Braemar Updates

Thursday 19th March 2020 - 15.10

We can confirm that all four flights from Havana, Cuba, have now arrived back in the UK.

The final flight, which was carrying all guests who had received a positive diagnosis for coronavirus, or had displayed any flu-like symptoms, plus their companions, arrived at MoD Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, shortly after 2pm. This flight was secured in conjunction with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

Three flights arrived in London Heathrow this morning, between 8.25am and 11.20am on charter from British Airways.

Braemar arrived into the Port of Mariel, Havana on Tuesday morning.

The ship will now sail back to the UK.

Peter Deer, Managing Director of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said:

“Our fantastic crew have been instrumental in returning our guests safely to the UK. They have worked tirelessly to continue offering all on board the care and attention they deserved, under challenging circumstances. They have done an excellent job in keeping up moral and high standards in the face of adversity, and I extend my personal thanks to them all.

“They are now sailing Braemar back across the Atlantic to the UK, where the ship will join the rest of the fleet – Balmoral, Boudicca and Black Watch – while we pause our operations.

“We look forward to welcoming guests and crew back on board our ships on 23rd May.”

We set up a dedicated Braemar Relative Support Team, to allow relatives a direct point of contact while we worked to get guests home. This number has now closed, and we would ask anyone with any questions or concerns to contact our Customer Relations team on (01473) 746 177.

Thursday 19th March 2020 - 07.20

Expected flight details for guests returning from Braemar:

Flight Number Arrival time Colour code
BA9110c 8.15am Black
BA9112c 9.57am Blue
BA9114c 11.15am Green
HiFly 5M541 2.10pm  -

Wednesday 18th March 2020 - 17.00 (UK time)

We can confirm that the repatriation of guests aboard Braemar back to the UK has now begun.

Braemar is currently docked at the Port of Mariel, Havana, with transfers to take all 682 guests on board to Jose Marti Airport now underway.

On Tuesday, 10th March, one guest and four crew members received a positive diagnosis for COVID-19. One further guest, who provided an inconclusive result, was later confirmed to be positive. As a result, Braemar failed to receive clearance to disembark guests in Barbados on Thursday, 12th March.

Braemar spent three days in safe haven in The Bahamas, before Cuban Authorities granted permission for guests to return to the UK by air from Havana.

Peter Deer, Managing Director of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said:

“I would like to extend my sincere thanks on behalf of Fred Olsen to the Cuban Authorities, the Port of Mariel and the Cuban people for their support. Other countries would not allow Braemar to dock once we had confirmed cases of coronavirus on board. Thanks to their kindness we are now able to get people home. Your support will not be forgotten. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

“I would also like to thank the staff at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department for Transport, the Ministry of Defence, the Department of Health and Social Care and British Airways and their crew. They have worked around the clock for many days to find a way to bring our passengers home without having to resort to an Atlantic crossing. They managed to do this while also facing many other challenges around the world. I cannot thank them enough.

“I must also thank Captain Jose Glavic and his crew. They have had a very tough few weeks but they have put the guests’ needs above those of their own. This goes for the medical staff on board Braemar too.

“We must not forget the team who have been working all day and night on a solution for the Braemar passengers back at our Head Office in Ipswich, Suffolk. They have gone above and beyond to find a resolution. Thank you to them.

“Finally, I would like to thank our guests and their families back home for being so understanding during this unprecedented situation. It has not been an easy few days for anyone.

“For the time being we must focus on being healthy and supporting the most vulnerable. But I look forward to a time we can begin cruising again.”

Three flights have been chartered from British Airways to fly guests to London Heathrow Terminal 5, the first of which will take off from Havana at 18.00hrs local time (10pm UK time).

The flights will land into London Heathrow at approximately 07.00, 09.00 and 11.00 UK time.

