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Sarah Wheeldon

Age: 26

Occupation:Accounting

Number of Cruises: 4

Cruise Line: Fred Olsen Cruises

Ship: Braemar

Sailing Date: 2008-10-2

Itinerary: Eastern Mediterranean

We set out for this Vacation withan all out, no expense spared ideal from the start. We did have some budget limitations but we were determined not to let this stop us from seeing what we wanted to see. There were 6 of us, myself and my fiancee, my sister and her husband and my parents. Our ages were mid twenties and mid fifties for my parents. Originally, the fred olsen cruise was our second choice, but the first choice sold out before we had a chance to book it. So we went with Fred Olsen and the Braemar. Since all 6 of us were leaving Canada at different times and going to different destinations before we met for the cruise, we all arrived for embarkation outside Rome at different times. My fiancee and I were the last to arrive. There was no indication of where the boat was or how to get ahold of someone from the cruise line. We finally found a shuttle driver who informed us that the boat had broken down in Palermo and would not be coming to Rome at all!! We had to call Texas to get the number of the people in Rome and they finally met up with us and told us that all of the British passengers had flown directly to Palermo, Sicily. It was only us few "independent" travelers that had not been notified. My parents and sister/brother-in-law were waiting at the airport when we got there but we had all missed the last flights to meet up with the ship in palermo before it sailed to continue the cruise. So we stayed in a hotel and then were flown to southern italy to meet the boat at it's first stop. They told us a car and person would be waiting to meet us at the airport to take us to the ship, but there was no one. We ended up taking taxis to the port (which was thankfully small) and driving until we found the boat.
This was only the beginning. The cabins were small with horrible TV and tiny bathrooms with gross showers. We had to ask several times for our toilet and shower to be repaired during the cruise.
The meal times were quite restricting - having been on several cruises before, we were used to having things available at all times, but if you got up after 9am - there would be no food until noon.
The activities were non-existent with only a small gym and two small freezing pools with tepid hot tubs.
The food in the dining room at dinner was fabulous but the rest of the meals were only okay. It was very geared to elderly British diets.

All round the boat had over 75% repeat customers and the average age was about 75.
Everyday we were asked why we were in passenger areas because they thought we were part of the crew.
They had talks on arthritis and sciatica everyday but nothing for anyone younger. Even my parents were bored on sea days.
Even the shore excursions were a bit weak, with not many physical activity choices and many very short. The captain missed a time change in one of the countries and we all got to our tours 1 hour early.
Another issue was that everything cost money - I could not believe we had to pay for non -alcoholic drinks. Even the water at the bar cost money.
That being said, the staff was lovely on the ship. It took us a lot of negotiations to get refunds for our costs to get to the broken ship and in the end the only gave us a small amount for the missed first day.
The worst part was the fact that ship is quite old and having started out as a ferry, not very comfortable in the lower decks especially where we were. We had several rough sea days and the were very bad, taking out more than half the passengers. My father fell ill, called the doctor and was subsequently quarantined with my mother in their cabin for 3 days with their cards inactivated. They couldn't even pay for laundry.

All in all, we spent thousands on a cruise that had one issue after another.
This boat is geared towards extremely ederly British passengers and I would not recommend it to anyone who wants to step outside those bounds.



Dinner was great
Buffets were okay but very fatty british type foods.

Small, cramped and dated, sometimes broken

None for younger people. we played a lot of boardgames.
The advertised some activities but when we got on the ship, they had cancelled them.

All the countries were lovely. Not enough choices of active excursions like bike rides or snorkelling etc.

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