Our second cruise on the Boudicca the first being last Xmas/New Year when we sailed to the Canary Islands.
We chose Greenock as an easier drive from the Wirral (Cheshire) than fighting the traffic down to a southern port.
On embarkation we parked the car (£7 a night in Greenock) at the port; our luggage disappeared and was next seen in the cabin.
Painless embarkation and we were soon in Cabin 7009 on the Lido (Promenade) Deck. Even larger than 7031 which we had occupied over Xmas.
Cabin immaculate although we took the sensible precaution of using our own Dettol wipes to clean off the surfaces of door handles, remote control etc. Hygiene throughout the ship was first class with hand sprays at all entrances to restaurants and lounges. Sad how some people had to be reminded to use them!
Tissues were even provided to open the public toilet doors on exiting and we were requested not to shake hands with the Captain and ship`s Officers at the receptions. The wiping and cleaning of toilets, handrails etc. was constant As far as I am aware no norovirus during the cruise.
F.Olsen have obviously learned the lesson from past outbreaks.
Food was generally good but by no means first class with all meals plated rather than silver service. The soups excellent but at least four main course dishes on our table of six foul. Steaks either cooked to rubber or oozing blood (medium had been requested), dry turkey and dreadful chicken. However there was plenty of other choices and,spread over sixteen nights, no great problems.
The table waiters were efficient but seemed under pressure and I wonder if the overall number of waiters has been reduced to cut costs?
The ship operates a two sitting lunch and dinner. 6.30pm. is too early for a cruise and 8.30pm slightly too late. We much prefer the one sitting cruise with dining any time between 7.00p.m. and 9.30pm.
The "midnight" buffet actually opens at 11.15pm. and, as we had only recently risen from the dinner table we did not partake. It was however quite amusing to see the stampede of passengers who had perhaps not eaten for four hours and had at least seven hours to go before breakfast!
The entertainment, which is a subjective opinion, was what one would expect on a small ship and went from mediocre to poor. The song and dance group were enthusiastic and that says it all. Two exceptions. The Rosario string trio who played in a lounge but gave a concert in the theatre. The only cruise I have been on where the entertainers received a "standing ovation" They were brilliant with a wonderful mixture of classical, music from the shows and popular music.
Memo to Fred Olsen. "Whatever you pay them double it"
Second the Crew Show. The traditional costumes, dances and singing of the Filipino and Indonesian crew members, male and female, put the "professionals" to shame.
As we sailed from Greenock a large number of Scots on the ship. On formal nights the kilts, trews and ornate jackets of the men made a wonderful splash of colour. We were piped away by a pipe band and welcomed back by a lone piper.
All in all a good cruise and we will certainly sail with Fred Olsen again but perhaps try another ship.