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German Waterways cruise on Fred Olsen's Braemar

4 posts in this topic

In June we had our first experience of a Fred Olsen cruise - our expectations were not high, having only 1 month previously cruised on the newest, largest ship, Harmony of the Seas! However, we soon discovered that it is far better to have low expectations, which are greatly exceeded, rather than the other way round!


After rounding Denmark, our first stop was Flensburg - a charming town with narrow cobbled streets with old houses decorated with roses and hollyhocks on the pavement outside! The waterfront had lots of old sailing boats & maritime workshops, so it was like stepping back in time, with a lovely nautical atmosphere. The sail-away down the picturesque Flensburg fjord was exciting with yachts racing (one nearly got itself impaled on Braemar's bow!) with Denmark to port and Germany to starboard!


Next day we docked in Warnemunde with Braemar right next to a busy shopping street! It has a long beach with a pleasant sea-front promenade and on the beach were lots of curiously shaped beach shelters and sand carvings! The view from the top of an old lighthouse was well worth the climb! the Passat, a 4-masted sailing vessel is based here and the Passat choir sang some sea-shanties for our sail-away! The captain said "as you've been good, I've got a treat for you!" and we then sailed up the Trave river to Lubeck and back. It was a great trip, especially as on Braemar, you can stand right up in the bow and do arms-out Titanic film impressions if you want to!


Next was something I was really looking forward to (although we had previously transited it in 1999 on the Norwegian Dream) - the 61-mile long Kiel canal, which takes most of a day to go through. Despite indifferent weather and fewer ships than expected, I really enjoyed the transit. Locking out of the canal at Brunsbuttel, we had another treat in store - Braemar turned to port into the river Elbe and we had a glorious cruise up the winding river to Hamburg, passing the Airbus factory with a couple of "beached whale" aircraft outside.


Next day, in Hamburg, we walked along the waterfront into the city, seeing former warehouses which are now a UNESCO World Heritage site, various canals and interesting modern buildings, including the Elbe Philharmonic Hall, which is costing millions, which is built on top of an old warehouse! The same Passat choir were invited on board to perform for us again, and they sang English and German sea-shanties in the theatre with a lot of humour and they got a well-deserved rapturous applause!


It was worth getting up early for our 0600 departure from Hamburg down the river Elbe to the container port of Bremerhaven, at the entrance. We then had a short cruise offshore before entering the river Weser for a cruise to Bremen. We tied up in a very dismal dock adjoining industrial buildings and some distance from the town centre. However, next day it was a short walk to the nearest tram stop and after 20 minutes and about 8 stops later, we were in the centre of Bremen. We walked around the medieval part of the city called Schnoor(!) with very narrow streets, one only 3 ft wide! It was a very relaxing warm & sunny cruise back down the river to the North Sea. 


The next day at sea was windy with a quite rough sea, so we spent a pleasant few hours in the Observatory, which has has great views out over the bow. We passed quite close to Dover and headed on to Southampton.


Overall, it was a most enjoyable cruise, far better than expected, with plenty to see, with a great mixture of offshore and river cruising. The Phillipino crew were the friendliest we have ever encountered on a cruise and as Braemar is a small ship, many friendships were made. The captain, Jozo Glavic's daily catchphrase, after his announcements, was "always remember - be happy!" This certainly rang true, as it was the happiest ship we have been on!

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