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Braemar at Dover Cruise Terminal, dressed for sailing.

(left) A rather casual arrival!

This was another cruise for just Dad & Me, our 3rd together so far. A particularly amiable table too; plus and an invitation to dine at the Captain's Table!

Read more about the little Braemar in the Braemar Ship Gallery >>
Itinerary Show Map
= ports at anchor
Monday 2nd September-Dover, UK
Tuesday-at sea
Wednesday-at sea
Thursday-Lisbon, Portugal
Saturday-at sea
Sunday-Mahon, Menorca
Monday-Cagliari, Sardinia
Tuesday-at sea
Wednesday-Malaga, Spain
Thursday-at sea
Friday-at sea
Saturday-Brest, France
Sunday 15th September-Southampton, UK

Show Picture Full Size From our balcony, I took this photo of the rather lovely Marco Polo (20,080 grt) as we departed Dover. She dates from 1965 when she began life as the Russian ship Alexander Pushkin (19,860 grt) but was sold and rebuilt in 1991. In fact, I first saw her in 1984 in Geirangerfjord, Norway, at anchor beside QE2 see photo >>

At just 19,089 grt, Braemar was much smaller than any of the ships we had sailed on before. Even our cabin, while classed as a "Balcony Suite", complete with the rather grand title on the door of the "Rio de Janeiro Suite", was not much bigger than a standard cabin on many other ships. The balcony on the other hand, because it ran all down one side of the cabin, was truly enormous!

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Views of our "Balcony Suite"
(Bridge Deck 7011 "Rio de Janeiro Suite")
The Thistle Restaurant
& our friendly table, with Tony & Sally, Horace & Irene

Compact though she was and with twists and turns everywhere, Braemar still managed to squeeze everything in without it feeling crowded for her 730 passengers. It was like being on a large private yacht and my only complaint that first day was at the Captain's Cocktail Party - plenty of hot hors d'oevres but for drinks, all we had was 3 choices of sherry!
Read more about the ship in the Braemar Ship Gallery >>
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Perhaps I should have mentioned it during my visit to the Bridge the following day but when I spotted the bowl of goldfish on the window-ledge, I decided perhaps he was just a little eccentric!

Thursday 5th September
Lisbon, Portugal
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In glorious weather today, we made our arrival past the 16th century Belem Tower, once part of Lisbon's medieval defenses, and the nearby Monument to the Discoveries, completed in 1960 for the 500th anniversary of the death of Prince Henry the Navigator. The Tagus Suspension Bridge was the 5th longest in the World when it was opened in 1966 and as we passed beneath its main span of 3,323ft (1,013m), I noticed the trains running on the new deck added in 1999 underneath the main road deck. There was also an impressive view of the great Statue of Christ the King, inaugurated in 1959 and rising a total of 732ft above the river.

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Belem Tower Monument to the Discoveries The Tagus Bridge
(The 25 April Bridge)
Christ The King
360 ft high

Show Picture Full Size Dad & I chose the City Tour for the morning, with brief photo-stops at most of the "usual" sites culminating in a visit to the chapel of the impressive 16th century Jeronimos Monastery; once home to the Heironymite Monks, it was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
(left) Detail of Henry the Navigator's Monument (Monument to the Discoveries 1960)

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The Jeronimos Monastery The Maritime Museum
South Portal The Chapel Royal Brig (1780) "Santa Cruz" (1922)

The Maritime Museum (Museu de Marinha) is now partly housed in the Monastery buildings but with a splendid modern pavilion behind it, opened in 1962. Celebrating Portugal's tremendous history of oceanography and exploration, it's well worth a visit. One of the larger exhibits is the Fairey III-D sealane "Santa Cruz" in which Sacadura Cabral & Gago Coutinho completed the first crossing of the South Atlantic by air to Brazil in 1922. More a triumph of navigation and survival against the elements, they covered the 4,527 miles from Lisbon to Rio de Janeiro in 62.5 hours flying time but with the loss of 2 planes en-route!

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Praca do Comercio
Black Horse Square
The Cathedral Castelo de Sao Jorge
a spectacular view from the Castle ramparts

In the afternoon, I returned to the City by shuttle-bus to Black Horse Square, so-called (by the British) for its once-blackened equestrian statue of King Jose I. From there I explored the historic Alfama District, visiting the Cathedral and climbing the ramparts of the Castle of St George.

Friday 6th September
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Show Picture Full Size We enjoyed a relaxed and lazy morning sitting on our sheltered balcony as we passed through the Gibraltar Strait towards the Pillars of Hercules. Approaching Gibraltar, we spotted many dolphins frolicking in the choppy waves of the bay. Today was hot; 28 deg C (82 deg F)!
(left) The vew from our balcony in the Bay of Algeciras on the approach to Gibraltar

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Europa Point
The Lighthouse
View from The Rock
and the Cable-Car
Barbary Ape
(Braemar in the distance)
a dolphin-spotting excursion!

