Updated by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor
Editor's note: Boudicca came out of dry dock in late 2013 with a number of new features, including a dedicated coffee and chocolate shop, in the area around the Library on Lido Deck 7 and a new 'Morning Light Pub' on Lounge Deck 6. Preparations were also made to replace the poolside buffet area on Lounge Deck 6 with a new dining venue called the Grill.
Boudicca is a ship with an illustrious lineage. It began life as Royal Viking Sky, one of the legendary "white ships" owned by Royal Viking Line. That late, lamented cruise line was, in its day, the epitome of elegant and luxurious cruising.
After a varied career operating for NCL, Princess Cruises and Star Cruises (among other lines), Boudicca has found an appropriate berth with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, which already operates its sister ship, the former Royal Viking Star, as the popular Black Watch.
Boudicca was "stretched" in the early 80's with the addition of a 91-foot midsection, and while the ship retains a classic profile, it has gained a considerable amount of open-air sunbathing space on the top deck. Boudicca was acquired by Fred. Olsen in 2005, and in 2006, it underwent a refit to bring it in line with the fleet's understated, old-world style. In January 2011, the ship went into dry dock once more for a refit that moved the windowless gym up to Deck 10, which made space on Deck 4 for 17 new inside cabins. A retail outlet, the Port Shop, was added; carpets were also replaced throughout the ship, and enclosed lifeboats were installed.
Boudicca is decked out -- as an aging grande dame should be -- in good quality, discreetly stylish fabrics, although some of the colour schemes are a little dated. But no matter; the ship is well-proportioned and devoid of cheap flashiness and surface glitz, which are the most important things to its target audience of 60-plus Brits.
Ultimately, Boudicca, like other Fred. Olsen ships, is becoming known for its classically British feel. It attracts a different type of traveller from P&O Cruises -- the kind of steadfast Brit who "wouldn't be seen dead" on a big ship and has no interest in casinos or balcony cabins. (The ship does, in fact, offer both.) Although Boudicca is showing her age, these cruises are a treat for travellers who enjoy small, classic ships in a proper and cosy British setting.
Boudicca Fellow Passengers
Expect to meet mostly British couples of a certain age or beyond. It's enjoyable if your idea of fun is a gentle cruise in pleasant surroundings, peppered with gently humorous conversation; it's not so suitable if you're a party animal in search of 24-hour action. The ship does attract single passengers (mainly women), and singles' mingles are held throughout the cruise in one of the lounges. However, on my cruise, they always seemed to happen midmorning, when I was on shore excursions. There are gentleman hosts to dance with the ladies, and they seemed extremely diligent (and dapper), although watching them nip off to the side of the dance floor between numbers to sanitise their hands was a little off-putting -- but good common sense, of course.
Boudicca Dress Code
With effect from 1st July 2013, the line will be streamlining its various dress codes. The line will continue with its traditional Formal Nights -- usually three or four during a two-week cruise -- but the dress code for the remainder of the evenings on board will be simplified to ‘Smart Casual'. The previous dress code of ‘Informal' is being removed.
‘Smart Casual' dress code means jacket and tie, or open-necked shirt, with Chinos or smart, dark-coloured jeans for male passengers. For female passengers, the choice could be an elegant dress or casual separates. Shorts, flip-flops and baseball caps are not welcome on smart casual nights.
There are also a number of themed nights, including rock 'n' roll, tropical, international and nautical, but these last two are being phased out and less emphasis will be placed on the former. Some passengers go to great lengths to dress up on these evenings, the public rooms are decorated, the bar staff and waiters appropriately attired, and the entertainment is also themed. During the daytime, there is a wide variety of wear around the ship, depending on activities undertaken, but swimwear is not welcome in the restaurants and bars.
Onboard currency is the pound sterling. Suggested gratuity level is £4 per passenger, per day. This is added automatically to passengers' onboard accounts. Gratuities are not added onto bar purchases or beauty salon treatments.
Firstly: we boarded in Bristol
A one night mini cruise - Bristol to Liverpool - isn't long enough to form a full judgement about a ship or a cruise line, but it gives a flavour and I'm not certain that Boudicca is going to be to our ...continue
We sailed from Avonmouth to Bilbao and returned to Avonmouth calling at La Rochelle and L'Orient. The cruise began in dreadful weather and we were bussed the short distance from Avonmouth the Royal Portbury Dock. This was achieved by the port ...continue
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We arrived at Avonmouth port in good time for our 6 night cruise to Spain and France, calling at Getxo (for Bilbao), La Pallice (for La Rochelle), and L'Orient . We normally have to travel to Southampton for our cruises, so this was convenient as ...continue