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7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
We knew we had made an expensive mistake with this cruise when we saw the other passengers at Southampton - we are in our late sixties/early seventies but we felt like teenagers compared with the rest of the passengers. During the course ... Read More
We knew we had made an expensive mistake with this cruise when we saw the other passengers at Southampton - we are in our late sixties/early seventies but we felt like teenagers compared with the rest of the passengers. During the course of the voyage we saw a few passengers younger than us - but that was it - a few! Embarkation and disembarkation was extremely efficient and we cannot fault anybody for that. The crew were fantastic and really helpful and we both really enjoyed the food. However, there were a lot of sea days and there was nothing to do. There was an ex BBC producer who gave some very good talks but after that it was all extremely boring if you didn't play bridge. The entertainment was amateur - there was one guest male singer who was very good and we enjoyed the crew show but otherwise we were very unimpressed. We went often in case it improved but we sat at the back so we could get out when we had had enough - we generally didn't last long. There were a couple of good pianists in the bars though. What really finished us off was not having enough time in port - particularly Lisbon. The itinerary said we would leave 'late pm' and we were looking forward to having a whole day there. However we had to be back on board by 15:30 - on what planet does half past 3 in the afternoon equate to 'late pm'? We were really disappointed. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2018
Chose this cruise for a last bit of sun before the winter. We had previously been on the Braemar and really liked the fact that it is a small ship with an intimate feel. It was incredibly good value and I wanted to work with the fitness ... Read More
Chose this cruise for a last bit of sun before the winter. We had previously been on the Braemar and really liked the fact that it is a small ship with an intimate feel. It was incredibly good value and I wanted to work with the fitness instructor, Pat who is the best yoga teacher I have encountered again. Having now been on the Boudicca as well, the layout of the Braemar works far better. It is logical and has an intimate feel, although some of the decor is starting to look a little tired. Embarkation was very quick. Picked up key card and walked straight on. Although we arrived quite late the restaurant was still open with hot food available. The general service, activities and port excursions were all good, and the room, though on the small side was comfortable, however I spent very little time in it other than to sleep! There were a few surprises I did not expect that made this the best cruise experience I have had. Firstly Fred Olsen appointed a new executive chef and the same food went from mediocre to superb compared with the previous trip on Braemar I had in August. Secondly my companion and I found friends on board with whom we had a greatest laugh ever. Lastly the quality of the music and humour provided by Brendan Kidulis, the musician in the Morning Light Pub made it a truly enjoyable experience. A shame the shows weren't of the same standard, however. We enjoyed all the port visits. We chose not to do many tours as the Canary stopovers were all to accessible interesting towns. They one we did do was whale watching on Tenerife which was fantastic. The Cape Verde islands were a fascinating snapshot of Africa and very different from the Canaries. Can't imagine why they have 'green' in the name - brown and windy was more accurate. The overall experience was great, the service superb, and I would not hesitate to book another cruise on the Braemar. Read Less
8 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
destination good but wouldn't recommend this as ship needs to be replaced by o old. The whole experience of this cruise was as if I had been in an old people's home. The entertainment was geared for this and so we're the ... Read More
destination good but wouldn't recommend this as ship needs to be replaced by o old. The whole experience of this cruise was as if I had been in an old people's home. The entertainment was geared for this and so we're the activities. The destination was appealing but to be given a port that was a coal mining destination Port Richard and get covered in dust isn't my idea of interesting port even captain agreed and told us he had notified the company of this. Must have been a cheap port to go to. The overall staff really very good and helpful, food good, cabins not up to today standards. Entertainment needs to be updated though an older crowd they need to realise we are not one foot in the grave. Lovely table but also of the same opinion. Perference given to people who book Fred Olsen direct. Independence passages required to desembark no later than 10.00 a.m. But Fred Olsen passengers were allowed to stay on board as long as necessary before their flight departure. I hope Fred Olsen take note of these comments Read Less
