The Olsen Way – The perfect way to Cruise
I was thrilled to be able to sail on the inaugural cruise from Southampton abroad Bolette with 5 other excited explorers on the new flag ship of the Fred Olsen Fleet. The 5 night cruise to the Netherlands & Belgium City Break, visiting Amsterdam and Antwerp was the perfect way to discover what both the ports and the ship had to offer.
Bolette has a total of 690 cabins, she fits perfectly with Fred Olsen smaller ships. She can travel at high speeds, enabling passengers to reach destinations more quickly. Also enabling her to get into smaller ports. With a maximum capacity for 1338 passengers. The cabins from a balcony suite to inside cabins, they are all bright, tastefully decorated and well fitted with new furniture and bathroom facilities to suit all budgets and taste. On deck 3 The Promenade Deck, there are terraced cabins with french sliding doors opening onto the wide promenade deck. Privacy is ensured by privacy glass and your own sunbeds to one side.
Every evening the ‘Daily Times’ together with a Chocolate is placed on your pillow. It’s your bedtime reading to plan the next day. Listing all the events, port information and tour times. For the nervous amongst us there is also a tear off strip which contains the ships contact numbers when going ashore. On the first sea day, a tour of the ship was a must. There is always a Pocket Ship Guide in your cabin and also illuminated signs by the lifts showing your exact position in relation to the deck plan.
The lounges and bars are spacious light and elegantly furnished. The carpets have specifically been designed for each venue on board ship. The Bookmark Cafe, sells Belgium chocolates, delicious cakes, tea and coffee. Even the carpet has been specially designed for the Cafe, showing an original coffee bean design.
The Oriental Tea Room is exquisite, its furnishings and décor are inspired by Chinese Silks and Orchids. The perfect venue to relax and enjoy a speciality tea. One of the focal points of the ship is the Clock, rising through 3 decks with the carpet depicting a clock faces. Throughout the ship there is a wealth of artwork, tapestries and artifacts. You will find the shops, guest services, Neptune Theatre and some bars and lounges on decks 4 & 5.
Next we went to the Auditorium on deck 4. This is a small theatre venue and cinema which is used for talks and demonstrations. We attended the cookery demonstration by a top chef and better still got the chance to sample the delicious food and even receive a copy of the recipe. We all agreed it was a lovely experience.
After lunch we continued our tour visiting the gym and spa. There are 2 swimming pools & jacuzzis on board. One is covered with a retractable roof, which is perfect to enable use at all times. There is a pool side bar and food outlet.
In the evening we went to the Captains Reception. Everyone dressed in Black Tie attire, which was lovely to see. We then went the Bloomsbury Restaurant and enjoyed five course meal, followed by a show in the Neptune Theatre.
If you decided that you did not wish to dress up, you can of course eat in The View on deck 8 which offers a buffet style restaurant. Offering breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and late-night buffet and bedtime snacks.
On arrival into Amsterdam, often known as the Venice of the North. We went on a tour in a glass roofed boat. Enabling us to see the amazing styles of architecture together with historical facts from our excellent guide. We had free time to explore the city by ourselves, which was an experience.
We later set sail to Antwerp late afternoon, giving us time to explore some more of the ship. In the evening we went to a speciality restaurant (which carries a small supplement) ‘Vasco’ on deck 8, which is named after the famous explorer Vasco Da Gama. We enjoyed a menu which has been inspired by the Fred Olsen Chefs from Goa.
We arrived in Antwerp for an overnight stop. We berthed close to the city directly opposite the castle. We had an excellent guide for our walking tour who gave us a detailed history or the city and buildings as we walked through the cobbled streets. We arrived at the Cathedral of Our Lady for a must-see tour. The Cathedral houses 4 alter pieces by the legendary Baroque artist Peter Paul Rubens. After all our walking we enjoyed a well-earned break of Belgium waffles and coffee/beer, as Antwerp is also famous for its beers as well as chocolate... We of course were tempted to pop into some of the famous chocolate shops to sample some of their wears. However, we didn’t get to see or purchase any diamonds this time.
After enjoying chocolate, coffee and lots of dining we had a good look at the Atlantis Spa on deck 8. The Atlantis Spa is a haven of tranquillity, where you can relax and enjoy a treatment in the hydrotherapy pool or the thermal beds. The fitness centre & fully equipped gym comes complete with a sea view. Tennis courts and deck games are always a favourite.
Dance hosts are on board although there are restricted numbers on the dance floor. Various crafts, specialist guest speakers & other numerous activities are on offer and are all printed in the ‘Daily Times’. If you prefer a bit of peace and quite to relax The Library or The Card Room are ideal locations.
Afternoon tea in The Observatory is a must for a special treat. Wonderful views looking out to sea with delicious sandwiches and cakes. The range of teas to suit every palette. On the last evening we dined at Colours & Tastes, another speciality restaurant. This restaurant offers modern Asian Fusion dishes. The décor is colourful, the mood cheerful and the food offers a stimulating set of new taste experiences.
The crew on board were brilliant, always going the extra mile, continuously smiling and nothing was ever to much trouble. Fred Olsen have maintained the beauty of the small ship ethos with design elegance, simplicity and attention to detail to Bolette. I am excited to escort our passengers on this beautiful ship.