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2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 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
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2019
The cruise was excellent for the food, entertainment, staff, and cabins. But the quality of the AI drinks package was poor. The brands of the drinks were hidden so couldn’t see the bottles but saw the whisky le Valletta never heard of. ... Read More
The cruise was excellent for the food, entertainment, staff, and cabins. But the quality of the AI drinks package was poor. The brands of the drinks were hidden so couldn’t see the bottles but saw the whisky le Valletta never heard of. Ginger ale tasteless out of a cheap plastic bottle. Would not pay for AI again as it would have been cheaper to go on the cruise and buy a few quality brand drinks. Too much ice in them too even when asked for no ice. Shame on fred olsen. The rest of the cruise was very good. The food was excellent in the dining room and the Palms restaurant. The shows were excellent but poor layout of seating. The pools and jacuzzi were nice and warm and plenty of sun beds. Most of staff were very pleasant and polite and helpful. The captain and officers were very friendly. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: March 2019
We were very apprehensive With regards to the trans Atlantic part of this cruise as we thought we would be bored being st sea for so long but were extremely pleased with the amount of entertainment on board such as lectures, classes and ... Read More
We were very apprehensive With regards to the trans Atlantic part of this cruise as we thought we would be bored being st sea for so long but were extremely pleased with the amount of entertainment on board such as lectures, classes and facilities available that in the end there was not time to do everything. The quizzes were very good and my wife joined the choir run by Claire-Marie who was very professional finalising with a concert on the last Friday afternoon with the drama and ukulele groups which was well attended by the guests on board. An overall memorable cruise with special attention given on my birthday aboard the ship without needing to tell Fred Olsen anything. The entertainment team, lecturers and guest entertainers were excellent with a variety of entertainment from opera to song and dance, comedy, and the staff evening was excellent. We also were very impressed with all the musicians on board Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
Bucket list cruise to see the Amazon River. The whole experience far exceeded all expectations. First time with Fred Olsen Right from the start everything was very well organised. The staff were all very attentive and it was service with ... Read More
Bucket list cruise to see the Amazon River. The whole experience far exceeded all expectations. First time with Fred Olsen Right from the start everything was very well organised. The staff were all very attentive and it was service with a smile through out the whole cruise. Nightmare journey home not good having to fly from Manaus to Barbados to chance crew and refuel as we couldn't get off plane and then more delays because of lack of paper work! I didn't consider this to be Fred Olens fault or even the airline! I felt the size of the ship was just perfect I have been on larger ships but much prefer the size of Braemar. One thing I particularly liked was that there were no problems on deck finding a sunbed especially on sea days it never felt crowded. Dining in the Grampian Restaurant was perfect, a great atmosphere and great service. Good choice of food perfectly cooked and presented. The pool restaurant was also a favourite for lunch time. We used all the restaurants and found them all equally as good. we did not use the grill, felt the extra charge was excessive when the other restaurants were so good. Entertainment was excellent, something for everyone. The ports of call were all very interesting and the tours we went on were all good value for money and exceptionally well organised. Presentations regarding ports of call prior to arriving were particularly good and very imformative. If you didn't get to see it live you could catch up on tv in cabin. A great cruise and would definately book with Fred Olsen again. Read Less
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
My first ever cruise which was a trip with my parents and brother as a special family trip and despite my reservations I really enjoyed cruising. Infact I would go again. We had an inside cabin which was actually not too bad. I missed ... Read More
