As I remember from my childhood, all Enid Blyton books seemed to start Chapter 1 with “Hooray for the Holidays”, and indeed that is how we felt this morning, as we leapt out of bed at 7.30am. In fact, getting up at that time was a veritable lie-in compared to the times we have had to drive down to Manchester Airport and leave the house at around 3.00am.
But today we were getting the train to Liverpool Lime Street, then on from there to Princes Dock to join Fred Olsen’s Boudicca. We have been on the Boudicca twice before, once in 2008 to Svalbard, and more recently in 2014 to an unforgettable voyage in search of the Northern Lights. We were therefore looking forward to being back on board this little ship, build in 1973 and absolutely chock-full of character.
Our train, the 09:19 Transpennine Express, was on time and we joined a carriage that was full of joyous holiday-makers and a birthday group of girls who were determined to party as soon as the train left Durham. Once we reached York, approximately 50 minutes later, we cracked open a chilled bottle of Bollinger. Not only will this be our 40th cruise, but we will also clock up our 80th country, so it was double-whammy and an excuse for a celebration… not that we need one, ha ha. 🙂
So our impending cruise was due to take us to the Faroes, Iceland and mainly the fjords, glaciers and unspoiled scenery of Greenland. We always like to choose somewhere a bit different for our holidays, and who on earth would ever think of Greenland?! 🙂
We arrived in Liverpool on time and got the underground along to James Street, which is literally only a five minute walk to the cruise terminal. We had about an hour to kill before we were due to board, so we went into the pub, conveniently situated next door, called “The Liverpool”. We’d spent some time in there in 2014, so it was with a sense of déja vu that we entered the bar and ordered a drink.
We spent an hour in the pub before trundling our cases along to the cruise terminal, where we could see the Boudicca moored up waiting. We dropped off our bags at the luggage collection point and happily joined the queue to board, which moved quite quickly. At 2.30pm we made our way up the gangplank and boarded the ship; it was great to be back. 🙂
We have been allocated cabin 4125, which is an amazing coincidence because 4125 was our cabin number on our cruise in June this year, on board the Balmoral. Our cabin is on Deck 4 and has twin beds and a couple of portholes to allow in the daylight. There is plenty of wardrobe space and a small, but adequate, bathroom with a shower stall. The beds had plump pillows and crisp white sheets and we knew we would be in for a comfortable 15 nights.
For the first time on a Fred Olsen cruise, we also had a welcome gift placed in our cabin; this is because we are now Gold Oceans Club members. You qualify for Gold once you’ve had 101 or more nights on a Fred Olsen ship and we reached that milestone during our last cruise on the Balmoral in June.
Our gift was a couple of china drinking mugs, with rubber non-slip hand-grips and a rubber lid. The mugs are quite large and proclaim the word “Oceans” in an ornate script on them. There were also a couple packets of biscuits included with them.
Our luggage had not yet arrived so we dumped our bags and decided to go to the aft decks and sit out in the Liverpool sunshine with a cold drink. We are travelling on the all-inclusive drinks package which means you can have unlimited house beers, wines, spirits and soft drinks all for a tenner a day. So very good value for money. 🙂
We spent the next hour or so relaxing before the announcement was made for lifeboat drill. We therefore made our way to the Neptune lounge to listen to the advisory announcements and watch the demonstration of how to put on a lifejacket. Afterwards our time was our own, so we returned to cabin 4125 to find our cases had arrived. We therefore spent some time putting everything neatly away before having a half-hour power nap before getting ready for dinner.
We have been allocated table #21, a table for six in the Tintagel restaurant. We always like to choose a table for six as we enjoy the camaraderie of our fellow passengers; when we arrived in the restaurant the other four diners were already there. We didn’t get their names this time but they seemed pleasant enough.
As ever, we enjoyed a delicious four-course meal washed down with a couple of glasses of rosé wine and finished off with coffee and amaretto. By this time it was around 7.30pm and the Boudicca had started her journey up the Mersey towards the Irish Sea.
Then off we went to the Neptune Lounge and watched the ballroom dancers before waiting for the main show.
The cruise director this time is Elliot Taylor, in fact he was on the Boudicca last time we were on, in November 2014, so he recognised us and we had a brief chat before the show. Elliot is an Everton supporter so we noticed that the ship’s orchestra played the “Z-Cars” theme as the introduction to the show; Z-Cars is Everton’s theme tune. Usually on Fred cruises the orchestra plays the intro to Earth, Wind & Fire’s In The Stone, and if ever we hear that tune it always reminds us of Fred cruises. 🙂
I enjoyed the show tonight; it was two male singers, Jonny Beck and Michael Joseph. One was a swing singer while the other was more musical theatre, so two very different styles. But when they sang together their voices harmonised very well, and it was a good performance.
Afterwards we stayed in the Neptune Lounge to take part in the quiz, but we only scored 12 out of 15, not enough to win a prize.
We decided to finish the evening off by going up to the Lido Lounge, where we have spent many a happy hour in the past. As we were going in, we saw the resident musical duo just packing up and we recognised Trevor and Theresa, the “Timeline Duo”. They were also on Boudicca last time we were on, and to be honest they are pretty mediocre. So arriving in the Lido Lounge just as they’d finished was good timing on our part. 🙂
We had a couple of drinks in there and enjoyed listening to the pianist Colin James. He is quite a good singer as well as piano player and he played a variety of well-known songs. We stayed until around midnight then returned to cabin 4125 and settled down for our first night on board Boudicca.