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Fred Olsen Logo

Fred Olsen Cruise Lines Ltd

Marina Deck 2

Medical Centre

Atlantic Deck 3

Accommodation

Main Deck 4

Thistle Restaurant

Lounge Deck 5

The Neptune Lounge, Braemar Lounge, Boutique, Shop, Shore Excursions/ Cruise Sales, Photo Gallery, Reception, and Coral Club/ Casino. Wrap around prom, right up to the bow.

Lido Deck 6

Palms Café, Lido Bar

Bridge Deck 7

Sky Lark Club, Games Arcade, Library

Marquee Deck 8

Fitness Centre, Sauna, Beauty Salon, Internet Centre, Pool, with children's pool attached, 2 Jacuzzis, Pool Bar, Childrens Playroom, Card Room, also wrap around prom.

Sun Deck 9

With see through dome to the fitness centre.


Click here for Photos of Braemar

Pool area, at night in Bergen
Pool and Bar

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.

MS Deutschland at Dover
MS Deutschland

At Dover
Dover

Fred. Olsen only started marketing the cruises at the beginning of June and within the first few days many were sold out. This was her second cruise, and she was full. At only 19089 tons she is somewhat smaller than Black Watch, but can carry 730 passengers in 406 cabins. Black Watch has 430 cabins. It is noticeably more 'crowded' but you aren't crammed in by any means. 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.

Fred. Olsen decribe Braemar as "A floating English country hotel. Elegant, but not stuffy", with which I concur.

In command was Captain Morten Hansen often to be seen mingling with the passengers; who did make everyone laugh during one of his Midday reports when he hoped we would all enjoy the facilities aboard BlackWatch for the rest of the afternoon:) I assume someone pointed out the gaff to him. There are no announcements on Olsen ships apart from the Captain's daily reports.

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Dave & Beverley in the Thistle Restaurant
Dave and Beverley -
Thistle Restaurant

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. We ate here every evening and in the Palms Café for breakfast and lunch. All meals were à la carte, 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.

Howard in the Thistle Restaurant
....and Howard

The quality of the food was excellent. Our waiter, Mario, was always there and very good. Trying to catch the wine waiter was sometimes diffcult though, best to order your wine in advance earlier in the day. During the 7 nights, there were 2 formal nights, 3 informal, and 2 [first and last] casual. We attended the Captain's Welcome Party before dinner on the 2nd night, and the Oceans Gold Cocktail Party on the third night, we were too late back from a tour in Eidfjord for the Farewell Party. At all of these there were plenty of Hors D'ouvres and wine or juice, not limited to just one either, likewise at the 'Sail Away' Party when leaving Dover.

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Teak Fantail
Aft Decks

Howard and Beverley never wanted a particular meal off the menu but got what they asked for each time, even if the waiter did think cucumber, rolls and chips rather a strange selection:) [One can also see the wait staff at anytime to let them know what you would like in the evening if you don't want or can't have anything off the menu.]

Howard having tea on Lido Deck
Tea on the Lido deck

They always had chocolate chip ice cream to follow. Coffee follows in the Braemar Lounge. It was our tablemates 30th anniversary one evening, and they got the full works with the staff singing 'Congratulations' and a tasty gateaux.

There were quite a few children aboard, maybe 60 or so up to the younger teens, no babies or toddlers, and they always get a lot of attention from the waiters. A few who had transferred from Black Watch remembered us and came over to say 'hello'. Biscuits mid-morning and cakes, sandwiches mid-afternoon are served with tea and coffee in the Neptune Lounge.

There is an *awful lot* of vibration at the stern when manoevering at slow speeds. Both dining areas are aft and everything rattles and shakes quite badly. It only lasted for a few minutes at a time, usually when leaving port, but some people did find it very annoying. At least you know you're on a ship:)

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The bridge
The Bridge

The Palms Café, 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.

Ice Carving
Ice Angel Fish

Hot chocolate wasn't on offer at the beverages station, not even when we asked for it. Only from cabin service. Which was prompt, but could have saved the steward's time by providing it there. Again there are views on 3 sides, and it opens out onto the aft deck with more tables and the Lido Bar.

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Windy Bow
Windy up here

Good selection of food for breakfast, although no fried bread or eggs [I expect that was available in the Thistle Restaurant], just scrambled. Cereals, breads, cheese, cold meats, fruit, sausages, toms, bacon, mushrooms, pancakes [although note, it wasn't real maple syrup]. Juices and tea/coffee. The waiters do serve you coffee at the table or you can get your own.

Veg & Fruit carving
....time for the fruit

Toast is served at the table, although it took a while to get some on a couple of days. Jam and marmalades in the individual glass jars. Sometimes they were a bit slow at clearing away finished plates and re-laying the table for the next people. We had breakfast here every day, just never got round to going to the main restaurant for it. Likewise for lunch.

There is no additonal eating area outside, just the Pool Bar for drinks. Maybe in more warmer climes food may be served here? There is a sheltered seating area and certainly the scope for food, so perhaps there will be 'fast food' and ice cream. Everytime we were up there it was a bit too chilly to think about eating Al Fresco:(

The Midnight buffet was well attended, but Beverley & I only sat down for a quick nibble on one night. Every type of food was available; you could just have sandwiches, or a full hot or cold meal, and chips.