My first ever cruise which was a trip with my parents and brother as a special family trip and despite my reservations I really enjoyed cruising. Infact I would go again. We had an inside cabin which was actually not too bad. I missed having no natural light but storage was fine and beds very comfortable. The ship, crew and trips were all excellent and I found very little to criticise. The food was fabulous and so much of it you feel compelled to eat far too much. We were looked after extremely well by all the staff. There was a good choice of entertainment throughout the day and the Daily News was great as you could see in advance what was on and pick and choose your activities. The ship (Braemar)was great and the excursions was a real amazing experience. What we saw on the excursions was fabulous even though a few of the trips were perhaps a little contrived and too busy. Fred Olsen runs a very smooth operation and when the inbound flight from Manchester was delayed and we had an extra day on the ship (what a hardship for us) they handled it extremely well and we were all kept informed and able to enjoy the extra day in Manaus. The treatments in the spa were amazing. I even tried to learn bridge. The games room down below with no windows was not ideal though. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our 4th cruise on Braemar, and our 5th with Fred Olsen. I have already written to the company about some of their policies (fixed dining, tipping policy, 'confiscation' of alcohol brought onboard, drinks package etc) but ... Read More
This was our 4th cruise on Braemar, and our 5th with Fred Olsen. I have already written to the company about some of their policies (fixed dining, tipping policy, 'confiscation' of alcohol brought onboard, drinks package etc) but as far as the cruise itself was concerned, we found it to be most enjoyable. We appreciated the changes made during the 2017 refit, even those in the Neptune lounge --- the new seating at least creates a little more room--- and we enjoyed a very nice meal in 'The Grill', though the additional charge for it was excessive. We had an excellent Cruise Director in Nick Cosslett, who showed that he also had a singing voice to match those of the 'professionals' on board, and the entertainment programme included Micky Zany, guaranteed to enliven a half-dead 2nd sitting audience! We were blessed with near-perfect weather so we could enjoy all the many deck spaces on Braemar. Food and service had greatly improved in the Grampian Restaurant since our last cruise in May 2017, and we enjoyed the lunchtime Fish and Chips on the Pool Deck. Braemar is still a very good-looking ship with its accessible bow and the split-deck stern which lends itself to great sailaway parties, greatly preferable to the enormous 'floating blocks of flats' moored alongside. If 'Fred' changes and makes its cruises far more inclusive we'll look forward to coming back again. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: January 2019
This was our first Fred Olsen cruise, and may well not be our last. Braemar is a comfortable ship, an ideal size and much more attractive than the blocks of flats next door! We flew to Barbados, and cruised various islands before returning ... Read More
This was our first Fred Olsen cruise, and may well not be our last. Braemar is a comfortable ship, an ideal size and much more attractive than the blocks of flats next door! We flew to Barbados, and cruised various islands before returning to Barbados 2 weeks later. The staff were very pleasant, but not 'over friendly' as if seeking tips. We loved our cabin, 7005 balcony suite. Plenty of room, and great to have our balcony. Our cabin was comfortable and quiet. Meals were good, we enjoyed the Thistle restaurant for dinner, and palms for lunch. I have a mobility scooter, and it was easy to use around the ship. The crew were extremely helpful, especially helping us get it on and off the ship. It was a shame that we saw nothing of the captain or senior officers during the cruise. We were first sitting, and for the 2 captain's cocktail parties we were leaving port. The captain did not make himself known around the ship - a shame. We did ask at the start of the cruise if we could have a bridge tour - this only happened after 2 reminders and while we were in port - disappointing. The 3 ladies on shore tours were excellent. Really helpful in making sure I whether I could use my scooter and making arrangements for me when I could. We were disappointed with the entertainment in the Neptune Lounge. The stage is right on top of the front row of the audience - far too close. The entertainment was mixed, the Braemar entertainers were good, but too much unecessary dancing! We had the drinks package as part of our deal - we certainly wouldn't pay for it. Poor quality whisky and gin - you had to pay extra for 'premium' drinks - Bells and Gordons should not be premium. The wine was limited but ok, but you had to pay for liqueurs and spirits. We booked a few shore excursions. The Curacao semi submersible was great - so many fish. Bonaire island tour good, Tortola island tour and boat trip left us wanting to see more of the island. The St Kitts railway was just wonderful - plenty of rum punch and pina colada and a choir! Dominica whale and dolphin watching was very successful. Our main disappointment was Grand Turk. A very dull island, the highlight was 2 cute baby donkeys. Did we really want to be shown the landfill site in the centre of the island? Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our cruise and came back with many happy memories and loads of photos! Read Less
7 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
We have always wanted to spend Christmas cruising the Caribbean and decided to go with Fred Olsen on the Braemar on the 20th December 2018. This was the biggest mistake we have ever made. The cruise started badly due to the drone fiasco at ... Read More
