35 Fred. Olsen Braemar Cruise Reviews

I chose this cruise because it went from the port of Southampton, I could get a cabin for single use and it went to the countries I wanted to see, which were all wonderful and very clean. Some difficulty getting off the ship if you could ... Read More
I chose this cruise because it went from the port of Southampton, I could get a cabin for single use and it went to the countries I wanted to see, which were all wonderful and very clean. Some difficulty getting off the ship if you could not walk too far, quite a walk to get out of the docks and onto coaches if you have booked trips. The drinks package I purchased worked out at £19 per day bought online at point of booking. One of my dining companions purchased a drinks package onboard and said she paid £29 per day. I have cruised before on other ships and the drinks package covered everywhere on the ship but not on the Braemar. I am sorry to say I found it to be a rip-off. Embarkation and disembarkation went very smoothly and all staff and crew at Fred Olsen were very helpful and professional. I had to use the outdated computer in the outdated library to send an urgent email, which costs £26 per hour. I was unable to get any reception on my mobile at the time. The computer was so slow and I had to send two emails that ending up costing me £52. Dining was okay, but the portions were really so small. Similar to the size of meal you would receive if you were in a care home. The crew were fantastic but everything else on board was poor. The entertainment was average and the activities were like those found in care and retirement homes. A kind of lets make do and mend mentality. I personally felt it was old fashioned and outdated. Every time the sea was a bit rough you were tossed around. I felt the ship was not that stable, specially if you were elderly and most people were using walkers, mobility scooters, sticks and wheelchairs. A few people suffered from sea sickness because of the movement of the ship. The Braemar was not the ship for me but I might enjoy it better if it is still sailing when I am in my eighties. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We booked this cruise at the last minute, we paid a lot for the trip. I was in a single room which was located on deck 2 at the front, the room was very nice being an inside cabin, well equiped and the bed was very comfortable, good shower ... Read More
We booked this cruise at the last minute, we paid a lot for the trip. I was in a single room which was located on deck 2 at the front, the room was very nice being an inside cabin, well equiped and the bed was very comfortable, good shower and plenty of space with loads of storage for clothes. The dowside to this room and I express this to any one looking to travel on any Fred Olsen ship, the room is located above the bow thrusters which means during docking the rooms vibrates and the noise is undiscibable, I you have a heart proplem this is not the room to have. Fred Olsen should warm guests that this room has problems and at 1.00 in the morning being jolted out of a sleep is not good. The rest of the ship is OK for its size, comfotable but limeted. food very good with the down side of only being available at certain times during the day, as on other ships food is on tap 6.00 - 2.00. The entertainmant is OK very well put together. I would thing twice about going with Fred Olsen, you can get better for the same money on other cruise companys. Read Less
Sail Date May 2019
We thought it would be fun to cross the Atlantic and a 16 day Re-positioning Cruise offers quite good value for money, We flew to Barbados, visited Antigua, Tortola and St Kitts and, after 6 days at sea crossing the Atlantic, stopped at ... Read More
We thought it would be fun to cross the Atlantic and a 16 day Re-positioning Cruise offers quite good value for money, We flew to Barbados, visited Antigua, Tortola and St Kitts and, after 6 days at sea crossing the Atlantic, stopped at Ponta Delgada in the Azores and then called in at La Coruna before docking in Southampton. We had never traveled with Fred Olsen before but had heard good reports from others. We thought the Braemar, a small ship relatively speaking, with just 900 passengers and just for grown ups (i.e. no children) would suit us well. We had lovely weather, pretty calm seas and the staff were delightful and very attentive. Our cabin (an outside one with a picture window) was reasonably spacious and had all the facilities we would expect. Importantly, the beds were very comfortable! When at sea I enjoyed playing Bridge and we liked the Quizzes. Some of the talks were interesting but the selection of films in the cabin was not so good. I thought the extras were very expensive (drinks packages, WiFi and short excursions) and was disappointed with the standard of the entertainment and some of the food, though the Breakfasts and the Food Stations were good. The overall conclusion is, therefore, that we enjoyed ourselves but would not rave about it and would probably choose to go for another P & O cruise next time, as there is a wider age range. Most of those on board were quite a bit older than us (and we are in our early 70's!) and they were - for the large part - loyal Fred Olsen repeat travelers! Horses for Courses, as they say! ps. A note of caution when booking: While the actual cruise is excellent value for money, when you add on additional costs for insurance (more expensive in the Caribbean and USA), gratuities, on-board expenses for WiFi, bar bills and excursions, rail fares, taxis, overnight hotel stays and also - in our case - kennel costs, your outlay is doubled! It is still a lovely holiday but it is too easy to overlook these when making the decision to go! Enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date March 2019