13 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
We've just returned from this cruise to Durban. Some of the places we visited were very different from the normal cruising destinations and were enjoyable as a result. Great if you like sea days too (a few too many for our liking - ... Read More
We've just returned from this cruise to Durban. Some of the places we visited were very different from the normal cruising destinations and were enjoyable as a result. Great if you like sea days too (a few too many for our liking - hence the 4 and not a 5* review). We visited Oporto, Madeira & Tenerife which were as one would expect from Europe, lovely. The Cape Verde islands were interesting but a contrast to Europe, underdeveloped and really not geared up for tourism, therefore interesting but with not much to see or do. We then visited St. Helena, what a treat as not many people get to go here! A charming little island but again not a tourist destination. However, the island appears very safe and friendly. Next we made two stops in Namibia, Walvis Bay & Luderitz. We did a ship's excursion in Walvis Bay as we weren't sure what tourist opportunities would be available. We really enjoyed visiting Dune 7, the desert for the Welwichia plants and the town of Swarkopmund, which incidentally was very lovely. In Ludertiz we simply toured the town ourselves. Such a shame that since diamond mining has moved off shore, the town is in rapid decline, although homes from a bygone age can still be seen and in some cases visited inside. Possibly the highlight of the trip was Cape Town and all that this involves. We then visited Port Elizabeth which was decidedly a sad sort of place with not a lot to do outside of game drives. We concluded with a brief visit to Durban which looked okay, with standards somewhere between Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. We really enjoyed the trip but we happy to be disembarking and not going full circle, although doing the second part could possibly be on another agenda for the future. 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
1 Helpful Vote
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
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: January 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
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
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: February 2013
We have just returned from our Cape Verde cruise on board the Braemar, this was our second with Fred Olsen, the last one on the Boudicca. We have cruised around seven times with Thomson, and been on all their ships, so we thought we would ... Read More
We have just returned from our Cape Verde cruise on board the Braemar, this was our second with Fred Olsen, the last one on the Boudicca. We have cruised around seven times with Thomson, and been on all their ships, so we thought we would give Fred another go, the first one being slightly disappointing. Firstly,the ship is lovely I cannot fault her at all, always plenty of space.Food was excellent, much improved from my last trip with Fred,Itinerary was very good although I would have preferred less sea days.The disembarkation was excellent they take your bags and book them in so you are not lugging them around checking in at the airport, straight to security,wonderful. We found the passenger mix very good and the conversations and laughter made the long sea days bearable, no problems with the formal nights although three is perhaps one too many on an eleven night cruise. Now for the bad bit, the staff especially the bar and waitress staff are terrible, they never smile and can be rather surly, I have never experienced this on any cruise before and was really shocked by their attitude, they also seemed to be short staffed which may account for the attitude. The so called all inclusive is nothing of the kind, the cocktails,special coffees etc are not included although are at half price. There is only one brand of whisky included and that is a very inferior Spanish whisky. The entertainment, apart from the show team who I enjoyed was poor to average, the Welsh singer was the worst I have heard in a long time. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2013
We hadn't cruised before, being under 50 we really thought that cruising was for older people. That's certainly true for the Braemar but many guests told us about other cruise lines who cater for a younger audience so I'm ... Read More
