Overall Thoughts: Overall the cruise was very good value for money. The service we experienced was good, although at times the crew could have been more professional and helpful. Boudicca is a lovely traditional ship, ideal for those wanting to experience what a ‘real ship’ is like. She is generally targeted at an older age range but nevertheless we thoroughly enjoyed our cruise and would highly recommend a cruise with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines on board Boudicca.
Introduction On 15 December, 2015, I boarded Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ Bouddica for a 2 night mini cruise to Rotterdam with our Non-Executive Director, Gavin Pamment. We booked the cruise less than a month before departure, although we had thought about booking sometime before, but we saw a great last minute deal and couldn’t resist booking.
Embarkation We arrived at the car park shortly after 12:00. Upon entering the car park we were directed where to park and our luggage was taken to the ship for us. We quickly made our way over to the bus which was waiting and transfer passengers from the car park to the cruise terminal.
When we entered the cruise terminal we were given a health form to complete and were then allowed to check-in, where we registered our debit cards and were given our key cards for our cabin and on board account. Check-in was not actually due to commence until 14:30, but I thought it was a good idea that those passengers who had already arrived were allowed to check in to reduce queues. The cruise terminal gradually got busier as more passengers arrived. Check-in finally commenced just before 14:00. Although it seemed like quite a wait, we were soon allowed to make our way through security once the announcement had been made for us. I have to admit that security was very swift and made embarkation a lot less stressful.
Day 1 – Tilbury We boarded Boudicca on Deck 5, portside and were welcomed aboard by the crew waiting to show us to our cabin. We had been upgraded to a category B, superior outside cabin on Deck 5. Our cabin 5064, was located right next to the gangway, so before the crew had time to take us to our cabin, I was already there! Our cabin was certainly spacious and had everything we needed for our 2 night mini cruise and plenty of storage space. Within just a few minutes there was a knock on the door and our luggage case was given to us. Just after that our cabin steward welcomed us on board and introduced herself.
Having checked out our cabin, Gavin and I went to reception to ask about meeting the Captain to present the drawing of the ship I had produced. I found the crew at reception to be somewhat rude at first, as I stood there waiting for some time before I was acknowledge as they chatted and ate chocolates. Eventually one of the crew members noticed me waiting. The lady that I spoke to was actually very helpful in the end and she called the Captain’s secretary. She then asked us to take a seat and wait. A short while later she informed us that the Captain was on his way down to reception to meet us. We were very surprised that the Captain was free to meet us right away.
Captain Sten Jensen came down to meet us, and Gavin and I introduced ourselves to him and asked if we could go to the bridge to present my drawing. I had been in touch with the public relations department at Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines beforehand. He was more than happy to take us up to the bridge and seemed excited to see the drawing, which featured the new grey hull which had only then very recently been added to the ship.
Once on the bridge on Deck 8, I took the opportunity to show the Captain my drawing. He seemed to be very impressed and at first did not realise it was for him to keep and display on board. We chatted for some time and shared a few funny stories before we let him get back to his duties.
The Captain led us back to the forward stairwell on Deck 8, where Gavin and I then started to explore the ship. Moving up to Deck 9, we entered the Observatory Lounge. Located just above the bridge it is a very cosy and relaxing lounge and offers stunning views over the bow of the ship.
Next we headed up to Deck 10 outside and then checked out the well-equipped Fitness Centre. Nearby on a small deck higher up is a Golf Net and small sun deck area. We then continued along Deck 10 heading aft, before making our way down to the Marque Bar and Pool on Deck 9. The bar was closed but in the summer it must be a lovely place to relax. This Pool is circular in shape and a fairly good size too. There is another Pool located on Deck 6, which is much larger. There are also two Jacuzzis and an Exercise Pool.
Moving down to Deck 7 and heading back inside, we entered the Lido Lounge which features a bar area and dance floor, where DJs and live music are played during the evenings and at night. Heading forward we then checked out the Bookmark Café which serves a selection of coffees and has a wide range of delicious chocolates on display to enjoy on board or take home with you. Also located nearby is the Library, Card Room and two gaming tables. In addition to this Deck 7 is also home to the Internet Room, which is located just off of the main stairwell. It features three computers and a large selection of board games.
