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Braemar – Days 3 & 4

We’re back from Braemar. I was unable to post yesterday as my 30 minutes of internet time expired just before I was ready to do so, and I didn’t want to purchase any more time.

Yesterday was a little disappointing – our scheduled call at St Peter Port was cancelled. The reason for cancelling was the sea-state forecast – although tendering off the ship in the morning would have been easy, the forecast sea state for later in the day suggested that tendering back on could cause problems so the captain decided it wouldn’t be safe. We called instead at Cherbourg. We found this port rather plain, especially after Honfleur, but we had a good walk round for the best part of two hours, then went back to the ship and amused ourselves on board for the afternoon. Others perhaps had a better time – there was a traditional street-market that we didn’t learn about, but those who found it said that it was very interesting – very french, in fact. But never mind. Our next cruise (Oriana, end of May 2008) is also scheduled to call at St Peter Port.

The passage to Southampton was interesting. The advertised track had us heading to the west of the Isle of Wight and entering Southampton water from the direction of the Needles. At only 84 miles, the captain announced at 6pm that an average speed of 8.4 knots would be required, and when we looked over the rail at 11pm or so, we were indeed proceeding slowly and smoothly. But we were woken at just before 4am by considerable rolling of the ship, and quite a lot of wave-slap noise. Peering out of our twin port-holes (Atlantic Deck, port-side) we saw a rough sea, with swell & waves coming from all directions seemingly. It’s hard to tell wave height, but I would say that the swell was up to 2 metres or more. Certainly the deck below us must have been having their port-holes regularly covered, and the spray from the waves hitting them was splashing up onto our port-holes. This went on for about another 40 minutes or so I would say, and indeed seemed to ge worse during which time we could hear the ship itself complaining. Then, quite suddenly, it all calmed down and we got off to sleep. We awoke a couple of hours later just before 7am to find the ship coming up Southampton Water, past Fawley refinery, so the passage had obviously taken rather longer than anticpated. And looking at the map of the ship’s actual track we saw that in fact the course taken had been out of Cherbourg to the north-east, then a 90 degree course change to north west, and a run up the east side of the Isle of Wight. I wonder if the sudden easing of the rough seas was when we entered the lee of the island? At any rate, it all looked, felt & sounded quite dramatic, and I found myself thinking about getting dressed and going up to get a better view. If it hadn’t been the last night, and therefore only having the one set of clothes handy, I might well have done so.

But the cruise is over – Braemar eventually docked at about 8am, we were off her by 9:30, in our car by 9:45 and home in Sheffield just 4 hours later. I have a load of photos (both of the ship and of the ports of call) to download & process, and of course a more considered review to write (which is where I will comment in depth on food & entertainment). But as a cruise – that is, leaving aside the ports of call, as it’s unfair to compare Honfleur with Santorini, attractive though the former is – this was the best yet. Thank you Fred. Olsen, Captain Birkeland & the crew of Braemar.

2 Responses to “Braemar – Days 3 & 4”

  1. Malcolm Cruisetalk says:

    Hi Tom, so where’s the full review? Your fans have waited very patiently.

  2. […] 18 May, 2008 by tomtotley Yes, in two weeks’ time we shall be aboard Oriana, P&O’s 13-years old, medium-sized ship. It’ll be our first cruise with P&O and we are looking forward to it enormously. It’s just for four nights, and is completely port-intensive: we leave Southampton on Saturday afternoon; on Sunday we will be in Rotterdam, Monday is Zeebrugge, and Tuesday should be Guernsey. That last call might not happen, of course, as it’s a tender port and for some reason it’s quite common for captains to decide that the weather isn’t good enough to support tender operations. (We experienced this last September on Braemar; I blogged about it here.) […]

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