Festive Cruise on Boudicca. Fred Olsen revisited.
What an interesting experience this proved to be! A number of years ago I was a fairly frequent passenger on Fred Olsen cruises, but with the passage of time my tastes have changed, and as a result I have not been a passenger with them for many years. My circumstances have also changed in that I now travel as a solo passenger, and require single occupancy of a cabin. Early in 2018 I was researching the market for a Christmas and New Year cruise which would be affordable taking into account the outrageous premium for single occupancy which is often charged to passengers by some cruise companies. Fred Olsen came up trumps, and so I booked a Christmas and New Year cruise to the Indian Ocean (embarkation and disembarkation in the Seychelles), on the Boudicca, at what I considered to be a fair price. The booking went smoothly and the documentation associated with the cruise and its reservation was very adequate, and arrived in good time. Connecting flights using the services of Qatar Airways (scheduled services via Doha) were of a high standard. Transfers to and from the ship in Seychelles were prompt , efficient and comfortable, and embarkation was rapid and trouble free. My room was immediately available to me and my luggage arrived quickly. The Boudicca is an elderly ship, but has recently been refurbished to a high and tasteful standard. Although considered to be a small ship by modern day standards, this to me is a bonus, as too is the absence of children. The indoor public accommodation is spacious and comfortable; I never had difficulty in finding a seat where I wanted to be. This was also the case on the promenade deck - a pleasant place to spend time quietly in the shade and out-of-doors on sea days. I, being of limited mobility did not make use of the swimming pools, though I did hear some complaints about occasional shortage of sun loungers on the pool deck, as a result of some passengers leaving their possessions on them for extended periods of time ,and that no action was taken to police this situation. My cabin (an outside amidships cabin with two portholes on D deck) was excellent, commodious and very comfortable, with two upholstered chairs and all the amenities expected. My cabin was maintained spotlessly by a lovely friendly and helpful female Phillipino cabin attendant. My only minor complaint is that I much prefer a bar of soap, to the scented chemical detergents attached to the wall, which are now becoming common-place. Mercifully I foresaw this possibility and did bring a bar of soap with me! Dining arrangement were to me somewhat confusing though more regular Fred Olsen passengers seem to take them n their stride. There are three main interlinking dining rooms and this area also contains a comprehensive buffet. You sit where you like, in any available space, and the majority of passengers use the buffet, which means there is a lot of movement within the dining area. My choice would be to have a separate dining area for those who prefer breakfast to be served to them at the table. Waiters were available and willing to assist passengers who prefer this option (like myself, who finds that using a walking stick and carrying buffet meals, in an area where there is much movement, difficult), The same arrangement operated at lunch time, though there was a lunch menu on the table for those who preferred to be served. However, I found the lunch menus to be rather limited in choice, and seldom included anything like the wide range of choice available from the buffet. Dinner was very different, was waiter served, and the menu contained ery adequate choices. The quality of the food was generally very good, and the waiter service was impeccable. Guests were allocated to a particular table and I was very fortunate in that my table companions were all wonderful company. The conversation at the table was so good, that none of us ever, during the 15 day cruise, ever left the table in time to attend the entertainment provided (so I cannot comment upon the quality of the entertainment). At the time of booking I had requested the all-inclusive drinks package. This was good value even though the quality , and the choices of drinks available were modest. Finally, this cruise was reasonably good value for money, though cut-backs have been made since my previous experiences with Olsen. I did however consider the fee for access to WIFI to be extortionate. The shore excursion programme was also very over-priced. I understand that many passengers declined to pay the high costs and made their own arrangements at the ports of call, which was clearly to their financial advantage.
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