Cruise - Ocean Cruise
The Canaries on Braemar
108 people found this review helpful
Gatwick Airport, 6am on a cold Sunday morning, not my favourite place, but when you’re flying to Tenerife to board a cruise ship it’s worthwhile. 4 hours later we are in the sunshine of Tenerife. The aircraft doors open and you feel the warmth that has eluded us for so long this winter. A short coach trip later and I see our ship waiting for us in Santa Cruz harbour. This is the start of 5 days aboard Fred Olsen’s ship Braemar. With her red funnel, white hull and superstructure she makes for an impressive sight. Check in at the quayside is simple, photo taken for security, receive your sea pass and board the ship.
Within minutes I am in cabin 4094 a superior oceanview. The woodwork is light with curtains and bed spreads in tan and white. The dressing table has a large mirror and ornate lights on either side. The hairdryer is the hand held type which I find more preferable to the tube affairs you find on some ships. The cabin is also equipped with tea/coffee making facilities and a flat screen interactive television. Another luxury touch is the lights that illuminate on opening the wardrobe doors. Plenty of hanging and drawer space, lots of sturdy wooden hangers. The bathroom with usual shower, toilet and vanity unit has 300 ml containers of hand and body wash by Cole and Lewis.
7pm finds me in the Observatory Lounge on deck 8 for a pre dinner drink. Through the large picture windows I have beautiful views of Santa Cruz with a backdrop of hills. The lounge is busy, the air full of chat and laughter as passengers make new friends and in some cases meet old ones.
We are booked 2nd sitting, 8.15pm in the Grampian Restaurant also on deck 8. The Grampian is light and airy with large windows on three sides. No sooner are we seated than the attentive waiters are there with food and wine menus. Our waiter is Ali. The menu is impressive and caters well for vegetarians. My starter is Grilled Tomato and Gorgonzola Cheese on Toast, very tasty. Followed by Yellow Pea Soup, Pumpkin Salad and a main course of Liver and Onions with Carrots and Mashed Potato all washed down with a very palatable fruity white wine. For me the sweet had to be Rum and Raison Ice Cream. Ali was back, Cheese and biscuits sir? No, no, no, no, no. At this rate the old adage of coming on board as a passenger and leaving as cargo was about to come true. After a long day an early night was called for so bidding my fellow passengers ‘Good Night’ it was off to sample the bed in my cabin.
Overslept, the ship was in port overnight so no movement. Couple this with an extremely comfortable bed and you have a recipe for oversleeping. Hoping to be up at 6.30am for an early breakfast, the reality turned out to be 7.30am. A quick coffee in the cabin and off to the Neptune Lounge ready to go on tour. It turned out I was the first to arrive. 8.45am saw us boarding the coach for a tour of the Islands National Forest and the Pyramids of Guimar.
Arriving back at the ship in time for lunch gave an opportunity to sample the delights of the Palms Cafe. This is the buffet restaurant on deck 6, weather permitting you can go to the Lido Bar area and dine al fresco. Considering the size of ship the selection is excellent and of the highest quality.
The afternoon is spent exploring and admiring the many works of art that are displayed around the ship along with models of vessels that have passed through the Fred Olsen fleet over the years.
7pm finds me back in the Observatory Lounge, this is becoming habit forming. Listening to Enrique playing the beautiful grand piano, the buzz of happy people just make this the place to be at the end of a day.
The next day I wake as we approach Gran Canaria and the port of Las Palmas. Breakfast in the Grampian is excellent. The buffet offers a good selection of cereals, fruit, two styles of scrambled egg, boiled eggs, trays of bacon, European style and crispy, sausages, grilled tomatoes, French toast, baked beans, the list is endless. Waiter service is also available.
Today’s tour is to the top of Mount Bandama and the village of Santa Brigida.
Returning to the ship for a late lunch in the Thistle Restaurant, the largest of the dining venues, and again an opportunity to sample the wonderful Fred Olsen salads from the buffet. Mussels still in their half shells were absolutely delicious. Strawberry Cheesecake to finish. Oh dear the diet seems to have gone to pot again. Never mind, tomorrow I will visit the gym. Now for an hour in the sun before entering the afternoon quiz. We called ourselves the Silver Travellers and on scoring 17 out of a possible 20 thought we had done well until discovering 3 of the other teams had scored 19. With that we quietly left.
Tonight’s the Captains Welcome Cocktail Party. After the obligatory photo taken with the Captain we enter Neptune Lounge for drinks and canapés. You have a choice of Champagne or Bucks Fizz. To the passenger’s credit nearly all of them adhere to the formal dress code of the evening. Now to the Grampian Restaurant for the ‘Gala Dinner’. My choice was Grilled Vegetable Terrine followed by Forest Mushroom soup, Mixed Salad with Mustard and Honey Dressing and Beef Wellington as the main course. Bearing in mind that I am trying not to put on any weight I had the Mixed Flavour Ice Cream to finish. Again all washed down by a beautiful crisp and fruity white wine.
That night we sailed for Puerto del Rosario, Fuerteventura, our last port of call in the Canaries. Fuerteventura is the second largest in the island group. The time passes quickly and the following day, which is a day at sea, is my last before flying back to a chilly UK from Lisbon so time to reflect on the cruise.
Braemar is the smallest of the Fred Olsen fleet with a beautiful tiered stern of horse shoe shaped decks. At just over 24,000 grt, Braemar carries 900 plus passengers in cabins ranging from comfortable inside to luxury suites. Great use has been made of light oak, glass, brass and pastel furnishings giving the ship a very spacious feel. Deck 8 with two swimming pools, Jacuzzis and ample sun bathing area is the place to be for getting that tan. Deck 5 houses shops, reception, library, card room and the Morning Light Pub with its furnishings in red leather. The Neptune Lounge and Coral Club are on this deck. They provide your entertainment by way of comedians, magicians or a musical show. The fitness centre on deck 7 is well equipped. Yes I did visit it.
The final questions have to be, did I enjoy my days on Braemar and would I cruise on her again. The simple answer is yes to both questions. Fred Olsen caters in the main for the more mature cruiser, the vast majority of who are huge fans of ‘Fred’. I spoke to many people during the cruise and the theme of common loyalty to the brand was very evident, many having their favourite ship. As one couple told me, ‘We don’t care about the itinerary we just love being on the ship’. I think that just about sums it up.
108 people found this review helpful
This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.