Portugal and Spain on the Braemar

Lisbon will be the first port of call but it will take two days sailing to get there. I wait patiently in the embarkation lounge until my number is called and then swiftly make my way to the cabin on deck 6. They’ve upgraded me and I’m right at the front with a large window overlooking the bows. There’s one double bed, enough hanging space, and dressing table right by the window, as well as two armchairs.

Braemar has three restaurants, Thistle, Grampian and The Palms and I’m heading to dinner in the Thistle. This is the largest and I’m shown to a large table with other singles who I’ll get to know very well over the next few days. There’s a choice of two starters, three soups, two salads and four main courses, plus fish of the day and a British speciality. The food is good, waiters are friendly and they keep the wine topped up.

Fred Olsen Cruises, Breamar: pool deck
pool deck (c) Rupert Parker
This is my first cruise on a large boat, although the Braemar is smaller than most, at a little over 24,000 tonnes and holding only 930 passengers. There are eight decks with the top one containing two pools and a couple of Jacuzzis and rows of sun beds. I take a look but am not expecting to make much use of them as the sea has suddenly turned rough as we go through the Channel. Indeed, lying in bed later, it seems that my cabin is bearing the brunt of it, being high up and right at the front. It doesn’t disturb me too much but other passengers don’t get much sleep.

Historic town of Obidos and Lisbon
After a couple of days of rough seas, the sun begins to break through and the ship settles into a pleasant rhythm. Lisbon is sunny and warm and I explore the historic Alfama district before taking a trip to the historic town of Obidos, around an hour to the North.

In the summer, this is so packed with tourists that it’s almost impossible to walk in the main street but this time of year it’s pleasantly quiet. I do a tour of the ramparts, not for the faint-hearted as there’s no guide rail and the path is quite narrow.

Obidos (c) Rupert Parker
Lisbon tram
Lisbon tram (c) Rupert Parker
Leaving Lisbon at sunset
Leaving Lisbon at sunset (c) Rupert Parker
If you have limited time in Lisbon, make sure you read our Top 10 things to see and do in Lisbon or 24 Hours in Lisbon guides.