We chose this cruise because the sailing date and the itinerary suited us. The cabin on deck 4 was very small but well designed and the large window was beneficial. The food was excellent and the service also very good. The drinks ... Read More
We chose this cruise because the sailing date and the itinerary suited us. The cabin on deck 4 was very small but well designed and the large window was beneficial. The food was excellent and the service also very good. The drinks package was ok but we were often charged on our account for drinks that we had not had. This did not matter materially as we were not paying but we did wonder what happened to all the drinks on our account which we had not consumed. 10 minutes with the Doctor on board resulted in a bill for £88 which was ridiculous, particularly as he then sold me a mouthwash for sore gums (which I did not have) which was marked at £3.20 yet charged at £5.80! It is good to have medical facilities on board but they should not be at exorbitant prices. Entertainment was generally very good. One superb comedian but he was replaced half way through with the most pathetic comic imaginable. The show company were excellent. However, the Neptune lounge was not fit for purpose. The seating was completely inadequate for the numbers attending. The port speaker's presentations were informative but also inhibited by the dreadful lounge and also by his tedious presentation and frequent errors. The Bridge room was too small, too deep within the ship and there were no adequate duplicate sessions due the room being used for other activities. We were never able to play more than 14 hands. This was our first cruise and we are currently undecided whether it should be our last. Read Less
Sail Date October 2018
We selected the cruise because the itinerary met our requirements, and the cruise did meet our expectations in this respect, although a storm kept us out of the scheduled first port of call. Cabin very good, as were the staff on board. ... Read More
We selected the cruise because the itinerary met our requirements, and the cruise did meet our expectations in this respect, although a storm kept us out of the scheduled first port of call. Cabin very good, as were the staff on board. Food in general good, although very bland, probably to cater for the majority of guests on board. It did feel that this was an Old Folks Home on holiday, average age of guests must have been nearly 80, with too many needing walking aids just to get around the ship - some never to leave the ship in port of call! Goodness knows what would have happened in an emergency evacuation. Ship very much showing its age in spite of a recent refit. Didn't like the set meal times, and set table for the duration, much prefer an open table and time seating option. Fortunately we got on OK with our other table guests, but 16 days dining with the same people, we would not do this at home! Didn't likr the Fred Olsen charged extra for everything, from a cup of coffee, soft drink, water,change to a different restaurant, thats extra please! We had the drinks package on offer, very limited, a gin made in Spain, a whisky of unknown origin as were the other spirits on offer. If you want something different, thats extra please! Won't be using FOCL again, we will go back to our other preferred cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date June 2018
Its small just over 24000 tons but has 900 plus passengers, still tidy and well laid out, it was a “cut & shut” which makes it quite long (4 times around prom deck to a mile) but only 8 decks high. Our cabin on deck 3 with double ... Read More
Its small just over 24000 tons but has 900 plus passengers, still tidy and well laid out, it was a “cut & shut” which makes it quite long (4 times around prom deck to a mile) but only 8 decks high. Our cabin on deck 3 with double port holes, it was a bit smallish, especially the shower but comfortable enough,toilet paper a bit thin though, however we had tea & coffee but no biscuits! One very good point for the cabin - Interactive TV with Sky TV channels, bow camera, weather forecast, onboard a/c and a good selection of films, we watched 2 on days that were to cold for going outside. The corridors are quite narrow and Prom deck has a one way system for walking round but difficult to pass anyone at some points. Braemar was built in 1994, refurbished in 2008 and probably had a tidy up in the last year or so. But she does vibrate a fair bit especially when your in the restaurant at the back of the ship, although we couldn’t hear it in other parts of the ship. The outside areas at the back of the ship with tables and chairs are well laid out we even had lunch outside whilst sailing down the Seine, it wasn’t that warm but at least it wasn’t raining that day. Unfortunately you do get the black soot floating around same as P&O's Aurora & Oriana - ships of a certain age! We didn’t sit on the sun deck for obvious reasons but there looked to be plenty of space, loungers and a reasonable pool. The observatory at the from of deck 8 is a smaller version of the P&O's crows nest but quite comfortable, but it gets full of people of a certain age! All the officers were Croatian apart from the doctor who was a Rumanian & the head chef who was a Brit. In fact a lot of the crew were eastern european I was expecting to see Slaven Bilic at any time( West ham joke if you don’t follow football). The Captain gave a regular lunchtime update although with long pauses but had a good sense of humour. Entertainment There wasn’t any shuffleboard or deckquoits but there was Hop-la & Dolphin Racing (a excuse to bet on a roll of the dice)maybe put on as this cruise was still in the children holidays and there were 24 kids onboard but they were well behaved. We did quite a few quizzes, not that hard but most teams had 6 and we were "billy no mates", came close to winning the Name that tune a few times. The Braemar orchestra held a resemblance to P&O's Caravan especially the brass section, the