any of our previous 10 cruises which includes sun cruises .thomson .p@o .princess and r c i the staff onboard in the bars and restaurants are super the self service is much better on braemar than other ships the waiters find you a table aready set out with clean table cloth and cutlery and then you sort yourself out with food instead of the usual rugby scrum. we had our evening meals in the thistle main restaurant the food and service was excellent we had the drinks package and our glasses where never empty.....we enjoyed the evening shows the guest comedian was realy funny and never smutty or blue....we also liked the piano soloist joe hume who played in the observatory lounge.. we did not do any shore excursions we did our own thing having cruise the canarys islands twice before the drinks package at £10 per person perday was great red wine was ok draft beer boddingtons or canned spitfire /john smiths the cruise was so good the day flew by we met some great people had a good laught at the dining table (8 people on the table 2 from indiana)........ the top deck on braemar as plenty open space for sunbathing also a good number of table and chairs the fish and chips at lunch time are to die for.....time to go home as we left the ship we checked our baggage in before boarding the coach and the next time we saw it was in manchester...........we book this cruise with liverpool cruise club on there golden envelope of the t v channel 284..........my wife and i realy enjoyed this cruise the ship the crew /staff / food great cruise and great ship!!!!!!! we will be back!!!!!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
I've sailed with Fred Olsen a number of times before (as well as with other more glitzy cruise lines) but this was my first time on Braemar and it's now my favourite ship of the Olsen fleet. The gloom of a UK autumn had prompted ... Read More
I've sailed with Fred Olsen a number of times before (as well as with other more glitzy cruise lines) but this was my first time on Braemar and it's now my favourite ship of the Olsen fleet. The gloom of a UK autumn had prompted me to book what a very reasonably priced getaway at the end of November and spending my 65th birthday on the cruise was an added bonus. Although the weather wasn't quite what you can normally expect of the Canaries, I had a really wonderful time and unlike one of the other reviewers I thought it very refreshing to visit some of the lesser known island like El Hierro which IMO has a lot to offer - especially if you hire a car for the day as I did and actually get to see the dramatic scenery on offer. Fred's food is always good and quite hot, unlike some other cruise lines I could mention but I do agree with another reviewer that the opening times of the Palms buffet, especially for afternoon tea are too short. On a sea day, I had the choice of having afternoon tea or doing the quiz (because of clashing timings) whereas I'd really liked to have done both. I'd booked a superior single balcony cabin which I thought didn't have much superior about it but because the ship wasn't full, on the second day I was able to upgrade to a better cabin at a very reasonable price. As I always have a balcony, the availability of space in the public rooms and on deck wasn't a problem but nowhere ever seemed to be crowded. I had a better experience than some on the Monarch flight because I'd been able to book extra leg room seats by phone much more cheaply than they were being sold at the airport. I had such a good time in fact that I've booked again on Braemar but this time to do the cruise which goes to W.Africa and Cape Verde. Read Less
Sail Date November 2013
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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