We tied-up around 12.30pm but remained aboard until after lunch, as we had booked an afternoon excursion, visiting Europa Point Lighthouse, St Michael's Caves and of course, the Apes' Den. Returning about 5.00pm, I was just in time to catch a last-minute ticket for the dolphin-spotting trip aboard the somewhat overcrowded Nautilus who's underwater viewing lounge proved too claustrophobic for me; the best views of the dolphins were from its deck close to the waterline.

Show Picture Full Size Saturday 7th September - A Day at Sea
After a leisurely day at sea reading, doing some shopping on board, but mostly sleeping, we had our second Formal Night aboard; at our table (left) Tony & Sally, Horace & Irene.
Dad & I also decided to have our portrait done (see right)
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Sunday 8th September
Mahon, Menorca
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Today we made our third port-of-call, capital of the second-largest in the Spanish Balearic Islands.

What we didn't realise until we got the daily programme the night before, was that today was Menorca Day and there was a festival in Mahon, with a colourful "Cavalcade" all through the town. This might have been fun to watch but Dad & I had already booked a full-day excursion today and it was now too late to cancel! Our tour departed at 8.30am.
(right) From the ship, a great flight of steps leads up from the quay into the City of Mahon.
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Ancient Ciutadella de Menorca
narrow streets & interesting architecture
Menorca Cathedral
still the seat of the Bishop

Somewhat perversely, our tour travelled from Mahon on one side of the island all the way to the other side of the island, and the city of Ciutadella de Menorca, founded by the Carthaginians and the Moorish capital of the island until the British moved it to Mahon in 1722. While it has no grand features as such, its narrow streets of moorish and gothic architecture are pleasant to meander, although I christened it "The City of a thousand push-chairs" because of all the Brits with their kids!

Part-way, we stopped at the archaeological site Naveta des Tudons, a megalithic tomb dating from the Bronze Age (over 3000 years old). It is remarkably well-preserved but not very exciting! Photo >>

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Monte Toro
Highest point in Menorca
The view from Monte Toro 1,175ft (358m)
(left) west to Es Mercadal & (right) north, the coast & Fornells
Monte Toro
The Convent (1595)

After a pleasant but rather drawn-out lunch at the quaint resort/fishing village of Fornells, our next main stop was at Monte Toro, the highest point on the island where there is a splendid view, as well as a small convent chapel open to visitors. Contrary to tales of a bull finding a statue of the Virgin Mary in a rock-cleft, it's more likely the name derives from al-tor, Moorish for "mountain"!

Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size We returned to Mahon and the ship about 4.15pm, the town's festivities having long since ended, but still in time for a swim in the ship's pool and a spot of people-watching from the deck, as Braemar made ready for her departure.

Monday 9th September
Cagliari, Sardinia
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Show Picture Full Size Already tied-up across the harbour was Cunard's beautiful Caronia, which Andrew & I travelled on in December 1999 but which we were even more familiar with as the magnificent Vistafjord (24,492 grt) of 1973. We would see more of Caronia on this trip too, as both ships would travel together to our next port of Malaga, Spain.

Not having been here before, we took the only excursion today, to the nearby archaeological site of Nora, Sardinia's first settlement and a port colonised by the Phoenicians, now holding many Carthaginian and Roman ruins. Partially engulfed by the sea, the city was abandoned in 455AD. Show Picture Full Size Show Picture Full Size
Nora: A Roman Theatre Nora: Thermal Baths

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Via Roma
The main Promenade
Bastion of San Remy
Piazza Costituzione
The Castello District
the old part of the city
The Cathedral
13th century, restored 1933

After lunch back aboard, I went into town again and trekked up to the historic Castello District and the Cathedral, only to find it closed! However, the Bastion of San Remy, makes an impressive entrance to the Castello and above it is yet another piazza with great views over the city.

Show Picture Full Size Tuesday 10th September - A day at Sea & Dinner with the Captain
For Ladies' Night tonight, our entire table, together with one other couple, were invited to dine with Captain Bjarte Marstig. He proved an interesting chap, if a little unsure of himself, and I discovered that he was only 36 and had until recently been on cargo ships. See Menu (right)
View Ladies' Night Menu

Wednesday 11th September
Malaga, Spain
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Show Picture Full Size We were up early again today, for our full-day excursion to Granada, and were already tied-up by 7.00am but having followed us all the way from Cagliari 2 days ago was the beautiful Caronia (ex-Vistafjord of 1973) and I was mesmerised as I watched her making her stately way into Malaga; I thought our little Braemar something of an upstart beside her!
(left) The still stunning lines of Caronia 24,492grt (ex-Vistafjord 1973) entering the port of Malaga

The Alhambra at Granada must be one of the busiest tourist destinations in the World but I never tire of the beauty and architectural symmetry of what is an undeniable masterpiece of Moorish art.