show singers 2 guys & 2 girls all had good voices and did 4 shows plus 2 appearances at welcome and farewell parties as well as helping out with distribution of tickets, holding some quizzes etc. There were 4 girl dancers that made up the troop with the singers. They did shows in either the Neptune lounge ( with the band backing) or in the Coral club bar and lounge. Two guest entertainers, Taffy Spencer magician & Stevie Jo Salter a comedian from Bethnal Green he was OK, but he did a great talk on his time working in the Met murder squad. The port lecturer was fairly poor just read from a laptop to slides but some useful information, the guest speaker was Robert Ash a gourmet chef who did 2 talks one on Monet and one on Chefs famous dishes - actually both good. Food Everyone says the food is good on Fred Olsens and we agree. There is more choice than on P&O especially in the self service Palm Cafe where we eat both breakfast and lunch. One plus point is that you are not let in to the PalmCafe unless a table is free, so its not such a bun fight as P&O, and we did try the cava at breakfast a couple of mornings! The thistle restaurant in the evening has 2 sittings (no freedom dining) we had 2nd sitting which wasn’t full our table of 6 only had 4 on it including us. The menu has a choice of 2 starters, 3 soups, 2 salads, 3 main course and 3 sweets plus cheese and the normal chicken, fish & pasta on all the time, not large portions but if you’ve had breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea you don’t want a big dinner. On one day Afternoon tea was served in the Neptune lounge as a “Tea dance” we didn’t dance but we gave the cakes a good bashing chocolate fountain with fruit, amaretto cake & Lemon meringue tart to name 3( carol had 2 tarts so it shows how good they were) but we left the doughnuts and cream cakes alone. We did have a giggle because there were 2 Dance Hosts, elderly gentlemen to dance with the ladies, we don’t think they provided any other services & you certainly wouldn’t call them Gigolos. Parties there was welcome aboard and a farewell party, you had to go in the lounge and sit down before they would serve you a drink, choice of red/white wine, sherry , G&T and Cava. We managed 2 drinks first time and 3 second time. The captain gave a speech which was quite entertaining and then introduced the senior crew members no opportunity to talk to any of them or any any other more junior officers. Crew As stated the officers are mainly all croatian but the waiters are mainly Indian, Thai, malaysian etc. we didn’t find our lead restaurant waiter that friendly he belittled his number 2 which we didn’t like, but those we came across in the Cafe, drinks waiters & cabin stewardesses were all friendly enough. we didn’t feel the entertainments team treated you like school children at least they were Brits apart from the cruise director who surprisingly enough was a Croatian lady. Weather & Tours Obviously the weather was not great as we said we did have a good day cruising along the Seine from Rouen to Hornfleur (about 6 hours) but we got soaked in a thunderstorm on the evening in Bordeaux and the only other good day was the last afternoon sailing up the English Channel, we’ve never known it so flat and the strongest wind we had was force 4. so we can’t really say how Braemar performs in bad weather, our guess is not great. We were not impressed with the tours we did a wine tour in the evening in Bordeaux a walk from the ship to a wine cellar, expensive and not much wine. We also did a tour from Lorient because there’s nothing at Lorient apart from a exGerman submarine base which is now a museum. We went too Josselin Castle by coach, the driver got lost trying to get into the village, we toured Leclerc supermarket car park and did 4 laps of the same roundabout, when we got into the village all the roads near the castle were being relaid with block paving so we had a to walk over mudyy unmade roads to get to the castle. We told the tours lady ( who was another Croatian) that if we did a Fred's cruise again we probably wouldn’t do any tours! A couple of final plus points, the Daily News sheet with whats on, has a tear off strip with times of events, useful to tear off and put in your pocket. Disembarkation is done by deck number starting at deck 8 and working down but it was all over in less than an hour and you don’t have to put your luggage outside your cabin until after 22:00 and before 02:00 - take note P&O! In summary we enjoyed the experience, we may consider Fred again but certainly not on anything longer than 10-15 days. Read Less
Sail Date April 2018
We sailed with Fred Olsen on the Braemar. We are not usual Olsen guests, probably slightly too young in our early fifties! we prefer more modern vessels. There are a number of issues; The ship is tired, built in 1968 she shows her age, ... Read More
We sailed with Fred Olsen on the Braemar. We are not usual Olsen guests, probably slightly too young in our early fifties! we prefer more modern vessels. There are a number of issues; The ship is tired, built in 1968 she shows her age, no amount of tinkering or refits will hide this. Loyal customers talk about how friendly it is, how they love the smaller ships, but they don't have the refinements of the larger more modern vessels. Staff; Hard working, but mostly chaotic service, our Head waiter apologised in the grampian restaurant almost every night bout the poor service as he had more tables to serve, the wine waiter had gone, so he had to double up for that also. Food was poor to adequate, not really the fine dining Fed Olsen goes on about, we had one meal at what I would call cruise standard, and that was when we paid an extra 40 pounds to dine in the "Grill", beautiful scallops, steak and desert served very well by an attentive waiter as he only had 4 tables to look after. Lunch and Breakfast was a joke, waiters spent more time chatting