Cruising the Seine on Fred. Olsen's Braemar
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Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines are always offering special cruise
experiences for their guests and a long weekend cruise along the Seine on their
ship Braemar sounded idyllic. Fred.Olsen have a fleet of 4 ships visiting many
fabulous destinations around the world. Having experienced a wonderful
Norwegian fjord cruise on Balmoral last year, my wife and I were eagerly
looking forward to this river cruise.
Braemar is how a ship should look; traditional design,
elegant and stylish. She’s a firm favourite with many of Fred.Olsen’s regular
cruisers. Onboard you won’t find rock walls to climb, zip wires, surf rides or
waterslides, you will however find a smaller intimate ship with plenty of
lounges and public areas to relax in, fabulous food and all the favourite
facilities you would expect from a cruise line with over 160 years of history.
After a quick embarkation at Southampton we made our way to
our Superior Outside Cabin. Spacious, well appointed and very comfortable. Lots
of hanging wardrobe space, tea and coffee making facilities and a large picture
window to watch the world go by, not that we planned to stay in our cabin for
long, there was a whole ship to explore and enjoy! Our suitcases had already
arrived and after dropping off our carry-on luggage we made our way to the
Palms Cafe at the rear of deck 6 for a welcome aboard snack and afternoon tea.
Soon it was time for the mandatory safety drill and then the Sailaway. As we
pulled away and started our journey down the Solent you could feel the sense
of anticipation on board as we set off on our River Seine Sojourn. Now however,
time to unpack and to change for pre-dinner drinks before making our way to the
Grampian Restaurant for our first dinner of the cruise.
Stylish and comfortable
The Braemar has all the facilities you need and from the
moment we stepped on board we were welcomed by friendly, smiling, courteous
staff who are clearly there to make your cruise as memorable as possible - this
is a cruise line which is all about the people.
Refitted in 2008, fully stabilised and carrying around 900
guests, the 24,000 ton Braemar’s timeless style and elegance captured our
senses. The ships five deck high atrium creates a light, spacious and airy
interior and gives her a very modern look whilst still retaining the relaxed,
friendly atmosphere which make all the Fred.Olsen ships so popular.
The stylish and elegant public areas feature polished wood,
gleaming brass and subtle lighting. We discovered the inviting Morning Light
Pub and the Observatory Lounge situated right at the front of the ship with
spectacular views over the ships bow which was an ideal spot for pre-dinner
drinks. The cascading decks at Braemar’s stern provide plenty of opportunity to
sit and relax and enjoy your favourite tipple. Out on Marquee deck there’s two
open air swimming pools with a couple of jacuzzis. Plenty of seats and sun
loungers and, of course, a poolside bar.
For a little extra indulgence, head to the Atlantis Spa
where professional therapists offer a wide range of invigorating and relaxing
treatments at very competitive prices.
We all know that food is a high priority for British
cruisers and on Braemar you can expect a wonderful choice of fine dining. The
mouth-watering, 5 course dinner menu was varied with many delicious dishes to
choose from each night, accompanied by a well-stocked wine list.
The Thistle Restaurant on deck 4 is the main restaurant
whilst on Marquee deck 8 you’ll find the Grampian Restaurant which offers a
more intimate atmosphere with the added bonus of splendid views. My wife and I
had a super table for two on second sitting which overlooked the stern of the
Informal dining is available in the Palms Cafe whilst the
adjoining Lido bar is another great palace to relax, chat and enjoy a favourite
cocktail. All restaurants enjoy the same level of service, cuisine and varied
In the evening, both before and after dinner, there are
various places to find lively entertainment including the Neptune Lounge,
Morning Light Pub and the Coral Club. You could also try your luck on the
gaming tables on deck 5, watch a movie in your cabin or perhaps take a look at
the on board shops when not in port. There are only a couple of shops on board
but nevertheless my wife managed to bring home a number of gifts and a piece of
jewellery for herself!
Braemar is big enough to offer you all the comforts and
facilities expected on a cruise yet she is small enough for you to feel
completely at home and able to access those smaller, more interesting ports,
impossible for some of the larger cruise ships.
Cruising along the river
After a great night’s sleep, the following day finds us
cruising the third longest river in France from the Normandy coast along this
gently flowing waterway to Rouen. We couldn’t wait to get on deck. This was
over 60 nautical miles of stunning scenic cruising alongside a mix of grand
buildings and monuments, picturesque villages, chateaux, lush-green fields and
tall forests until we reached the preserved medieval city of Rouen.
We stay at Rouen overnight, berthed at the spot where Robert
Fulton conceived and built the first submarine, Nautilus, in 1798. A
complimentary shuttle bus is laid on for the short journey from the port to the
city centre. Rouen, the capital of Normandy, is famous for its stunning Notre
Dame Cathedral, with its magnificent gothic-style facade, and cultural
heritage. We took a walk along the banks of the Seine and then headed back to
the ship for dinner.
The following day we made our way by foot to the port
entrance, a fairly easy walk, where we spent a couple of hours in Docks 76 a
new shopping and leisure centre with over 80 shops and a sprinkling of cafes
Tours from Rouen
On this cruise a couple of official Fred. Olsen tours were
available to book. Monet’s house and garden where you could explore the
beautiful surroundings which inspired his work, or an evening in Paris. The
Paris tour included coach travel to the city, a tour to take in the highlights
and view Paris at night from a cruise boat, plus free time to explore on your
own. A tours office is situated near the reception and either of these tours
could be booked on board or prior to the cruise (advisable).
Cruising is a wonderful way to travel and all too soon we
were heading back to Normandy and the open sea to Southampton. Eating a 5
course dinner with my wife in a fabulous restaurant whilst passing under the
Normandy Bridge is not something you do everyday! This memory will remain with
us for a long time, as indeed will the whole cruise.
Thank you Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines, we absolutely loved your ship Braemar, your food, your staff and your itinerary - here’s to our next Fred.Olsen adventure!
For further information on this and
other Fred.Olsen cruises visit the
website or call on 0800 0355 242 (Mon - Fri 8am to 8pm, Sat 9am to 5pm, Sun
10am to 4pm).
Take a look at Fred. Olsen's Braemar on a river cruise along the Seine from Southampton.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines
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