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Pictured left to right outside the new store are: Paul Hardwick, Fred. Olsen Travel Agents Director of Retail; Emma Bailey, Fred. Olsen Travel Agents; Tutti Taylor, Fred. Olsen Travel Agents; Councillor Candy Vaughan, Mayor of Eastbourne; Trevor Ridler, Fred. Olsen Travel Agents Business Development Manager; and Shirley Waters, Fred. Olsen Travel Agents..

Sampling the good life onboard Bolette

Several members of our Fred. Olsen Travel team enjoyed a two-night mini-cruise onboard Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines flagship vessel, Bolette as she sailed from Southampton to Liverpool. As some in the group were first time cruisers, this was an invaluable opportunity to hear their thoughts and personal highlights, as a mini cruise is the ideal trip to test those sea legs and see if cruising is for you, before embarking on a more adventurous itinerary. As there were no ports of call, this trip was all about the onboard experiences and impeccable service on offer.

First impressions are created before you even get onboard and check in was a stress-free process. Leah, who works in digital marketing at head office confirms this, “As someone relatively new to cruising, and my first time with Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines, I was surprised at how easy and smooth check-in was. The staff were very informative and helpful which helped to reduce any stress and answer any concerns before boarding.”

Claire, from the Ipswich branch, was similarly impressed with the attention paid to any additional requirements that guests may have, “I noticed that staff were very attentive to all guests, for example, there was a blind man who was assisted the whole way through embarkation onto the ship.  I noticed this guest throughout various parts of the cruise and he was so well looked after which was reassuring. There was a dietary requirements desk at the terminal so guests have the opportunity to talk through any allergies and preferences and it's good to see that this is so efficiently dealt with before guests even board the ship.”

At check-in after producing your printed or digital cruise ticket with your passport, your payment card is registered so that all transactions will go onto your onboard account. This makes life so much easier and everything is in pounds sterling so no conversions to work out. You can keep tabs on the account from the in-cabin TV and the total is deducted at the end of the cruise.

For Claire, the welcoming experience continued as she boarded, “My first impressions of Bolette were of a warm, friendly, beautifully decorated ship with artwork dotted around and art deco features in the stairwells and lifts. It immediately feels like home-from-home and makes for a relaxing start to the holiday.”

Gemma, who works in Customer Service at Head Office, was delighted with the Premier Suite that she was staying in, “This cabin was amazing, I was so impressed, firstly by the sheer size and the space and secondly by the huge balcony complete with sun loungers and a table and chairs. The room had one large bed (the 2 single beds interlocked in the middle so these can be made up as a twin if required), a separate seating area, a dressing room area and the bathroom with a shower and a jacuzzi bath. We had complimentary fruit, flowers, sparkling wine, daily canapes, dressing gowns and slippers all included.” Lori, from Worldspan Travel agrees, “Every need was accommodated even down to binoculars! The large private balcony was the perfect place to while away some time.”

Claire last cruised onboard a Fred. Olsen ship back in 2015 and was impressed with the updated experiences to enjoy onboard, “No longer are you simply enjoying the traditional activities you'd expect such as quizzes, shuffleboard and card games whilst sailing to your ports of call. The new Signature Experiences bring the destinations to life enabling guests to truly immerse themselves in the culture, wildlife and gastronomy offered at the ports on each itinerary.” This sentiment is echoed by Leah, “I was surprised at the complimentary activity itinerary. From Battle of the Bartenders to Arts and Crafts lessons there was so much to see and do. The hardest thing was trying to cram everything in, I think Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines offer an incredible itinerary for a mini cruise.”

Evening entertainment was available in the Neptune Lounge. On the first night the resident show company impressed with their singing and dancing, and on the second night a comedian had everyone in stitches. Following on from the show, more entertainment was available in the Observatory where the resident band created a great atmosphere.

Cuisine onboard is a huge art of cruising life for most passengers, and this trip was no exception. Claire explains, “For me the highlight was enjoying a meal in the Colours and Tastes speciality restaurant.  The décor and ambience were vibrant and the service could not have been better. Each dish was explained to us and we were so well looked after throughout the meal. There were several Asian courses and everyone enjoyed their chosen option. An incredible dining experience and well worth the small supplement.”

Lori says “A highlight for me was definitely the white glove service afternoon tea in the Observatory.” The small additional cost offers fantastic value compared to any options you would find on shore, with freshly baked scones, handmade cakes and refreshing teas and coffees, all delivered with amazing service.

Chelsea from our Eastbourne branch enjoyed exploring the ship’s public spaces, “Bolette's interior was incredible. I loved unwinding in the Botanical Room and the Oriental Tea Room. These rooms were clear favourites with guests, however still offered so much space.” For Joanne, from our Westbourne branch, the excellent care given by Bolette’s crew was a real highlight of the trip, “The above and beyond service and friendly staff onboard is what I’ll always remember.”

Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines also caters well for a solo guest - anyone who may feel apprehensive about travelling alone can be assured they will not feel left out.  Solos are invited to a welcome party where they can meet fellow solo travellers, they have allocated dining, and the opportunity to go ashore with other solos or perhaps enjoy a spin on the floor with the dance hosts.

This 2-night itinerary would be a wonderful taster for someone’s first cruise adventure, or a relaxing alternative to a traditional mini-break. The overall impression is that Fred. Olsen’s Bolette offers an intimate ship with more space and time to unwind and to simply enjoy the experience of being onboard. The target audience is for the 50+ generation, and the number of returning customers shows what a loyal and satisfied customer base Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines have - people who enjoy the relaxed atmosphere with like-minded guests and well-trained crew who really care about delivering excellent service.

To speak to any of our team to discuss your Fred. Olsen cruise requirements, details of our branches can be found here.