Recently I have had the privilege to sail onboard one of Fred Olsen’s new ships, the Bolette. The 5-night itinerary took in the magnificent cities of Amsterdam & Antwerp. The check-in procedure at Southampton ran smoothly with no issues ensuring we were all onboard in reasonable time.
The Bolette is classed as small ship and carries 1,338 passengers so perfect for getting into those city centre ports where you can walk straight into the heart of these destinations. Upon arrival onboard, my first impressions were just how friendly and welcoming the staff and crew were. Considering the uncertainty in the last 18 months, they always greeted you with a friendly smile and nothing was ever any trouble. The ship offered a fantastic range of facilities including numerous bars and restaurants, swimming pools, main theatre, an auditorium, fully equipped gym, a choice of lounges and more. The sea days were full to the brim with a choice of daytime entertainment and activities so there was never have a dull moment! On one day there was a cooking demonstration in the auditorium where we were shown how to make the Mackerel Croquettes with the head chef for the speciality restaurant, Vasco (highly recommend!).
I had a Balcony Suite cabin which was very spacious with a shower over bath (shower only cabins are available). The Suite included a ‘Dreams Package’ which included capapes every evening and a bottle of sparkling wine on arrival which went down rather easy! If you are celebrating a special occasion, this is certainly worth it and will make your holiday even more memorable.
After the first day at sea crossing the English Channel and up into the North Sea, we arrived into Amsterdam. Once ashore it was sunny autumnal day which was perfect for walking and exploring the Dutch capital. In the morning we explored Amsterdam on the water with a relaxing canal cruise passing all the main attractions.
During the afternoon we had free time to explore the city on foot and wonder through the streets and along the many canals. I also managed to tick off a bucket list thing for me… a Stroopwafel in Amsterdam! If you’re like me and have a sweet tooth, you’ll certainly enjoy one trust me! Also a must-do is having an Amstel overlooking the canal in Amsterdam… When in Rome as they say!
The following day we sailed into the heart of Antwerp which was decidedly chilly! We started the day with a city walking tour through the cobbled streets and a visit to the Gothic cathedral with our local guide. This was a great little taster to see what the city has to offer. The centre is just a short walk away so it is really easy to stroll into the town during the day to explore what Antwerp has to offer and also the evening where you can visit one of the many local bars for a Duval or two!
After an overnight in port in Antwerp, we departed early the next morning for our final full day onboard back to Southampton. We cruised through the Scheldt River which offered some great views over breakfast before heading out to sea. In the afternoon we headed up to the Observatory for an afternoon tea where we were treated to a choice of fresh sandwiches, cakes and scones! For the final evening we headed to one of the speciality restaurants, Colours & Tastes. This was an Asian fusion restaurant which for me was one of the highlights of the trip! The following morning after breakfast, we disembarked for our journey home after a very enjoyable trip.
I couldn’t fault Fred Olsen at all throughout the whole journey… the spotless cabin, the lovely staff, the range of facilities available and the onboard entertainment through the day and night. If you want to be looked after, then Fred Olsen is the cruise line for you! Why choose Fred Olsen? Personally, for me it is for the range of ports that the bigger ships cannot access. This itinerary is a perfect example of this where you are taken into the heart of these European cities where very few ships can reach!