to themselves than serving and if you were there towards the end of service, most of them stared laying up for lunch. Fred Olsen appear to be on a cost cutting mission, no Baked Alaska parade, no Fish n chip friday's, no curry night, on the last night, it was decided to host a BBQ and dancing on the back end at 10:30, right after second sitting guests had finished dinner?! the only people who ate anything were the crew. The cabin was OK, but again the age of the ship is evident with small shower with shower curtain, instead of a modern glass door and chipped sink unit. For some reason during the last docking period, a decision had been made to take all the shelves out of the wardrobes? so we were left with 3 small drawers to fit everything in. We suffered noise almost every night and early morning, our cabin was, unfortunately, right under the Marquee deck furniture which the crew put away and put out very morning, I think by throwing it across the deck, complaints were listened to and apologies given, but it didn't stop it happening time and time again. I don't know what the future holds for Fred Olsen, their price point does not match what is offered and many other cruise lines offer better quality experience at a much lower price. The show team were very good, but the magician and the comedian on this cruise were awful, tired old magic and jokes, although it appealed to some of the passengers. Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
30th anniversary .spoilt by inferior cabin.not reaching Jamaica.there was unrest but the captain said Ochoa Rios safe but weather was poor this was not the case ,we then had 3 days at sea doing nothing. Santiago unsafe and polluted, ... Read More
30th anniversary .spoilt by inferior cabin.not reaching Jamaica.there was unrest but the captain said Ochoa Rios safe but weather was poor this was not the case ,we then had 3 days at sea doing nothing. Santiago unsafe and polluted, Tortola devastated should not of gone very upsetting . Continually being disturbed by captain announcements whilst resting(unimportant announcements.just like butlins 1970. Jakuzzi not working 3 days no info from guest services after enquiringly several times permanent repairs at sea ,decks closed. Pool closed 2 days . No more Fred Olsen your not on holiday your just bossed around. Could not get a free cup of only on 1 deck and and we were inclusive but nice food and entertainment. Shore excursions very poor no imagination ship left most ports early lack of shuttle buses. Had to have mixers separate as drinks were drowned in cheap post mix. Casino inadequate two tables in a corridor Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
I chose this cruise for the Caribbean itinerary and also because I expected to experience the fine dining boasted about in the brochures and on the internet. The public spaces and our cabin were immaculately clean. With one or two ... Read More
I chose this cruise for the Caribbean itinerary and also because I expected to experience the fine dining boasted about in the brochures and on the internet. The public spaces and our cabin were immaculately clean. With one or two rather surly exceptions, members of staff were pleasant, friendly, approachable and helpful. Excursions and transfers were very efficiently organised. The ports were an excellent choice. The Braemar Show Company was exceptionally good. Other entertainers ranged from poor, through average to good. The traditional Crew Show was good but fewer crew seem to be willing to give up their spare time to perform. The Cruise Director, Elliot Taylor, sometimes just didn’t know what day it was. He sent out a note to cabins to change their clocks… but on the wrong night… and failed to send out a note on the night that clocks did have to be changed. A farewell BBQ was to coincide with second sitting guests leaving the dining room after dinner! Like many second sitting guests, we were unhappy that we were being charged for food that we couldn’t eat. The Cruise Director kept on saying night after night… how fabulous the food was… despite the rather desultory response from guests. The food was well below what we have experienced on many of the 15 previous cruises with Fred Olsen in the course of the last 5 years. On his website, Fred promises “expertly prepared, five-course a la carte dinner at the Thistle and Grampian Restaurants” but nothing could have been further from the truth. Service in the restaurant was the slowest that we’ve experience in the 20 years that we have cruised with Fred. The 8.30 pm second sitting guests frequently weren’t able to leave the table until almost 10.30 pm. On our second evening on board we, and almost everyone else, waited 35 minutes for a simple appetizer to be served. Menus on this cruise were bland, boring and banal. We saw not a single “five star” dish in over two weeks. The “Gala Manu” had little or nothing to distinguish it from any other of the second rate menus on board. Chocolates on Gala evenings seems to have for the most part been replaced with mini meringues… (Diabetics also beware…. we are now being charged for Fred to leave boiled sugar sweets on the pillow!) The amount of Turkey and yellow/grey, wet, overcooked Brussels Sprouts on offer gave the impression that we were being offered the Christmas leftovers. The Chef’s concoction one evening of a bit of pork, a bit of beef all mixed together with prawns gave us that idea that Chef was cleaning out the bottom of the freezer. Almost all meat was served in identical mechanically rectangular slices. Starters were tiny scraps that looked as if the latest trainee recruit had thrown them onto the plate. An “Oslo Platter” contained what seemed to be one quarter of one small rollmop. Soups frequently seemed to be just over-salted, boiled potatoes flavoured and processed until they were a glutinous gunge with all of the charm of wallpaper paste. “Chilled tomato