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Cruise Ship Information

MV Boudicca is a cruise ship owned and operated by Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines. She was built in 1973 by Wärtsilä Hietalahti shipyard in Helsinki, Finland as Royal Viking Sky for Nordenfjeldske Dampsibsselskap, Trondheim, who placed the ship in Royal Viking Line service. Prior to entering service with her current owners, the ship has also sailed under the names Sunward (for Norwegian Cruise Line), Birka Queen (with Birka Cruises), Golden Princess (with Princess Cruises), SuperStar Capricorn (with Star Cruises), Hyundai Keumgang (with Hyundai Merchant Marine) and Grand Latino (with Viajes Iberojet that's now Iberocruceros).

Atmosphere on board

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 Boudicca.

 

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.

 

 

Family with Kids/Teens

Fred. Olsen's core market consists largely of older British couples and singles, so this is not a ship for children, and there are no facilities onboard. Boudicca, Balmoral and Braemar, Fred. Olsen's other ships, do have small kids' clubs during school holidays, so they're better suited to those passengers who want to cruise with grandchildren.

 

Past Passenger Programs

Travellers who prefer small, intimate bars to barn-scale, open-plan facilities will be very much at home on Boudicca, which has all sorts of nooks and crannies in which to read or doze. The best venue for drowsing over a book and watching the world go by is the Observatory, an airy lounge with large windows set high on Deck 9.

 

The ship also has a well-stocked library, a larger card room in which regular bridge sessions are held, and an Internet cafe. For £5, you can buy 25 minutes of Internet time. The library is also a Wi-Fi hotspot.

 

Boudicca possesses a few onboard shops: One offers the usual logowear and evening attire. A jewellery shop sells everything from Timex watches (Timex is owned by Fred. Olsen) to £4,000 diamond earrings. A Port Shop was added in 2011, and it displays duty-paid goods, which means that the shop is allowed to open when the ship is in port. This is particularly handy, as it means you can buy essentials like sunblock, insect repellent and books at any time, rather than having to wait for international waters.

 

Note: Smoking is banned in all indoor areas. Smoking is only permitted on cabin balconies and in certain outdoor deck areas.

Fitness And Spa

There is a roomy gym and aerobics space on Deck 10, installed in the January 2011 refit. For the target market of the ship, you can't help wondering if this state-of-the-art facility was the wisest investment. Classes, however, have a good turnout and include Zumba and fitball, as well as yoga and Pilates. Some carry a charge of £5, while more basic stretch and aerobics classes are free.

 

Those who prefer to take their exercise in the fresh air should head to the Sun Deck (Deck 10), which has a ball games court, golf driving nets and boards for traditional cruise pursuits like shuffleboard and deck quoits. You can walk right around the Sun Deck; several people are often out strolling in the early mornings. There is sunbathing space and plenty of white, plastic loungers up there. But there is no pool, and the lurid blue Astroturf flooring is a little off-putting.

 

On Deck 6, you'll find an exceptionally large, deep lap pool, as well as a tiny Swimex pool -- in which one person at a time can swim against a strong jet -- and two hot tubs. This is actually a really pleasant area, with a wide expanse of wooden decking, faux greenery, new-looking metal deck furniture and loungers, as well as tables and chairs. On a sunny day, this is certainly the place to be, although there are also loungers on the broad, teak promenade areas, port and starboard, on Lido Deck.

 

Although the gym has moved, the sauna, steam and changing rooms are still hidden away down on Deck 4, almost invisible among the cabins. A small beauty salon, also on Deck 4, has two treatment rooms -- one for facials, the other for massages. It is likely to book up quickly, so schedule any treatments you want early in your cruise.

 

Run by Fred. Olsen itself, the salon offers facials from £33 for 30 minutes, reflexology at £55 for 60 minutes, and 75-minute hot stones massage for £66. A lot of the facials are geared toward the mature skin, using luxurious Thalgo products. There are also a couple of treatments you won't find in other ships' spas. The Indian Head Massage is £40 (including a wash and blowdry), and a traditional Thai massage with a Thai therapist is £55 for 60 minutes.


Food & Dining

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.

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.


Tipping

Allow up to £4 per day (£2 each for your cabin steward and waiter) per passenger.


Our recommendation

Our Ship in Torquay is only a short walk from the town centre and some of the many excellent attractions this devon sea side resort has. We serve dinner bed and breakfast or bed and breakfast only hotel breaks. Check our recent customer reviews on our site or on tripadvisor and see other customers comments about our fantastic food and hospitality in Torquay.With two sun decks, there is an abundance of space to relax inside and out. There is a pleasant shaded area, as well as a sunning area with a spa pool available for relaxing in whilst cruising through the stunning countryside.

Shannon Princess's professional crew of five is comprised of Master Chef, Tour Guide, Deck-Hand and Hostess, led by a knowledgeable and experienced Captain who will ensure your cruise is highly enjoyable and memorable. Their knowledge of the region, combined with the 8 bicycles provided, will allow you to explore the areas you cruise through, in as much detail as you desire.