The major refit and lengthening of Fred. Olsen's cruise ship, Braemar, is now complete and she is about to continue her cruise program from Southampton.  The ship will offer a full season of 14-day Caribbean cruises from Miami for 2008-09.

Braemar arrived at the Blohm + Voss Repair GmbH shipyard in Hamburg May 13 for work to begin on inserting a new mid section into the vessel.

The operation to cut the vessel in half was completed on May 17.   The new section was then moved into place and the forward section of the ship connected with the new part.

The 102-foot section has created additional accommodation allowing increase of the total passenger capacity from 727 to around 950.   Much of these new accommodations will also include balconies, bringing the total number of cabins and suites with verandas to 70 (including the Owner's Suite).

The greatest addition to passenger facilities can be seen on Marquee Deck (Deck 8).  Braemar now boasts a new Observatory Lounge, with magnificent viewing facilities, in common with her sister ships Balmoral, Boudicca and Black Watch.  There is also a new dining facility, the Grampian Restaurant, and a completely transformed pool area with two swimming pools, a dedicated children's pool and pool bar to enhance life on deck.

Another new enhancement is the Morning Light Pub next to the Neptune Lounge on Lounge Deck (Deck 5). The first Morning Light Pub is on Balmoral and is a popular place to relax with a drink and enjoy live evening entertainment.  Morning Light was the name of the largest fully rigged vessel owned by the Olsen family in the 19th century.

On Bridge Deck (Deck 7) there is a new Arts and Crafts Room, a peaceful haven that will be used for talks, lectures and crafting as part of Fred. Olsen's ArtsClub program of special interests – this is aft, close to the Skylark Lounge.

Some of the existing facilities have a new location – the Hair and Beauty Salon and Fitness Center have moved to Atlantic Deck (Deck 3), midship, and the Internet Room is now on Lounge Deck (Deck 5) along with the Card Room and Library.   Nothing has been lost in the transformation, however, and many wonderful new spaces have been created. The ship may now carry more passengers, but the additional public space will ensure they never feel crowded and the increased number of balcony cabins and suites answers an ever-growing demand for this kind of high quality accommodation.

"By lengthening and enhancing Braemar we have created space to carry more passengers on one of our most popular ships, but have retained that 'small ship' friendly feeling," marketing director Nigel Lingard said. "I am confident that our regular customers will be delighted with the improvements we have made and we also look forward to welcoming many new faces aboard Braemar in the coming months."