soup with fresh basil” seemed to be carton tomato juice blitzed with woody basil stems leaving the “soup” full of fibers. “Chilled coconut soup” seemed to have been poured straight from a can taken from the fridge and a pinch of nutmeg sprinkled on top. Salads were roughly torn shreds of bitter lettuce with tiny fragments of tomato and cucumber. A single olive and two flakes of cheap canned tuna do not make a “Salad Nicoise”. These are, of course, part of the “five course a la cart dinner” that guests are charged for. “Classic Dishes” were often suggested by the menu but the evidence on the plate was very different. Classic “Wiener Schnitzel” had been replace on the plate with a thin, dry slice of fried pork; classic “Chateaubriand” looked like “boil in the bag” tenderloin with gungy “Béarnaise sauce” and “Classic” (Fred seems to like that word… he uses it a lot) “Roast Duck” was a dry, emaciated scrap that left us wondering where the missing duck meat would turn up in the following days. Main courses were often abysmally poor; mechanically sliced, bland, preformed turkey in a gluey “gravy” accompanied by a plug of bready stodge that was described as “stuffing”; “Venison Stew” with dire “dumplings” made out of reconstituted bread; paper thin slices of “Beef Wellington” welded to the plate by a film of dehydrated “gravy”; “Pasta” so dry that the sauce didn’t even touch the bottom of the plate… and no parmesan on offer. “Roast Potatoes” that varied from so crisp that they could have been newly fried to so rubbery and dehydrated that they could have been left-overs from a previous sitting… both on the same plate! Never have we seen so many meals being sent back to the Galley or so many meals being left unfinished. It was really embarrassing to see staff apologizing so much for the quality of food that they were being asked to serve. Desserts were often appallingly inconsistent… one “Crème Brulee” had a pool of sugar syrup rather than a caramalised topping, Pear and Apple Pudding with Calvados that was bland, stodgy and totally unappealing… selections of “British and International cheeses” (are there any others?) made up of minute portions of processed plastic unidentifiable cheese a single dried apricot, three grapes an eighth of a small radish and a match-stich sized portion of celery. Gone are the Lobsters, gone are the Racks of Lamb, and gone is the Fillet of Beef Mignon (except on the advertised sample Gala menu). Gone too is the Baked Alaska on parade and gone too is the Gala Buffet… (Now replaced with a choice of a Hot Dog or a Burger… immediately after second sitting dinner!) Gone too are Fish and Chips on Fridays! Gone too are the American steaks in the Grill… replaced by a cheaper alterative! Gone too are the popular Curry nights! Gone too… it would seem… are many of the skilled posts in the galley The “Late Night Buffet” offering is now a truly dismal affair. We looked in one night halfway through the cruise and only one guest had chosen to sample the mean and uninspired offering. The Cruise Director, announced at one evening show late in the cruise, “And ladies and gentlemen… the good news is that food costs are down on this cruise!” Fred’s promise in his brochure that “Dining on board is sure to be the highlight of your holiday… with a range of mouthwatering options all planned to perfection (and) sumptuous dishes” was not kept. We felt that Fred’s Chef and Cruise Director on the Braemar had simply lost the plot. It was clear that despite the guests having paid a hefty premium for what was promised to be an “award winning” “sumptuous” “five star” “dining experience” that the Cruise Director was were prepared to publically celebrate that guests on board had been subjected by the Chef to a well below average, mean, penny-pinching boring, bland diet… and that Fred was able to pocket the savings! If Fred won’t provide the food or the service in his restaurants that he promises and that we have paid for, he can’t compete with the stunning facilities and more economic prices of the bigger ships! Top Tip. The Maître d’hôtel has to write a report each day. It is emailed to the Chef, the Hotel Manager and the powers that be in Fred’s HQ. If the food is not as good as it should be… based on the brochure and Internet advertising… send it back to the kitchen and explain why. The message will slowly filter through! Read Less
Sail Date January 2018
We chose this cruise because of the river features. It was more expensive but we wanted a luxury cruise. We found out from this site it was a flat bottom boat. We would never have booked as my husband is a poor sailor. He was sick for 2 ... Read More
We chose this cruise because of the river features. It was more expensive but we wanted a luxury cruise. We found out from this site it was a flat bottom boat. We would never have booked as my husband is a poor sailor. He was sick for 2 days and drugged (sea sick tabs make him very sleepy) for a few more. Many people were unwell for first few days. Embarkation was quite smooth even though a man employed by southampton dock yard was very rude. Unwashed in dirty clothes unshaven. Shouting at us with out telling us what we were doing wrong. We heard him being equally rude to other passangers. Porters were apologetic. The ship is tierd past its best alot of noise from engins while dinning. Sometimes we couldn't hear other passanges on same table.engin noise bad in cabins. Others struggled as well. Ship broke down on way home. With engin trouble. But we still arrived back on time.WIFI VERY EXPENSIVE £13 for half hour this is just daylight robbery. Fred olsen should be ashamed. Is this even legal. The cakes and puddings were amazing. The rest of the food ranged from lovely to uneatable. Palms cafe not very good breakfast was difficult to get anything hot. Afternoon tea best meal. Alot of penny pinching small amounts ie half a quails egg. Having to buy coffee if not in