Boudicca 7 night Norway Cruise
We chose this cruise because it departed from North Shields near Newcastle close to our house and because it was the ideal chance to try Fred Olsen (FO).
We dropped the luggage outside the port departure building where it was whisked away to the ship where we found it in our cabin. Car parking was easy and managed well by FO staff. There were long queues at the port check in because many people had arrived before their allocated check in time. Despite this, it did not take long to check in, register a card for the on board account and receive our cruise card for on board use. We were bussed across the customs area and then had a 20m walk to the ship's gangway that conveniently was located on Deck 5 where our cabin was.
We had booked a 'superior' outside cabin 5036 on the port side of the ship conveniently located behind the ships shops. The cabin was set up as a double bed, but was so narrow that we could not get down either side of the bed. There was no reading light or bedside table on my side and only a dim lamp in the main part of the cabin. There was plenty of storage space but only one comfy chair and one upright chair. Over the dressing table where there should have been a mirror was a folded up bunk bed. Another unused bunk was located over my side of the double bed.
The bathroom had a bath with shower but there was little storage space for our toiletries. There was both liquid soap and hard soap provided, but no soap dish.
Sleep quality was not great due to loud air-conditioning and ships engine noise. Also at sea, whining from the stabiliser drives was intrusive. I ended the voyage with air conditioning syndrome of dehydration and dry throat.
The small flat screen TV need not have been there because the programme selection was useless even if we had wanted to watch. I tried a film (no cinema on the ship) but subtitles and poor sound quality spoilt it.
There was nothing better in this "superior" cabin over a standard cabin on other ships.
The public spaces around the ship were surprisingly spacious and there was always somewhere to sit. The library was not very comprehensive for the size of ship. However, despite pretentious names for rooms like 'Heligan', Iceni, 'Neptune', there was little character to them, so the public spaces were quite unremarkable.
Buffet breakfast -- quite good (also cooked items to order). Fizzy wine was available.
Lunch -- buffet lunch in the dining rooms with additional cooked items served from a menu. The buffet lacked variety. They promised a variety of pates and pies, but only one pie or pate appeared at a time, never together. After Bergen they had fresh seafood on board which brightened up things considerably.
Afternoon tea -- self-service in the so-called 'Secret Garden' buffet. Limited choice. The 'Gala Tea' had an excellent selection but was so poorly organised that the single queue became too long for us to bother with.
Dinner -- A la Carte service with dishes that did not live up to their promise, partly because they tended to be very bland and partly because there was some time between being plated up in the kitchen and service in the dining room. Many dishes were dry and lacked adequate servings of sauce. If you didn't like what you had chosen there was no going back and getting a replacement. We wondered if the cooks ever tasted their dishes before service.
Overall we thought the food was about the standard of a department store restaurant, no better.
Daytime activities were quite varied but many of them were put on at the same time or overlapped. Several times we had to choose which one of 4 concurrent activities we wanted to do.
Showtime consisted largely of popular song and dance shows by the Ships Company or mediocre acts ex UK club circuits. Most popular was a show by the ships crew, which to us was a cross between karaoke and Butlins. The 3 shows we attended were spoilt by an over loud bass heavy amplification system.
An excellent pianist in the Lido bar was also spoilt by over loud amplification.
However, we loved the Rosario Trio of violin, guitar and double bass who performed regularly in the 'Secret Garden' lounge. The (unamplified) pianist in the 'Observatory' was also good.
Overall we thought that the entertainment, although popular to the captive audience, would never make big time in a commercial world.
Excursions were overpriced. Flam railway was over twice the price of DIY as was Bergen where tours could be done DIY by local tours from the information office.
We did go to Kjenndalen Glacier and lake tour from Olden where there was no alternative tour running this late in the season and paid the price.
Alesund was also a good place to DIY either free or at less than half of ship's prices.
Had breakfast and found that the upper decks had already disembarked. We only had 20 minutes wait and were out of the terminal into our car 15 minutes later. Excellent.
Despite the rigorous hand cleaning routine, we both ended the voyage with stinking colds -- a first for any cruise.
The price paid for the cruise was good value despite the ship and the food being unmemorable.
We would use Boudicca again, not for the ship but for a destination that appealed. We would not say that about every ship we have used.