We have always wanted to spend Christmas cruising the Caribbean and decided to go with Fred Olsen on the Braemar on the 20th December 2018. This was the biggest mistake we have ever made. The cruise started badly due to the drone fiasco at Gatwick. It took two days to get to Barbados where we were due to board the ship. We were all day at Gatwick and then was forced to travel to Manchester by coach, which took five hours, where we were supposed to catch a plane to Barbados. When we arrived at Manchester there was no pilot to fly the plane which was loaded with our luggage. We were force to retrieve our luggage because we would not be flying that evening. We underwent the worst treatment imaginable from the security staff at Manchester airport who showed no empathy and treated us like criminals. We had to pass through security a total of three times being searched every time. We were given a cheap hotel to spend the night and no food was provided. We did not arrive on the Braemar until the evening of the following day. Thereby we lost two days of our cruise. Most of this was not Fred Olsen’s fault but it laid the foundation of what I can only describe as a nightmare beginning. The ventilation in the cabins was appalling. You were either too hot or too cold. A cheap duvet to cover you. The food started out good and then deteriorated rapidly. It was either too salty or overcooked. There was an outbreak of the coughing virus and they tried to cover it up. I was ill for the last week of the cruise. Wherever you sat someone was either coughing, sneezing or spluttering. The entertainment was recycled. They had three main artist, a comedian, a singer and a violinist. They used the three of them regularly throughout the cruise. We were supposed to go to The Grand Turk but the captain claimed that due to poor weather it was not safe to go there. He then announced that we would be going to Santo Domingo the capital of Dominica Republic instead. At the same time it was rumoured that one of the senior manager’s wife had recently given birth to a baby and lives with her other children in Santo Domingo. It was rumoured that he had not seen his new baby. When we arrived at Santo Domingo the wife and their new baby plus their other children came aboard and the children were seen playing in the ship’s swimming pool. Make of this what you will. Many guests commented on this and like me felt we had been deceived. We were so looking forward to snorkeling in the Grand Turk and a three hour tour of Santo Domingo which in my opinion is a hovel, was a poor substitute. I did not spend a fortune to eat poor food, pay a fortune for intermittent WiFi at a cost of £26 an hour, use a small swimming pool filled with sea water, have elderly people who are obviously unable to care for themselves being let lose on excursions which were totally unsuitable for them ( Hato Caves ) just to get their money and to go down with a severe viral cough. When I got home I saw a medic and the viral cough had developed into a chest infection. I am now very poorly and on antibiotics. This is the first time I have been on a Fred Olsen cruise and it will be my last. If you have high standards steer clear of this second rate cruise company whose apparent aim is to save money wherever they can by cutting standards. Never again. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2018
I have to praise Fred Olsen for handling the problem with the drones at Gatwick so well. With NO notice they arranged transport to Manchester where unfortunately the crew ran out of hours so we were put up overnight (and big shout out ... Read More
I have to praise Fred Olsen for handling the problem with the drones at Gatwick so well. With NO notice they arranged transport to Manchester where unfortunately the crew ran out of hours so we were put up overnight (and big shout out to the Last Drop Inn in Bolton will def go back at a happier time - fabulous breakfast and staff!) then flew out arriving a day late. What the previous reviewer didn't mention was that Fred Olsen - without any request - reimbursed a 14th of the cost of our cruise. They didn't have to and IT WASN'T THEIR FAULT but they still did this which I thought was incredibly generous. That wasn't a pleasant start to the holiday, yes we all acknowledge that but you have to chalk that up to experience and set off to enjoy your holiday. Overall I really enjoyed the holiday; yes I had a truly wonderful cabin with a huge balcony which I loved and was kept tip top by Maic the fabulous cabin attendant. The food was very good and mostly the service was good. I was disappointed that we didn't visit Grand Turk (and was rather shocked that the Hotel Manager's wife and children were on board and clearly (and noisily) enjoying the pool and jacuzzi) I would suggest that the more gregarious people enjoyed the Christmas festivities the most. I'm looking forward to my next cruise on the lovely Braemar but AFTER Christmas next time! Read Less
Sail Date: November 2018
Saw this advertised on our first ever cruise last April, and we were not disappointed. The Panama canal was awesome, and the South Pacific a lifetime experience. The lectures especially Peter on port excursions was funny and to the ... Read More