restaurants or in room. Could not understand three formal nights one would have been more than enough. As the only reason for them seemed to be selling you photos. We did not go to the entertainment as we looked at it on telly and it looked very low key. Also we weren't interested in talks about 2nd world war. Husband enjoyed table tennis. Trips were good. Most expensive same on all cruises. All staff very good very egar to please. YaYa our cabin stewardess was very thorough. The best thing about the cruise was the other passengers. Really friendly and chatty. No bad language or drunkenness. Majority were quite a bit older. But had to admire the determination to have holidays dispite health issues. No children and this is not a cruise for them or really anyone under 40. Overall this cruise was not for us we were bored. Its put us off cruising. Many people loved it. They were very faithfull to the Fred lable. We thought fred olsen were taking advantage of their loyal customer base. This was not a luxury cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2017
First we found out after boarding the ship that she was flat bottomed which of coarse meant there was much more movement in when cruising. Poor sailors beware. The cabins were very clean, the size adequate. The food varied from good ... Read More
First we found out after boarding the ship that she was flat bottomed which of coarse meant there was much more movement in when cruising. Poor sailors beware. The cabins were very clean, the size adequate. The food varied from good to excellent. The staff were brilliant, very hard working and very polite. The entertainment varied from poor to excellent depending on ones taste. We never used the Shore excursions because they seemed expensive compared with what one could organize for oneself. That applies to ALL cruise lines. There was only one thing that I would complain about and that is the WiFi. It was a complete RIP OFF. It costs £13 for 30 minutes and was SO SLOW. I only managed to view my bank account twice within the 30 minutes. Fred you should be ashamed, even Virgin Trains only charge £5 for 24 hours. I don't think I would sail with Fred again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2017
Lovely cruise from Tenerife to the Caribbean, everything excellent apart from:- The engines on the boat are extremely smokey, particularly noticeable at night, also leaving a layer of soot on the pool deck at one point one of the pools ... Read More
Lovely cruise from Tenerife to the Caribbean, everything excellent apart from:- The engines on the boat are extremely smokey, particularly noticeable at night, also leaving a layer of soot on the pool deck at one point one of the pools was closed for a day as it had soot on the bottom. As an asthma sufferer I am pretty aware of this health hazard and I think this needs immediate attention. Also whoever was at the helm when we docked in Bridgetown, very scary, we were coming in quite fast and the bow just missed the two dock cranes. I watched the safety officer shout at the people standing on the deck at the bow to get back, he thought we were going to hit the cranes I watched him brace for the impact. A lovely holiday, food was varied but superb, We ate mainly in the buffet restaurant on deck 6 which suited our needs, we twice had steak in the evening grill restaurant outside on deck six, this was also superb. Read Less
Sail Date December 2016
We were on board Braemar from the 7th November until the 8th December 2016 on back to back cruises. Embarkation at Southampton was swift (we are gold members and had booked freedom fare, so had priority. Also the sea was kind to us ... Read More
We were on board Braemar from the 7th November until the 8th December 2016 on back to back cruises. Embarkation at Southampton was swift (we are gold members and had booked freedom fare, so had priority. Also the sea was kind to us throughout. We love Braemar and have travelled on her a lot over the last couple of years and on each occasion there were no problems with fumes. However, this time there was a lot of very problematic fumes around the ship. Parts of the ship, including our first cabin, (6071) became uninhabitable as the cruise progressed. We did inform the guest relations lady, Geraldine, when it became particularly bad, and she was very kindly able to transfer us to a cabin which was much better (6051). It was still obvious that the fumes were present in various parts of the ship though, including the corridor by our first cabin and some staff did say that it had got worse over the last few months. Fred has done a lot to improve the appearance of his ships over the last year or two, so we just do not understand why something like this is being ignored, when it should clearly be repaired. We had been given various excuses for the fumes by senior staff, including that the inlet for the mid ship air con is by the inlet for fuel when bunkering. If this was the case it should be moved, though we do not see this can be the problem as the fumes appeared at different times, even when at sea for a couple of days, so not just when bunkering. Also, we had been on the ship previously (23 nights late 2014, 28 nights late 2015 and 8 nights in May 2016) and it was not noticeable on any of those occasions. Regards the other aspects of the ship and the staff on board the cruise was a good as ever. Esel, Victor and Patrick were as usual very personable and highly efficient at managing their respective restaurants, indeed all restaurant staff were excellent. The food was also very good throughout the cruise, (though I do wonder if I should be complaining to the chef because of my weight gain). At this stage I cannot remember the names of our cabin stewards, but both were extremely pleasant and helpful as well as being highly efficient. Apart from the problem with fumes, both cabins we were in were very good with quite a decent view