Any guests who have received a positive diagnosis for coronavirus, or have displayed any flu-like symptoms, plus their companions, will return to the UK on a separate flight, arriving into MoD Boscombe Down, Wiltshire. This has been secured in conjunction with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

All guests on this flight will have medical professionals available and will have support with any onward travel arrangements or requirements from Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. In accordance with advice from Public Health England, all guests on this flight will be required to self-isolate for 7 days from the date they first showed symptoms if they live alone, or 14 days if they live with others.

Due to the early arrivals of these flights, the dedicated Braemar Relative Support Team will be operating revised hours of 06.00 to 15.00. Relatives can reach this team by calling +44 (0)1473 292 350.

We are making arrangements for guests flying back to London Heathrow, including access to coach transfers to either London Gatwick or Manchester airports, where their outbound flights for this cruise departed from. Guests booked via a Tour Operator should wait to receive more information from them.

While guests on the British Airways flights into London Heathrow will not currently be required to self-isolate, we would encourage everyone to monitor the latest updates from Public Health England on their return home.

Any guests who are considered not to be well enough to fly will be offered support and medical treatment in Cuba.

Wednesday 18th March 2020 - 13.00 (UK time)

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ ship Braemar has now come alongside in Port of Mariel, Havana, Cuba.

This afternoon, a repatriation operation between Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will begin, with all 682 guests currently on board set to fly back to the UK.

Three flights have been chartered from British Airways to fly guests to London Heathrow Terminal 5, the first of which will take off from Havana at 18.00hrs local time (10pm UK time).

The flights will land into London Heathrow at approximately 7am, 9am and 11am UK time.

Any guests who have received a positive diagnosis for coronavirus, or have displayed any flu-like symptoms, plus their companions, will return to the UK on a separate flight, arriving into MoD Boscombe Down, Wiltshire. This has been secured in conjunction with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

All guests on this flight will have medical professionals available and will have support with any onward travel arrangements or requirements from Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and the British Government. In accordance with advice from Public Health England, all guests on this flight will be required to self-isolate for 14 days.

We are making arrangements for guests flying back to London Heathrow, including access to coach transfers to either London Gatwick or Manchester airports, where their outbound flights for this cruise departed from. Guests booked via a Tour Operator should wait to receive more information from them.

While guests on the British Airways flights into London Heathrow will not currently be required to self-isolate, we would encourage everyone to monitor the latest updates from Public Health England on their return home.

Any guests who are considered not to be well enough to fly will be offered support and medical treatment in Cuba.

A dedicated Braemar Relative Support Team has been set up at Fred. Olsen’s UK Head Office to give a direct point of contact for those who have relatives on board. Relatives can reach this team by calling +44 (0) 1473 292350 between the hours of 8am and 8pm.

Thursday 12th March 2020, 10.25am (UK time)

We can confirm that we have been required to change the itinerary for Braemar, after five people on board tested positive for COVID-19 Coronavirus.

We were due to end our ‘Western Caribbean & Central America’ cruise today in Barbados. However we have changed course, following a cautious response from the local authorities, and are now heading towards the Bahamas (our Flag State).

We are currently working with the Bahamas, the UK government, UK Chamber of Shipping and Public Heath England to ensure that all guests can return home as soon as possible.

We continue to follow advice from Public Health England and there is currently no requirement for guests to stay in their cabins. However, we have put other measures in place. These include operating open seating at mealtimes, so that guests can sit on emptier tables. We are also asking guests to keep a reasonable distance from each other and crew members, as much as possible.

We are keeping those on board regularly updated and are asking all guests and crew to return to their cabin and call the Medical Centre, if they begin to feel unwell.

Wednesday 11th March 2020

We understand you may have some questions about what’s happening on our current Braemar cruise so wanted to give as much information as we can to keep you informed.

This information is taken from our Captain’s statement which was given to guests on board at 9am (Caribbean time) today.

You may already know that some of the Coronavirus test results which were carried out on board yesterday were returned as positive. 5 people on board have tested positive (4 crew and 1 guest) with another guest having an inconclusive result.