We hadn't cruised before, being under 50 we really thought that cruising was for older people. That's certainly true for the Braemar but many guests told us about other cruise lines who cater for a younger audience so I'm happy to stand corrected. My husband is terrified of water and to get him to go I had to book a cabin with a balcony above a lifeboat! Within a couple of days he was quite comfortable with being at sea, not seeing land and his constant fear of drowning so if anyone reading this has a reluctant partner - be reassured, it's worth the effort of getting on board. I have a gluten free diet and really struggle to get food when I go on holiday unless I cook everything myself. This cruise was an absolute godsend to me - I've never had so much choice before, the food and the waiters were amazing. I can't praise them enough. The Braemar is a relatively small ship with around 950 passengers and 350 crew which meant we were quickly recognised by staff and guests, making for a very welcoming atmosphere. The staff couldn't be faulted - we started off in the Grampian Restaurant but weren't keen on the atmosphere there and were quickly moved to the Thistle Restaurant which was much more vibrant and where guests wanted to talk to you.The cabaret acts were pretty average and targeted at the older audience. The Braemar Show Team on the other hand were outstanding, particularly James, Jane and Kirsty and worked incredibly hard putting on 9 different shows in 11 nights and popping up doing all sorts of unexpected duties throughout the day from serving cake at the Tea Dance to dolphin racing. Not having been on a cruise before I didn't have anything to compare them with but I lost count of the number of other guests who said they were by far the best show group they had seen on a cruise and many of the guests had been on over 30 cruises. Ricky the Cruise Director was great, I think he could do with a day off though - he seemed to work from early in the morning to very late at night with few gaps in between and always with a smile on his face. We met some lovely guests on board although we also met a significant number of pretentious people they they were usually older and from a certain part of the country. The staff were incredible and I found the latter guests clicking fingers at waiters distasteful to say the least, however the few guests that spoiled things were hugely outnumbered by the lovely guests we met. Our cruise was for 11 nights and by the 9th I have to confess we'd had enough of getting dressed up for every evening meal, we could have opted out and dined more casually in the Palms Restaurant but we didn't feel it was fair in the staff to keep moving about when I had special dietary needs. Others did use this option and it seemed to be appreciated.We called at Dakkar Senegal, Banjul Gambia, Praia Cape Verde and Mindelo Cape Verde. If you want winter sun and are not bothered about ports this is great, if you don't mind third world countries and a bit of hassle from locals it's fine otherwise leave these ports for a few years until they become more developed. Mindelo was the best port and even that was basic with no toilets on a 4hr tour. The weather was great though and staff on board were phenomenal. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
Our first cruise with Fred Olsen and it won't be our last! We liked the Braemar immediately, the decor is lovely. Staff were mostly Philippino and excellent. Our cabin was definitely small, but was not a problem. Our first cabin ... Read More
Our first cruise with Fred Olsen and it won't be our last! We liked the Braemar immediately, the decor is lovely. Staff were mostly Philippino and excellent. Our cabin was definitely small, but was not a problem. Our first cabin was 3069 and after 2 nights we asked to move as the noise from the floor above was not good. It turned out to be an air conditioning unit on the deck above. We were moved to the port side and all was well. The food was really excellent all the time and one thing that I noticed particularly having sailed with P&O 4 times was the buffet. On Fred O you don't get a tray, get your food and then try to find a table. You wait to be called, not more than a minute or so, then go and get your food. Also, all tables have white tablecloths and napkins. Really nice. Entertainment was pretty good, although my one reserve about Braemar would be that the theatre is very small and not well raked, so if you are in the middle, you have to crane your neck to see. However she is a small ship, and we had a similar situation on Artemis. this cruise was Choirs at Sea and we joined that, although I have not sung since I was 14! It was such fun and we gave two performances on the third last evening at sea. I have put our ports under Madeira as they don't exist on the list. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: April 2012
We embarked on the Boudicca on Monday, 16 April 2012 and the embarkation was rather disappointing. Given a time to arrive of 2 pm which we did and then had to sit in the embarkation lounge for the best part of two hours. Our first ... Read More
