Editor's Note: There will be a new restaurant, The Grill, opening in 2014 which will replace the the poolside buffet area on Lounge Deck 6, and will become the ship's fourth specialty restaurant.
Tintagel, Heligan and the Four Seasons, the ship's main restaurants, are attractively decorated. Tintagel is done in warm shades of red and cream, while the Four Seasons features stylish creams and chocolate browns. The smaller Heligan, done out in gold and olive, is off the Tintagel room and serves as a more intimate dining space than the two larger rooms, although the menu is the same. Since the 2011 refit, which did away with the craft room on Deck 4, Heligan is also used as the crafts area during the day, when watercolour classes are held there.
The main dining rooms offer open-seating breakfasts (7:30 to 9:30 a.m.) and lunch (noon to 2 p.m.) and two seatings for dinner at 6:15 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Food onboard is good quality and superior to many other ships trying to target this 60-plus British market. The chefs use spices imaginatively to enhance dishes and offer a good mix of mains that reflect the cuisine of the destination or the evening's theme, as well as excellent vegetarian choices and a British "Dish of the Day." Tandoori chicken, ribs in jerk sauce, smoked chicken with penne, a delicate Dover sole in a dill sauce and lamb shank are typical main courses, with desserts ranging from cheese boards to alcoholic bread and butter pudding.
Breakfast each day is a full English fry-up (with healthier options like fruits and cereals). Lunch selections cater to a broad range of tastes, from old-fashioned fish pie, curries and roasts to stir-fries and a pasta dish of the day. There's also an excellent salad buffet.
The Secret Garden, another restaurant on the same deck, offers lighter, buffet-style meals for passengers who want more relaxed dining hours and no fixed seating. Actually, the Secret Garden would make a very attractive alternative restaurant, but Fred. Olsen's older, more traditional clientele are resistant to the idea of paying supplements for a "special night." Even as a casual dining area, it's worth a visit, as its Oriental-themed decor and wooden fretwork screens make it very pretty.
Breakfast is served daily from 7 a.m. in the Secret Garden, with open-seating lunch from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. Most nights, there's open seating for dinner, but occasionally there are two seatings there, as well.
For casual dining, hot and cold buffets supplement waiter service at breakfast and lunch. The ship's Norwegian ownership is clearly discernible from the high quality of seafood and fish dishes; seafood platters are regulars on the menu. There are occasional theme nights, which, on my Canaries cruise, included Asian and Canaries nights. Dinner menus include two or three main courses from which to choose, as well as a good range of curries, pasta dishes and roasts.
Snacks are available at the open-air Marquee Bar, which overlooks the pool at the stern end of Deck 9. The Poolside Cafe on Deck 6 offers self-service deck buffets at breakfast (starting at 7 a.m.) and lunchtime (12:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.) when the weather is good.
A new dedicated coffee and chocolate shop, in the area around the Library on Lido Deck 7, opened in November 2013. Cafe Venus is the first of its kind across the Fred. Olsen fleet and serves a selection of speciality coffees and teas and luxury chocolates.
Several times per cruise, usually on sea days, a premium afternoon tea is served in the Observatory Lounge for a supplement of £5.50. While there may have been resistance to paying for it when it was introduced, the teas are actually very popular and, if you're an afternoon tea fan, extremely good value compared to anything you'd get in a London hotel. A more ordinary afternoon tea is served every day in the Secret Garden with cakes, filled rolls and sandwiches. Tea dances, complete with a band and gentlemen dance hosts, are held on sea days in the Neptune Lounge.
In these days of inflated cruise bar prices, Boudicca's onboard drinks and wine remain very affordable. A wide range of decent wines, many New World, are priced at £15.95 a bottle, while the house wine costs £13.75 a bottle or £3.50 a glass. Premium wines can exceed £90. Boddingtons' traditional English bitter or Stella Artois lager cost £2.95 a pint, cocktails are priced from £3.55, and a gin and tonic is £3.05 (using a measure rather than free pouring).
Cabin service is available at no charge between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. and includes snacks like sandwiches, pasta dishes and burgers.