Continuing to explore what Boudicca had to offer, Gavin and I progressed down to Deck 6. We walked through The Iceni Room, which is a quiet lounge with a self-service tea and coffee machine. The lounge flows through into the Neptune Lounge, which is the main entertainment venue on board. During the evening performances take place here, as well as the evening quiz and other activities.
Having nearly explored most of the venues on board Boudicca, we headed to The Secret Garden Café, also located on Deck 6. We took a break and enjoyed some of the refreshments which were on offer. Unlike other ships there was no lunch upon boarding as Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines do not normally commence boarding until 14:30. Instead they offer afternoon tea and snacks. The Secret Garden Café was extremely busy and in my opinion too small. Passengers were using adjacent venues, such as the Morning Light Pub and The Iceni Room to sit down. Nevertheless we thoroughly enjoyed the food, although we had to rush as the Muster Drill was only minutes away. Our Muster Station was on Deck 6, at the forward end of the ship in The Heligan Room. Unlike the larger ships the operation seemed fairly organised.
Day 1 – Tilbury Sailaway Once the Muster Drill was over we quickly headed back to our cabin and got our coats and then made our way outside to prepare for sailaway. As it was December and we were just days away from the Winter Solstice it was already very dark. It was however fairly mild but as Boudicca slipped her mooring it began to rain.
We didn’t stay outside too long before heading back inside to explore the remainder of the ship. We headed back to Deck 6 where we resumed our self-guided tour. Located at the forward end of Deck 6 are the two main restaurants, the Tintagel Restaurant and the Four Seasons Restaurant. Both also serve breakfast and lunch. We had now nearly explored most of the ship. On Deck 5 aft we quickly checked out the Meeting Room, which is a somewhat unimpressive venue. Strangely also located here are a piano and a dart board. I’m not sure if this venue is often used and in my opinion it seemed more like a crew venue.
Lastly on Deck 4 we took a look at the Atlantis Spa, essentially a Beauty Salon. It is a somewhat small venue, although probably large enough for the size of the ship. It however does not offer any sea view as it is located internally nearby to cabins. The sauna and steam room are separate from the Atlantis Spa and are located at the forward end of Deck 4.
Night 1 – On route to Rotterdam Having explored the ship, we still had plenty of time before dinner, so Gavin and I headed back to our cabin, got changed into our tracksuits and headed to the Fitness Centre on Deck 10 for a quick workout.
After our brief workout we went back to our cabin for a quick rest, freshened up and changed into our formal wear. We still had plenty of time before dinner, so decided to go to the Observatory Lounge on Deck 9 for a pre-dinner drink. It was surprisingly quiet and was very relaxing. Before dinner we went to purchase our embarkation photos from the Photo Gallery on Deck 5. Somehow on one of the photographs the wrong port name was printed. According to the photograph we were visiting Amsterdam rather than Rotterdam. Eventually after a rather frustrating conversation with the photographer, I got him to re-print the photo with the correct port name and was told I could collect it the next day.
Shortly before 20:30 we headed to The Heligan Room, where we would enjoy dinner. There were a large number of passengers waiting outside the main restaurants and many including ourselves were confused as to where we were supposed to queue. There was a sign on the entrance to The Heligan Room asking passengers to use the other entrance, so as a result we ended up joining the queue for the two larger restaurants. We then saw other passengers entering The Heligan Room without queueing. When I asked a crew member I was rudely told to join the queue and sanitize my hands again, even though I had already done so and got no answer when I questioned him about the sign. I found this extremely rude and unprofessional. In the end Gavin and I decided to leave the queue and entered The Heligan Room via the alternative entrance where the sign clearly told you not to. Here understandingly but also somewhat frustratingly I was asked to sanitise my hands for a third time. By this point I was rather irritated that I just went along with it, entered the restaurant, found our table and sat down with Gavin.
On a more positive note we thoroughly enjoyed the Christmas themed dinner. Gavin and I thought the food was of a very good standard and was well presented and added to the Christmas ambience on board. Although it might have been because we were on a table for two, we found the service to be very quick and did not have to wait long between courses.
