We booked this cruise extremely last minute as the cruise we had originally booked on was cancelled a few days before we were due to sail!! Boudicca was sailing in and out of Portsmouth and within easy distance to our home, managed to get a superior cabin (which glad we chose)and one of the stops was Madeira - for the fireworks (something that has been on our must-do list)
Embarkation was easy, we did arrive a bit earlier than stated, but found did not have to queue to check-in, although did have to wait about an hour before we were called to embark.
Once aboard we went directly to our cabin which was on the Lido deck, and first time ever, our luggage was there :-)
We did expect that we would have found some sort of lunch available - even tho it was a bit late for that.A disappointment! But we went to the Secret Garden and had Tea with a roll etc. which we managed to survive till 8.30 (second sitting.)
The ship we found was easy to get around, as we were on the Lido deck (7),reception, shops on 5, the Neptune lounge, dining rooms,swimming pool etc. being one below on 6, library, Internet and Lido lounge on 7, Observatory "lounge" which we used a lot on 9.
The ship being a "mature" lady we found her similar to a welcoming comfortable friend, like an old English established hotel, with regular clientele - it has apparently been "upgraded" beginning of 2011, not quite sure what, apparently the gym was on deck 4 and now top of the ship!! New carpets, not sure about that, but reserve judgement.
We did find her rather "tired" but that is our humble opinion.
Our cabin was a very good size (200 sq ft)An extremely comfy mattress, the shower was over the bath, personally would have just preferred a shower cubicle! Our windows looked out to the Promenade, but did have a coating on the windows.
The food, we feel, was the best we have had on any holiday - and we have travelled quite extensively. To have Beef of such a wonderful quality in the dining room!!!
The was a very good choice for Vegetarians, fish eaters etc.
The entertainment was pleasantly acceptable, a very good Jazz sextet, Classical guitarist, Male & female singer, comedian, together with various pianists trios, duos round the ship, together with 7 young dancers/singers who also doubled as "cruise helpers" round the ship.
We enjoyed the ports the first being Casablanca and then 5 islands of the Canaries and finally Madeira.
We found the port info given was not good enough, yes I know all cruise companies want to sell their tours, but today many more passengers, like to do their own thing. To offer shuttles at ports at Â£5 per head, when able bodied people can easily walk, is not on. Yes offer the shuttles for those who want them, but....
We only used the shuttle at Casablanca, but then needn't have!!
Unfortunately the crossing of the Bay of Biscay upon our return I found a bit too uncomfy, and were grateful for the tablets I had taken - that can happen on any ship!
The day before we were due to return, we were advised by the captain that we would be returning to Southampton and not Portsmouth, as the weather was not good and too windy etc. etc
For us it was not a problem.
All passengers were offered a free 5 min call or Internet access to change arrangements. Those passengers who had left their vehicles in Portsmouth were coached back complimentary.
Most of the passengers we chatted to we found only travel Fred Olsen and are a mature age, but still knew how to enjoy themselves.
Constructive criticism, no Tea Pots , we don't like Tea poured out of a "Thermos"
Even tho we had an enjoyable and restful cruise, not sure we would sail with FO again, maybe just a bit too old fashioned for us.
Would definitely recommend the ship for the "food" - great