On your marks, get set, GO!!
It’s 1 p.m., and my 24 hour cruise adventure aboard Fred. Olsen Cruise Line‘s Boudicca has just begun. Just me, a rucksack, and my camera!
On my one-night cruise from Southampton to Falmouth, in Cornwall, I was determined to show just how great value-for-money cruise holidays can be.
My challenge was to spend less than £165 for the cruise, the return coach back to Southampton, and any additional costs, such as drinks and gratuities – which was the equivalent of a one-way train ticket from Southampton to Falmouth, which also departed from the UK’s ‘cruise capital’ at around 4 p.m. on Friday, March 31, 2017. Admittedly the train would get there first, but why would you want to pay more to be stuck on a crowded train, and pay more than a leisurely cruise, with excellent service, food, and entertainment included!? It’s a no brainier, and with UK-bound cruises, you don’t even need a passport with Fred. Olsen. Any government-issued identification, such as a drivers license or even a bus pass is accepted! Fred. Olsen’s Boudicca was launched in the seventies. She’s a grand veteran in the cruise industry, something that continues to get rarer and rarer each year, as cruise ships get larger, more glitzy, and feature-focused, which is resulting in the smaller and older ships sadly destined for the scrapyard. Thankfully, Fred. Olsen show no signs of getting rid of Boudicca – or her sister-ship Black Watch – any time soon. Black Watch recently underwent a multi-million pound refurbishment, and Boudicca is expected to get some significant cash spent on her later this year.
Living just a few minutes walk away from Southampton’s four cruise terminals certainly has its advantages. I casually strolled through Mayflower Park catching my first glimpse of the ship I would briefly call home. The sun was shining. It was the perfect weather to enjoy the facilities that Boudicca has to offer.
Approaching 1:30 p.m., I headed to City Cruise Terminal to embark the ship. It was a seamless check-in process, only having to wait around 10 minutes before being called to board the ship. I posed for the obligatory welcome aboard photo shoot, and walked along the air bridge and onto the ship. I was onboard by 2 p.m. The crew on Fred. Olsen are certainly some of the most friendliest within the cruise industry. Nothing seems too much trouble and the dedication, attention-to-detail and service is second to none. I was greeted by the friendly Fred. Olsen housekeeping ladies, who guided me to my cabin. I was staying in cabin #4078, a H grade inside cabin located midship on the port side. It was perfectly adequate for the brief time I would spend in it. The two single beds were in an L-shape configuration, but seemed quite narrow. All cabins feature a large wardrobe, with plenty of drawers, a safe, and tea and coffee making facilities. The cabin felt extremely hot, even with the thermostat set to the lowest setting. That was the only gripe I had about my accommodation, but a simple thing like that wouldn’t ruin my time onboard.
It was now 2:15 p.m. and I headed up to Deck 6 to grab a light snack in the Secret Garden Café to tide me over until my evening meal at 7 p.m. There were a selection of sandwiches, cakes and biscuits and crew members were attentively serving tea and coffee to fellow passengers.
I spent the next two hours leisurely exploring the ship. Exploring a ship is always fun as you discover all the venues and experiences onboard. Boudicca is so quirky. There seemed to be passageways, and secret retreats around every turn. The ship is fairly simple to navigate though, with most of the public venues situated on Decks 6 and 7. One of the exceptions to this is The Observatory. Located above the bridge on Deck 9, The Observatory offers stunning views overlooking the bow of the ship, with apt nautical decor.
The muster drill was at 4 p.m. Every passenger is assigned to a specified muster station and lifeboat. I was Muster Station D and Lifeboat 6. My muster was located in The Heligan Room, coincidentally where I would also dine later in the evening. The muster is a time to acquaint yourself with the evacuation plan, in the event of an emergency, and how to correctly don your life jacket. As we prepared to depart, so too would anyone who’d paid £163.50 to go to Falmouth on the train.
We departed on time at 4:30 p.m. It was a beautiful day to stand on deck and enjoy the views as we steadily sailed down the Solent towards Falmouth. The aft terrace area was brimming with people soaking up the sun, enjoying cocktails, and even some people relaxing in the pool, which looked incredibly inviting, as the water gently glistening in the sun. Meanwhile, those on the train would soon be approaching the less-glamorous Reading. I went for a couple of drinks in the nearby Lido Lounge. It’s one of the main bars, hosting live music at various times throughout the day, and offers stunning views over the aft of the ship.
Evening was approaching, and within no time it was time for dinner at 7 p.m. I was dining in The Heligan Room, a small enclave away from the larger Tintagel and Four Seasons Restaurants. Food is one of the biggest highlights about cruise holidays. It’s included in the fare no matter what cruise line you sail with, and you’re always guaranteed good quality and a great selection on offer. To start I had a delicious chicken vermicelli soup, followed by caesar salad. One of the most popular dishes on the menu was the succulent roast leg of lamb, served with seasonal vegetables, and oven braised potatoes. It was simply divine! But my favourite part of the meal followed the perfect main course – chocolate fudge cake! A generous slice of rich chocolate cake was served, and I asked for a scoop of chocolate ice-cream on the side (have you realised I’m a chocoholic yet!?) It was a fitting end to a delicious four-course meal.
There was a short time to wait until the main evening entertainment in the Neptune Show Lounge at 9:30 p.m. The Morning Light Pub is conveniently situated at the entrance to the show lounge, making it the perfect meeting spot for pre-show cocktails. A comedian called Barnaby entertained the audience, proving you don’t need to swear or be rude to make people laugh. His clean style of comedy went down a hit with passengers.
The train would have just been arriving in Falmouth, but the party was just getting started on Boudicca, as we sailed along the South coast, nearing Plymouth. It was 10:30 p.m. and the Lido Lounge beckoned. The Round Midnight Duo, who had only just recently joined Boudicca, performed their last set of the night, before DJ Les Sinclair, began the late night disco. Many drinks later, it was now 1:30 a.m. when the disco came to an end. I took a brief refreshing walk along the promenade deck before heading to bed – something that’s always a magical experience. I always love the small touches that Fred. Olsen provide. Upon returning to my cabin, was a small chocolate on my pillow, wishing me ‘sweet dreams’.
I woke up bright and early at 6:20 a.m. to watch Boudicca arrive in Falmouth. The sun was just rising, as we arrived in this quaint harbour. I’ve visited a lot of places in the UK, from some of the most remote islands in Scotland, to the the rolling hills of Wales, but Cornwall is one of the regions I have visited the least. As we arrived, I was somewhat disappointing that I wouldn’t get a chance to explore the picturesque town, but sadly after a hearty breakfast it was time to bid farewell to Boudicca and begin a five hour coach journey back to Southampton. The coach departed at 8 a.m. and after seeing the scenic countryside of Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, and Hampshire through a coach window, I arrived back at Southampton’s City Cruise Terminal at 1:45 p.m. – concluding my 24 hour adventure aboard Fred. Olsen Cruise Line’s Boudicca!
All in all, my jaunt cost a total of £140, which included the £99 cruise and return transfer, £35 bar bill, and the recommended £5.50 crew gratuities. It just proves that cruising isn’t as expensive as you may think!