All of these guests and crew will continue to be looked after in isolation, along with anyone else reporting flu-like symptoms. We are continuing to follow outbreak protocols from UK Public Health to ensure everyone on board stays safe and well. 

This is of course a challenging and changing situation. We are working with the UK government, Chamber of Shipping and Public Heath England to make arrangements which will ensure everyone gets home as soon as possible.

As a result of the cases on board, we have of course taken the decision to cancel the following cruise (M2006) and have contacted these guests separately.

As those of you who travel with Fred. Olsen often will know – our guests and crew are our number one priority and we have a team working around the clock here and in the UK to look after everyone concerned.

Guests on board have access to free calls and WiFi so they can keep in touch with their friends and family. If you have any concerns about anyone on board and can’t get hold of them, please send us a direct message and we will make sure it is passed on to the ship.

When we have more information, we will share it as soon as we can.

Our Guest Services team are available from 8am to 8pm and can be reached on: 0800 0355 145

Tuesday 10th March 2020, 11pm

After Braemar’s arrival into Willemstad, Curaçao this morning, a small number of individuals on board were tested for COVID-19 coronavirus.

We can now confirm that some of those tests have returned a positive result, giving a diagnosis of coronavirus. We are advised that these are provisional results, subject to final confirmation from a second laboratory in Holland.

Those who have returned positive results will remain on board in isolation and will receive treatment from our on board medical team. Guests have been given an out of hours phone number to pass on to their families. 

We are continuing to sail to Barbados (the final port on this cruise).

The safety and well-being of all our guests and crew is our number one priority and we are taking the latest advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and World Health Organisation, as well as Public Health England and CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association).

We are in contact with UK public health authorities on any required actions and will keep those on board updated with further information as we receive it.

Our Guest Services team are available from 8am to 8pm and can be reached on: 0800 0355 145

Tuesday 10th March 2020, 6pm

We can confirm that Braemar arrived in Willemstad, Curacao as planned this morning. As a precaution, we have tested 6 people for COVID-19 coronavirus who have reported flu like symptoms to our medical centre (or have been in close contact with others who have displayed these symptoms).

Unfortunately we did not receive the necessary clearances to allow our guests to go ashore while we await the results of these tests. All guests who had shore excursions booked have of course been automatically refunded.

The Captain is continuing to keep guests and crew currently on board fully informed of all developments, and the ship is operating under its highest level of sanitisation, which includes the suspension of self-service buffets and increased cleaning around the ship.

For those guests due to join Braemar on Thursday, further information will be provided here by Wednesday morning, 11th March.

Our Guest Services team are available from 8am to 8pm and can be reached on: 0800 0355 145

Monday 9th March 2020, 6pm

We have discovered that two guests who were on last week’s Braemar Caribbean cruise were diagnosed with COVID-19 coronavirus after returning home. Neither guest presented with any symptoms prior to their travel or whilst they were on board, and did not visit our medical centre.

There are five people on board who are currently isolated as they have presented at our medical centre with influenza-like symptoms. As a precaution, we are making arrangements to have these individuals tested for COVID-19 coronavirus when we arrive at Willemstad, Curaçao, on Tuesday, 10th March, 2020.

The Captain is keeping guests and crew fully informed of all developments and the ship is operating under its highest level of sanitisation, which includes the suspension of self-service buffets and increased cleaning around the ship.

The safety and well-being of all our guests and crew is our number one priority and we are taking the latest advice from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the World Health Organisation, as well as Public Health England and CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association).

For those guests due to join Braemar on Thursday, further information will be provided here by Wednesday morning, 11th March.

Extract from Captain’s announcement on board Braemar - Thursday 12th March 2020, 10pm (UK time)

Good evening everyone.

After speaking with our office in the UK and following advice from the British Government, we are continuing our passage to the Bahamas.

As I have already mentioned, we have received confirmation that essential services and provisions including medical supplies and fuel are available to us when we reach the Bahamas.

