Bearing the name of Fred. Olsen Jnr’s great-great-grandmother, Bolette is the cruise line’s heavenly new flagship. Janine Kelso took a tour of the ship in Southampton on May 4 before it sailed off on its maiden voyage to Iceland. Here are seven things we learned about Fred. Olsen’s Bolette:
Small is beautiful
Like its sibling Borealis, Fred. Olsen’s Bolette is one of their smaller ships that carries fewer than 1,400 passengers. “We believe smaller is better,” says the line’s head of sales Geoff Ridgeon. “We are seeing the highest number of new-to-brand guests than we have seen in a very long time. We are appealing to people who have cruised with other lines but who are looking for a smaller vessel.”
He added: “Smaller ships allow us to visit more intimate destinations. We travel respectfully because we have smaller ships; we tread lighter.”
Cabins are spacious
Bolette has 690 cabins that can accommodate up to 1,338 passengers. Suites vary from the 244 square foot single balcony suite to the cavernous 1181 square foot Olsen suite, where passengers will find sumptuous interiors and a kitchen stocked with a microwave, coffee machine and large fridge. There are 50 Premier Suites onboard with a square footage of 568 to 644, two of which are adapted for wheelchair users.
The interior cabins are also surprisingly spacious with 183 square foot of space, including a sofa and desk.
The spa is heavenly
Clients can feel their stresses melt away in The Atlantis Spa, which offers massages, facials, manicures and pedicures. Prices are inline with usual spa prices: think £32.50 for a 30-minute manicure or £48 for a 30-minute back, neck and shoulder massage.
The spa’s star attraction is the Turkish bath-style thermal suite, available on both Bolette and Borealis. Dotted with plants and affording floor-to-ceiling windows, the suite is filled with heated ceramic beds, aromatherapy steam rooms and an indulgent mineral bath. A thermal suite day pass is £10 per person or £17 for a couple.
Amenities are affordable
Onboard amenities are easy on the pocket on Bolette. A standard afternoon tea is included in the price of the cruise, but passengers can plump for a posher Traditional Afternoon Tea, with dainty sandwiches, delectable pastries, and warm sweet and savoury scones, for just £11.99 per person. The perfect spot to relax and indulge during a sea day or a special occasion, the afternoon tea is served in the Observatory which has large panoramic windows. The tea can be washed down with a glass of champagne, and gluten-free and vegan options are also available.
There are two specialty dining restaurants onboard: Colours and Tastes; and Vasco. At Asian-fusion restaurant Colours and Tastes, diners can tuck into gyozas, sushi, dim sum and bao buns. Named after the famous explorer, Vasco serves up Goan food which is “absolutely out of this world,” says Ridgeon. Heat levels have been toned down to suit the majority, but diners who favour spicy food can request extra spice. When booked in advance of the cruise, dining at both of these restaurants costs £10 per person, or £15 if you book while onboard.
There will be journey navigators onboard
New for 2023, Fred. Olsen is introducing ‘journey navigators’ to help bring “the joy of the journey to life”, says Ridgeon. The navigators will include Nature Scouts, who will host stargazing events on deck, and share their knowledge of nature and wildlife.
Culture Curators will get under the skin of the cultural side of ports of call by hosting talks in The Neptune Lounge and The Auditorium, while Entertainment Hosts will “make sure everyone has a great time onboard” with a fun-packed programme of live music, dancing, quizzes, competitions and more.
Maritime Guides will be a “first for the industry”, sharing fascinating facts about the “inner workings of the ship”, adds Geoff. The guides will run Bridge and Galley tours, as well as hosting Q&A sessions with members of the crew.
It has classy décor and amazing artwork
True to the brand’s traditional aesthetic, Fred. Olsen’s Bolette is decorated in a classic style with wood panelling and plenty of nautical features. Walls are plastered with wow-factor artworks from the Fred Olsen family collection – handpicked by Fred Olsen Snr – while underfoot are the cruise line’s famously love-or-hate swirly carpets.
The Morning Light Pub and Lounge has a Maritime feel with ships in glass cases, paintings of ships, and Chesterfield sofas; a sophisticated spot to sip one or two of the classic cocktails on offer, such as an Espresso Martini, a Bloody Mary, or an Old Fashioned.
Other star turns include the nine-metre-high atrium clock tower at the heart of the ship, which has a planetary clock, an astrolabe, an astrological clock and a world clock.
There’s an Insta-worthy pool
It’s hard not to be wowed by the handsome swimming pool with two bear statues at its centre. Surrounded by sunloungers, the pool also has a casual dining restaurant, The Poolside, serving a selection of poolside bites, from brunch to dinner (until 7pm).