Saw this advertised on our first ever cruise last April, and we were not disappointed. The Panama canal was awesome, and the South Pacific a lifetime experience. The lectures especially Peter on port excursions was funny and to the point. James Fraser and the photography lectures were excellent my husband and I learnt such a lot, now I know how to use my camera on the phone, tablet and hand held camera. Please can he join our next cruise in July. We enjoyed the trip dispite the noisy neighbours in the next cabin so much that we rejoined the ship in Dubai 3 weeks after leaving in Brisbane, Australia. So we travelled section 2 and 4 of the world cruise. The other guests were delightful especially on our dinner table for both segments. The stewardess for cabins, bar and restaurant were helpful and friendly. A huge Thank you to the chaplain rev Richard frost and Jill his wife, the morning service on cruise days were always thoughtful. Read Less
4 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: November 2018
We chose this cruise to see the South Pacific and avoid much of the English winter. We have cruised a lot, including with Fred, so knew the pitfalls, which were mainly that this is an old ship with the sort of problems it may throw up. ... Read More
We chose this cruise to see the South Pacific and avoid much of the English winter. We have cruised a lot, including with Fred, so knew the pitfalls, which were mainly that this is an old ship with the sort of problems it may throw up. In the event, we got away with one episode of arcon failure, when some of us slept on deck, but were rewarded with a £75 sweetener. On the plus side, this was about as cheaply as we would be able to visit the remote islands of the South Pacific. Lectures were excellent, we played bridge on sea days and the ship was well run. Our biggest grumble - and this is a recurring theme with Fred - is their refusal to bring in what is now the industry standard of open seating for dinner. To stick with the old system of two sittings, in this case 6.15 or 8,30, is absurd, in fact the maitre d' admitted his job would be easier if they had open seating, as almost all other cruise lines do. If there is a sudden rush,just give people a pager and ask them to sit down for a few minutes, works a treat and we've never had to wait long. Apart from having to eat either too early or too late, the other big disadvantage with set seating is that you are stuck with the same table companions for the duration; if you want to do so,that's fine, but many of us like to meet a variety of guests. So come on Fred, join the rest of the world! In spite of the above grumbles, we had a great cruise and saw lots of interesting places in generally good weather. If you want a completely trouble-free cruise, go up-market - and pay the price! Read Less
40 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 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
15 Helpful Votes
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
60 Helpful Votes
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
2 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
We had not been to the Caribbean before and this cruise made it simple to visit nine destinations which were all different and gave as an insight into those islands we would like to return to. Despite initial reservations we were ... Read More
We had not been to the Caribbean before and this cruise made it simple to visit nine destinations which were all different and gave as an insight into those islands we would like to return to. Despite initial reservations we were impressed with the chartered Thomas Cook flight and the smoothness of the disembarkation from the plane - it was lovely not to see our luggage from Gatwick until it arrived outside our cabin. The staff were friendly and polite and there was a good ratio of staff to passengers. The itinerary had promised ten destinations but a strong (force 5) headwind reduced our speed so the captain changed our route and we missed our Tortola stop. We were very disappointed to miss Tortola, particularly as the Braemar was one of the few cruise ships due to dock there following last year's hurricane. We assumed a Force 5 wind is fairly common in the Caribbean and wondered whether Fred was trying to include too many islands in the itinerary. If this is the case we would suggest omitting Jamaica and keeping Tortola. The Braemar Show company were excellent as were the two crew performances. The resident live music acts were also good but the visiting entertainers were a mixed bag - a brilliant comic/magician who I thought I would not like, a mediocre multi-instrumentalist and a very poor comic who was really past his use by date (although some people loved him). Shore excursions were good - we chose to explore the islands rather than just visit beaches but were disappointed that two of our excursions were cancelled one (cycling in Grenada) due to poor equipment and complaints from earlier cruises and one due to heavy rain (rafting in Jamaica). The food was good and there were plenty of public spaces to sit and relax in. Read Less
6 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2018
Well I had a wonderful cruise aboard this fine old lady of a ship! I expected a friendly well run ship and that's exactly what I got. Really wonderful cabin - large and kept spotlessly clean by Nim who couldn't do enough for ... Read More
