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   Cruise Travel - Cruise Ships


SHIP PROFILE

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines

MS Braemar

TravelPage.com Rating:Four Stars
Submit your review hereSubmit your review
Operator:Fred Olsen Cruise Lines
Year Built / Last Refurbished: 1993 / 2001
Length / Tonnage: 537 / 20,000
Number of Cabins / Passengers: 410 / 820
Officers / Crew: Norwegian / British cruise staff, Filipino crew
Operating Area: Africa, Canaries, Mediterranean, Scandinavia and Baltic, Caribbean

Review by Pam Massey, TravelPage.com Guest Contributor

History
Braemar entered service in July 1993, previously known as Norwegian Dynasty, Crown Majesty, Cunard Dynasty and Crown Dynasty. Fred. Olsen purchased her in April 2001 and sent her for a 5 week refit to the Blohm & Voss shipyard in Hamburg, where she was completely overhauled inside and out in record time. Interior Design Consultants, McNeece and members of the Olsen family have made a wonderful job of the interior decor. All the public lounges are tastefully decorated; nothing in the way of glitz and glamour; restful as it should be.

Overview
This was Braemar's second cruise since her purchase and complete overhaul by Fred. Olsen Lines. She has been superbly refurbished, all the public lounges are tastefully decorated; nothing in the way of glitz and glamour. At only 19089 tons she is small by today's standards, carries 730 pax in 406 cabins. She is a real delight to be aboard and I would recommend her to anyone.

This was a 7 day cruise to Amsterdam and the Norwegian Fjords from Dover.

Public Areas
The Public rooms are all well appointed. The Braemar Lounge is a walk through lounge, with windows both sides, airy and full of large comfy sofas. Tartan is the theme of course. It has a bar and piano. There is a life sized coat of arms depicting Braemar Castle in Scotland on one wall, and in the middle of the room, a much admired and examined model of the 1953 Braemar.

The shows are held twice nightly in the Neptune Lounge. Well laid out, but some obstructed views. Fixed rows of seats with rather too many moveable seats in between, which did cause a bit of a problem at times for people passing through and for the wait staff serving drinks. The stage, is set along the port side [so sideways on].

The Coral Club is a smaller show lounge with dance floor, bar and a small Casino. Used for various quizzes, recitals and dancing. The Skylark Nightclub is the only area with 'loud' carpeting:) A nice bar and large dance area. There is a small arcade leading off in one corner. Both these rooms open out onto the aft deck.

The reception area has another excellent model, Queen Of Bermuda. All over the ship there are small prints of Bermuda; I assume these are from her Crown Dynasty days on the Bermuda run.

There is a card room, well stocked library. Small but well equipped children's playroom. Internet room with 4 PCs and the usual Steiner Beauty and Health club.

The Pools are midship, one average sized pool [sea water], small attached toddler pool and 2 jacuzzis kept very warm. There is the Pool Bar too.

There is wrap around prom on deck 5, but parts of this are covered in imitation rubbery teak decking..bit odd. One can also walk around on the top deck. You can walk right up and stand in the bow. Braemar has a wonderful fantail aft, all teak, onto which the various public rooms open out onto on the different levels. Wooden chairs here, no plastic.

There is always a free chair, and plenty of open deck, no problem to find a space to yourself if wanted. The 5-Storey Atrium, which has some beautiful murals, gives a feeling of spaciousness, as does the main stairway.

My favourite places aboard, were the Braemar Lounge with its enormous comfy sofas, and standing in the breeze on the bow at night watching the flying fish:)

Dining
The main dining room, the Thistle Restaurant, was spacious with room to manoeuvre, views on 3 sides, decorated in beige and gold, with tables of all sizes. 2 sittings, 6.30pm and 8.30pm. All meals were ` la carte in the evening, with open seating for breakfast and lunch when in port. Buffet and off menu at breakfast or lunch. There was plenty of choice on the menu, always warm rolls, appetizers, soups, main courses [about 5 and a vegetarian], tasty desserts, cheese and biscuits, and an extensive wine list. The Food quality was very good, as was our waiter, but his assistant needed a bit more training and the wine waiter was hard to catch. Better to pre-order wine earlier in the day.

The Palms Cafi, where one could have alternative dining buffet style for any meal, also had an 11pm 'Midnight' full buffet every night, and was lovely. Wooden floors and tables covered with linen and set with cutlery. No plastic trays on a Fred. Olsen ship:) Coffee/tea is available here all hours. But the staff weren't too good on keeping it full; occasionally I got brown water. This opened out onto the aft fantail, so you could eat Al fresco.

I understand the Pool Bar will also be serving 'fast food' type snacks, but this was not the case on our trip. We didn't use room service, except for hot chocolate which for some reason you couldn't get at the beverages station, but really was just a basic menu, sandwiches etc. Afternoon tea and cakes/biscuits are served around the ship.

In 7 days there were 2 formal, 2 casual [1st and last night] and 3 informal evenings. Informal means a jacket or tie must be worn. No shorts at anytime. It is requested that the suggested dress code is adhered to, whether you are eating in the main dining room or not, and to remain throughout the evening. I didn't see anyone not complying.

Cabins
The Cabins were all well appointed, nice new carpets, shedding fluff. [Take a good clothes brush if going aboard in the near future:)] Plenty of hanging space, but minimal drawer space. Room under the beds for all the luggage. We were in cabin 6058, a standard outside, 4 berth, obstructed view. The bathroom was small, but the shower had room for two. A nice bag of Soames and Gilchrist toiletries. The shower was good, always the same temperature, must be a first! The toilet vacuum failed on half the ship one day causing a whiff in a few corridors for a couple of hours, but it was soon sorted out, and apologies given.

Nice thick fluffy duvets on the beds, and with new mattresses, one had a good nights sleep. Not forgetting the nightly chocolate too. Occasionally it did get a bit hot in the cabin, especially when not sailing. Removing the a/c vent cover allowed the cool air in:) There is a safe and hair dryer [does work] in all cabins and a TV with 3 video channels showing a variety of different films throughout the day, BBC World news, and a couple of other channels too. The cabins seemed to be well noise proofed; I didn't hear much from outside anyway.

The stewardess seemed to have a few too many cabins to see to, which did get a bit annoying when on a couple of days the beds hadn't been done by midday. Possibly this was because of all the fluff on the new carpets getting everywhere. She was nice enough though.

Who Goes
There were about 60 children aboard up to mid teens, no toddlers or babies. I suspect during the UK school term times there are few if any children aboard. About 50% of the passengers were retired singles or couples, but the other 50% were in the 20s - 40s range.

Itinerary
The Breamer spends her fall in Eurpoe on a series of 14 night cruises from Portugal to the coast of Africa. In mid-December she crosses the Atlantic and begins a series of 15 night Eastern Carribean cruises from Barbados. Late spring she crosses again and returns to the Canary Islands for a while before heading to the Baltic for a series of 13 and 14 night cruises. In August she spends some time in the Western Mediterranean.

The HEAVY WORD
"A floating English country hotel. Elegant, but not stuffy" is the description in the brochure, with which I agree entirely

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