Regretfully however there is also conflicting information and media speculation, received within the last hour.

As it stands, we are therefore continuing talks regarding permission to disembark. Please bear with me in this incredibly frustrating time, where rumour is plentiful and facts are in short supply. The time differences between us and the UK is making this more challenging. Rest assured, I will keep you updated.

Friday 13th March 2020, 1pm (UK time)

Fred. Olsen Cruise lines can confirm that our ship Braemar is still heading to The Bahamas, where we have been given permission to come alongside in order to take on supplies and medication.

However, we have been told by authorities in The Bahamas that we may not be allowed to disembark passengers and crew there as planned.

This in an ongoing situation and a dedicated team at our HQ in Ipswich are working around the clock to find a solution. They are speaking to The Bahamas, the UK government, UK Chamber of Shipping and Public Heath England.

Our top priority remains getting the guests on board Braemar home as soon as possible whilst ensuring the safety of all those on board.

On Wednesday (11th March 2020), while docked in Willemstad, Curaçao, five people on board tested positive for COVID-19 coronavirus (four crew and one guest).

This meant that the ship was unable to dock in Barbados on Thursday (12th March) at the end of its ‘Islands of the Caribbean & the Azores’ (M2006) cruise. We took the decision to change course and head to The Bahamas which is our Flag State with the intention of getting everybody home from there.

The Captain and crew are doing everything they can to communicate the situation with the guests– and to ensure their time on board is as comfortable as possible.

On the advice of Public Health England, there is currently no requirement for guests to stay in their cabins but we are making it possible for those who wish to do so. We are adhering to strict guidelines to maintain hygiene. We are asking guests to keep a reasonable distance from each other and crew members, as much as possible.

There are many ports around the world who are making a decision as to whether to stay open for cruise ships. Some cruise companies have suspended their operations. We are monitoring these announcements carefully and will revise any affected itineraries accordingly. All guests booked onto any cruises which are required to change as a result will be made aware as soon as we have alternative plans confirmed. 

If anyone has any concerns please send us a direct message via social media or to call our Guest Services team on 0800 0355 145.

Saturday 14th March 2020, 1pm (UK time)

We can confirm that our ship Braemar has arrived in The Bahamas, where it has been offered safe haven to take on food, fuel, medication and other supplies for those on board.

At around 9am local time (1pm UK time) today, the ship will drop anchor approximately 25 miles South West of Freeport, where it will restock. Braemar will restock the ship’s own medical centre as well as guests’ own repeat prescriptions. A doctor and nurse are scheduled to join the ship to support the existing medical team.

The logistics of getting these items on board is a complex operation, and Braemar will remain at anchorage throughout this process. Two Foreign and Commonwealth officers have flown out to Freeport from the UK to offer support to authorities in The Bahamas to ensure this operation conducted as quickly as possible.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has also written letters to all British nationals on board, which are being delivered this morning, advising them to follow the guidance of Fred. Olsen while work continues to get guests home as soon as possible.

We know this must be a very worrying time for our guests on board and their families, so have set up a Relative Support Team in our office in Ipswich. This team are there to answer questions from our guests and their family members, they can also help you get messages to those on board. Please call them on +44 (0)1473 292 350 (open 8am to 8pm).

Fred. Olsen would like to re-iterate that we find ourselves in an unprecedented situation with the global outbreak COVID-19 coronavirus and we are working around the clock to ensure the safety and comfort of our passengers.

Sunday 15th March 2020, 1.15pm (UK time)

Our ship Braemar remains at anchor in The Bahamas today to take on board supplies – while diplomatic discussions continue to get guests home as quickly as possible.

We can confirm that there are now 20 guests in isolation, having shown influenza-like symptoms. There are also 20 crew members who are isolated, including a doctor. This includes five people who tested positive for COVID-19 coronavirus at our last port of call, Willemstad, Curaçao, on Tuesday (March 10th).