out of the “fully obstructed” windows as the cabins were by the end of the respective lifeboats, so there was diagonal view as well as over the top of the lifeboats. We do not go to the shows and other entertainment/activities often, though we were fairly happy with the ones we did attend. My main complaint regards entertainment is that there was a classical musician on board for much of the cruise, but he/she was always scheduled for very late afternoon. These performances are something I would have loved to attend, but as we were on first dinner, starting at 6.15pm it was never possible for me to do so. There were no musicians on in the show lounges at night, which was a great shame, as we have previously enjoyed musicians billed as cabaret artists, (flautists etc.). Sadly there is no longer a Rosario Trio on this ship, which left the Bookmark café area really quiet and almost eerie in the evenings. There was a pianist in the observation lounge who was OK, but the guitarist in the Morning Light Pub, Luke Palmer, was nothing short of appalling and we were not the only people to comment on that. Out of the Cabaret artists I would say that Geoff Taylor stood out as being much better than the others over both cruises. There was a speaker, David Parkin, who did some talks about birds and was very good, but sadly his number of talks were cut down, so he did not have time to give a double session talk on migration which he had planned and prepared. My husband was particularly annoyed about that and I would have liked to hear those talks as well. Not sure what replaced his missing lecture slot(s), but it was nothing that interested us. From our point of view, the best entertainers, on board were undoubtedly “The Revolverlites” who played in the Coral Club. They did a really good selection of more modern music and performed far better than we would normally expect on a cruise ship. They were also very pleasant people when seen around the ship. I took a particular liking to Natasha, who was the singer with that band. The ports were good, which is largely why we choose Fred Cruises at times and we were particularly pleased to be able to visit El Hierro this time. We hired a car there (from CICAR), which we booked on the internet before the cruise and the day went very well, despite the weather, which sadly was not the best on that day. The return flight to Manchester was badly delayed. We were kept on the ship longer to allow for part of that delay, but Fred got us to the airport far too late for the revised flight time, (I suspect they did not want to pay for coaches to wait a long time at the airport for the new arrivals). Hence we were being called to the gate as we cleared security, so there was no time to have a drink in an airport café as we were not sure when we would be called to board. However, there was quite a delay at the gate, which was fine for us as we just sat down. However, some people decided to stand in a queue at the gate, even before being called to board and chose to complain about having to stand later. There were plenty of empty seats to sit on by the gate so it was just silly to stand in a queue at that stage. The flight did take a long time to embark the people who needed assistance (not surprising considering Fred's age demographic), but once premium were called they boarded very quickly and likewise when the rest of the passengers were called. Unfortunately there was a further delay after we boarded for a technical reason, which meant we arrived in Manchester more than three hours late. This was the second time we have used Fred’s flights and the second time there had been problems, which is not a good track record. Overall, the cruise still had a number of plus points, but the fumes were such a bad problem to the extent that we feel it spoilt the whole cruise and would not book this ship again unless we understood the problem to have been fully repaired. Read Less
Sail Date November 2016
WE had very loud engine noise below us on the first night . Had no sleep ,so had to move decks. Restaurant at night noisy also,we could not hear the people on the opposite side of the table.Had no explanation for this which continued ... Read More
WE had very loud engine noise below us on the first night . Had no sleep ,so had to move decks. Restaurant at night noisy also,we could not hear the people on the opposite side of the table.Had no explanation for this which continued the entire cruise. although we complained every time.The food was excellent and our cabin clean all staff polite and friendly. Will not travel on this ship again which needs updating. Shore excursions expensive,entertainment very good.Had a previous cruise on Balmoral which was excellent so we were really looking forward to this one .Itinerary was good getting in to the center of large cities. Disembarkation was delayed and at a different terminal to embarkation which ment finding our car difficult.We had to keep going back to the reception area about moving and trying to get compensation. This made our first 3 days of the cruise very stressful. Read Less
Sail Date June 2016
We chose the cruise because of the itinerary - German waterways and that was everything we hoped for. Great stops at Flensburg, Travemunde, Hamburg and Bremen and peaceful and scenic cruise down the rivers and Kiel canal. At all ports we ... Read More
