I have been very lucky to recently have cruised on Fred Olsen's new ship Bolette for 5 nights to Amsterdam & Antwerp. The check in process was extremely efficient and well organised considering all of the extra covid requirements at the moment.
Bolette is a small ship carrying 1,338 passengers, my first impressions were how friendly and lovely the staff are, the ship was beautifully fitted out by the crew whilst in the lockdown. The facilities onboard are fantastic, a gym, bars, coffee shop, lounges, library, swimming pool, jacuzzi’s, speciality restaurants, theatre, spa, shops and an auditorium. There is a great variety of things to do during a sea day my favourite was the cooking demonstration - yum!
I had a Balcony Suite which was a good size and included a jacuzzi bath in the bathroom and included the suite dreams package which included a bottle of sparkling wine in the cabin, flowers, fruit bowl and early evening canapés, this is a lovely extra especially if you were celebrating a special occasion.
The first day was a sea day so plenty of time to get to know Bolette explore and enjoy the facilities. I choose a cooking demonstration, a delicious lunch in the buffet all served to you during covid times, the evening meal was in the main dining restaurant where there was a delicious and varied menu.
Our second day was our first stop to Amsterdam, I went on a relaxing canal boat trip in the morning which was lovely followed by free time which I choose to stroll around the city centre which I loved. The evening meal was at Vasco the speciality Indian restaurant, this was a small supplement but lovely to experience the Goan food.
Our third day was in the delightful city of Antwerp, after a lovely buffet breakfast we embarked on the walking tour excursion of the city with a local guide seeing the main sights, this was a fantastic way to see everything. The town centre is very close to the ship so really easy to pop back to the ship and pop out again. After this was free time so I went for a Belgium waffle in a local cafe - absolute food heaven!
Then I did some shopping, this was a brilliant time of year to visit because of Christmas being so close so great for an early bit of Christmas shopping! After a short stroll back to the ship I opted for a massage in the Atlantis Spa, a relaxing spa area which is just £10 for the day where there are hot stone beds, sauna, steam room & jacuzzi. I thought the spa and treatment prices were very reasonably priced.
After leaving Antwerp early on day 4 we had a few hours scenic cruising down the Scheldt river, lovely and relaxing. I sat in the observation lounge relaxing and looking at the views and birds with my binoculars.
During the afternoon we were treated to afternoon tea in the observatory - wow what a wonderful experience, freshly made sandwiches, cakes and scones washed down with leaf tea. This was a highlight for me! The final evening, we went to Colours & Tastes the other speciality restaurant onboard, it is Asian Fusion cuisine and was absolutely stunning. The check-out process when disembarking was seamless.
Fred Olsen is a fantastic cruise company, family owned and directed to the British cruise market. They have the most cruises from local UK ports. Their itineraries are handcrafted and not mass produced, they are real people who really do care, and this certainly came across to me during my time onboard Bolette. The value for money is superb and I would not hesitate to sail with them again and again.