Well I had a wonderful cruise aboard this fine old lady of a ship! I expected a friendly well run ship and that's exactly what I got. Really wonderful cabin - large and kept spotlessly clean by Nim who couldn't do enough for me (and reocmmend the wash and fold service at the end of the cruise, done so well didn't need to iron anything!) I'm used to eating out in London several times a week (oh my waistline!) as part of my job and I found the food to be absoloutely fine. No it wasn't fine dining and yes I could have picked up some points (the only one I DID mind was the packet mash used for the duchesse potatoes but did raise this at the time) but I was there to enjoy myself with my new found friends at my table and I definitely did that. I also ate in the Grill one evening and the food WAS really superb and would definitely recommend. I thought Elliot the Cruise Director was very good - very natural and whilst he did make a couple of mistakes, he was a genuine and lovely guy. The Christian service he gave on the first Sunday was truly heartfelt and appreciated by the quite large audience. His commentary on the tug of war contest on our extra sea day was really fabulous (in fact that was a real highlight of the day!) Entertainment was okay - I've been spoilt by the fabulous shows on the larger cruise ships so not overally impressed. Like another reviewer I noticed the same people in the crew show donning different costumes and doing several dances (from differnt countries/cultures). The costumes were definitely NOT home made/original and had many yards of fluorescent nylon and ruffles. In fact it was so disappointing and 'false' I left after 30 mins. The service from all the staff was very good - couple of exceptions but you'd get that anywhere. Our waiting staff in the dining room were excellent. Service was relaxed but not so much you felt you were waiting an overlylong time and after all - you're on holiday! So to sum up, a fabulous cruise - I've booked for Christmas this year and am already counting the days! Read Less
10 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: March 2016
This was our sixteenth cruise and our first with Fred Olsen. What a brilliant find. We thought the whole experience was fantastic from the minute we saw the ship in Bridgetown to when we left Braemar in Dover. It was such a pleasure to ... Read More
This was our sixteenth cruise and our first with Fred Olsen. What a brilliant find. We thought the whole experience was fantastic from the minute we saw the ship in Bridgetown to when we left Braemar in Dover. It was such a pleasure to be on a small, VERY friendly ship, we have tired of the glitzy, enormous floating resorts and have now found a cruise line that treats you as an individual rather than a number. We booked last minute finding an absolute bargain in the national press. Fifteen nights cruise, free drinks package and tips plus £200 cash back. We usually book a balcony or outside cabin but this time decided to try an inside. This was perfectly adequate and was very spacious as it was designed to take 4 people, so loads of wardrobe space. What made the cruise special was the Crew, from Captain down to room steward nothing was too much trouble and you were always greeted with a smile. Food was excellent and the Palm Café was another brilliant find. Entertainment was very good and varied with some excellent guest performers. All in all a great 15 days and one we shall definitely repeat. Well done 'Fred' Read Less
19 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 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
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 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
21 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
We have just returned from our first ever cruise. We went to the Caribbean on the Braemar and I had no idea what to expect but I am very impressed with Fred.Olsen cruises and we had a great time. The cabin was small but well designed and ... Read More
We have just returned from our first ever cruise. We went to the Caribbean on the Braemar and I had no idea what to expect but I am very impressed with Fred.Olsen cruises and we had a great time. The cabin was small but well designed and the space was maximised. A lifeboat blocked the view from the picture window but I was advised about this prior to booking. The mattress was comfortable and the room was serviced twice a day and towels were changed twice daily. The room was surprisingly quiet at night and I was never disturbed by noise from the ship or neighbouring passengers. The service was outstanding, the staff without exception are helpful, polite and friendly and there was not a single instance in the two weeks on board when a member of staff was anything less than helpful. The food is also outstanding, along with the service in the restaurant with two dedicated waiters who knew our names serving us every night, I would describe the service as exceptional. We were served lobster, venison and Beef Wellington. The breakfasts were buffet style but also with a menu choice and champagne was served on formal days. Lunch was a choice of buffet or a four course meal from the menu. Against my expectations I loved the formal nights but if you