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Water Melon Viking
Water Melon Viking

The Card Room [children under 12 not allowed] was very quiet unless there was an arranged Bridge game going on. Beverley & I played cards together here most nights on our own.

The Library was well stocked, opened twice a day, and a lovely room all wood panelled. You can borrow a variety of board games here too.

The Grand Staircase
The Main Staircase

The Internet Room has 4 machines with flat screened monitors. It was very busy the whole trip, mainly with teenagers [the no children under 16 unless accompanied by an adult and maximum session period of 15 minutes seemed to go by the board and wasn't enforced]. I suspect this was because it was free though! They hadn't yet set up the charging scheme. When they do it will be £10 for 40 minutes [one was able to insert a floppy to send photos too].

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Howard and the Queen of Bermuda
Queen of Bermuda

 

 

Atrium
Carpet Golf in the Atrium

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 inbetween, which did cause a bit of a problem at times for people passing through and for the wait staff serving drinks. The Orchestra had an area to the right of the stage, which is itself set along the port side, rather than the conventional aft or bow [so sideways on].

The Braemar Lounge is a walk through lounge, between the Neptune Lounge and shops, with windows both side, airey 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 [not least by Howard] model of the 1953 Braemar.

Main Staircase mural
Murals on the Stairwell

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. The wrap around promenade on Deck 5 is partially covered by a rubbery imitation decking; a bit odd I thought.

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.

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Dolphin Racing
Dolphin Racing

 

 

Ice Carving by the pool
Ice Carving

There was always something going on and one could not be bored. Shuffleboard, Quoits, Darts, Dolphin Racing, Carpet Golf are all played. There isn't however a tennis court, or any golf nets. Table tennis in the fitness centre, along with the usual equipment and sauna. You could also find a quiet corner to sit and read or wave watch. One can walk right up to the bow, where we spent a lot of time, and watched the transclucent colours of the flying fish at night. Braemar's Fantail, from deck 5 to 8, is all teak and like a stage with a centre piece on the lowest deck of a small ornamental pool and figurehead...maybe from a previous Olsen ship? The pool looked as if it had underwater coloured lights, but they weren't wired up, and we never saw the pool filled. Perhaps something Olsen hadn't yet got around to? The chairs were all wooden, no plastic.

Aft Decks
Aft Decks

Plastic loungers were reserved for the pool area, midships, Marquee Deck. I didn't see any padding for them either, but although we did take the odd dip, it wasn't sunbathing weather, and those sitting there for any length of time, had their sweaters on. The pool [sea water] is a decent size with two jacuzzis and a small paddling pool, all heated. A blue plastic deck covering. There is also a bandstand under another figurehead. The deck is sheltered by surrounding glass, windows in which can be opened, and were when we anchored in the fjords.

Caroline ran the Childrens' Room. It had a ball pit with slide and 'hidey hole', numerous games, toys and lego etc, video. It was only open for a couple of hours each morning/afternoon and in the evenings there was sometimes a disco/pizza party for the youngsters in the Nightclub before the adult entertainment began. It wasn't locked during unsupervised hours and sometimes the children would just play in there anyway.

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Our Cabin 6058
Cabin 6058

 

Obstructed view
Obstructed View

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. It was smaller than the 4 berths on Black Watch, but fine. 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.

All of Us
All of us

Nice thick fluffy duvets on the beds, and with new matresses, 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 hairdrier [does work] in all cabins and a TV with 3 video channels showing a variety of different films throught the day, BBC World news, and a couple of other channels too.

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.

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Tender in Gudvangen
Tender in Gudvangen

In the Fjords the only port that we could berth alongside was Flåm. In Gudvangen, Ulvik and Eidfjord the tenders were used. There were two, each accommodating 80 passengers. They were a bit smelly from the diesel fumes at times. The two ran backwards and forwards to the docks all the time passing midway [they didn't wait for a full load before departing]. Queues did build up when all the coaches from the tours arrived back at the 11th hour before departure, but other than that the system worked well. The crew set up a table of refreshments on the dock, for the passengers to drink while awaiting the tenders.

Clambouring aboard from the tender
Tendering

*The shows alternated between the comedian Eddie Colinton, Vocalist Jamie Michael Stewart [Love Boat fame], Sylvia, ventriloquist Dawson Chance, Illusionist Russ Stevens, and Déjà Vu & Company, singers/dancers, along with the Braemar Orchestra. All the shows I saw very good. The final night aboard saw a show with all the entertainers performing, and Auld Lang Syne sung by the audience and cast at the end. In the other public rooms, one could find the Peter Coates Trio, Glen Padin on the Grand, and DJ James McCann. Port lectures were by Stein Arne Dyb. The Cruise Director was Gary Nicholson. There were no maritime/historical lectures on this trip.

I am sure I have forgotten to mention numerous things. Please email me if you have any questions.

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The Itinerary

Photographs

Cruise Intro

Our other Fred. Olsen Cruises

Black Watch

Easter in Iberia, Mar 28 - Apr 7 2002

Black Prince

Guild Houses & Gourmets Mini-Cruise, Dec 16 - 19, 2001

Black Watch

Baltic Heritage Cruise, August 13 - 26 2000