We embarked on the Boudicca on Monday, 16 April 2012 and the embarkation was rather disappointing. Given a time to arrive of 2 pm which we did and then had to sit in the embarkation lounge for the best part of two hours. Our first impression of the ship was that it is 'tired'and should be withdrawn from service. Our suite was clean although I heard comments on the cleanliness of some of the cabins. The deck space round the pool is rather dismal and the chairs and loungers are in an absolutely awful state, some mark your clothes when you sit on them. They are discoloured and need replacing. The pool water was kept warm which was good but facilities in the pool area are poor. Also the chairs in the Secret Garden and the Restaurants need deep/steam cleaning as they are filthy. The entertainment provided in the Nepture Lounge with the 'Boudicca Entertainers' was rather limited to the space available and had the shows been produced by an amateur dramatic society then they would have been fine. The costumes of the entertainers defied description and I am sure that the people themselves were embarrassed at having to wear them. The food and service in the Secret Garden was really very good, excellent selection and service but the time it took to serve a meal in the Tingatel Restaurant was dreadful. In some instances it took almost two hours to be served dinner. The staff on the ship were friendly and all appeared to work very hard especially with the noro virus outbreak. When we arrived home there was a letter from Fred Olsen stating that they were currently treating '2' cases. What happened to the 200+ that were announced over the tannoy by Stein, the Cruise Director? I know for a fact that there were additional cases the night before the shipped docked at Southampton. Given these '2' cases why was additional medical staff flown in to the ship. It was announced that they were coming and I saw them myself going around the ship. The thing that upset my most was the time spent at the various destinations. The brochure stated that we would arrive in Dakar 'early am' and depart 'late pm'. We were advised that the pilot was 45 minutes late (do we believe them, I certainly did not) we got off the ship around 10.00 am and hung about for a while and then departed on our trip. The trip was shortened by an hour and we arrived back at the ship at 4 pm as the gangway was being taken up. To me 'late pm' is not 4.00 pm. Again in Lison same time schedule stated on brochure, tour started 10.00 am and we had to be back on the ship for 2.30 pm. In Dublin not much better. Shuttle buses at 8.30 am but being a Sunday shops not open until 11.00 am and last shuttle bus at 2.30 pm. Bearing in mind that you could not wait until the last shuttle bus as it might have been full. The time allowed at the various destinations was an absolute travesty. Going to Senegal in our case was a 'one off' and our time was wasted sitting in the lounge and waiting for the bus to depart. Some of the ship's crewe were rather inexperienced, particularly the Reception Staff who just did not seem to comprehend what you wished and what you were saying. The poor souls who tried to get the tender organised in Porto Novo really struggled and both my husband and myself ended up getting soak through to the skin with the waves. It was our first trip and given the above it will be our last. One final comment we were charged £700 for the additional three days from Southampton up to Greenock. Imagine our dismay when we realised that Fred Olsen had been offering those who were on the first part of the cruise these additional days free if they had booked at 02 November 2012. Then we found that those who only went on the mini cruise had paid £140 and this included a coach trip from Glasgow to Southampton. We really did feel like we had really been taken in my Fred Olsen Cruise Lines. Finally I really do feel that Fred Olsen Cruise lines ought to get their act togeter as I am sure that they are contravening the Trades Description Act in their brochures by advertising as they are doing. Time ashore is very limited, as above. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: April 2012
This was our first time on a Fred Olsen cruise. We did the Cape Verde Isles and not only were we disappointed with the itinerary but also the ship as it did not live up to the advertising. Firstly it says that the ship is one big happy ... Read More
This was our first time on a Fred Olsen cruise. We did the Cape Verde Isles and not only were we disappointed with the itinerary but also the ship as it did not live up to the advertising. Firstly it says that the ship is one big happy family and the staff get to know your name and treat you as a special part of the"Family". This was not our experience, the waiters in the restaurants couldn't wait for you to finish and at times were quite rude. However, the bar waiters were a lot friendlier and the service was good. We found meal times especially at breakfast quite stressful; crowded & disorganised. We were disappointed the the informal buffet had specific times when it was open, which was not for very long; for example most of the other cruises have the informal buffet restaurant open most of the time so you can go whenever you wanted. However, the marquee bar was a lot better with times more flexible and service good plus the fish & chips was great, but the menu was limited and was only open when the weather was good. It was unfortunate that there was the norovirus on the boat which made meal times even more restrictive. This is another issue which I won't go into but not very impressed with the handling of the outbreak.. Secondly, the entertainment was not that great, it lacked spontaneity and was boring at times, including the daytime activities, sometimes these were good but it showed a lack of experience from the entertainment team. Thirdly the food was slightly disappointing, it was quite good some evenings but not as good as some of