Boudicca - Dublin Mini Cruise
A short holiday beckoned in the form of Boudicca from the 5th-8th January 2017.  I booked twin 4098, which had no single supplement, plus booked their travel.  It would be my first real break since life saving surgery four months previously and I couldn't wait!  My good friend, Maureen Hunt, booked a cabin on the deck above after I told her about it.  We had met in 2012 while waiting to board Balmoral so it would be nice to spend some real cruising time together.

Fred. Olsen had a coach from Southampton to Liverpool through AC Coaches of Fareham.  Everyone had been told to be at City Terminal by 8.45am, although there was no mention on the cruise e-ticket about the coach.  They were a bit late due to traffic but we boarded and waited for four people, giving them plenty of time to turn up before leaving without them.  We had a half hour break at Norton Canes services, on the M6 Toll road between Junctions 6 and 7, before continuing to Liverpool.  Coming off the M62 and onto Queens Drive brought back many childhood memories.  My Aunt Vera used to live just over a mile from there in Burnthwaite Road so this was a route I'd travelled many times.  We arrived after 2.30pm and made our way into the terminal.  Some of us were made to fill in the health questionnaire at the table then allowed to join the check-in queue.  Daft considering there was only a soft tablecloth to lean on and it can be done while waiting.  The queue was slow despite it being just our coach.  Ellen, the daughter of my dad's cousin Mary, would have been meeting and greeting if she hadn't quit.  Once we got our cruise card, we headed down to the landing stage where security was the boarded.  Maureen and I went to find our respective cabins.  I had a bit of a wander.  For January, it wasn't too bad.  Then I discovered afternoon tea - yum!  Maureen and I met up in the Observatory for a drink before 5.30pm sailaway.  As soon as my drink arrived the Captain announced we were going, which was earlier than scheduled.  Maureen stayed in the warm while I took my can to the top deck.  It was bloody cold and unsurprisingly not many were about.  Once we were heading down the Mersey I went back in and ordered another drink.  Nice to take my time drinking it.  We went our separate ways until dinner where we had been put on table 89 in the Tintagel Restaurant.  Our table companions were Norman and John, both fellow solo travellers.  Service was very slow despite it not being full and there were no radishes with the cheese and biscuits.  A quick return to the cabin before meeting up for a few drinks, midnight munchies and bed.  I was glad they closed the port holes.  It certainly stopped the draught.  Maureen had a picture window on the deck above.

Dublin and I decided to enjoy my lie in.  Well that was the plan only there was a crew drill - ARGH!!!!  My cabin stewardess was also very busy early, doing the next cabins noisily. Around noon she phoned to see if I was leaving.  Charming!  It's nice to see someone care so much about doing a good job when major lines are cutting back on things like that.  I like it when the ship is quiet.  Maureen and I met up to do the quiz at 4pm.  I went on deck for sailaway.  It was pretty mild for January and disappointingly we didn't blow the horn.  There was a problem with my toilet not flushing so I called reception and they said they'd send someone.  Dinner, which had better service as well as more people, a few drinks then midnight munchies.  Fred. Olsen spoil their passengers.  The toilet had been fixed.  I noticed the TV channels didn't have the content the on-screen guide said.
Sea day and there was no way I was getting up early.  When I did, we were passing Fastnet lighthouse.  There was a note about the fixed toilet.  Lazy day.  After dinner, Maureen wanted to go to the Big Band Show in the Neptune Lounge.  The cruise director came on to the theme from Z Cars, since he's an Everton football fan.  I left her to it because I was bored.  A bit later, we were passed by Queen Elizabeth and Balmoral outbound from Southampton.  Last midnight munchies of the cruise then bed.

Homeward bound in the fog and we didn't blow the horn.  It was pretty windy as well.  After docking, I met Maureen for breakfast then headed off the ship after a much-needed few days rest.  I hadn'tput my case out do took it with me.

So that was that.  It thoroughly enjoyable cruise.  I wish I could do Fred more often but solo fares are very high, even on shorts.  It was only due to this being a no supplement on selected twins offer I was able to go again on this fabulous ship for the first time since summer 2008.

To see photos
of Queen Elizabeth and Balmoral, click here.

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© Patricia Dempsey 5th-8th January 2017
Not to be reproduced without permission