We embarked on the Boudicca on Monday, 16 April 2012 and the embarkation was rather disappointing. Given a time to arrive of 2 pm which we did and then had to sit in the embarkation lounge for the best part of two hours.
Our first impression of the ship was that it is 'tired'and should be withdrawn from service. Our suite was clean although I heard comments on the cleanliness of some of the cabins. The deck space round the pool is rather dismal and the chairs and loungers are in an absolutely awful state, some mark your clothes when you sit on them. They are discoloured and need replacing. The pool water was kept warm which was good but facilities in the pool area are poor. Also the chairs in the Secret Garden and the Restaurants need deep/steam cleaning as they are filthy.
The entertainment provided in the Nepture Lounge with the 'Boudicca Entertainers' was rather limited to the space available and had the shows been produced by an amateur dramatic society then they would have been fine. The costumes of the entertainers defied description and I am sure that the people themselves were embarrassed at having to wear them.
The food and service in the Secret Garden was really very good, excellent selection and service but the time it took to serve a meal in the Tingatel Restaurant was dreadful. In some instances it took almost two hours to be served dinner.
The staff on the ship were friendly and all appeared to work very hard especially with the noro virus outbreak. When we arrived home there was a letter from Fred Olsen stating that they were currently treating '2' cases. What happened to the 200+ that were announced over the tannoy by Stein, the Cruise Director? I know for a fact that there were additional cases the night before the shipped docked at Southampton. Given these '2' cases why was additional medical staff flown in to the ship. It was announced that they were coming and I saw them myself going around the ship.
The thing that upset my most was the time spent at the various destinations. The brochure stated that we would arrive in Dakar 'early am' and depart 'late pm'. We were advised that the pilot was 45 minutes late (do we believe them, I certainly did not) we got off the ship around 10.00 am and hung about for a while and then departed on our trip. The trip was shortened by an hour and we arrived back at the ship at 4 pm as the gangway was being taken up. To me 'late pm' is not 4.00 pm. Again in Lison same time schedule stated on brochure, tour started 10.00 am and we had to be back on the ship for 2.30 pm. In Dublin not much better. Shuttle buses at 8.30 am but being a Sunday shops not open until 11.00 am and last shuttle bus at 2.30 pm. Bearing in mind that you could not wait until the last shuttle bus as it might have been full. The time allowed at the various destinations was an absolute travesty. Going to Senegal in our case was a 'one off' and our time was wasted sitting in the lounge and waiting for the bus to depart.
Some of the ship's crewe were rather inexperienced, particularly the Reception Staff who just did not seem to comprehend what you wished and what you were saying. The poor souls who tried to get the tender organised in Porto Novo really struggled and both my husband and myself ended up getting soak through to the skin with the waves.
It was our first trip and given the above it will be our last.
One final comment we were charged Â£700 for the additional three days from Southampton up to Greenock. Imagine our dismay when we realised that Fred Olsen had been offering those who were on the first part of the cruise these additional days free if they had booked at 02 November 2012. Then we found that those who only went on the mini cruise had paid Â£140 and this included a coach trip from Glasgow to Southampton. We really did feel like we had really been taken in my Fred Olsen Cruise Lines.
Finally I really do feel that Fred Olsen Cruise lines ought to get their act togeter as I am sure that they are contravening the Trades Description Act in their brochures by advertising as they are doing. Time ashore is very limited, as above.