I’ve just returned from a 2 week cruise onboard Fred Olsen Borealis. We were due to travel to the Azores, Madeira, Lisbon and Porto but due to bad weather we had to change our itinerary, this meant we visited Belfast, Cobh and Vigo before picking up our original itinerary.
Boarding in Liverpool was so easy, we were given an embarkation time to stagger the check in and prevent long queues. We parked at CPS parking which was 5 minutes away from the cruise terminal. They took our luggage ( as much as we liked so no drama about too many clothes/shoes!) from us at the car and transferred it straight to our cabin. We were then transferred to the passenger terminal by minibus. We were having lunch onboard the ship in less than an hour from arriving in Liverpool – very nice! On our return we put our luggage outside our cabin before going to bed, we were given a disembarkation tag and was off at 0730 , minibus straight to the car where our luggage was waiting, all very efficient.
Borealis had around 1300 passengers with around 700 crew. We found the crew to be very friendly, fun, attentive and plentiful. We never had to wait a long time for a drink in any of the bars. Our cabin steward came twice a day, bringing us the daily programme and a chocolate at turn down
The swimming pool had a retractable roof and plenty of seating/loungers
Well equipped gym with lots of classes
Comfortable and spotlessly clean lots of art and antiquities to look at is you wander around the ship
Plenty of quiet areas or if you’re on your own lots of opportunity to meet people
A few shops, and photographer not pushy as on some ships we’ve been on
Spa services – thermal suite, treatments ,beautician and hairdresser
Borealis is a nice size , not too big but plenty of space for everyone.
We were on deck 7 in a junior suite balcony, beds were very comfy and we had plenty of room. There was a jacuzzi bath but this was very small so only used it once, there was a shower over, people with walking difficulties may struggle getting in
We had a fridge ( payable stocked minibar) tv, kettle,atlas,binoculars,
You are not permitted to bring your own alcohol onboard. You can order bottles of spirits etc to be delivered to your cabin to be drank in your cabin – a bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin was around £30 and we bought tonic water ashore,they filled our ice bucket daily
Smoking is allowed on your balcony as well as certain areas of the decks
Safe ,hairdryer, toiletries, air con, plenty of space for belongings
Laundry service – pressing shirts included in suites package
Entertainment and things to do
A daily programme always something going on – sports, games,shows,crafts,talks, dancing,films, cooking demos, board games,jigsaws
Library – earth room with books about the planet,gardening,animals
Coffee shop with cakes and chocolates always a busy area (extra charge £3cappucino) get a card for 7 works out £1 cheaper and free chocolates
Dance hosts were popular – ballroom and sequence dancing nightly with some classes in the day
Daily quiz was extremely popular!
We had 3 formal nights during our 2 week cruise incl a masquerade ball
Excursions- pre book ones you want to do or do your own thing
Guest specialist lecturers including wildlife experts
Food & drink
Dining was traditional 2 sittings, the buffet and 2 speciality restaurants. All meals included , including afternoon tea and late night snacks . Tables for 2/4/6/8 state your preference asap
Food in the restaurants was always excellent, plenty of choice, always hot and tasty. With assigned waiters you get to know each other which was lovely
We ate in Vasco the Goan themed restaurant and Taste Colours, the Asian restaurant. These were £15pp supplement but if you book online before sailing you get £5pp discount, food in both was excellent
We had paid for the drinks package, there was a fairly limited choice (house wine,beer,spirits, draught mixers/soft drinks) if you chose a drink not included it was half price. We were fine with it but it’s worth looking if you’ll get your moneys worth with what’s included
We also paid for the traditional afternoon tea, white glove service in the lounge accompanied by musicians £15 was a nice treat.
We were lucky to take part in the Fleet in Funchal ’ event where all 3 ships were in port together. A fun day for passengers and crew with games, entertainment and the chance to visit the other ships
Bolette is the sister ship to Borealis and has the same facilities, Balmoral is slightly smaller
I was also lucky to be invited to the Bridge where the captain gave us an interesting talk on what goes on behind the scenes.
I would say the average passenger age is 60 something , definitely lots of older passengers great for anyone with walking aids I saw lots of people with them. Lots of solo travellers onboard, meet ups in the daily programme, people seemed to easily mingle – joining others in a quiz or team game, having a dance with one of the hosts or dining with other solo travellers
Fred Olsen has sailings departing from several UK ports including Liverpool and Newcastle so great for us northerners!
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