We are frequent cruisers but decided to take our first cruise with Fred Olsen as the Boudicca was sailing from and back to Liverpool (we thought) only a half an hours journey from home.
Two weeks before departure, F.Olsen wrote and informed us that we were now coming back into Southampton and would be coached back to Liverpool; not what we wanted at all as we are not good coach travellers. The reasons they gave were the difficult tides in the Mersey - it was high water at 11.00 a.m. on the day of our return and ships have been docking in Liverpool for over 100 years AND, the real reason, that they wanted to take the ship to Hamburg for a minor refit. Easier and cheaper from Southampton than Liverpool and no doubt arranged even before we booked. £100 each on board credit was offered in compensation. We were distinctly unimpressed as were all the passengers we spoke to. Some faced a journey from S.Hampton to Scotland on the day of our return.
Now the ship. Clean, a very large cabin, good food, although not top class, and reasonably priced drinks. A mainly elderly passenger grouping with a sprinkling of bored teenagers. The Filipino/Indonesian staff were excellent and most patient with those passengers with infirmities - quite a number.
A small outbreak of norovirus a couple of days before we returned although hygiene on the ship was first class. It was surprising how many passengers had to be reminded to use the bacterial spray before entering the dining rooms!
The entertainment was O.K. a decent comedian and a multi instrument musician. The song and dance group made up in enthusiasm for what they lacked in talent.
The highlight was the Crew Show. Dancing and singing which put the professionals to shame.
Our favourite island is Santa Cruz. Small, green but sadly swamped by people like us off a cruise ship.
Seven cruise ships anchored off Madeira for the fabulous New Year`s Eve fireworks.