do not wish to participate there is the option to dine in The Palms buffet. I enjoyed the entertainment too, the Braemar Show Company gave very good performances as did the singer, comedian and magician and the In Tune Band was good with a particularly good lead guitarist. The cruise line appears to attract a loyal clientele mainly aged 50 + who regularly cruise with Fred Olsen, though there are a few younger passengers. This might be why I did not find many of the day time activities on board of interest, but that did not matter as I like to leave the ship when in port and the itinerary was excellent. I have to say that fellow passengers were very pleasant and friendly, the whole cruise had a bit of a 'family feel' to it. There was a wide choice of day trips which in my opinion were reasonably priced and were in the main very good. Braemar is a medium sized flat bottomed cruise ship. This brings many benefits such as being able to access more ports (ie Havana), less people on board means easier embarkation/ disembarkation. It also makes the cruise a more friendly and personal experience. The one downside is that if like me you are prone to seasickness you feel the movement of the ship more when the sea is rough. However, I still think it I probably better than travelling on a huge cruise ship, that does not appeal to me at all. Overall we had a great time, the itinerary was fantastic and the staff, food and the service was exceptional and I would recommend Fred. Olsen cruises to any apprehensive first time cruiser. Read Less
12 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: January 2016
We have travelled on three cruises with Braemar so we know the ship well. It is remarkable in the friendliness of the crew and excellent service both in the cabins, the restaurants and around the ship in the various lounges and services. ... Read More
We have travelled on three cruises with Braemar so we know the ship well. It is remarkable in the friendliness of the crew and excellent service both in the cabins, the restaurants and around the ship in the various lounges and services. The port and shore excursions are varied and the ship can get into smaller ports and avoid the need to tender passengers because it is comparatively small. The passenger capacity of about 900 means that the ship develops a community feel even when the cruise is comparatively short. We travel as two couples so that we are very self sufficient but it is noticeable that people on the cruise are friendly and those travelling alone do not stay on their own - they rapidly make friends because the crew organise events where singles are given the opportunity to get together besides sharing other passengers company on the trips. The cabin is impeccably serviced and we really appreciated the fun and kind attentiveness of our attendant Kitty. Dinning is for us a highlight of the holiday. We would describe all our meals as fine dining with varied menu and interesting dishes. The wines are good and excellent value whilst our waiters were all charming and very efficient meeting individual requests ( Ganesh and Aldrin). We were never delayed on embarkation and the cruise director (Alan Tait ) and his team give information clearly and in a very pleasant manner. The communications given over the ships tannoy system are all properly delivered. we appreciate the fact that they are kept to essential matters and they are only delivered in English. this means that you can relax on deck without noisey interruptions. The entertainment was superb. The Braemar show company gave 9 shows and the lead entertainers -Bruce Anderson ( Welsh tenor) Andy Rudge( Comedian) Dain Cordean(magician)provided entertainment that delighted us and everyone in the Neptune Lounge - receiving standing ovations and performing to full houses. We had two weeks of great pleasure and relaxation. Thank you to all the crew and staff of Braemar. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 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
5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: February 2015
My wife and I have cruised with a number of different companies before and had decided to try a cruise with Fred. Olsen lines - what a mistake!! Never again!! Nearly 4,000 pounds wasted in my opinion in hindsight !!! From start to finish ... Read More
My wife and I have cruised with a number of different companies before and had decided to try a cruise with Fred. Olsen lines - what a mistake!! Never again!! Nearly 4,000 pounds wasted in my opinion in hindsight !!! From start to finish we encountered both good and extremely poor treatment whilst cruising on the Braemar during our last trip just finished. First off we turned up at Manchester Airport in plenty of time for our scheduled departure on Monarch Airlines. Now when your handed a letter from Monarch whilst waiting to book in doesn't exactly bode well for the start of your cruise experience. The letter stated that the original plane had developed a technical fault but that another airplane had been found and that our 11.00 am boarding time would still be going ahead - great. However at the appointed departure time we were still waiting o board the aircraft. No announcements were made to tell us why and eventually, when we did board the aircraft, we found