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Braemar - Cape Verde & West Africa. by Thomas, Lytham st annes

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Braemar

OVERVIEW: This handsome-looking mid-size ship suits middle-aged and older UK and Scandinavian passengers who want to cruise in a casual, unstuffy environment, in a ship with British food and entertainment. It’s a refreshing change for those who don’t enjoy larger, warehouse-size ships. But it does r


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Braemar - Cape Verde & West Africa.

Overall Rating: 4
1064 views

13 out of 13 people found this useful
Cruise Line:
Fred. Olsen Cruises
Cruise Ship:
Braemar
Destination:
Africa

Reviewed By: on
Fred Olsen's Braemar cruise to 3 of the Cape Verde Islands, Banjul in The Gambia & Dakar In Senegal (28 Feb to 12 March) was an interesting & relatively safe option for a first time visit to Africa.
Pre-cruise
Difficulty in finding out about visa's & vaccinations - in the end none needed. Just cover up in the 2 West African ports & put anti-malerial gel on any exposed bits. Good excursion booklet & pre-cruise info sent in post.
Flights/Embarkation
Flew from Manchester with Monarch Scheduled outbound going and with a Monarch charter plane on the return. Both flights were on time though did take us nearly an hour to get our cases in Tenerife and is then another 45 minutes to the port on the transfer buses.
Embarkation was very quick & efficient once we got to the port. On the return journey we put our cases outside our cabin late evening & next picked them up in Manchester. No need to check in at the airport, although we still got there at 10am for a 1pm departure so had a lot of time to kill.
Cabin/Ship
We booked a superior outside cabin on Deck 4. Lovely big picture window with plenty of daylight (only have portholes on Decks 2 & 3) that was bigger than we expected though with limited wardrobe & especially drawer space. No problems with noise from the Promenade deck above.
Food was very good & service in the Thistle dining room by our 2 waiters very speedy. This was helped by the fact that we were on 2nd (8.15pm) sitting & there were only 4 of us on our table for 8. The other 2 couples apparently decided to use the Palm Court buffet as they preferred to eat earlier.
Tended to have breakfast in the upstairs Grampian dining room for a change and
grab a sandwich on deck for lunch or order from the exceptionally good room service menu if returned from ashore outside meals time.
The All Inclusive Drinks package option worked better than I thought it would - especially for a non spirit drinker like me. Could order a bitter or lager shandy as well as pepsi and lemonade by the glass & take down to our cabin when we returned from a trip as well as drinking in the pub which got very busy. Waiters soon got to know who was on the AI & remembered what you liked to drink which helped to speed up service in the evenings.
Entertainment
The show company worked very hard with a production show nearly every couple of days (impressive as they were a singer down through illness). The cabaret was more hit & miss - for example we have seen the multi instrumentalist duo Melody Lane many times before & they always do the same
act. The comedian was good and they also had a classical baritone singer and actress narrator (which I have never seen before) in the afternoon on 3 of the sea days.
Ports of Call
Tenerife - Santa Cruz
Overnighted here. Very easy as berth 2 mins from main square with town behind. Also easy stroll to Opera house area & African Market.
Cape Verde - Porto Novo.
Really have to do a organised trip or book a local taxi when get ashore to see the island as Port Novo is very small & not very interesting whereas the interior is very green and you get to go high up into the plateau to see the beautiful green scenery & where all the food for the islands are cultivated and the local sugar cane distilleries.
It was very very windy with rough seas & a big swell when we arrived, & as this is tender port, we had to wait a 1.5 hours in the lounge for our tender as it was not safe and the tenders kept having to be suspended. We got ashore at 11am instead of 9.30am & only then did they start disembarking the independents - which meant time ashore was a lot less than it should have been.
Cape Verde - Mindelo
Easy to walk into town from ships berth, though shuttle is available at cost of £5 each for the day if less able. No need for a trip as plenty to see & do. good local market & most "touristy" of the 3 islands with a nice promenade.
Cape Verde - Praia
Can walk into town or again take the £5 shuttle bus to the Plateau (old town high up overlooking the sea)
Again plenty to see & do here, though is more of a working city than a tourist town. Lots of shops, museums & fruit & veg market down the main pedestrian street.
The Gambia - Banjul
Most of the ship took a tour. We decided to brave the town ourselves & gave into the inevitable and acquired a local "guide". Lot of poverty, rubbish & uneven walking surfaces. Local children appreciate small gift of sweets, pens/pencils. In end spent 3 hours walking the town, which is quite compact, & really saw everything including Arch 22, local markets, Presidental palace (no photo's), beach area & even our "guides" home.
Senegal - Dakar
Took organised trip by Fed Olsen charter boat (from next to the ship) to Goree Island in the morning to see the Slave Museum, Fort, Cathedral & small town. Took ages to disembark once there as there were a lot of us & made the trip more hurried than should have been. Some from the ship did independently but
still acquired a local guide.
In the afternoon walked into town centre of Dakar - again shuttle bus was available if wanted one. Lots of hassle (pickpockets) & beggars on streets. My husband was twice approached by 2 men who tried to rob him. We heard that some people found it so bad that did not get off the shuttle bus which was a shame as the Presidential Palace and othe French Colonial buildings were worth seeing (lucky enough to catch the changing of the guard at 2pm).
In summary, glad to have seen Banjul and Dakar but won't be rushing back as too much hassle.
First time on Braemar (have been on the Boudicca 2 years ago) & would return as very much enjoyed the ambience of the ship.

13 out of 13 people found this useful

Times cruised before: 10+
Sailed: March, 2014
Age: 36-45
Cabin: Outside


Quality of Food
4

Entertainment
Melody Lane - leat enjoyable
2

Shore Excursions
Green Valley Tour at Porto Novo
4

Staff
All the drinks waiters
5

Children's Facilities
0

Onboard Activities
Yes, but did not participate
2

Cabins
A lot better than we expected from other reviews - Superior Outside
4

Overall Rating
4
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