Two additional doctors and a nurse are en route to The Bahamas today to assist the on board Medical Team. One further nurse is already on the ground in The Bahamas and is awaiting clearance from local authorities to board the ship.

Braemar arrived in The Bahamas at around 9am local time (1pm UK time) yesterday, where it was given safe haven to anchor approximately 25 miles South West of Freeport.

The ship has remained there in order to take on fuel, food, medicine and other supplies and negotiations are continuing with local authorities while we await final permission to transport these items out from Freeport to our current location.

Peter Deer, Managing Director of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, said:
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Captain Jozo Glavic and his crew for working so hard for so long in very challenging circumstances.
I would also like to extend my sincere thanks to our guests for their patience.
We have been working around the clock with the Bahamian authorities to get supplies on to the ship but it is taking longer than we expected to get the necessary clearances.
We are also liaising with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office who I know are doing everything they can to get people home as soon as possible.”

All bars and restaurants remain open, and all guests have been given a complementary All Inclusive drinks package. Yesterday, Braemar’s live band performed out on deck for guests in the Caribbean sunshine.

On the advice of health officials, we are encouraging guests to practice social distancing and other measures advised by Public Health England. We have closed our evening entertainment venue. The performances are still going ahead and can be watched live in guest cabins.

A dedicated Relative Support Team has been set up at Fred. Olsen’s UK Head Office to give a direct point of contact for those who have relatives on board.

The relative support team can be reached by calling +44 (0) 1473 292350 between the hours of 8am and 8pm.

Sunday 15th March 2020 - 5.30pm (UK time)

We can confirm that our ship Braemar remains at anchor in The Bahamas – where supplies are being shipped across from Freeport.

Our guests and crew have been waiting in the same location since yesterday morning - 25 miles south west of Freeport - for the go ahead from Bahamian port authorities to begin moving the supplies.

Earlier today Captain Jozo Glavic updated the guests on board.

He said: “All our supplies and medications are at the pier in Freeport. They have been there since yesterday. We are still waiting for clearance for delivery. We will not go anywhere until we have the medical staff on board and these supplies arrive.

“I can tell you that our situation continues to be looked at as a matter of the utmost urgency between the UK government and our head office. Until then, please continue to bear with me and my crew.”

A dedicated Braemar Relative Support Team has been set up at Fred. Olsen’s UK Head Office to give a direct point of contact for those who have relatives on board. Relatives can reach this team by calling +44 (0) 1473 292350 between the hours of 8am and 8pm.

Monday 16th March 2020 - 10.20am (UK time)

We can confirm that Braemar, currently at anchor in The Bahamas, has taken on supply of food, medication and ship supplies, after a delivery via cargo ship from Freeport overnight.

At the same time, two doctors and two nurses joined the ship to assist Braemar’s on board medical team.

The Captain, Senior Officers and crew worked extremely hard overnight to take receipt of these supplies and store them accordingly. As a result, the Captain enforced a mandatory rest period for all those involved in the operation, following what was a busy and challenging day on board.

This rest period will be lifted at 9am local time (1pm UK time).

At around 9am on Saturday morning, Braemar dropped anchor approximately 25 miles South West of Freeport in The Bahamas, and the ship remains at this location.

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office continue to have high level discussions to get all guests home as quickly as possible. We will provide a further update as soon as we have further information.

20 guests and 20 crew remain in isolation, having shown influenza-like symptoms, including a doctor. This includes five people who tested positive for COVID-19 coronavirus at our last port of call, Willemstad, Curaçao, on Tuesday (March 10th).

A dedicated Braemar Relative Support Team has been set up at Fred. Olsen’s UK Head Office to give a direct point of contact for those who have relatives on board. Relatives can reach this team by calling +44 (0) 1473 292 350 between the hours of 8am and 8pm.

Monday 16th March 2020 - 14.00 (UK time)

The Captain of Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines ship Braemar has announced on board that he is setting to sail to Cuba, where all guests will be repatriated back to the UK by air.