ourselves on a Hi-Fly ? chartered plane with a mixed origin crew who looked anything like professionals. What followed then beggared belief as we were then subjected to a wait of over two and a half hours delay on the ground whilst they sorted out provisioning the plane with food and drink. Why they didn't do this when they already knew they had to change planes three hours previously at check in, I don't know. They shouldn't have bothered!!! Not only were rationed to what food we got (some people had ordered vegetarian food and were told " no we don't have anything over than chicken - take it or leave it" ) but also we were only given a quarter of a cup of wine (a third of a small bottle) to boot with the first of two meal breaks. Then to top it all they ran out of food and drink during the second meal serving - and my wife and I and others in our immediate seating area suffered the same fate - absolutely amazing!! Still things had to improve surely to goodness!! Then just when we thought things couldn't get any worse - they did!! When we did eventually touch down in Barbados - now nearly 3 hours behind schedule and a might puckish and thirsty, we were told to wait on the apron - not the arrivals lounge as we thought safest - till transport arrived. This did not happen till nearly 50 mins after disembarking from the aircraft and we were shuffled around from place to place whilst avoiding airport ground vehicles, until eventually some small 18 seater coaches did arrive. Now considering there were over 300 passengers to transport from the airport to the port, this did seem to me to smack of a bit of a logistical cockup. Whilst waiting patiently to get from airport to port we were offered nothing in the way of water and were told that we would not be allowed to visit the toilets in the main arrivals lounge - the excuse being "your transport will be here directly and we don't want you to delay the other passengers now do we". Yes folks the story does get worse when the small bus we were on developed a puncture - and more delays ensued whilst another coach was sourced. Needless to say that when we did arrive at the ship we not in the best of moods only to then find out that the scheduled departure drinks had been cancelled and that we also had run out of any time to see Barbados as the ship was now departing for its next port of call. Now you could say that some delays are inevitable, but when they happen to you, that there has been little or no apologies given as to why you've been delayed, that clearly some people were distressed and inconvenienced and prevented from visiting the toilets, that you've been left standing on the runway aprons for almost an hour without any water in the heat, and then subjected to transport on unsuitable vehicles for the size of the party - well that to me smacks of unprofessionalism on the part of Fred.Olsen to ensure any delays are minimized and that people caught up in these are looked after during them. When we did eventually arrive at our cabin - which we had paid to have upgraded, we found that the cabin was both very cramped and that there were two single beds made up rather than the double we'd requested. I know that the ship was not the largest afloat but this cabin was the smallest we've ever had the pleasure of sleeping in. To be fair the rest of the cruise went off without too many other hitches that certainly are not worth mentioning here. Suffice to say that we had taken the opportunity to avail ourselves of the 10 pound a day drinks package before the start of the cruise, knowing how expensive some refreshments can be during the hot weather, and can recommend this action to anyone not wanting a mega bill at the end of the cruise. Most drinks seemed okay. the limited choice of drinks (beers ? wines / spirits etc.) wasn't a problem and we managed to get our money worth - just. As for the rest of the ship - and the Braemar is a small cruise ship - make no mistake - the décor looked faded, the on board entertainment was so so, the acts a bit dated and the two "pools" (and I use that term lightly) - small and dingy. The ship is extremely noisy when arriving at its ports of call and due to its small size any movement of the ship is greatly amplified. All in all - the ships company were pleasant enough, the serving attendants were somewhat efficient, the cruise locations were reasonable - albeit the stays a little too short for my liking - however I would not travel on this ship again. After note - having written to Fred. Olsen lines on our return to complain about the delays / changes in a positive manner - we received a nice apologetic letter basically telling us how good their transport arrangements / companies normally are and oh yes tough titty, no we don't see any reason to give you anything in the way of something more for your trouble. THANKS FRED !! Guess we will vote with our feet and spend our money with someone else next time!! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: February 2015
As a birthday present to ourselves, my husband and I booked our very first cruise experience with Fred.OLSEN departing on 23 February for 16 nights. The voyage was a plane journey from London Gatwick to Bridgetown Barbados where we joined ... Read More
