Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines

Braemar

Fodor’s Expert Review

Ship Overview

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
Cruise StyleMainstream
Ship SizeMidsize

Nearly 400 crew members provide attentive, friendly service on this sleek 929-passenger leisure ship with an impressive five-deck atrium. Polished wood, subtle lighting, and gleaming brass create a stylish feel. Spacious bright lounges have casual, contemporary décor. Itineraries include routes to the Caribbean, Mediterranean, Baltic, or Norwegian fjords. Two pools and children’s pool are separated by twin whirlpools. Executive chefs oversee good food quality in formal and casual restaurants. Excursions are available at every port of call to enhance the British-flavored experience. Interesting lectures, shows, presentations, and an open library keep multigenerational passengers and families satisfied.Read More

Once the Crown Dynasty,Braemar is more modern in design and layout than her older fleetmates with pretty, cascading decks surrounding sunbathing space on the top deck. Braemar primarily sails one- to two-week itineraries and shorter minicruises for which she is well-suited. Public rooms on the Lounge Deck are surrounded by a wraparound promenade lined with cushioned deck chairs. Braemar‘s off-center towering atrium opens up to public rooms on two successive decks above the Lounge Deck. An interior designed with warm colors and light woods are made even brighter with large floor-to-ceiling windows.

Extensively refurbished in 2008, Braemar was cut in half and a 102-foot midsection was inserted, which added an observatory lounge, a pub, a restaurant, a second swimming pool with expanded deck space, and increased the number of cabins. At the heart of the ship, the open-concept Braemar Room is adjacent to the library, card room, Morning Light Pub, and the boutique.

With its Norwegian heritage of seamanship spanning over 150 years, family-owned Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has built a solid reputation of reliability and comfort for its UK-based fleet of smaller ships. Major refitting and refurbishment of old and recently acquired ships since 2008 have earned the company high industry accolades. Two sister ships from the defunct luxury Royal Viking Line, Royal Viking Star and Royal Viking Sky, have reunited under the Fred. Olsen house flag and now sail as Black Watch and Boudicca. The Balmoral and Braemar complete the four-vessel fleet.

Shipboard ambience is friendly, relaxed, and unabashedly British. As Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines expands, the line takes pride in maintaining the consistency their passengers prefer and expect, both on board—in the self-described “British country house” atmosphere—and ashore. Activities and entertainment are traditional cruise-ship fare with a laid-back tempo, albeit on a much smaller scale compared to a typical American megaship. Lectures and the Arts Club special-interest program are popular, with classes in subjects ranging from gardening to painting, history to wine appreciation, and even bird- and wildlife-spotting.

Ballroom dancers outnumber the late-night disco set, and evening entertainment is more cabaret than Vegas. Particular favorites with most passengers are theme nights and the crew show. Cruises range from four-night “mini-breaks” to lengthier 7- to 78-night sailings. British pounds are used for all transactions on board. Although the line is destination-focused—itineraries are seldom repeated within any cruise season—itinerary planning is versatile.

  • 7 passenger decks
  • 2 dining rooms
  • buffet
  • Safe
  • refrigerator (some)
  • DVD (some)
  • 2 pools
  • children’s pool
  • Fitness classes
  • gym
  • hot tubs
  • sauna
  • spa
  • steam room
  • Bars
  • casino
  • dance club
  • library
  • show room
  • game room
  • Dry-cleaning
  • laundry facilities
  • laundry service
  • Internet terminal
  • Wi-Fi
  • Children’s programs
  • No-smoking cabins

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

Pros
Cons
The ship is ideal for warm-weather cruises and has two outdoor swimming pools and lots of open deck space for sunbathing
Free binoculars are available in the Observatory Lounge
Well-organized excursions have informative tour guides
Limited menu and hours for room service
The windowless fitness center is located on a lower deck
The voltage on Braemar is 110 and 220–240 volts (U

What to expect on board

Staterooms & Cabins

Cabins
Bathrooms
Accessibility

Not large by today’s standards, Braemar‘s cabins are attractively furnished, but most have limited storage space. They are equipped with an interactive TV, telephone, personal safe, and hair dryer; suites have a balcony, seating area, DVD player, and refrigerator. Deluxe balcony cabins also have refrigerators. Some categories also receive welcome-aboard gifts and bathrobes for use during the cruise. Cabins in two categories can be booked on a male or female share basis (twin-occupancy only). Sole occupancy of a cabin with two or more beds–berths is subject to availability at the time of booking. Single accommodations are available in a number of categories, including a “single balcony suite,” although it’s only 140-square feet.

Toiletries are provided, and there is storage space in the bathrooms, but all categories, including suites, have only showers.

The ship permits four wheelchairs onboard during any given cruise and has four cabins modified for wheelchair users.

Food & Drink

Food

Fancy eggs, sausage, and beans? Breakfast and lunch in the two main dining rooms of the Thistle and Grampian restaurants are generally open seating, although dinner is served in two assigned seatings. A casual buffet option for a hearty English breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night snacks features panoramic views from within and also has some outdoor seating. Try the grill of the Marquee—the bar is perfect for dining poolside. Light meals from room service are complimentary but are only available from 10 am to 11 pm.

Entertainment

The large Neptune Lounge and smaller Coral Club offer twice-nightly cabarets, musicals, and magic shows. Arrive early because seats fill up fast. The Braemar Show Company provides sequined theatrics, impressing audiences with energetic dancing and singing. Prefer a low-key evening venue? Head up to the Observatory lounge for piano music and sweeping views. Night owls take to the dance floor of the Skylark Club disco. A couple of gaming tables compose the “casino” on deck 7, which is meant more for fun, not serious, gambling.

Spa & Fitness

Tucked midship on deck 3, the fitness center, Atlantis spa, and beauty salon pamper passengers throughout the day. Each morning, aerobics sessions are available free-of-charge in the Skylark Club. Pilates and yoga classes are also available at a cost of £5 per person. The spa is popular, offering a full range of treatments, and can be booked up to 12 months in advance.

QUICK FACTS

SHIP STATS
Entered Service
1993
Number of Cabins
484
Passenger Capacity
929
Crew Members
371
Passengers to Crew Ratio
2.50
Gross Tons
24344
Width
74 feet
Length
640 feet
CRUISE LINE INFO
01/473/742–424

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