Shortly before 22:30 when we had finished our dinner we made our way to the Neptune Lounge for the show. We arrived a few minutes early and caught the end of the quiz, which was quite entertaining. We knew that we must not miss the quiz on the second night of our cruise! The show put on by the Boudicca Theatre Company was a collection of songs and dances from the sixties and seventies. The performance was of a very good standard and the audience also seemed to enjoy it.
After the show we decided to head out on deck to see if we could see any other ships nearby. Deck 10 was closed due to strong winds as was the forward most end of the promenade deck of Deck 7. The remainder section of the promenade deck was still open however, so we managed to take a leisurely stroll outside. Before long we headed back inside away from the wind and rain and retired for the night just after midnight. Our cabin stewardess had neatly put our things away and turned down our beds.
Day 2 – Rotterdam Arrival The next morning when I woke up at around 05:30 and we were already cruising down the river to Rotterdam. I woke Gavin up and we both got dressed and headed out on deck. It was very cold and raining. As it was so cold we decided to sit in the Observatory Lounge. We stayed here enjoying the view until the ship was almost alongside the Cruise Terminal. As the ship was nearly docked we went to get breakfast from The Four Seasons Restaurant. After breakfast we headed back to our cabin to go back to sleep for a couple of hours as we had been up so early.
Day 2 – Rotterdam At around 10:00 we woke up and got ready to head ashore. Rather annoyingly as we exited the cruise terminal the free shuttle bus was just leaving. Despite the rain we decided to walk and make our own way into the city centre, walking across the Erasmusbrug Bridge. We visited some shops but due to the heavy rain we decided to head back to the ship to dry off and have lunch.
After lunch we went to the Atlantis Spa to check if the steam room and sauna was open, as the previous day it was not. We were informed that it was open and headed there to relax. After getting changed, before heading back to our cabin we headed up to Deck 6 to see if the swimming pool was open. It was open, so we got changed and went for a refreshing swim. Fortunately the swimming pool was heated and we weren’t the only passengers to brave it. It had also stopped raining. We even relaxed in the Jacuzzi and tried out the exercise pool too. At 16:15 we quickly made our way back to our cabin, dropped off our swimwear and got our coats to head up on deck to watch our departure from Rotterdam.
Day 2 – Rotterdam Sailaway We stood on the promenade deck on Deck 7, just above the gangway. We knew our departure was going to be a little late as we saw the pilot board just minutes before 17:00. It was raining again although thankfully it was much lighter than it had been in the morning. We walked along the promenade deck around to the starboard side where we had a great view of the Erasmusbrug Bridge, the city skyline as darkness fell. We departed shortly after 17:20 in the end. We headed to the Lido Lounge on Deck 7 for a drink and then sat outside on the terrace sheltered from the rain by the deck above.
Night 2 – On route to Tilbury As we headed out to sea we went back to our cabin to get dressed for dinner. In our cabin was a present from the Captain in return for my drawing. Once we had got changed we headed to the Photo Gallery to collect our re-printed photograph. We then headed to The Heligan Room for our five course dinner. The food was of a very good standard again and service was very efficient.
When we had finished our deserts we quickly made our way to The Neptune Lounge for the quiz. It was obvious that because was not targeted at people of our own age range as we did not do very well at all! After the quiz we stayed and watched the comedian, which we both thought was very entertaining and funny.
Once the entertainment had finished we went up to the Observatory Lounge and enjoyed a drink in the quiet and relaxing atmosphere as the pianist played. We were surprised at how quiet and relaxing the lounge was. When we had finished our drinks we made our way back to our cabin to pack. We were going to retire for the night but after packing the majority of our things we headed to the Lido Lounge and enjoyed the live music and DJ. At around 01:30 we went back to our cabin and retired for the night.
Day 3 – Tilbury The next morning when Gavin and I woke up at around 07:00 we had already docked in Tilbury. We went to get breakfast in the Tintagel Restaurant. After a rather quick breakfast, we then headed back to pack the remainder of our things.
Day 3 – Disembarkation Shortly after 08:00 we left our cabin and joined the relatively short queue to disembark the ship. We had decided to carry off our own luggage. We made our way through the Cruise Terminal and then waited for the shuttle bus to take us to the car park.