We booked this cruise on the Boudicca primarily for the itinerary, which took us all the way up to 80 degrees north, as we love cruises that include beautiful scenery and wildlife.
The Boudicca was built in 1973 but has been refitted several times, so her age does not really show. The ship has an open, spacious feel with plenty of deck space so it seldom felt crowded.
Embarkation at Leith was extremely quick and efficient, with no waiting around. We boarded the vessel at around 2.00pm. Our cabin was a standard outside one on Deck 4, 160 square feet with two portholes and twin beds. There was plenty of stowage space and lots of room to hang our clothes. We also appreciated the tea and coffee making facilities in the cabin, something that is often omitted by other cruise lines. The bathroom was a little on the small side, but was adequate.
There are five lounges and three restaurants on board, so there was always somewhere to get something to eat or drink! The food was excellent - there was a good choice and plenty of it. The dinner menus were comprehensive and you were often spoilt for choice. All the food was well presented and the service was excellent.
The daytime activities were somewhat repetitive and were aimed mainly at the 'older' cruiser (60+) - there were a LOT of quizzes (about 4 a day) and dolphin racing, as well as talks by guest speakers, and ballroom dancing and craft classes. The main evening entertainment took place in the Neptune Lounge, and was very good indeed. Most evenings featured a cabaret with the excellent ship's orchestra and singers and dancers. There was also a very good Geordie comedian, an exceptional magician/illusionist and a fairly run-of-the-mill male/female duo. Each of the other lounges had their own resident cocktail pianist.
There were a couple of Captain's Cocktail parties as well as a deck party which was surreal at almost 80 degrees north. Copious quantities of sparkling wine were served (and consumed!) at each :-)
The ports of call were excellent and were certainly different. We visited Molde, Andalsnes, Tromso, Honningsvag, Longyearbyen, the Liljefjord, Ny-Alesund and the Magdalenefjord, to enjoy the Arctic landscape and any wildlife if you were lucky enough to spot whales, dolphins and seals but - alas - no polar bears.
All in all we had a really good time on a lovely ship and in unusual surroundings. This is our 21st cruise and second one with Fred Olsen and I would recommend it without hesitation.