Fred Olsen Cruise. 1st September 2010 to 7th September 2010.
My wife and I chose this cruise because it sailed from North Shields Port of Tyne in the North East. Our previous cruises were from Southampton and necessitated a weary rail journey to and from the port. Our booking was a very late one, so we were not surprised when luggage labels and other information regarding the cruise did not turn up, despite the assurance of the Fred Olsen booking office that we would receive a package by special delivery on the morning of the cruise. Consequently, we arrived at the port without any documents or labels. We knew that we had been allocated Cabin 8007 on “Boudicca”, so a port worker soon supplied us with a label for our luggage and two official cards which would allow us to board the ship. Having been given a balcony suite, the result of a cancellation, we were called early to proceed to the ship. We were led to a bus which transported us on a short journey to the ship’s side. A lift took us to Deck 8 and Cabin 8007, which was spacious, with a king-sized bed and plenty of storage space. We had the added amenities of a bath-tub and a fairly narrow balcony with a partly restricted view. On a table were a bottle of Champagne and a plate of petit-fours. Our cabin stewardess was Cheryl, who was pleasant, but seemed to have too much to do throughout the cruise.
We managed to have a quick cup of tea before boat-drill at 5.0pm. I must admit that the drill was the most efficient that we have experienced in nearly 40 years of cruising. All passengers were carefully checked.
We were seated at a table for two, No 55, in the Tintagel Restaurant. Our first meal was simple, Cod and Chips with Apfel Strudel to follow. The next morning the waiter misunderstood my order and brought me an overloaded plate of overcooked bacon, egg, mushrooms, sausage, tomato etc, plus lukewarm tea for my wife and coffee for myself. We decided that during the rest of the holiday we would take advantage of the breakfast buffet, although we prefer to be served.
Lunches and dinners gave us many problems. We sent a number of meals back to the kitchen. Part of the problem was that some food was undercooked. We were particularly keen to have our meat and vegetables thoroughly cooked and we were annoyed to have steak served undercooked, when we had stressed that we wanted it very well cooked. The service was often slow. We felt that there were too many people aboard and that the waiters had too many tables to look after. Our waiter was Francis. He was always pleasant, but we thought that he had far too much to do. We were of the opinion that the quality of the food was not of the highest. The hygiene in the restaurants was first class. Members of staff were on duty to ensure that diners had Gel for their hands.
We attended short ballroom dancing sessions, which were enjoyable. Fellow passengers seemed to be satisfied with the shows, which we did not attend on this short break. The port lectures were predictable and concentrated on the information associated with the ship’s tours.
Throughout the cruise we found much friendliness among those with whom we came into contact. Politeness and good conversation made for a pleasant atmosphere. We thought that the disabled passengers were heroic and, despite their difficulties, very good humoured. Sitting at a table for lunch, we conversed with a trio of ladies from Wallsend. It transpired that one of these ladies was my second cousin. It was a most interesting meeting and a pleasant coincidence.
Ports of Call
We had visited Oslo in the past and we looked forward to another glimpse at the city. As Balcony Suite customers, we were entitled to a free ride in the shuttle bus. Other sightseers had to pay £5! It was a pleasure to visit the Royal Palace area and to carry on a gossip with the guards. Our tour of the City Hall was a good experience and we appreciated the wonderful murals, depicting the history and folklore of the country. There was a small disappointment when we attempted to visit the Parliamentary Building. It was closed to tourists, because of refurbishment within.
A fairly long ride by shuttle bus deposited us in the City Centre. The city is very spacious and its large solid buildings and its extensive shopping areas were impressive. Trams and canals are rarely experienced by us, so we had plenty to see on the visit. It is a fact that we find strangers in foreign lands friendly and fascinating. Outside the museum in Gothenburg we encountered a German couple from Stuttgart and spent an interesting half hour talking to them. Using English and the few German words that we knew, we found that we had much in common.
We had visited Copenhagen in 1980 during a cruise on the “Uganda”. On this occasion the weather had been rainy and the dark clouds had not enhanced the city during our tours. On the visit from “Boudicca” we marvelled at a beautiful city, sparkling in the sunshine and gleaming in its greenery and architecture. We were pleased to find the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. Ansgar, which was most beautiful. We joined a large crowd of adults and many children at the Mass, which was a musical treat. Afterwards, in a small area, we were able to appreciate the Royal Palace buildings and then the great, uplifting Lutheran Cathedral, which was an architectural treat. Our walk back to the ship, with the sun streaming down over an attractive countryside, made us gasp with delight on occasions. Our memory of Copenhagen in 2010 will stay with us, as the highlight of our short cruise.
With all the adverse publicity, it was surprising that there were so many smokers on the ship. Walks around the deck were spoiled by the smell of tobacco smoke. We found it offensive.
We thought that the décor and comfort of the “Boudicca” was equal to those ships in which we had cruised over the past years. Public rooms were most comfortable and the restaurants were light and attractive. The Reception staff was pleasant and efficient. Our enquiries were always received with a smile and ready advice. Disembarkation was no problem and we were able to hire a taxi to take us home, immediately on leaving the ship.