I was very fortunate, to be invited by Fred Olsen to spend 5 nights on their new ship Borealis
The ship sailed from Liverpool on Thursday 2nd September. Prior to boarding, all clients had to have a NHS or paper Medical Certificate (not the blue card) to confirm they were fully vaccinated. For Liverpool, all clients must go to the Arena Convention Centre in Albert Dock, Liverpool (opposite the Premier Inn). Here your luggage is taken from you and put into transfer vehicles whilst clients have their test.
This was extremely well organised with 14 different testing stations – this is run by a private company not Fred Olsen. Once the test has been taken, clients are shown to a seating area for 30 minutes, to await their result (this is a very long 30 minutes!) but thankfully everyone received a negative result.
All clients are then transferred by coach to the Cruise Terminal.
On arrival at the ship, our temperatures were taken and then we were allowed to board. As ever, with Fred Olsen staff, the greeting we received was so heart warming. Their staff are so friendly and helpful and genuinely appear to be very happy in their work. I was lucky to receive a Premier Suite which was beautiful. The décor and furnishings are all new and it really felt like luxury in this cabin.
The maximum capacity of the ship is 1,399 guests and although there were less than that onboard when I sailed, it feels incredibly spacious and I believe it will feel the similar once Borealis has a full passenger list.
Aurora and Borealis are the two main restaurants with fixed dining times 6.15 or 8.30. Clients are allocated the same table each evening. The choice of food at both these restaurants is superb and they are both the same menu regardless of which restaurant you choose to dine in.
For clients who wish to have more flexibility there is the View Restaurant on Deck 8. Clients can eat at their chosen time and it is a buffet style restaurant. This restaurant seems to be very popular at lunchtime and afternoon teas are eaten here as well. All the food is placed behind plastic screens with waiters available to hand you the food of your choice. This worked very well and everyone seemed happy with it.
There are currently two Specialist Restaurants – Vasco – which offers seafood, spiced curries and grilled meals all cooked by Fred Olsen’s Goan chefs and Colours and Tastes which is an Asian Fusion restaurant. The food in both these restaurants was of the highest quality and it was mentioned within my earshot that the food was better than one of the Six Star Cruise ships currently sailing and for an extra £5 per person, I would highly recommend them.
Shortly, there will be a third restaurant – Forresters which will offer traditional fayre from a Scottish Estate owned by Fred Olsen himself.
The general rule of thumb was masks must be worn in public areas – lifts, corridors, embarking and disembarking the ship etc. but the minute you are seated in a bar or restaurant or entertainment area you may remove your mask. Clients were gently reminded about mask wearing and again there were no issues whatsoever. As expected on a cruise ship, the Sanitization Areas were everywhere and there is quite a quirky “twin-tub” washing area at the entrance to View. Be aware, the water really does give your hands a thorough wash and I would hate for anyone to spoil their clothing or expensive watches in this process.
There seems to be entertainment throughout the ship 24/7.
The Neptune Lounge is on a two tier basis on Decks 4 & 5 and the seating areas are very spacious with lots of small tables for drinks etc. The seating in here was all socially distanced. Live music featured throughout the day and evening in the Lido, Piano Bar and in Crow’s Nest on Deck 9. Borealis’ entertainment team gave two very polished performances (music from the 80’s and songs from musicals) considering they have had a very short time to practice. We also watched an amazing violinist and a comedian. All very well attended.
There are the normal lectures, quizzes, wine tasting etc throughout the day all organised by the entertainment team.
My favourite was a culinary exhibition by one of the chefs from Colour and Tastes in the specially designed kitchen and after a fascinating demonstration, we got to eat the end product, Korean Bulgogi Beef Bao buns with Korean BBQ sauce, plus a recipe card to bring home and try and replicate – it tasted so good!
There was a good selection of shore excursions which were very popular and as we were on a UK sailing, clients were also able to get disembark from the ship independently. Again cleanliness was paramount and once the coaches arrived at each port, staff from Fred Olsen boarded them and completely sanitised the coach prior to guests boarding it.
There is a swimming pool plus two Jacuzzis on Lido Deck with a retractable roof, so regardless of the weather, you can still take a dip in the pool plus there are plans for an outdoor pool on Deck 9. Deck 9 also has a spacious public smoking area, but beware any guests who enjoy a cigarette, the cost was an eye-watering £15 per packet. Thank goodness I don’t smoke.
Borealis has a real feeling of luxury throughout and I felt it was trying to cater for a “younger market” with the restaurants and entertainment as well as its previous loyal customers.
Borealis and its sister ship Bolette are a great addition to the Fred Olsen fleet and I would certainly recommend them to anyone who wants elegant and relaxing cruise.