the ships we had been on so not what we expected. The Cape Verde isles and Senegal do not have a lot to offer, once ashore there is very little to do or see, as they are not into tourism yet,Senegal and Dakar we were told was disappointing but we did find Goree Island interesting but be prepared to be seriously hassled by the islanders. Madeira and Lisbon were lovely. But the organisers had not taken into consideration that when we visited Lanzarote on a Sunday everything was closed, and it was a May Day holiday in Lisbon but still enjoyable. We had good weather for most of the cruise apart from the crossing from Southampton across the Bay of Biscay which was very rough, a lot of people unwell, then we had the virus, again lots of passengers very unwell. However We did enjoy this cruise very much as we met some wonderful people and made the most of the holiday, I felt the cruise was not good value for what we paid, our most expensive cruise to date, drinks and trips quite expensive too, a bottle of wine just under £15 and cocktails £4.50 or over. However, there were quite a lot of positives, as there were lots of nice places to sit both inside and outside, there was no hassle finding beds or chairs and none of these were squashed against each other, a big bonus for us. The pool area was nice and spacious the gym was good and the library area excellent. Also a lot of lovely friendly passengers making the cruise enjoyable. So there was a lot of positives with the Boudicca but not enough for us to cruise with them again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2011
We were booked on Black Watch for her voyage to the Cape Verde islands on November 26th, and were told to get to the Ocean Terminal at a given time. We drove to Southampton where we were given free parking (hooray) for the duration of the ... Read More
We were booked on Black Watch for her voyage to the Cape Verde islands on November 26th, and were told to get to the Ocean Terminal at a given time. We drove to Southampton where we were given free parking (hooray) for the duration of the cruise,great but on entering the terminal on time found it packed with people and nowhere left to sit! We were held there for nearly 2 hours before being allowed to board the ship,not a good start. Also about 3 weeks before we were due to sail Olsen's demanded a fuel surcharge which was calculated as a percentage of the fare paid. in our case nearly £200.So their very unfair system means that the more you paid for your fare the more your surcharge would be irrespective of the fact that the cost in fuel to move a given person from A to B is the same whatever cabin they occupy! Talking to many people on the ship we were amazed to find that the majority had not heard of this surcharge let alone paid it! We booked over a year in advance and paid over £2000 a head,but a lot had booked in the last 2 or 3 weeks before sailing and paid as little we were told as £700 odd. This really leaves a sour taste in the mouth and obviously the moral is if you want to go on one of Fred Olsen's ships don't book early,leave it to the eleventh hour and get it a lot cheaper. The Ship itself is in very reasonable condition although being an elderly lady,having been built in 1972,and you will find deck crew repairing and painting around the ship 7 days a week as we did. There were a lot of sea days on this cruise so when we got to the 1st port,Portimao we were ready to stretch our legs. From there we sailed south to Tenerife and there did an excellent whale watching trip (ships tour)on a catamaran from the south of the Island. On again to Mindelo in Cape Verde where we hired a taxi for 2 and a half hours (for 4 of us) for 70 euros (far cheaper than the ships tour)and went right up into the mountains where the views would have been superb had it been clearer and not drizzling. On next to Praia where we just walked around the town and interesting typical West African market. We arrived at our last port in the Cape Verde to find that the shore landing facilities were woefully inadequate and as this was a tender port the Captain forbade a landing so we sailed away half a day early. So the Cape Verde islands are really a waste of time as a destination. After having an ill passenger lifted off by helicopter from Las Palmas one evening we docked in Lanzarote in the evening, and sailed again for Lisbon the next afternoon in hot sunshine and to the sounds of Colin Bryant's Hot Rhythm Orchestra playing on the afterdeck. It was nice to see Lisbon again and we had a morning ashore here before sailing for Southampton in the afternoon. Overall we saw a lot of sun,got a good tan and had a restful time, we liked the ship generally,it was clean and the food and service was good,but if you like to go on a ship with an extremely elderly,and in many cases infirm clientele (one man on two sticks boasted "I'm 101 you know") this would possibly suit you, but possibly not the way the Fred Olsen Company is out for the last penny, a £1 for a small bottle of water and no bottle of wine less than £15+ and £5 a head for use of a shuttle bus into town from the dock. Brambleseven Read Less
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