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Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines: Braemar

Braemar Review

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.

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.

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What You Should Know

Pros

  • 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

Cons

  • 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
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 371
  • Entered Service 1993
  • Gross Tons 24,344
  • Length 640 feet
  • Number of Cabins 484
  • Passenger Capacity 929
  • Width 74 feet

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