A one night mini cruise - Bristol to Liverpool - isn't long enough to form a full judgement about a ship or a cruise line, but it gives a flavour and I'm not certain that Boudicca is going to be to our taste. Especially as the smell of fuel oil seemed to permeate several areas.
We had a suite. Good size, comfortable with plenty of storage but dated. Bathroom with full size tub but no bath plug, so unusable. If we'd been on board for more than one night we would have complained. But it showed a lack of attention to detail. No toiletries or shower cap and no soap other than a dispenser, which when I pressed for the first time deposited liquid over my trousers.
Having a limited palate I liked the selection of food - very British. On Crystal two months ago I described their menus as "complicated" and "very complicated". Unfortunately the actual quality of the food on Boudicca was only average. Afternoon tea was poor consisting of a More
choice of mushroom pate sandwich (I don't like mushrooms but my wife said 'not to worry' as the sandwiches she chose had no pate on it - and the bread was dry), a slice of chocolate sponge, a cookie and a pink cup-cake. But the tea was good.
At the buffet lunch I ordered a dessert from the menu. After 15 minutes I enquired where it was? It was found immediately sitting on the waiters' bar and when delivered was a sea of melting ice cream. No apology.
I found the staff friendly and attentive - when called, but they spent too much time chatting together. Doubt they would make the grade on a line such as Celebrity or Princess.
Drink prices were better than on many ships but our waiter didn't understand the difference between Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon, following which we were presented three times with an incorrect bill.
And it seems Fred's left and right hands don't speak to each other (I'd been quite determined not to personify a cruise line, but got dragged in). Example  cruise docs said "Embarkation will start at 1.30pm". On arrival at the port the sign said 2.15pm. We got on at 2.45.  we booked 8.30pm late sitting dinner because being Bristolians we wanted to film the sail away at 7pm. All dinner reservations were changed to 7.30pm - and the ship left late, so we missed one of the main reasons for being on Boudicca.  All cabins must be vacated by 8.30am according to our reservation. By 10am (thank you) according to The Daily Times.  Afternoon tea will be served from 3.45pm said The Daily Times. From 3pm said the captain in his (very good) noon briefing.  The ship will dock at 4.30pm for disembarkation at 5pm said the general information leaflet. The ship will dock at 3.30pm announced the captain (probably explains the change to tea time).
Enjoyed the entertainment very much. Better than some more up-market lines.
Boudicca is well maintained but to anybody who has sailed on more modern vessels you do wonder whether the thickness of the paint or the actual metal is holding things together. Hopefully it's the metal.
However what truly amazed me was the loyalty of Fred's people on the ship. "You can't beat Fred", one lady told me. Asked what other cruise lines she'd been on the answer was none. However many others also sang Fred's praises (Thomson seemed to be the norm by which most reached this judgement).
It is beyond doubt, at least my doubt, that Fred Olsen has a very loyal following. And that's fine; that's what a holiday is all about - being relaxed and enjoying your environment.
I tried to open the minds of some to other cruise lines, but if it wasn't Fred, Thomson, P&O or Cunard they didn't want to know.
We wouldn't rule out a Fred Olsen ship if the itinerary was one we were looking for as their pricing is very reasonable, but it would probably have to be Balmoral or Braemar (judging by the deck plans) as they seem to have proper restaurants rather than seats and tables in wide corridors.
I'm probably going to have to go into hiding now before Fred's fans find me. Less
Boudicca Cruises to the British Isles & Western Europe
Quite spacious but dated. Plugs for the bath would have been welcome. Reminded me of being in the USSR 25 years ago.Drawers falling apart. Coffee table actually did fall apart covering the trousers of my dinner suit in red wine and water.Liquid dispensers for soap have no place in a suite. Lack of shower cap or toiletries.