We chose the cruise because of the itinerary - German waterways and that was everything we hoped for. Great stops at Flensburg, Travemunde, Hamburg and Bremen and peaceful and scenic cruise down the rivers and Kiel canal. At all ports we did our own thing so cannot comment on excursions. We had a superior suite on deck 7, roomy with sofa, two armchairs, loads of storage space and really large balcony. Bathroom with bath, shore over bath, twin basins and wc. Some might find the bath an wc cubicle a bit narrow and there is a high threshold on the door, very dated compared to more modern ships. The hot water can get very hot and is potentially dangerous. There was a kettle for tea and coffee and a fridge full of the usual high priced mini-bar drinks. Bottled still mineral water supplied free. The suite dream package not really worth having although the cava was nice. Canapés always seemed stale and I do not consider it a perk to have a mini Daily Mail delivered! Continental breakfast disappointing and very limited choice. We just had tea, coffee and orange juice most mornings. Ate breakfast in Palms cafe, good choice at buffet and enjoyed the made to order omelettes. One feature we really liked was the seating arrangements for the buffet, staff found you a table, wish other cruise lines dot the same. Lunch in Palms a good choice, the other restaurants have a different menu each day, the Thistle has a good buffet as well and the Gampian a smaller one. Rather limited afternoon tea service in the Palms and a supper club at 11 pm are the only other food arrangements available apart from room service. Cannot comment on supper club or room service as did not use. Dinner we had second sitting in the Grampian. Had a table for 4 set for 2. Interesting and varied menus each night and we enjoyed the food, especially the soups but would have liked more vegetables and sauces -realised too late we should have asked!. Service was excellent. Did not like the Observatory bar much as difficult to get seat with view as a lot of people like to sit and read. Morning light pub nothing like a pub, more like an hotel lounge with no atmosphere. Liked the Coral club, good band called Revolverites who had a wide repertoire of songs. Some singers from Braemar show company who seemed to go down well. Did not see any of the other entertainment as mostly musical, think there was a comedian but no magician! (I like them) There were two formal nights, not sure what the point of having them is as nothing extra happened. Overall we enjoyed the cruise, cabin good, food ok and drinks package excellent value. That said I would not cruise on Braemar again or consider Fred.Olsen again as the suite experience offered by the larger cruise companies is far superior and much better value. Would also prefer slightly more lively atmosphere that would accompany a wider age range of passengers. Read Less
Sail Date April 2016
Just back from this cruise - fantastic itinerary - 11 islands and only two sea days! Crew excellent, shows good but was disappointed with food having traveled once before with Fred and been much more impressed. My other 'gripe' ... Read More
Just back from this cruise - fantastic itinerary - 11 islands and only two sea days! Crew excellent, shows good but was disappointed with food having traveled once before with Fred and been much more impressed. My other 'gripe' was that the excellent port talks by Huw were only made available on cabin TVs at times the shore excursion teams wanted to sell tours! The talks were excellent and having booked a shore tour for each day in port I then wanted to watch the talk to glean info for the rest of my day and walks ashore. To no avail - talks were put on several days in advance - I was told 'to sell tours' not to inform us whilst in port. Come on Fred surely it's simple to provide a way of us accessing this valuable information? Itinerary made the holiday - did a ship tour every day in port and generally happy with each of them except any involving a beach stop - on two occasions shown to sunbeds on a very crowded section of the beach, given a ticket for a free drink and then left for an hour or so. Beaches were great but packaged like sardines! I was travelling alone so hadn't wanted to do a taxi trip to a beach alone but if I go again would certainly consider it. The whole travel experience was good - case not seen after gatwick till in cabin and same coming home. Organisation on ship always spot on. Like the changes made to Braemar - all positive. Had two visits to the spa which were excellent, massages, good value. Shows were very good except the lead female singer did begin to irritate by the end of the holiday. Band in Coral Club great too. Disappointed with cabin for what I paid for it but overall had a great holiday - made special by the lovely people I met and made friends with and the trips I did - have dozens of photos to reflect on in coming months! Read Less
Sail Date February 2016
Overall a good cruise, good ports of call. Not to many sea days. Excellent crew, very good choice of food. The minus points, the first two weeks no port talks, very few activities or lectures on sea days, the Neptune show lounge has too ... Read More
Overall a good cruise, good ports of call. Not to many sea days. Excellent crew, very good choice of food. The minus points, the first two weeks no port talks, very few activities or lectures on sea days, the Neptune show lounge has too many loose chairs placed in it, you are packed in the lounge unable to view the show because of peoples heads and pillar obstructions, to get better seats you have to go 45 minutes before the show starts!, People were holding seats (one person saving up to six seats) in The bar area in the Morning Light pub for the quiz at 10pm whilst those people were in the show. The ship was stretched a few years ago so all the public areas have more people than it was designed for. Cabins are small as the ship was designed for 5 to 7 day Cruise's, the ship is second hand to Fred Olsen. Read Less
Sail Date January 2016
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
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
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
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
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 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
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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