Back to the Braemar

Well, once again it is time for us to go on another cruise. We will be spending the next fortnight on Fred Olsen’s Braemar, a lovely little ship we’ve been on before, to the Amazon in February 2011. So it will be nice to be back.

We got up this morning at 3.00am (!!) as we had to drive down to Manchester Airport for our 09:45 flight to Santa Cruz, Tenerife, where we were due to join the ship and spend the evening in port overnight. Luckily the English January weather was unseasonably mild, so we were able to negotiate the run down to Manchester in good time, and we arrived before our scheduled time just after 6.00am.

Check in at Manchester was quick and efficient and it gave us plenty of time to have a look round the duty free shop and, more importantly, spend time in the Executive Lounge, where we enjoyed a few drinks and some light snacks, as it had been a long time since breakfast. 🙂

Eventually our flight was called and we landed in Santa Cruz de Tenerife a little after 2.00pm.

When we alighted from the aircraft we were surprised to see grey skies and feel the hint of moisture in the air. I mean, this is Tenerife, most beloved destination of British people during the winter months because of its year-round, mild climate. Apparently Tenerife has been experiencing an unusually cold and wet winter. Nevertheless, we had arrived and this was the start of our long-awaited trip.

We have been on all of the Fred Olsen ships but the Braemar is my own personal favourite. She is the baby of the fleet at just over 24,400 tons but beautifully decorated with lovely cascading decks at the rear and she actually looks like a ship, instead of a floating block of flats like some of the modern monstrosities.

Our cabin, number 7050, is next door but one to the cabin we had last time (7054) and it is absolutely identical. It has a balcony, twin beds with the head end towards to the balcony, a settee, dressing table, stool etc.and a kettle with a selection of teas and coffees. The bathroom is small, but adequate.

As it was around 4.00pm before we boarded and dinner was at 6.00, we only had time for a half-hour power nap before getting ready. Tonight was smart-casual so at least I didn’t have to spend ages getting ready.

We have been allocated table number 123 (easy to remember!) in the Thistle restaurant. We usually ask for a table for six or eight as we enjoy the interaction with our fellow passengers. Table 123 is a large round table that can seat 10, but there are eight of us; couples each from Leeds, Nottingham, Dumfries and us from Durham. But the table is so large you need a megaphone to be able to converse with the couples opposite. 🙂

As with all the Fred Olsen cruises that we’ve been on, the food and the service were absolutely superb. I enjoyed pâté to start, followed by fresh garden salad with Caesar dressing, then a delicious calf’s liver and onions, finished off with crème caramel and washed down with house rosé wine (Free! Because we’re travelling all-inclusive!) We finished with an amaretto each before making our way to the Coral Club.

Last time we were on the Braemar we used to adjourn to the Skylark Club, a bar at the stern of the ship that used to host quizzes, karaoke and disco, and was just a nice place to hang out. Now, however, the Skylark Club has gone and the ship’s gym is in its place, so the Coral Club is now where it’s all at.

We didn’t think we’d last very long due to our 3.00am start, but we watched the resident band “M.I.T.” and took part in the quiz (scoring 12/15, not enough to win) before enjoying a night cap in a desultory sort of way before making our way back to cabin 7050 for our first night on board. Braemar is staying in port overnight, so we’ll have a better chance to explore Santa Cruz de Tenerife tomorrow.

We were out like a light and both slept soundly.

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