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Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines: Boudicca

Boudicca Review

Named after the heroic warrior queen of the ancient British Iceni tribe, the 800-passenger Boudicca is a regal ship with an unpretentious, multicultural blend of English and Norwegian styles, mostly Filipino staff, and Scandinavian officers. Comfortable and offering adequate food and facilities, the vessel has been refitted multiple times, but at over 30 years, it's beginning to show signs of age and diminishing standards. Cutbacks in food variety, paper napkins, packaged condiments, crowded buffets, and overloaded boats are not royal by any means. If you can manage the creaking joints and churning engines, hop aboard to enjoy a traditional cruising experience—delightful lounges, teak promenade decks, and wheelchair-accessible cabins are a plus.

Built for luxurious, long-distance cruises and refitted in 2006, Boudicca retains much of her grace and style. As on sister ship Black Watch, passengers have plenty of space on deck and inside, as well as two swimming pools, a large fitness center, and spa. Like her sister ship, she has an Observatory lounge high atop the ship to supplement the art deco Lido Lounge, a popular spot for leisurely drinks, conversation, and dancing. Budding artists enjoy the Crafts Room where hands-on activity sessions are held.

Spacious, yet intimate in scale, appropriate British historical themes are followed in each public room, lounge, and restaurant, which were designed to mimic the mood of fleetmate Black Watch. The overall feeling on Boudicca is one of comfort and tranquility; however, there is a well-equipped fitness center on board with everything from treadmills, rowing machines, and weights for energetic passengers to ballroom dancing lessons and aerobics classes, a golf net for swing practice, and a swimming pool featuring Swimex machines for swimming against the current.

With its Norwegian heritage of seamanship spanning over 150 years, family-owned Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines has built a solid reputation of reliability and comfort for its UK-based fleet of smaller ships. Major refitting and refurbishment of old and recently acquired ships since 2008 have earned the company high industry accolades. Two sister ships from the defunct luxury Royal Viking Line, Royal Viking Star and Royal Viking Sky, have reunited under the Fred. Olsen house flag and now sail as Black Watch and Boudicca. The Balmoral and Braemar complete the four-vessel fleet.

Shipboard ambience is friendly, relaxed, and unabashedly British. As Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines expands, the line takes pride in maintaining the consistency their passengers prefer and expect, both on board—in the self-described "British country house" atmosphere—and ashore. Activities and entertainment are traditional cruise-ship fare with a laid-back tempo, albeit on a much smaller scale compared to a typical American megaship. Lectures and the Arts Club special-interest program are popular, with classes in subjects ranging from gardening to painting, history to wine appreciation, and even bird- and wildlife-spotting.

Ballroom dancers outnumber the late-night disco set, and evening entertainment is more cabaret than Vegas. Particular favorites with most passengers are theme nights and the crew show. Cruises range from four-night "mini-breaks" to lengthier 7- to 78-night sailings. British pounds are used for all transactions on board. Although the line is destination-focused—itineraries are seldom repeated within any cruise season—itinerary planning is versatile.

What You Should Know


  • A self-service laundry room (for an extra fee) is fully equipped
  • A well-stocked library offers a good selection of books, audio books, DVDs, and board games
  • Spacious teak promenade decks on starboard and port sides are good for strolling


  • Limited private balconies are available
  • At full capacity, the ship feels crowded
  • “old ship” noises, including rumbling pipes and humming engines, are not uncommon
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 325
  • Entered Service 1973
  • Gross Tons 28,388
  • Length 674 feet
  • Number of Cabins 449
  • Passenger Capacity 856
  • Width 83 feet

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