As a birthday present to ourselves, my husband and I booked our very first cruise experience with Fred.OLSEN departing on 23 February for 16 nights. The voyage was a plane journey from London Gatwick to Bridgetown Barbados where we joined the MS Braemar. After visiting St Lucia, Antigua, St Kitts and St Maarten, followed by six days cruising, we'd arrive in Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, Azores, Portugal before heading home for the port of Dover. With a full daily programme whilst at sea, from the minute we rose till going to bed time, there was little opportunity of being bored. I indulged in beginners' dance classes with Mike & Jan, read numerous books, either brought on board, or borrowed from the Braemar library. This holiday, was after all, an occasion of not only celebration of a significant life landmark, but also a chance to wind down and recharge our batteries. Learning seafaring terminology ie aft, stern, port and starboard, monkey fists, and enjoying the ship's captain's daily bulletin over the tannoy at 12.00 noon, became part and parcel of our daily conversations, as my husband has sailed for many years, and shared this part of his hobby with me. Our fears of being seated with fellow passengers at dinner with whom we had nothing in common were totally unfounded - we enjoyed tales of previous cruises taken by our fellow diners, and a whole host of amusing life tales. True, we were a motley 'crew' but diversity of lives contributed to a 'festival' of true stories in glorious technicolor. The Braemar's chef produced a feast for the eyes, with daily lunch time salad buffets and hot meals (including fish, meat, pasta choices and roast), as well as afternoon tea, and late night suppers - too much for us to manage, but which other fellow passengers eagerly feasted upon. All were supervised and served by friendly Thai and Philippine crew, who also turned their hands to a joyful rendition of 'Happy Birthday to You' or 'Congratulations' when the occasion demanded! Our visits ashore offered a taster of the particular island when we arrived in port - my particular favourites were St Maarten and Sao Miguel - whether I'll return at some future point is unclear - but a sense of their past, culture, beauty and people will abide with me for ever. On board the beauty salon offered daily 'specials' and I must admit, my first ever reflexology session was a revelation. Deck games, art and craft lessons, napkin folding, an impressive fitness room which my husband visited daily, lectures and of course, chats with fellow passengers made our 16 nights on MS Braemar a holiday to remember. As 'first-timers' our experience was surpassed by the many people we met who were cruising for the umpteenth time. Janet was about to complete her 24th! One of my fears had been crossing the Atlantic, but as it happened, we had a superb crossing, with a force 3-5 on most days. I didn't even have to reach for sea/motion sickness tablets once. We cruised an average 15 knots per hour, but made such good progress that our speed slowed down in the English Channel so we wouldn't arrive too early in Dover. Will we cruise again? Yes, most probably, and almost certainly with Fred.Olsen. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2015
Once we had got over our shock at the age profile of the clientele (first impression was that we had entered a floating retirement home) we were surprised how much fun we had. The all inclusive package for which we paid £6.99 a day each ... Read More
Once we had got over our shock at the age profile of the clientele (first impression was that we had entered a floating retirement home) we were surprised how much fun we had. The all inclusive package for which we paid £6.99 a day each was excellent - Stella Artois and Boddingtons on draught, cans of Strongbow, Carlsberg Export and Heineken etc. etc. , house wines including sparkling, local spirits and a vast array of soft drinks were all "free". You did have to pay half price for cocktails, premium spirits and bottled wine but this still worked out to be a relatively modest charge. In spite of this we saw very little evidence of inebriation. We enjoyed all the ports of call including Panama and Colombia and were impressed with the organisation of the shore tours. Further plus points were the truly fabulous staff and of course 14 glorious days of hot sunshine whilst Britain suffered from ice and snow. Food was generally good especially the buffet lunches. We weren't impressed with the Monarch charter flights. Their planes are old and the entertainment was dire (no choice of films or seatback TV screens). We are not surprised that they are pulling out of long haul. Entertainment was just OK even though a couple of the performers were very talented. The Neptune Lounge in particular is badly designed and no longer fit for purpose. There is no designated venue for entertainment on deck and on a couple of occasions when this was attempted it was curtailed as it was too windy or too hot! Would we book again? Yes probably if the itinerary was right. Judging by the number of people on board booking two and three cruises for next year Fred Olsen will continue to be a very popular brand. There is a very loyal band of followers who regard the ships as a home from home. Read Less
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