Captain Jozo Glavic picked up the anchor at 9am local time (1pm UK time) to begin the passage to Cuba.

We are working with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to confirm details about onward travel arrangements.

We would ask you to bear with us while we make these arrangements, and will confirm further details as soon as we have them.

We are working closely with Public Health England to clarify any necessary requirements for guests once they return to the UK.

There are currently 22 guests and 21 crew who are in isolation, after displaying influenza-like symptoms.

A dedicated Braemar Relative Support Team has been set up at Fred. Olsen’s UK Head Office to give a direct point of contact for those who have relatives on board. Relatives can reach this team by calling +44 (0) 1473 292350 between the hours of 8am and 8pm.

Tuesday 17th March 2020 - 15.10 (UK time)

We can confirm that Braemar is now standing approximately five miles off the coast of Havana, Cuba.

Once all of the flights have arrived in Cuba to return guests to the UK, in the early hours of tomorrow morning, Braemar will move alongside.

We have been working closely with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to arrange flights and onward travel. All guests who are deemed fit to travel will be flown back to the UK, with flights to depart from Cuba from Wednesday evening local time.

Any guests who are considered not to be well enough to fly will be offered support and medical treatment in Cuba.

It is important to us to communicate confirmed travel plans to our guests on board the ship first, so we would ask you to bear with us before we release any information on this publicly. The ship is operating four hours behind UK time, so we expect to confirm more details this afternoon.

Braemar left The Bahamas yesterday morning (Monday, 16th March), where the ship had been at anchor to take on food and medical supplies from Freeport.

There are currently 25 guests and 27 crew in isolation, having shown influenza-like symptoms, including a doctor. This includes five people who tested positive for COVID-19 coronavirus at our last port of call, Willemstad, Curaçao, on Tuesday (March 10th).

A dedicated Braemar Relative Support Team has been set up at Fred. Olsen’s UK Head Office to give a direct point of contact for those who have relatives on board. Relatives can reach this team by calling +44 (0) 1473 292 350 between the hours of 8am and 8pm.

Tuesday 17th March 2020 - 20.30 (UK time)

We can confirm that flights to take guests aboard Braemar back to the UK will depart from Jose Marti Airport, Havana, from tomorrow (Wednesday, 18th March) evening.

There will be three flights chartered from British Airways, flying to London Heathrow Terminal 5, the first of which will take off from Havana at 18.00hrs local time (10pm UK time), landing into London Heathrow at 06.30 UK time. The final flight will land at 10.30 UK time.

Any guests who have received a positive diagnosis for coronavirus, or have displayed any flu-like symptoms, plus their companions, will return to the UK on a separate flight. This has been secured in conjunction with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. All guests on this flight will have medical professionals available and will have support with any onward travel arrangements or requirements. In accordance with advice from Public Health England, all guests on this flight will be required to self-isolate for 14 days once they have returned home.

We are making arrangements for guests flying back to London Heathrow, including access to coach transfers to either London Gatwick or Manchester airports, where their outbound flights for this cruise departed from. Guests booked via a Tour Operator should wait to receive more information from them.

All guests on the British Airways flights into London Heathrow will not be required to self-isolate. We would encourage all guests to monitor the latest updates from Public Health England on their return home.

Any guests who are considered not to be well enough to fly will be offered support and medical treatment in Cuba.

Braemar is currently standing off around five miles from the coast of Havana. The ship will go alongside in port in the early hours of tomorrow morning, once all four aircraft have arrived in Cuba.

There are currently 28 guests in isolation, having shown influenza-like symptoms. This includes two people who tested positive for COVID-19 coronavirus at our last port of call, Willemstad, Curaçao, on Tuesday (March 10th).

A dedicated Braemar Relative Support Team has been set up at Fred. Olsen’s UK Head Office to give a direct point of contact for those who have relatives on board. Relatives can reach this team by calling +44 (0) 1473 292350 between the hours of 8am and 8pm.