Updated by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor
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
This is not a ship for shorts-and-T-shirt wearers; its older clientele tends to dress fairly smartly, even when relaxing. The ship hosts black-tie welcome and farewell dinners, and even on "informal" evenings, gentlemen are required to wear jackets and ties and will be turned away from the main dining rooms if they're not properly attired. On the formal nights, everybody dresses up. As is normal when there are two seatings, you'll find people queueing to get into the dining room in their finery for first seating, while late diners are still sitting at the bar in their shorts. About three-quarters of passengers participate in the occasional themed evenings, such as "tropical," "black and white" and "red, white and blue."
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.
We booked the cruise expecting there to be a range of ages, and we were in a minority, as the average age of the passengers was 85-90! The entertainment reflected this, although the dancers were really good. Considering we were two days at sea ...continue
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