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The Myrtle Court
The Ambassadors Hall above
The Alhambra at Granada
The Lion Court with its 12-sided fountain & 124 columns
Partal Gardens
The Tower of the Ladies

Occupying a fortified setting on a mountain-side amidst stunning scenery, it is in truth something of a hotch-potch of palaces, courts and gardens begun in about 1238 and added-to over the centuries until, in the 18th century, it fell into neglect and decline. In 1870 though, it was declared a "National Monument" and its restoration was begun - and continues to this day.

Upon our return to Malaga, I took the opportunity to visit the Cathedral or La Manquita (One-armed Lady) as it is called locally, on account of it having only one completed tower of the planned two.

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Malaga Cathedral
"La Manquita"
The Organ
in fact, one of a pair!
The Chapel of Incarnation Beheading of St Paul
by Enrique Simonet

The interior is impressive, if a little unsual in plan, probably due to it having originally been a mosque. However, since the 16th century it has been radically altered and extended, with numerous side-chapels, an impressive organ enclosed in matching twin cases and a wealth of art; a particularly striking piece is The Beheading of St Paul (1887) by Enrique Simonet.

Thursday 12th - Friday 13th September
2 Days at Sea
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Heading back out into the Atlantic, we set course northwards and enjoyed the time relaxing. The first evening, we joined Sally & Tony for drinks in their suite and it was a most convivial group; along with our table companions Irene & Horace, there were 2 other couples, as well as comedian Ron Dale (one of the entertainers on board), the ship's Doctor and the Captain! Ron and the Doctor then joined us for dinner and we got so engrossed that we were the last out of the Restaurant!

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The Aft Lido The Promenade British Night!
with Ron Dale & the Doctor
Caught in the Act!

Following another leisurely day at sea, the penultimate night of the cruise was, as always, another formal night and Farewell Dinner preceded by the Captain's Farewell Cocktail Party. This time, we had a glass of dry white wine to drink! On the way out of the Restaurant, the ship's photographers were waiting to pounce! There was rather a good Crew Show that night too!
See more photos of the Braemar here >>

Saturday 14th September
Brest, France
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An important Naval Base since the time of Cardinal Richelieu in 1631, Brest was almost totally destroyed by Allied bombing in 1944 and had to be rebuilt after World War II. However, with 1700 years of history, the two oldest buildings in the city have survived, the Tour Tanguy and the Chateau, which houses the excellent Musee de la Marine celebrating Brest's naval tradition. Picture >>

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at the Quai de la Doauane
Av. Franklin Roosevelt
& the American Memorial
Tour Tanguy
& the Chateau
Pont de la Recouvrance
Entrance to the Naval Base

Today Dad & I chose a tour of the Aber Coast, a scenic drive along the rugged coast north of Brest, exploring some of the pretty inlets, coves and villages in this area of Brittany, known as Finistere.

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The Aber Coast
windswept and rather beautiful
Coastal Inlet
near St Pabu
& Ile Vierge Lighthouses

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At Lanildut
one of the many deep inlets along this coast
Blue is the Colour!
along with strikingly clear waters

This sparsely-populated part of Britanny boasts great scenery and a unique light - at least when you are fortunate with the weather, as indeed we were. However, it was probably because today was our last day that our tour seemed a little "downbeat" and everywhere a little "samey"; coupled with the fact that our coach was one of the worst we have experienced in the way of comfort!

With packing still to do tonight, it was fortunate the clocks went back 1 hour!

Show Picture Full Size Sunday 15th September
Southampton, UK
A nice view of Victoria on our return but here we witnessed British workmen at their best, unloading our luggage. It was 3 hours before we were called off! John & Andrew had driven to meet us and Andrew was not amused!
Completing a "Triplet of Classic Ships", P&O's Victoria 27,670grt (previously Sea Princess of 1979, ex-Kungsholm of 1966)

Nevertheless, Dad & I had a really happy time aboard this rather lovely little ship. What she lacked in sophisticated facilities, she more than made up for with her intimacy and feeling of exclusivity. Also, having such a happy, friendly table always helps!

See Detailed Mileage Log for this cruise >>

Cruise Mileage: 4,051 nautical miles
Total Mileage to date: 84,302 n miles

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